May 28, 2022
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Over the years, we have seen dexterous music producers chart the course of Nigeria’s sonic evolution.

Music producers are the oft-overlooked, yet most important element in the rise of Afrobeats. In the studio - read stu - they envision sounds, cook up a blend of instruments, which produce boundless, eclectic African pop music, that continue to transform the perception of a country, from a home of fraudsters, to the home of excellence in contemporary African pop music.

Over the years, we have seen dexterous music producers chart the course of Nigeria’s sonic evolution. Over the past two years, the sound has switched, once again. But instead of recognizable faces, Nigeria’s soundscape is being soundtracked by obscure, yet talented young men with a flair for calculated sonic experimentation.

In 2021, everywhere you look, you see a new producer. And boy, are they amazing? But to each of those sounds, there is a story: one of intense practice and studio time, perfecting the art of crafting sounds. Some of them are also beginning to get international acclaim, as part of ‘Afrobeats to the world.’ But first, let’s celebrate what some of them have achieved in 2021.

Here is a list of the top 10 Nigerian producers of 2021.

Criteria;

The producers who blew minds with their craft and produced hits throughout the year. The impact of their production in Nigeria alone.Year in review: November 31, 2020 - November 31, 2021Songs that exploded in 2021, after a Q4 2020 release.Producing 40%% of any album is an added advantage. 

Honourable mentions:

Nigerian producers of the year. (Pulse Nigeria)

Pheelz

Remains the most contentious exclusion from the list, but he produced ‘High’ for Adekunle Gold and Davido, ‘Crown of Clay’ for Vector and MI Abaga, as well as his own EP, Hear Me Out. Although a lot quieter than he’s been in recent years, Pulse Nigeria’s 2020 producer of the year still did ‘High,’ which is a hell of a bargaining chip.

Zaki Amujei

One of Nigeria’s fastest-rising producers, the man with the highly resonant tag also misses out on the top 10. He did amazing work on Cheque’s debut album, Bravo and even more impressive work on Liya’s debut EP, Alari.

Masterkraft

Having produced ‘Doings’ and ‘Levels’ for Flavour, he produced ‘Egbon’ for himself and Phyno, and ‘Hallelu’ for himself, Zlatan and Bella Shmurda.

Ajimovoix Beats

He literally produced the ‘Focus Dance Beat.’

IlleriXO

Afroselecta

10.) BeatsByJayy

Nigerian producers of the year. (Pulse Nigeria)

Tag: BeatsByJayy, yeah… Huh.

Notable Singles: ‘Breathe’ for AQ

The late great BeatsByJayy was a stalwart of Nigerian Hip-Hop, whose Afro-pop reps became underrated. While he didn’t produce major hits throughout the year, he did produce ‘Breathe’ for AQ and Chike. More importantly, he produced a chunk of the following albums: Golden by AQ, Survivor’s Remorse by Loose Kaynon, Sex > Love for Blaqbonez and around 30% of Bravo for Cheque.

9.) P-Priime

Nigerian producers of the year. (Pulse Nigeria)

Tag: Giddem!

Notable singles: ‘Ozumba Mbadiwe’ for Reekado Banks

In 2020, Pulse ranked Priime at number two. One of the major reasons for that: he produced 60% of Olamide’s Carpe Diem.

However, ‘Infinity’ and ‘Loading’ from the same album blew heavily in the first quarter of 2021. As much as that counts in his favour, his only two notable hits of the year are ‘Anoti’ for Wizkid and ‘Ozumba Mbadiwe’ for Banks. He also produced ‘Energy’ and ‘Fada’ on Zlatan’s Resan.

8.) Andre Vibez

Nigerian producers of the year. (Pulse Nigeria)

Tag: Vibes…

Notable Singles: ‘Running’ and ‘Feeling’ for LadiPoe

Vibez isn’t a new producer. Infact, he used to produce for Rema and Alpha P, when they used to be a group back in Benin. The son of the late great, Victor Uwaifo, Vibez has had a stellar year, during which his name has been hoisted onto many lips. For one, he produced ‘ Feeling’ for LadiPoe and Buju, as well as ‘Running’ by LadiPoe and Fireboy.

He also produced ‘Bridgerton’ on Ayra Starr’s 19 and Dangerous, as well as ‘Too Correct’ for Rema and Crayon.

7. Kukbeatz

Nigerian producers of the year. (Pulse Nigeria)

Tag: Kukurukoo

Notable hits: ‘Bounce’ for Ruger

Although he only produced ‘Bounce’ for Ruger in terms of hits, he has been a revelation all year. Alongside Tempoe, he has arguably produced Nigeria’s freshest sounds of 2021.

And oh, he also produced two EPs, Pandemic and The Second Wave for Ruger.

6.) Rexxie

Nigerian producers of the year. (Pulse Nigeria)

Tag: Yo Rexxie, pon this one!

Notable Singles: ‘KPK’ for himself and Mohbad, ‘Coming’ by Naira Marley and Busiswa

Every year since 2018, Rexxie has found his way onto Nigeria’s producer lists and that’s to his credit. Although he enjoyed a quieter year like Pheelz, he still produced the mega hit, ‘KPK’ for himself and Mohbad as well as ‘Coming’ for Naira Marley, featuring Busiswa. He also produced ‘Polongo’ on Zlatan’s sophomore album, ‘Resan.’

He also released his debut album, A True Champion.

5.) Blaise Beatz

Nigerian producers of the year. (Pulse Nigeria)

Tag: Blaise Beatz

Notable Hits: ‘Sinner’ for Adekunle Gold, ‘Lie’ for Kizz Daniel

Blaise Beatz has been around for a minute, but this is his first entry in Pulse Nigeria’s top 10 list of Nigeria’s hottest producers. This year, his success might have slightly gone under the radar, but we’ve been watching. He produced the aforementioned hit records, but also produced the biggest tracks on Barnabas by Kizz Daniel.

He also produced ‘Outside’ for Buju.

4.) Sarz

Nigerian producers of the year. (Pulse Nigeria)

Tag: Really

Notable hits: ‘Monalisa’ for Lojay

After more than a decade in the game, the veteran and young OG keeps going. This year, he produced LV N ATTN for himself and Lojay, as well as Sweetness, once again for himself and Obongjayar.

3.) Willis Giddem

Nigerian producers of the year. (Pulse Nigeria)

Tag: Wi wi wi willis, giddem!

Notable hits: ‘Highway’ for DJ Kaywise and Phyno, ‘Squander’ for Falz, ‘Celebrate Me’ for Patoranking, and ‘Cold Outside’ by Timaya and Buju

Let the above speak for itself. He also produced ‘One Life’ on Zlatan’s sophomore album, ‘Resan,’ as well as ‘Gaza’ for DJ Neptune and Patoranking.

2.) Tempoe

Nigerian producers of the year. (Pulse Nigeria)

Tag: MAD!

Notable hits: ‘Godly’ by Omah Lay, ‘Alcohol’ for Joeboy, ‘Understand’ by Omah Lay

As noted earlier, Tempoe and Kukbeat set the tone for sonic mastery in Afro-pop all year. All you have to do is just listen to what these mad men cooked all year. Comrades, you need to be calming down. But for here, nai we dey.

He also produced a Drill record titled ‘Network’ for Twist. While Omah Lay’s sophomore EP dropped last year, the impact of the EP was majorly felt this year. In fact ‘Godly’ remains one of the biggest Nigerian songs of 2021.

He also produced two songs on Joeboy’s debut album, Somewhere Between Beauty and Magic.

1. ) Niphkeys

Nigerian producers of the year. (Pulse Nigeria)

Tag: Niphkeys

Notable hits: ‘Koleyewon’ for Naira Marley, ‘Kilofeshe,’ ‘Naira Marley,' ‘Feel Good’ for Mohbad and ‘Ale Yi’ for Zlatan, 'Back Side' for Mohbad.

You don’t have to know him, but you know his work. It’s around you and e dey choke you.

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