Nigeria has a vast, thriving music universe comprising artists of as many ethnic nationalities as can be imagined. These musicians have released and continue to release music that inspires generations and the nation in general.
In this post, though, we will be focusing on musicians from the Yoruba ethnic group. There are many musicians of Yoruba extraction in Nigeria, and they have done pretty well collectively and as individual creatives.
In this post, we will bring you what we consider the top 10 Yoruba musicians in Nigeria. The idea of “top” is pretty subjective, but we are confident that you will love the list we have put together – in no particular order. Tag along.
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David Adedeji Adeleke is easily one of the most-loved musicians in Nigeria. His unsparing generosity has endeared him to millions around the world, and even many young musicians look up to him and hope to be like him.
The songster was born into a wealthy family in Osun and showed an aptitude for music pretty early. His businessman father was not exactly too keen on his music career. But Davido knew what he wanted and pushed it until he got the support of the older Adeleke.
Today, Davido is a man of his own bag, and as he admitted recently, his name is now opening doors for his family members. The songster recently released a project dubbed “Timeless,” a wave-making collection of songs featuring some international stars.
Wizkid Ayo Balogun is another top Yoruba musician out there with an impressive body of work to his name. Born in Surulere, a provincial backwater in Lagos state, Wizkid already knew what was good for him when he was a kid.
At a very young age, he had founded a group comprising little kids like himself from his local church. The group didn’t last, but Wizzy stuck to that music dream of him, pushing his way from the bottom to a contract with Banky W’s Empire Mates Entertainment, eventually leaving to found a record label of his own, where he remains to this day.
The “Fever” crooner has often been compared to Fela, but he repudiates the tag.
He stands out as an example of the saying that it pays to do the right thing. Born into poverty, Olamide had an abiding love for music. But with the lavish slaps of privation on the family, he contended with the temptation to become a fraudster.
He overcame that temptation but memorialised it with the name of his record label, YBNL – Yahoo Boy No Laptop. Today it is impossible to make a list of top Yoruba artists without including the “Woske” chanter.
His name might not be the buzzword on the music scene in Nigeria right now, but D’Banj has already earned a secure place in the universe of Nigerian music. The “Tongolo” hitmaker is a contemporary of Mavin boss Don Jazzy, and both were previously part of a now-defunct collective dubbed Mo’Hits.
Folarin Falana, long famous by his adopted stage name Falz, is a Nigerian lawyer and rapper and one of the children of the celebrated attorney Femi Falana (SAN).
Falz’s music is unapologetically issue-centric and patently anti-establishment. This result is sporadic brushes with the law, but he remains undetermined in his focus on music as an agency for change and national reawakening.
Because of his style of music and militant opposition to bad governance, he has often been compared to Fela.
6. Kizz Daniel
He stands out as another luminous name in Nigeria’s music scene as a whole and on a list of the top musicians of Yoruba roots in Nigeria. Formerly known as Kiss Daniel, the songster had to change his name over a dispute. Today, it is doubtful that anyone remembers the old name.
Kizz Daniel had one of his biggest moments last year when he was co-opted to perform at the World Cup in Qatar. It was the answer to a prayer he had made openly on Twitter. “Buga” that.
7. Tiwa Savage
Often called Queen Tiwa by her admirers, Tiwa Savage is another Yoruba musician of note. She has been around long enough to earn a secure place in the history of female musicians in Nigeria as a whole.
The “Somebody’s Son” crooner recently reached a career milestone as she was picked as one of the performers at the coronation of King Charles III later this month. She is the first Nigerian to be so honoured.
She was almost consumed in a scandal not long ago when her sex tape leaked online, providing oxygen for the jobless and the indolent. She managed to weather the storm
Simisola Ogundele is one notable voice on Nigeria’s music scene and equally one of the top Yoruba voices. The songstress is not known as a gospel artist today, but she actually started as a gospel musician. He debut album was released in 2008 and she has been unstoppable ever since.
Simi is married to Adekunle Gold, another Yoruba musician. We wanted to tie two of them in one spot on this list but decided not to. But, of course, Adekunle is another stand-out Yoruba musician out there.
9. Naira Marley
You might not like his style, but Azeez Fashola, long famous by the adopted stage name Naira Marley is another unmissable name. The controversial singer has a robust following comprising rebellious youngsters who want to live life on their own terms – the Marlians.
Know for his interrogation of the lubricious and the mundane, Naira Marley is unapologetic in his choices and has often faced massive criticisms because, according to some of his critics, he is a bad influence on the young. Some parents would rather their kids avoid anything relating to the singer.
If you’re aghast at this choice and about to break a candle on my head in protest, calm down a bit and hear me out. This is what I’d call a “lol addition” – included for laughs and to ignite a debate or a semblance of it, There are understandably superior musicians, but sometimes it pays to catch a virus. Go embrace Prof. Zeh for his originality and disruption of the music scene. No qualms.