2020 was a great breakout year for many young and talented Nigerian artistes. However, only four of them were nominated in the Next Rated category for the annual Headies award.
1) Oxlade: Oxlade had an amazing year, making waves with his unique blend of Afro fusion. His name is Ikuforiji Olaitan AbdulRahman. He was a student at the Lagos State University for two years, before he dropped out of the school to pursue a career in music. Oxlade started his musical journey by trying out his hand as a chorister, working on gospel music. He eventually made the switch to secular music, a move that saw him become well known. His big break came when he was featured by Blaqbonez on his track “Mamiwota”. He eventually got noticed by some of the big guns in the industry, including Davido. He released an EP in March 2020 and an album, Oxygene later. He is currently signed to The Plug Entertainment, Substrate Music and Knostra Music.
2) Bella Shmurda: Abiola Ahmed Akinbiyi rose to the limelight with his song “Vision 2020” which he released in 2019 in which he spoke about the struggles he and other young Nigerians face. His song was a hit on the street and Olamide reached out to him for a remix. Bella Shmurda released an EP, High Tension in 2020. The final year student of History in the Lagos State University has since gone on to release songs with Zlatan Ibile and Runtown, and he also had features on both Olamide’s and Davido’s albums.
3) Omah Lay: Omah Stanley Didia, known by his stage name “Omah Lay” is an indigene of Rivers State. He started out as a rapper with a rap group, Lil King. He was born into a musical family, with his grandfather having been an instrumentalist with Celestine Ukwu before his death, and his father also played the drums. He began to make waves when his songs “Hello Brother” and “Do Not Disturb” started to gain airplay on radio channels in Port Harcourt. He was subsequently signed by KeyQaad record, before he got signed by Dvpper Music Record label. Omah Lay has released two EPs, Get Layd and What Have We Done. He got to release songs with the biggest names in the Nigerian music industry, including Wizkid, Adekunle Gold and Olamide. He got arrested with Tems for allegedly breaching COVID-19 rules at Uganda where they went to perform, sparking wide outrage from his teeming fans back at home.
4) Tems: Temilade Openiyi is one of the brilliant vocalists in the alternative “alte” music genre. She completed her first major project in 2018 when she released her single, Mr Rebel. However, it was her single, Try Me in August 2019 that really catapulted her into the limelight. She worked with American artiste, Khalid and Davido on the remix of Know Your Worth. Tems released an EP titled “For Broken Ears” in 2020. She has gone on to secure features with Wizkid and Davido, two of the biggest names in the Nigerian music industry.
It remains to be seen who will win the Next Rated award this year, but if an opportunity to stake on it is offered on NetBet, a lot of people will go for Omah Lay (Omah Stanley Didia).