Without question, 2020 has been a most prolific year in the music industry— everyone showed up and showed out! However, in the noise and furor of the really big releases, it’s easy to overlook some of the incredible work put out by some of the rising acts, this year. Today, we’re emphasising impressive music— we present to you, the top ten songs from rising acts in the year, 2020.
10. I Do— Hassboss.
By far this most “chill” song on this list, Hassboss declares the originality of his love over a well produced beat. While the theme is familiar, it is Hassboss’s delivery that sets the song apart. It is not loud enough to be dramatic. It is not sexual enough to be demeaning or generic. It is soft, simple and introspective, and so while others have echoed this sentiment before, we believe him because his approach lacks an element previously missing in most songs of this nature — honesty.
9. Ungrateful — Naya Akanji and Lemar Abdul.
Vivid Emotions was a short but thematically satisfying Ep, tracking the breakdown of a relationship. Lead single “Eyes On You” may have gotten the most attention and “Company” may have kept you moving, but “Ungrateful Lover” is the climax of this fully realized saga. Slow but deliberate, Naya lashes out at this lover who’s given her nothing to show for her love. In a short and sweet EP, this song has a little more sour, and that’s just perfect!
8. Toxic — Ikayh.
Ikayh’s voice is something different. It’s got the deep grunt of Burna Boy and a hint of Tems’s trademark snarl. This voice and his introspective lyrics are what elevate this song to standout status even on the first listen. It is our favorite lead single this year. On the song he complains about not getting the notice he go deserves, but with songs like these, his moment in the sun can’t be that far off.
7. Shine — Meji.
Ever since responding to MI Abaga’s “You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Lives” gauntlet, Meji has carefully charted his course to becoming one of the very few who lead the new generation of rap in Nigeria. “Shine” is perhaps his most articulate reach for the throne yet. Although in competition with “95” off the same EP, “Shine” edges it out as the project’s standout track. On “Shine” we find vulnerable Meji, we also find the subtle middle finger to doubters. The track is definitely one of hip-hop’s best servings from a rising act this year.
6. Long Time Ago — Afroshop.
One of only two debuts on this list, “Long Time Ago” is proof of Afroshop’s incredible talent and synergy. The duo composed of producer Tesla and singer Chinar absolutely killed this tune which boasts intriguing chants and falsettos culminating in a modern yet primal African song. It’s obviously fresh yet sounds like something from a long time ago. The song is definitely worth listening to.
5. High Tension — Kemena.
By all standards, Kemena was the dark horse of underground music this year. Following a similar path towed by Chikè earlier this year, he released an exceptional body of work that garnered praise from the underground community and mainstream giants alike. Of the many gems on this record, “High Tension” is the most appealing. It is a reggae tinged dancehall tune that laments the insecurity of his lover and when the beat drops and the hook hits, tensions rise and we are officially bonded with Kemena.
4. Bumba — Damilfice.
Damilfice has perfected that art of the slow burner and “Bumba” seems to be his Magnus Opus. A sleeper hit by underground standards, the song went through the hearts and ears of many, eventually finding airplay and praise on the Big Brother Lockdown House. His perfect blend of sensual pleas and innocence make this song a staple for this list. Wizkid may have given us eargasms in October, but Damilfice started the foreplay in April.
3. Pieces — Oma Emina.
You might not have heard the name before. However, his spot as number 3 on this list is well earned. With one of the most unique songs on this list, Oma Emina’s “Pieces” boasts shocking international standard for a rookie’s debut single. The Electro-Pop ballad is stunning with a swelling chorus, an EDM drop, and honest lyrics that cut right through the heart. With numerous comparisons to the work of Shawn Mendes, Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran, it’s no wonder that this pop tune oozes crossover appeal. We listen to his debut and we honestly can’t wait for more.
2. Jó Riddim — Victony.
No doubt, Victony had an impressive year. His debut EP, Saturn has since earned over 2 million streams on all platforms but “Jó Riddim” is the real gem in this treasure cove. The catchy melody and infectious hook of the song made it quickly become a cult favorite cementing Victony’s transition from a gifted rapper to a bonafide Afrobeats star. Despite not being released as a single, it is arguably the biggest song on this list. All hail the king of the outlaws, Victony.
1. N.B.U — Fave.
Arguably the biggest song from a female rising act this year, this mid tempo gem started off as a freestlye on a Jinmi Abdul beat. The freestyle video quickly racked up over 200,000 views on Twitter and is considered to be her breakout single. Her raw unfiltered talent has garnered a cult following on Twitter, effectively making her the most followed person on this list. In the time between the song’s release and now, she has worked with numerous producers including P.Prime, Sess and many more. With “N.B.U”, she’s truly become the favorite of many fans.