Urban Central Presents: The 30 Best Nigerian Songs Of 2017
Talking about a pungently striking year in sonic revolution across the world, 2017 is at the forefront. I didn’t exist when Bach lived, but I can say for a fact that 2017 has been the most rewarding year in my music experience, and I’ve been at this thing before I was born — accept it, don’t be a cynic.
Lists are always difficult, none is absolute. The brilliance of 2017 has added further twists to the already difficult task of making a list of “best…”. Just when the old heads start wailing about the drop in quality or any other nagging that they can come up with, the music literally spoke for itself, while the argument exists as to the content and the shelf life of these songs, the buck shouldn’t be passed to the present generation.
The apparent decline of the album concept may have inevitably lead to acts putting out stronger solos and singles. That argument might suit the larger Contingent of content creators, but it’ll be foolhardy to claim it a fact. The artiste who really understand the art of crafting sounds and words for the generations still grind to put out great albums.
With the foregoing, you must then understand the task we have undertaken to make a list of 30 of the best Nigerian songs from December 14 2016 to December 14 2017. We dug through hours and hours of music; some we earmarked as soon as we heard, others grew on us slowly. Our approach to curation doesn’t automatically dismiss or endorse popular songs, it’s strictly about the quality of Lyrics, Melody, Production and execution. Other criteria also play significant roles. They are; Contribution to ongoing music revolution, value over a period of time, pristine nature and impact on a generation, what would largely be ascribed to quality.
Popular songs weren’t dismissed also for a lack of quality. We believe music should be judged for what it set out to achieve. Any music can be good, weird or different sounding songs aren’t automatically better than popular or more conventional sounds. Even with this arduous task, a list must be made. I know folks don’t really care about all these, they just want to go through the list. Here it is;
IF — Davido
Just misses the top 30. This song wasn’t just a Nigerian hit, but an African hit.
Mr Eazi — Leg Over
Res Ipsa Loquitor. Let the facts speak for themselves.
Mojeed — Eko Atlantic
Producing one of the best EPs this year, this song merely misses the top 30.
Creo Pitää & CHx x Ayeni — Spinning
A very raw creative.
30. All over- Tiwa Savage (Prod by BabyFresh)
A controversial but deserving pick. If you spin the wheel back to “Love me”, it is easy to see that Tiwa has a track record of effortlessly making love songs that embody romance and resonate with populace as well as flirtation, while doubling as danceable numbers. This is her latest achievement in that regard.
29. Fasina — Freaky (Ft Minz)
Palmwine music on a double. So well produced and mixed, this song is definitely true to its roots from Lagbaja and Fela as an African folk classic. Its raunchy lyrics, depicting a saturnalia of youthful exuberance of debauchery is stuff of a true millennial. One word; quality.
28. Mirrors — Ayuu (Prod by JoceWavy)
Just Listen. That’s all.
27. Fake Friends — Daramola
If only for the powerful MFM-esque prayers on this song, depicting the life of a typical Nigerian mother, this song is perfect. Proceeding to how it describes something we all struggle with everyday; fake friends, this song making our list was inevitable.
26. Come Closer — Wizkid ft Drake (Prod by Sarz)
A controversial choice, made over some screams and still harboured reservations. While a lot of people deem it a hit, backed up by numbers, this song doesn’t enjoy culture status amongst the larger Nigerian populace and against time, it might fail for evergreen status. However, for sheer power of pedigree, it makes our list. Internationally, it’s probably the most successful Nigerian song of the year.
25. Wo- Olamide (Prod by YoungJohn)
Another masterstroke from the premier purveyor of street anthems. This song is more than a viral success. From its catchy title to the video, it’s a way of life and inspired madness and adulatiom across the country, sweeping through with effortless effect.
24. Liquor Nights ft Tay- Boogey (Prod By Sencosonic)
An unraveling excursion into the escapades of an alcoholic, which occurs on one too many nights. Boogey is no stranger to layered wordings and on this song, he majestically exposes the trials and tribulations that begin when you go on a voyage of discovery to the bottom of the bottle.
23. Ice Cream- Lady Donli ft Tomi Thomas (Prod by Nosa Appollo)
Lady Donli might not be fully formed yet, but her talent shines everytime. With constant recording, all the gaps in her creative Arsenal will be plugged. Girls are attracts to bad boys and it seems Lady Donli has hers tasting like Ice Cream. In one of her more perfect songs, she describes a dysfunctional love affair. The rhythmic humming and vocal exercises on this song are simply special.
22. Good Place to Start- Ajebutter22 ft Mystro
Do album openers get better than this? In a matter of minutes, Badman Butter backed by his friends in one fell swoop sets the tone for an album of the year contender. The listener’s imagination is sea-ferried to Lagos as this song encapsulates what the album is all about. For an album that conceptually details the metamorphosis of a Lagos boy, this song is that boy’s cradle of life.
21. Omo Kekere- Chyn
Smoothness and the rich lather of quality that Chyn exudes come full circle on this song. It is easy on the ears but worth every weight in execution. Chyn is forming a habit of creating songs that can soundtrack an evening cruise around town in a vintage Benz 250. I have the playlist, now all I need is a vintage Benz 250.
20. FIA- Davido
For a minute now, Nigerian pop songs have started to embody more structure and organization. FIA is an embodiment of that achievement; utilizing a reworked method popularized by Mad over you, Davido narrates a tale of a lover who has overcome doubts and drama to achieve self belief and his defiance not to allow the creators of the doubt and drama back into his new life.
19. Radio- Nonso Amadi (Prod by Juls)
In a year which Africa finally found its corner in the Soul/R&B, with songs like this — African percussion and smooth strings, mirroring popular R&B/Soul Sounds — no one better embodies this transition than Nonso Amadi in Nigeria. He’s the King of Afro Soul. Rich on essence and substance, this song was a no brainer.
18. Change one Thing Change Everything- AQ (Prod by Beats byJayy)
"Change one thing, Change everything" from Blessed Forever by A-Q on iTunes
Preview, buy, and download the song "Change one thing, Change everything" from the album Blessed Forever for ₦ 200.00…
The butterfly effect theory teaches that one small change in a system can result in a ripple effect leading to chaotic consequences. On this song, AQ with the precision of the American Sniper details the impact of a chronological system on the affairs of man. While we wish to undo time because we feel we can do better, the warning here is that second chances come with a very costly price and it is better to continue living in the moment while making an armour with the pieces of our broken past.
17. 133- Aylø (Prod by Aylø and Elijah Bane)
For all who care, AYLØ had one of the best projects of 2017. The <insert project name\> Mixtape houses a collection of songs that detail the millennial struggle in a refreshing yet sober way. 133 is a multi layered song named after the 133 Beats Per Minute drums. The song bobs and weaves through self criticisms, hedonistic indulgence and self doubt, and ends on a cliff hanger leaving the listener craving more.
16. Ponmile- Reminisce
A tale of love. A man professing his love through some very extreme scenarios, to exhibit his lack of limitation. Ordinarily doesn’t add up if you’re not attentive. It further has an undertone of betrayal and ends with a man depicting all his vulnerabilities in a dysfunctional love; paranoia, fears. The powerful best to accompany this song ordinarily would have belonged to Adekunle Gold, but we’d take it. It takes the song to another level and propels it to one of the top Nigerian songs of 2017 for its meaning and empirical relevance.
15. Classiq x Reminisce — Ana Haka
Classiq continued his steady foray into the mainstream with his Hausa bars. Even though you can’t really understand what he’s saying, you appreciate his flows and technique. The beat to this song rolls back the years to the mid-2000s. Shame it’s unknown to most people, but when Classiq finally gets known, references will be made to this song.
14. Silhouette- Yinka Bernie
Who needs virtual reality when Yinka Bernie has vocals that can create a neo-noir chain imagery, detailing a stringof events that are punctuated by a piercing saxophone? Certainly not me and anybody who listens to this song with the eyes closed.
13. Man Already- Poe (Prod by Altims)
When you make Don Jazzy eat his words and get signed to a monster label, you know that you have to deliver as all eyes are on you to do just that. “E no easy to be the man”. Man Already was a risky movement that paid off.
12. Up to You ft Funbi — Show Dem Camp (Prod by Spax)
If palm wine could through some weird process manifest itself as a feeling, it would be the feeling you get when this song plays.
11. Different ft Bridge- Zamir
The LOS boys have been resurfacing and with all the offerings so far, I find it very easy to endorse the growth evident in their sound. While they have retained their refreshing take on music, making the quality evident across board is the most riveting aspect of their music. On Different, we find Bridge assisting Zamir as they grapple with millennial woes, struggle for authenticity and growth.
10. Anxiety…..- AYLØ (Prodby youngsleepyboi + Chris Generalz)
The Mariachi bands from Desperado are not the only ones capable of using a guitar as a weapon. The strings on Anxiety are like defibrillators that tug at the heart; but beware the effects are not to resuscitate you, but to mimic the palpitations that occur during anxiety attacks. Over an otherwise somber instrumentation, AYLØ narrates the struggle with anxiety and the resultant nicotine consumption.
9. Rise of The Underdogs 1- Show Dem Camp (Prod by KidKonnect)
In a year where Nigerian youths shunned the gate keepers and took creative expression to the streets, to soundcloud, to self organized Festivals, it is a thing for analysis that a couple of OGs made the brazen declaration that there are no more gatekeepers; break the gates down. This has been the year of the underdogs.
8. Child of the World- Falz (Prod by Spax)
2017, the year where Mr “Barrister-Lawyer” entered into his form as, the quintessential Nigerian rapper, while rarely making pointless songs, Child of the World is further proof that Falz is capable of relatable storytelling. Child of the world puts front and center the systematic problem of sexual abuse and the negative knock on effect it constitutes.
7. Joromi- Simi
"Don't shoot your shot, it’ll reverse and kill you”. This was a core part of 2017 for 20 something women in their growth phase, looking for love. This song excellently chronicles one of those situations — at least a successful one from a relentless female on a prowl for a mate. Maybe these Twitter girls will take a cue on how to shoot your shot and who to shoot it at. But knowing them, it’s probably not going to happen. They’ll say “Hi”, he won’t reply and they’ll come to cry wolf. 2018, how interesting will thou be.
6. Anti Depressants- Tim Lyre
In an era of drug abuse overkill, this song creates a satire on drug use; it’s power and effects — a much needed curtain of doubt over a scourge. Do drugs really take away the pain, or are they offspring of intense irresponsibility? Find out for yourself.
5. 2Face — Holy Holy
Fresh off a tumultuous and shelved attempt at a civil protest, which highlighted the base mentality of the average Nigerian politician as worse than scum of the earth, 2Baba addresses the pointless personality attacks on this song. It’s political, it’s personal, it’s empirically relevant and we love it.
4. I love you ft CC Johnson- Ric Hassani (Prod by DoronClinton)
Love songs are churned out on a daily basis the world over. While some are innocent renditions of puppy love or infatuations, Ric Hassani’s I Love You brings appreciation and that “butterfly in my tummy” feeling centrestage. It’s certain to be a recurring number in weddings.
3. Desire ft Funbi & Tay Iwar (Prod by Higo)
Odunsi is one artist that continues to impress, his name now evokes a certain standard of expectation of quality. Desire is no different; a ballad that is sure to resonate with folks who have ever been smitten by a lady. Props to Funbi and Tay Iwar.
2. Smile for me — Simi (Prod by Oscar)
Simi the songbird would be a befitting name for an airline company offering romantic trips within a plane designed with fittings that evoke romantic feelings. In this economy however, we would probably not be able to afford it, but we could steal a trip, no?, Simi has mastered the ability to take us to such heights with the full experience, compliments of her voice. Simi is a very talented artiste with an organic sound and on Smile for Me she does everything right.
- You Rappers Should Fix up your lives- M.I Abaga (Prod by PatrickXXLee)
Much has been and will be said about M.I Abaga. At Urban Central we have been at each other’s throat over M.I’s position in the Pantheon of Nigerian Hip-Hop. We may dislike him or revere him but M.I has the most audible voice in Nigerian Hip-Hop and isn’t far behind in the overall scheme of things.
M.I cuts a polarizing figure but when it is all said and done and the last saliva of blatant agreement or disagreement in the argument settles, the conversation YRSFUYL sparked is unmatched in 2017, probably even in other African countries. For 2 weeks, it was all anyone could talk about. When the history of Nigerian Hip-Hop is told, there is no doubt that this song will be included, for it rekindled the interest of the average Nigerian In Nigeria Hip-Hop. It might not have been a “Control moment”, but it broke down doors across Nigeria this year. For that, salute.
Direct all comments and queries to us via Twitter @TheUrbanCentral
If you enjoyed this story, please click the 👏 button and share to help others find it! Feel free to leave a comment below.