Top 16 Recordings of 2023

Happy New Year, everyone! Welcome to 2024 AD ( at least for those who follow the Gregorian calendar). And what better way to start the year than with some quality music?  As our gift to you this new year, the UIMSA Press Entertainment Desk, took stock of Nigerian music released in 2023, and decided to put together two lists, while we await new jams from our artists this year. The first, as you will see below, is of the top recordings of 2023 while the second is of the top albums.

In curating this list, recordings were selected based on the quality of vocal and instrument arrangement, songwriting, and production.  Also, note that the list is arranged in no particular order. Zero tolerance for agenda-hunting. Ready? Here we go!


  • Recordings released between January 1st and December 31st, 2023
  • Recordings released by artists of Nigerian origin

Worthy Mentions

Lonely At the Top – Asake

BLOOD ON THE DANCE FLOOR – Odumodublvck feat. Bloody Civilian, Wale

Sweet Tea (Aduke) – Bnxn

Red & Green – Kizz Daniel

HOV – Rema

Undercover Lover – Tay Iwar feat. Twelve XII


OVA – Lojay

For an EP centred on love and heartbreak, what better way to end than to admit that you (and her) knew that it wouldn’t work out? P Priime and Lojay did some unspeakable things on OVA and you might need a real-life experience (hot breakfast) to realise that. While MOTO took the most shine commercially on Gangster Romantic, I began to suspect something when Lojay gave a shoutout to Baddo for sponsoring the video shoot of OVA because he liked the song. And that was it! On OVA, Lekan dismissed his faith in everything that could keep the relationship going and faced the harsh reality. You could tell the tone of finality in his expression and it’s probably intentional because how well can you describe a GANGSTER ROMANTIC?

Peter Adeyemo.

Me & U – Tems

After a lengthy spell from going solo, Temilade came back with a gorgeous fusion of Afrobeats and Christian music. A song that comes from a deep place, Me & U is the sound of Tems grasping her role. Me & U is about discovering the real me, building a genuine relationship with the Creator, and gaining a true perception of self,”  she explained in an interview.

From her solo last release, If Orange Was a Place where she put her RnB tendencies on full display, Me & U instead is a mesmerizing, percussive song that is simultaneously thrilling and introspective. It’s a throbbing and spiritual exhibition of her peerless voice and intimate lyricism. She sings, “I need faith to believe you, faith to receive you.” “Give me something, please. You are everything to me, and I don’t need anything.”

The record is expected to be the lead single for her highly anticipated forthcoming debut LP and if she’s bold enough to open with a contemporary Christian song, then I bet she has a lot more in store for us.

Gerald Olokungbemi.

Red Potion – Rema

Johnnie Walker Red Label? I know my GOAT. A song dedicated to one of the finest drinks out there, and it definitely sounds like a boozy night out. You know, when you can barely stand straight anymore, when you’re just swaying to the beat with your red cup in your hand tilted, your Red Potion sloshing on the floor. When you drop the liquor bottle on the floor just to watch it break, and giggle uncontrollably while your friends drag you away and tell you that’s enough alcohol for the night, but you slur, “Nooooo. It’s fine, really. I’m always like this.” When you have a girl you only met for the first time that night wining on your crotch, when you lick her neck and taste her salty perspiration, when you— Ahem, this is a PG article, Simeon.

Simeon Okojie.

Jinja – Olamide

The story of this song is a simple one. Ludwig Van Beethoven composes Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor for soft piano, commonly known as Für Elise, in 1810. He dies in 1827. The composition is discovered 40 years later, popularised, and then sometime in August, 2023, Olamide releases Jinja which samples the composition.

There isn’t so much to say about the quality of this song as there is to listen. It is a culmination of years of advancement in music across three different continents, inviting listeners to merry and have a good time (transition between Classical and Romantic in Europe, emergence of Hip-Hop in North America and Amapiano’s dominance in Africa). On Jinja, producer, Eskeez, opts for violins and log drums, leaving Olamide’s voice as the primary instrument, and offering one of the best post-choruses in recent times (Gbà kó je rings in my head every other day). Also, it’s not every day someone espouses that they would “r’ọkùn ni” i.e rise from the dead, if they were in a coma, and their partner needed some sweet lovin’.

John Eriomala.

Big 7 – Burna Boy

I don’t know if the production team on this song inspired the song title but Burna assembled a full house on this beautiful record. After Sittin On Top of The World ft. 21 Savage, Talibans II, and his feature on J Hus’ Masculine, Outsiders knew to expect a crazy project from their guy. But before the project, Burna blessed us with Big 7. Starting a song with tributes to Virgil Abloh, the late American fashion designer and entrepreneur, I didn’t know what to expect. The PH superstar preached self-awareness and high sense of self-esteem to his listeners. The braggadocio was evident and Burna lives up to it, in the booth and high-end fashion and automobile stores. The melody is something that keeps calling you back to put it on repeat because he embraces success with his distinct vocals, and blended Afropop elements.

Peter Adeyemo.

Dog Eat Dog II – Odumoblvck, Cruel Santino & Bella Shmurda

Before we delve into this record, we have to give special thanks to Skepta, who is responsible for the wicked strings on the intro UCEE infused into the original Dog Eat Dog beat. Now that that is out of the way, I believe everyone will agree with me when I say we can comfortably compare the performance of ‘Modu, Cruel Santino and Bella on this track to prime BBC ( Bale, Benzema & Cristiano) or prime MSN (Messi, Suarez & Neymar) or prime Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen & Dennis Rodman. The chemistry between them is palpable with each artiste complementing the others’ flow effortlessly.

Odumodublvck describes Dog Eat Dog II as a spiritual sound, likening the collaboration to the coming together of three wise men. His verse is profound and deliberate, with elements of Progressive R&B, Afrobeat, and Grime. We saw a relatively untapped side of Cruel Santino whose verse was fondly reminiscent of Daddy Showkey’s Ghetto Dance subgenre. Bella reminded us once again why he got a Wizkid co-sign when his unique sonic prowess came to the fore during his verse.

This record eventually made the cut on Odumodublvck’s Eziokwu album which dropped later in the year and was one of the steps that took the artiste to the heights he reached this year.

Gerald Olokungbemi.

Flakky – Seyi Vibez

Flakky, rora ma re’di. You may be observing a pattern with this writer. I promise, this perhaps isn’t reflective of my worldview. But in any case, that line real die. Many Loseyi songs could have made this list, but the instrumentation and arrangement of this one make it very special. The art of the African guitar. Sir Victor Uwaifo would be proud.

Simeon Okojie.

Breaking The Yoke Of Love – Blaqbonez feat. Chike, Raybekah

ShowDemCamp and Ikon/Kid Connect. Jay Z and Kanye. Olamide and Pheelz. Nas and DJ Premier/Hit-Boy. And now, Blaqbonez and Ramoni; the best rapper-producer combo on this side of the Atlantic.

On Breaking The Yoke Of Love, they prove why this is so, teaming up with RnB royalty, Chike, and siren, Raybekah, for a song that is quite easily in the realm of the gods. Ramoni’s weapon of choice here is the grand piano, while Chike and Raybekah transform their voices into battering rams, taking bold-faced digs at Cupid. Where the singers do not inflict damage, Blaqbonez steps in; wielding his baritone like a spear. He spares (terrible pun intended) no time to diss Disney fairytales (“F**k Cinderella, f**k Beauty and the Beast”) and masterfully flips J Cole’s Love Yours into an Oliver Twist retelling (“I’m looking at Nancy (Osas nko?)/ I love her too (Ayra Starr?), Pearl Caddy too/ Oh my days, Tems just posted, you know I want her too), in a short, yet powerful sermon on love. So much so, that by the time Chike and Raybekah return to say grace with their “Amen”s, there’s nothing else left to say. Service is over and Ramoni’s choir shows us the way out of church.

John Eriomala.

Obapluto – Shallipopi

It’s another time in Afrobeats where some ‘random’ artist – not from Lagos obviously – pops out with a sound that you’ve not heard before and you’re wondering what the artiste’s plan is, and then 6 months into breakout you’re screaming his song at a party in a club along Awolowo Way, Ibadan. Obapluto is the seal to the genius triad that Elon MuskEx-ConvictObapluto is. Shallipopi and Pa Monday-Edo cooked up a joint that fuelled the reverence of the great Benin Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi. It’s a beautiful record that sparks conversations surrounding African traditionality, and language diversity in the Nigerian music scene. Busy-Pluto, who has been on the production seat for the Benin star, did not fail to deliver on Obapluto. Shallipopi the ‘small body, big engine, small boy with big money’ is ready for the shine in the industry.

Peter Adeyemo.

Soweto (Remix) – Victony, Temple, Don Toliver & Rema

Of all the remixes of the original Soweto track from Victony’s 2022 Outlaw EP, this remix is undoubtedly the most successful. It retains the signature Afrobeats cadence but also adds an international pop appeal. The Outlaw King struck gold with his guest artists, American Hip-hop/ Pop star Don Toliver brought his unique melody and Rema as usual came in with infectious lamba.

The unsung hero of all the collaborators, however, is multi-platinum, diamond-certified producer, Tempoe. Tempoe has a track record of delivering mind-bending, mellifluous instrumentations as evidenced by his giving a handful of artists their most streamed songs (Joeboy, CKay, Babyboy AV, Omah Lay and even Victony himself).

The lyrics of Soweto(Remix) are enchanting, Victony paints vivid images of love and desire while Don Toliver’s verse exudes sensuality and Rema’s touches on humour and playfulness. This song is expected to become a long-time favourite on dance floors and playlists because of its addictive tune and appealing groove.

Gerald Olokungbemi.

FTR – Cruel Santino

What happens when Alté and Mara have sex? What monstrosity is born from this unholy union? FTR is your answer, ladies and gentlemen. In recent times, alté artists have leaned into mara to add a new dimension to their work lest it get too stale: Brazy Skank by brazy, OTE! by Odunsi (The Engine), Fuji 5000 also by Odunsi (The Engine) — released in 2020, this is perhaps the earliest iteration of this form of artistry, although it was more Fuji than Mara. FTR, the Cruel Santino and S-Smart collaboration sees two giants from their respective fields unite and looks set to become a hallmark for this infantile sub-genre. Alté Mara to the world.

Simeon Okojie.

Karma – Seyi Vibez

2023 was the year of samples and interpolation for contemporary Nigerian music. I do not think – you can ‘go and go and verify’ – there was any mainstream or even niche project by an artist last year that didn’t include a sample or interpolation. 

At the very top of that pile, has to be the chant heard on Seyi Vibez’s Karma; a solemn, alluring call in what is most likely a Romance language or Latin itself. With that sample, producer, Dibs, set the tone for the rest of the track, Loseyi’s verses of prayer serving as the perfect accompaniment. A combination of pseudo choral layering, empty spaces, strings, and a grand drumline as the track closes, interchange beautifully; buoying declarations made in the singer’s native Yoruba, and in a manner hinting at his mixed Muslim-Christian upbringing. Lines like  “ Èmi jù bá rẹ oh, kò sì nkan tó ṣe mi” which translates to “I worship you, there’s nothing that can harm me” and ‘kori, kò jù bá rẹ oh, eh!”  which is an admonition for the listener to do same, describe the overall philosophy of the song in great detail, “Life is harsh so you had better hold on tight to the Creator”.

John Eriomala.

San Siro – YKB

Before I begin the explanation, make I paint a picture, make I write literature, describing a future for you…’ starting a song is a different wave of love-themed Afrobeats record. It’s more like YKB was banking on the picture, literature, and description of the future to do the explanation. Skimmed through a thousand – just kidding – playlists this year on Spotify and I can boldly tell you that there are not more than 2 love songs with the same level of intentionality of San Siro. Produced by Finito, Dave October, and Funwon, YKB blessed the mid-tempo beat with his storytelling skills in an enchanting manner. It’s that record that you wish everyone could understand like you do. The outro of the track started with Finito’s tag and the background beat fading into oblivion. YKB seized the opportunity to remind her that the amount of love he has is unspeakably massive and before he can begin to explain, he needs to paint a picture, write a literature, and……. Yusufu baby, baba si won!

Peter Adeyemo.

Reason – Omah Lay

After the outstanding success of his debut album, Boy Alone, Port Harcourt star, Omah Lay dropped a Deluxe about a year later, including an additional six songs to the original album.

Omah Lay, who has been dubbed the pioneer of ‘Afro-depression’ made Reason the intro for the deluxe. An upbeat track with contrasting emotional lyrics, the song is characteristically burdened with struggles about mental health, self-reflection and the search for meaning in life. He has perfected the art of churning out painfully melancholic melodies alongside his evocative lyrics and still getting everyone to sing and dance along to his and their pain.

Omah Lay intimately rides the strumming guitars and percussive beats provided by Tuzi. On the chorus,  existential questions are posed, including “What is the reason you do not have your own peace of mind?” and “What’s the reason why we’re still out here?” These inquiries may be seen as the artist’s inner monologue, challenging both himself and his audience to consider their own lives and look for meaning.

Gerald Olokungbemi.

Serotonin – chi

This is Eurodance excellence created by a British-Nigerian phenom. I learnt about chi the model before I learnt about chi the musician. And rightly so, she was always so phenomenal as a model— Mowalola editorials, runway appearances. But her primary interest has always been music. In recent times, she’s really come into her own and found her style. Her debut album came in September this year, and Serotonin was the stand-out track. Complete with riveting choreography in the music video, this song just makes you feel like getting your groove on. This is an artiste on the ascent, keep an eye out for her.

Simeon Okojie.

Family Meeting – Bloody Civilian

Ever been the subject of a family meeting? Me neither. But Bloody Civilian, real name – Emoseh Angela Khamofu, has, and on track three of her debut EP, Anger Management, she wasted no time, nor chords, in describing hers.

Scenario: You’re in the sitting room with your mom and your mom’s friend – ‘Aunty” – not  your aunt at all – who is scolding you for not going to church, being outside your estate at suspicious times, and a bunch of other things. Your mom soon joins her in scolding you. You’re there, trying your best to apologise. They barely listen. Eventually, you just can’t take it anymore and so you make up your mind to pack up and leave.  And that’s just on the first verse alone. Family Meeting is such a well-written, well-arranged record that mirrors the escapist desires of so many Nigerian teenagers and young adults. “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know if I can do this no more/ Before you return me back to God, I think I’m gonna pack my sh*t and run”.

Even more impressive was discovering that Bloody Civ. did all of the production, writing, and recording for the record. The pulsating bass guitar? Her. Vocal arrangement? Her . That near-tangible airiness? All her. Little wonder why she is often referred to as Nigerian music’s best-kept secret.

John Eriomala.

Spotify Playlist link here.

Apple Music Playlist here.

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