Stardom invites and breeds controversy, like the classic moth drawn to the flame. Given this reality and the adage that “no publicity is bad publicity,” controversy has evolved through time into a potent tool for achieving popularity, despite the many brilliant components that go into establishing an artist. As a result, it has been hypothesized that certain artists use it to grab the public’s attention.
Nowadays, owing to social media, artists are served bouts of controversy whether or not they created them. In this list, we’ve applied a controversy meter to Nigerian musicians in order to identify 15 of the most contentious in recent memory.
Portable is a Nigerian musician known for his outspoken lyrics and outlandish behavior. He has been embroiled in several scandals, including a physical brawl with another musician in 2021 and a contentious music video in 2022. Portable remains one of Nigeria’s most successful singers, and his music has been streamed millions of times. Portable is a box of scorpions left open unknowingly, known for his continuous rants and troublemaking online and offline.
Wizkid’s unique alias “Popsy” stemmed from his pride on Snapchat as the “father” of his business competitors. On April 22nd, Wizkid was pulled for disrespecting Banky W, his previous label boss — Wizkid tweeted “lol” in response to Banky W’s assertions that he owed EME, his first label, two albums before leaving the firm in 2014. Wizkid has continually courted controversy since the release of his debut album. In a magazine interview, the artist expressed his disdain for hip hop, declaring incorrectly that “rap is dead,” sending social media into a riot.
Ruger has been one of the most troublesome musicians at various periods, particularly in 2022. He was first assaulted on stage, and his enraged reaction sparked outrage across the internet. Ruger, a master of insults and clapbacks, is responsible for Buju’s popular epithet — “fatty bum bum.” He had responded to a fan who stated Buju is a better singer than him, which sparked his feud with the “Italy” crooner.
Brymo, a talented musician with a sizeable ego, has stirred up controversy on Twitter a few times by asserting that his talent is underappreciated and that he is the best musician in the world. Following the release of his Heya! single, which he graced while sporting a leather thong and which made him the talk of the Nigerian internetsphere, things got a little heated for Brymo.
The musician’s subsequent run-in with scandal, however, was less amusing because it involved a rape accusation, which he strongly denied in a manner that irritated some online users and led them to demand his cancelation.
5. Burna Boy
For the majority of his music career, Burna Boy has been involved in controversies. On June 12th, 2022, Burna Boy was accused of firing at a couple at Cubana Club by The Flowolf, another musician. On August 23rd of that year, an enraged Burna Boy publicly denigrated his friend Wizkid due to the latter’s supporters’ frequent bant strikes.
Steflon Don, Burna Boy’s ex-girlfriend, labelled her ex-lover a “mummy’s boy” on November 14th following several displays of comparable gravity. Additionally, last year, Burna showed up late as hell to his “Lagos Loves Damini” concert, and instead of apologizing to the fans that had been waiting for hours, he went off on them.
Blaqbonez kicked off the year with Breaking the Yoke of Love, a contentious anti-love performance held on February 13th. Aside from the amusing things that almost got him into trouble on social media, Blaqbonez called Carter Efe out for offering Berri Tiga 5% of the proceeds from the song Machala. When no one else would, a fervent Wizkid fan called the Starboy out on his disrespect for rappers. He also commented on BNXN’s uproar about streaming tampering.
7. Ayra Starr
Ayra’s newfound love, which subsequently became a promotion strategy, was her tiny skirt. Ayra Starr was known to leave it skimpy with her skirts on and off; she deserved to be chastised for it. Ayra Starr tried to attack a troll who proclaimed her the “best in prostitution.” “Just like your mom,” she replied. “Murife, don’t run,” Murife said, but Ayra Starr dared to run and collapsed on the Afronation stage in Ghana. The next morning, she called out the show’s organizers.
Controversy follows Davido like an eager fan. From a sex scandal involving images of the singer in bed with a Ghanaian student, Sonia Jumbo, to claims of song stealing leveled by a suspected extortionist attempting to exploit the musician, Davido has had it all.
Davido also slammed the entire industry for failing to congratulate him on his work on the 2022 FIFA World Cup theme song, Hayya Hayya. Shortly after, he accused South African DJ Maphorisa of disliking him during an internet argument about who brought Amapiano to Nigeria.
9. BNXN fka Buju
Despite being a rising star, the gifted singer has demonstrated that he is more than just another new kid on the block with his vocals and ability to get into and withstand controversy. Buju got into a fight with officers of the Nigeria Police Force on a Lagos road.
The musician then boasted of “spitting” in an officer’s face, prompting the PRO to express interest in looking into his accusations. Before this, Buju had a Twitter spat with Ruger after the latter called him a “feature merchant” with no solo hits.
10. Tiwa Savage
Tiwa Savage’s conflicts have been few but significant in her over a decade-long career. Tiwa Savage, a private musician, had her first scandal in 2016 when her now ex-husband Teebillz accused her of infidelity. Tiwa Savage’s next run with controversy came in 2018, following the popularity of her Wizkid-featured romantic single, Ma Lo, which they’d then performed at multiple performances with hot displays of love.
The top female musician’s next contentious moment came during the Tiwa Savage and Seyi Shay scandal, when she dragged the latter to filth. And the biggest of them all, in 2021, her sex tape was released by a man who wanted fat blackmail cheques but was denied.
11. Seyi Shay
Seyi Shay is one female act whose seductive voice, fluid flow, sex appeal, and romps with controversies have ensured that her name remains remembered. Earlier in her career, Seyi Shay was dogged by rumors of an affair with Wizkid.
Seyi Shay later found herself in deep water after some nude photos of herself were posted on her Instagram account, which she claimed were the product of an anonymous hacker with an unknown reason. Her run of controversy reached a climax when videos of her and Tiwa Savage arguing in a Lagos salon surfaced.
12. Naira Marley
For Naira Marley, whose tweets and captions are frequently brow-raising due to their scandalous nature, controversy is a walk in the park. Last year, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the rapper, singer, and record label owner had a show at Jabu Mall in Abuja despite restrictions on flights and social gatherings.
His activities had resulted in the suspension of the airline he’d flown for and the closure of the mall. The rapper, on the other hand, has been in hot water with his EFCC scam allegation, which came on the heels of his online tussle in support of the country’s online fraud trend.
13. Seyi Vibez
Seyi Vibez, a fast-rising Nigerian street-pop artist, has recently been embroiled in a number of disputes. Seyi came under fire for failing to give due credit to a Muslim cleric whose words he allegedly plagiarized in a song. He recently started an ongoing struggle with Zinoleesky after the two of them unfollowed each other on Instagram. He has gained greater attention for releasing four studio albums in a short period of time.
14. Seun Kuti
Like his illustrious father, Seun is outspoken, and throughout his career has run into a number of issues, the most recent of which saw him being arrested. An arrest warrant was issued for Grammy-nominated saxophonist and singer Kuti months ago when a video of him screaming and reportedly slapping a police officer on the road went viral. He was ultimately granted bail after originally being denied bond.
15. Kizz Daniel
Kizz Daniel has been involved in a number of controversies. Kizz Daniel was called out by Rela, who quickly released the song Buga. Kizz Daniel’s Buga, according to the UK-based musician, sampled sections of his song. On August 9th, Kizz Daniel was dragged for missing his gig in Tanzania. He returned with a press release claiming he had forgotten his baggage.