These are the hottest Nigerian artists of 2023.
In 2023, Nigerian mainstream music reached new heights with Afrobeats superstars crafting chart-topping hit singles, selling out choice venues, and headlining notable shows globally.
For numerous artists, 2023 has been their best year yet, with years of hard work eventually bearing fruits. These artists dominated the local soundscape and propelled Nigerian music to an unprecedented level of international success.
From Afrobeats superstars retaining their spot at the top to new artists going from relative obscurity to hitmakers, here are the top 10 hottest Nigerian artists of 2023.
In his 11th year in the mainstream, Davido released his fourth studio album Timeless. The album broke the record for the most streams in a day and week for a Nigerian album on all five major streaming platforms (YouTube, Spotify, Audiomack, Boomplay, Apple Music) in Nigeria.
The album was nominated in the Best Global Album category for the 2024 Grammy Awards, while the hit records it churned out, Feel and Unavailable also earned Grammy nominations, bringing the total number of his nominations at the award to three.
Aside from dominating the charts with his album, Davido also performed in several shows and festivals around the world.
The foremost breakout star of 2023, Shallipopi rocked the Nigerian music scene with his brand of rap that combines elements from Amapiano, his Edo cultural heritage, and a speech-like delivery with which he crafts street-relatable lyrics.
Shallipopi’s debut EP, Planet Pluto, delivered an incredible four hit records as he cruised to the top of the charts. The young music star documented his rise with the release of his debut album Pluto Presido which extended his hitmaking run.
There’s no other artist more deserving of Afrobeats 2023 MVP prize than rapper ODUDMODUBLVCK whose domestication of Hip Hop is inspiring the genre’s commercial resurgence.
After he gained mainstream attention with his Zlatan-assisted single Picanto, ODUDMODUBLVCK didn’t look back. His follow-up effort Declan Rice rose to international commercial success that got so big it attracted the attention of the man after whom the song was named. Arsenal FC also recruited ODUDMODUBLVCK to record a version for the unveiling of their record signing.
ODUDMODUBLVCK’s fusion of indigenous Nigerian elements with Hip Hop coupled with his aggressive street-relatable lyrics rocketed him to the top and made him one of the most sought-after artists on the continent.
In 2023, Asake went from Mr. Money With The Vibe to a walking Work of Art as he continued his mainstream dominance.
His sophomore album delivered the chart record-breaking hit Lonely At the Top and the Grammy-nominated Amapiano as he extended his unprecedented 2022 success into 2023.
Asake also enjoyed international success notable among which was his landmark feat of selling out the O2 Arena just 18 months after he scored his first mainstream hit in Omo Ope.
The superlatively talented superstar has taken Nigerian music to unprecedented global success with the popularity of his hit single Calm Down.
His partnership with American popstar, Selena Gomez, rocked the single to global acclaim exemplified by its No. 3 peak position on the Billboard Hot 100, where it spent over 52 weeks.
For his exploits with Calm Down, Rema received several plaques and wrote his name in the Guinness World Record books. He also became the first African artist to perform at the Ballon D’or award ceremony.
He also released the RAVAGE EP which served as a victory lap before achieving a landmark feat by selling out the 20,000-capacity O2 Arena.
6. Seyi Vibez
Since breaking into the mainstream in 2022 with his single, Chance, Seyi Vibez has worked twice as hard as the next guy.
In 2023, he released two albums and a mixtape with the project delivering a handful of hits that kept his music on the lips of listeners across Nigeria.
His consistency won him international attention as he made Afro Nation festival lineups while also performing in Germany before selling out the Indigo O2 Hall.
7. Omah Lay
Omah Lay released the deluxe version of his critically acclaimed debut album Boy Alone. The deluxe extended the shelf life of his 2022 hit single Soso while also delivering another hit in Reason.
Soso was the most streamed song in Nigeria in 2023 on Apple Music while Reason finished in No. 8. Both singles also finished in the top 10 of the most streamed songs in Nigeria on Spotify as Omah Lay continued his dominance of the charts.
8. Burna Boy
The leading voice of African music globally, Burna Boy continues to churn out music and achieve landmark feats to maintain his position.
In 2023, he released his seventh album, I Told Them, which churned out the hit single, City Boy. The album has been nominated for the 2024 Grammy Awards for Best Global Album while City Boy was nominated for Best African Music Performance.
On the international front, Burna Boy continued to record multiple firsts for an African. He became the first African to sell out a stadium in the UK and the US. He also became the first Nigerian artist to be nominated outside the global categories at the Grammys after he earned a nod for the Best Melodic Rap Performance for Sitting’ On Top Of The World remix featuring 21 Savage.
9. Ayra Starr
Sensational singer Ayra Starr continues to reach new heights as a music star contributing to the international exportation of Afrobeats.
In 2023, her single Rush continued its commercial rise as she became the first Nigerian female lead artist to enter the UK Singles Chart. Her Sability also enjoyed acceptance as Ayra continues to form a spine for the female end of the industry.
Ayra Starr also recorded multiple collaborations and embarked on a world tour as she continues to display the impressive talent and versatility that is set to rocket her to international superstar status.
Afrobeats chorus master BNXN continues to carve a niche for himself as a genre-fusing artist whose music appeals to various demographics.
BNXN continued his fine form in 2023 with a crop of singles he capped off with the release of his debut album Sincerely, BNXN. His singles, Gwagwalada featuring Kizz Daniel and Seyi Vibez, and Pray, performed impressively on the charts.
He also impressed on his guest appearances notably among which is Minz‘s Wowo, Stefflon Don‘s What’s Popping, and Qing Madi‘s Ole.
Following the release of his debut album, BNXN also went on a successful tour of North America.
When I reviewed Mohbad’s sophomore EP Blessed released in June 2023, I borrowed the famous words of Anne Frank who said:
“Beauty remains, even in misfortune. If you just look for it, you discover more and more happiness and regain your balance. A person who’s happy will make others happy; a person who has courage and faith will never die in misery.”
To an extent, this quote resonates with the life of the sensational talent Ilerioluwa Oladimeji “Mohbad” Aloba, whose music continues to offer solace and delights to listeners, birthed from a career that he was painfully robbed of.
From all indications, Mohbad searched for happiness but barely found it, yet his music offers a good time and makes burdens lighter.
In the The Diary of a Young Girl, Frank opined that a person who has courage and faith will never die in misery. Indeed, Mohbad courageously navigated life’s vicissitudes. He bravely fought for the chance to be what he knew he could become, and although we will never get to experience the full spectrum of his greatness, he leaves us with enough to celebrate him.
Truly, beauty remains even in misfortune, however it remains a grave misfortune to lose a star whose fire was reigniting in preparation to illuminate the industry.
Uniqueness, distinction, and special are qualifiers that have been flimsily thrown around in Afrobeats. However, for Mohbad, these words do justice to his abilities.
His unique voice, his stunning one-liners, his playful lyrics, the honesty with which he draws listeners closer, and his swaggering delivery that straddled Fuji and Hip-hop made Mohbad a special talent and an easily relatable artist.
On September 12, 2023, Mohbad sadly passed away. He was only 27 years old. Mohbad spent his life in constant pursuit of happiness. He was not perfect and he happily embraced his imperfections while offering the best of himself to listeners.
Mohbad made his mark with two brilliant EPs and several hit singles in which his joy, pain, and life are documented.
- Tiwa Savage
- Kizz Daniel
- Adekunle Gold
- Young Jonn