The Nigerian music industry is the undisputed leader in the afrobeat genre, with the Sub-Saharan giant producing the vast majority of Africa’s wealthiest performers.
However, because popularity and wealth are not conclusive indicators of quality, this article compiles the definitive list of Nigeria’s best musicians.
These are the best musicians in Nigeria based solely on lyrical prowess, vocal delivery, and undiluted quality assessment by personal opinion.
1. Burna Boy
Burna Boy, the continent’s most streamed artist, stands alone at the top of any list of Nigeria’s best musicians. Since his breakthrough with Ye in 2018, the Grammy-winning artist has flown the flag and set the standard for afro beats on his own.
The renowned vocalist is the first African artist to have 200 million Boomplay plays, the first African act to have a gold-certified record in France, and the first African artist to sell out Atlanta’s prestigious 21,000-capacity State Farm Arena.
Burna Boy is also the first African artist to get RIAA certifications for songs from three different albums, cementing his position as the best musician in Nigeria.
Burna Boy is also the first African artist to have multiple solo tracks surpassing 200 million Spotify listens, and his album African Giant is the second-most streamed African album in history, trailing only CKay’s CKay the First.
Burna Boy, representing Nigeria as the best musician, headlined the halftime show at the 2023 NBA All-Star Game, introducing Rema and Tems.
Burna Boy is the first African musician to sell out a major concert.
Burna Boy is the first African musician to sell out the
- 13,000-capacity 3 Arena in Dublin, Ireland, twice,
- 15,000-capacity Hallenstadion in Zurich, Switzerland,
- 16,000-capacity Avicii Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.
Burna Boy’s “Love Damini” surpassed Wizkid’s “Made in Lagos” as the quickest African album to reach 400 million Spotify listens, doing so in four months as opposed to twenty-four months for Wizkid’s “Made in Lagos.”
Rema is Nigeria’s third-best musician, with his megahit “Calm Down ft. Selena Gomez” surpassing Ckay’s Love Nwantinti Remix as the country’s most-viewed music video on YouTube. In addition to Burna Boy, the rising star is the only African artist with a gold-certified album in France.
The singer was chosen as one of three performers for the 2023 NBA All-Star Game halftime show, recognized as one of Nigeria’s best musicians by America’s most popular sport.
Calm Down, his collaboration with Selena Gomez and the most played Nigerian song on Spotify in 2022, earned Rema his first Billboard Hot 100 chart entry and made him the first African to receive three million YouTube views in twenty-four hours for a music video. Rema is also the first Afrobeat performer at the Rolling Loud international hip-hop music festival.
Rema’s “Rave & Roses” is the first debut album by an African artist to receive a billion plays across all digital streaming platforms, cementing him as one of Nigeria’s best musicians.
Rema is also the Nigerian musician with the most monthly Spotify listeners, nearly twice as many as second-placed Burna Boy, and ranks 61st globally.
Victony is Nigeria’s fourth-best musician, with a song (Holy Father – Mayorkun) that was the country’s sixth most streamed in 2022. That same year, the singer received his first entry into the US Apple Music Top Songs with Different Sizes (by Burna Boy).
Victony’s Soweto was one of TikTok’s most popular Afrobeats sounds, and he was famously endorsed by Ed Sheeran during Fireboy DML’s November 2022 OVO Arena Wembley performance.
Less than a year after his meteoric rise to superstardom, Asake is still untouchable in the music industry, with no duds in his repertoire. Considering an unrivaled 2022 hegemony with at least a half-dozen singles and possibly the decade’s best Nigerian album, Asake is Nigeria’s second-best musician.
Asake’s consistent performance in both feature and solo songs is one of his most notable achievements. No artist has had a higher proportion of tracks on Spotify’s “Top 50 Nigeria” playlist than Asake since the release of his album in September 2022, establishing him as one of Nigeria’s best musicians.
In his breakthrough year of 2022, Asake
- Was crowned Artiste of the Year by Audiomack,
- sold out his debut gig at the famous 02 Academy Brixton in five minutes, and
- was the second-most-played Nigerian artist on iTunes, Spotify, and Boomplay, behind only Burna Boy.
Asake’s hit single “Terminator” is the second most played song by Nigerians on Spotify in a single day, behind only “Bad To Me” by Wizkid.
5. Kizz Daniel
Kizz Daniel is Nigeria’s seventh-best musician, with his EP “Barnabas” becoming the first project to reach 100 million plays on Boomplay. The singer is BoomPlay’s second-most-played artist and the first to have two songs reach 150 million streams on the platform.
Kizz Daniel, the tenth-most popular Nigerian on Spotify, was also the third-most-popular Nigerian artist on YouTube Music in 2022, trailing only Asake and Burna Boy.
Kizz Daniel cemented his place as one of Nigeria’s best musicians in 2022 with the simultaneous megahits Buga and Cough, two of TikTok’s most popular continental trends.