Music consistently holds a powerful sway over the lives of youth globally, and in Nigeria, artists and their musical creations profoundly influence culture, impacting the way young people communicate, dress, and express themselves.
Lately, the undeniable rise of the sub-genre “Street Pop” in Nigeria has been both remarkable and thrilling to observe, and it has slowly but surely made its way to mainstream music. This surge in popularity within the mainstream Nigerian music scene actively shapes and establishes cultural trends in the country. Originating from a fusion of Afrobeats, Highlife, Hip-hop, Fuji, Apala, indigenous sounds, and contemporary elements, Street Pop boasts an engaging rhythm, pulsating fast-paced beats, and lyrics that mirror the everyday lives of Nigerians navigating the challenges of the streets.
This journey can clearly be seen in this year’s Spotify Wrapped data, where for the first time, Street Pop artists and tracks are in the top streamed in Nigeria.
“The influence of Street Pop on the Nigerian music landscape in 2023 is clearly and undeniably significant. This is just the beginning of Street Pop going mainstream and we cannot wait to see how it continues to grow,” says Benewaah Boateng, Spotify’s Editor, West Africa.
A notable attribute of Street Pop as a music genre lies in its profound connection to the harsh realities of everyday life in Nigeria. It demonstrates a sincere willingness to delve into the intricacies of street existence, encompassing its language, lifestyle, and all the defining aspects in between.
Olamide is arguably the most influential street pop artist of his generation, consistently praised for his role in elevating Street Pop to mainstream recognition as a distinct music genre. Since the debut of his hit single, “Eni Duro,” he has been a constant cultural force, popularizing dance styles like “Shakiti Bobo” and street lingos such as “Baddo Sneh” and “Pepper Dem”. Through his record label YBNL, Olamide has also played a pivotal role in discovering and nurturing Nigeria’s brightest street pop talents.
Olamide occupies the ninth spot in the list of top 10 artists in Nigeria. His most recent project “Unruly” garnered widespread acclaim from fans who describe it as a brilliant body of work . One particular track that has resonated exceptionally well with audiences is “Gaza” which has received significant admiration for its appeal and musical craftsmanship.
Seyi Vibez, has emerged as an undeniable force in the Nigerian street pop scene, particularly in 2023, after finding mainstream success in 2022. He has ingrained himself in the hearts of Gen-Zs and millennials, with phrases like “na ham, na ham” echoing from his popular song “Chance.” His success in 2023 is evident, from selling out his concert at the O2 Indigo Hall in the UK to securing features on hit songs like Gwagwalada, the second most streamed song in Nigeria on Spotify. Additionally, earning a spot among the top five most streamed artists in Nigeria further underscores Seyi Vibez’s ability to transcend Street Pop and strike a chord with all music lovers.
Born and raised in Ikorodu, the late Mohbad, also a street pop artist, stood out among his peers with a distinctive and captivating sound. His unique fusion of Afrobeat, hip-hop, and street-pop resonated with audiences, distinguishing him and capturing the hearts of music enthusiasts. From his humble beginnings to his rapid ascent to fame, he significantly influenced the street pop genre and discourse, leaving an enduring imprint on the Nigerian music scene.
The devastating news of his passing at the age of 27 on the evening of September 12, 2023, sent shockwaves through the country. His track Ask About Me, where he courageously sang about overcoming personal battles and conquering adversaries, became the top-streamed track every day between September 13th and 25th, reflecting an increased interest in his music following his untimely death. Additionally, he secured a position in the top 20 list of the most streamed artists in Nigeria.
In the world of social media and the streets, Shallipoppi’s breakout hit “Elon Musk,” has become a favorite. This song stands as one of his most streamed tracks on Spotify, marking his introduction to mainstream media. Hailing from Edo, Shallipoppi, one of the most streamed street pop artists on Spotify, remains a constant presence in conversations and is deeply connected to the streets through his music, viral moments, and memorable lines from his songs.
Shallipoppi’s dynamic delivery, use of thought provoking street slang, and infectious beats have ushered in a refreshing wave of sound to the Street Pop scene. His distinctive approach has endeared him to Nigerian audiences who are constantly intrigued, eagerly seeking to comprehend the meaning behind his lyrics.
Notably, Shallipoppi has gained recognition for incorporating nursery rhymes into his music, a style playfully coined “Afrocreche” on social media and evident in songs like “Oscroh (Pepperline)” and “Over the Sea.”
Zinoleesky has reshaped and made substantial contributions to the street pop genre through his skillful melodies and compelling storytelling, landing him in the top 15 most streamed artists in Nigeria. Nominated in the Next Rated category at the 2022 Headies, the artist is featured in Adekunle Gold’s Party No Dey Stop, one of the top ten most streamed tracks in Nigeria in 2023.
While the street pop scene may appear to be predominantly led by male artists, it’s important to acknowledge the remarkable female artistes who are not only making their presence felt but also pushing the boundaries of the genre. Among these trailblazers is Candy Bleakz, known as “The Lady Dragon” by her fans. Her unique style and powerful performances have contributed to breaking the gender barriers in the industry.
Another noteworthy emerging artist making waves in the street pop scene is Zerrydl.
These talented artists not only showcase their skills but also bring a fresh perspective to the street pop genre, proving that the scene is not limited to any gender and is enriched by the diversity of voices and talents within it.
The collective impact of these artists and their chart-topping tracks have significantly molded the narrative of Street Pop, propelling the genre into the mainstream and firmly establishing it as a formidable force in contemporary music. Their music not only offers entertainment but also serves as a mirror reflecting the diverse experiences and narratives from the streets, resonating with audiences worldwide.
As the genre continues to evolve, and street pop artists continue to explore new creative frontiers, it is evident that “street pop” is poised for exponential growth in the years to come, potentially emerging as the next global phenomenon akin to Afrobeats.