Why Olamide and Zlatan are taking over Spotify playlists this month

Every year in October, Nigerians from around the world celebrate their country’s independence and all that it means to be Nigerian from its languages to its art and food, and of course its music- which is flying the green and white flag high across the globe.

This month, global streaming platform Spotify is making Nigerian artists the headline act on the platform, with curated playlists showcasing the music and the artists who are setting the musical scene, both at home and around the world, alight.

While the Nigerian diaspora has a strong part to play in the global rise of the Afrobeats genre in particular, there is no denying that Nigeria’s musical talent is in the midst of a global moment.

Says Spotify’s editor for West Africa, Benewaah Boateng, “The diaspora community has a very strong part to play. Nigerians in the diaspora are championing their music and culture, and in effect, influencing global sounds.”

Playlists to celebrate Naija talent

With even the Grammys now officially recognising the Afrobeats genre, it’s clear that Nigerian music is a powerful force.

In recognition of this cultural prowess, Spotify has created a series of playlists that showcase Naija’s hottest music. This includes. Street Energy and Naija Bars and playlist takeovers by influential Nigerian artists, who share the songs that they love.

From Friday, October 14, the Naija Bars playlist – which is already an essential tracklist of the hottest Nigerian Hip Hop and R&B – will be taken over by rapper Psycho YP, who will be curating it with his favourite sounds. 

Gospel music fans should look out for the Be Lifted playlist takeover by Nigerian worship singer Dunsin Oyekan, and the vibey Street Energy playlist has already been taken over by Afrobeats rapper Zlatan, featuring tracks by Seyi Vibez and Magixx – both of whom were also Spotify Fresh Finds Africa artists.

Exposure and support initiatives

This Nigeria month, Spotify is also continuing exposure and support initiatives like the Fresh Finds playlist, first launched in 2016 with a specifically African off-shoot launched in 2021. This playlist is a diamond mine of undiscovered gems, and independent musicians that you may not have heard of, but that you should hear now.

Among the Nigerian artists on the playlist are Afropop artists Seyi Vibez and Magixx, the newest queen of soul music Preyé, rising star vocalist Ladé, and Baby Riddim hitmaker Fave, to name a few. 

The Fresh Finds Africa  playlist is also receiving the star treatment this month, with Naija music legend Olamide taking over and adding his own favourite up-and-comers from across Africa. 

Speaking about the artists he chose for the playlist, Olamide says: “The entire movement of Olamide and YBNL has been about showing the world that the underdog can become the main character. We have all seen with our eyes that anything is possible and sometimes, people just need a tiny push to make their dreams a reality.

“YBNL cannot sign all the independent artists in the world, but we will continue to find ways to be an instrument that will impact and affect as many as we can. I listen to these talented artists and I want the world to discover them too, that’s why I am co-curating them on this playlist with Spotify.” 

Artists featured on Fresh Finds are exposed to listeners from all over – and with Afrobeats fanbases cropping up as far afield as the UK, France, and the Netherlands, it’s clear that there’s a hunger for what Nigerian artists are dishing out. 

Exploring Naija’s musical heritage:

Nigeria’s music scene has a rich and diverse history, from Highlife to Afrobeats, and there is a resurgent demand for these throw-back sounds.

“Much like the rest of the world, Nigerians are still very bent on nostalgia. So we’re seeing it with Fuji, with Highlife, and with early and late 2000s tracks. You have a number of artists who are starting to lean into that kind of now-retro sound that was popular at the time,”

Benewaah Boateng

To celebrate Nigeria’s deep musical roots, Spotify has also curated a Sounds of Fuji playlist, and two playlists focusing on Nigerian Afrobeats from the 2000s and the 2010s.

Detailing how the playlists were built, Boateng says

“ I feel like for a lot of people who are now coming into the sound, they start with Afrobeats itself. But for a true music lover who would want to do a background check or wants to go into the space to learn more and look at the origins of the sound, where would they go first?”

So she spent time researching, speaking to friends and combing through the data.

“It took a lot of research. I had to call and search up on things, and speak to Nigerian friends. I found that people would also relate this to their childhood. I also used the resources we have available with our algorithm. By looking at data across timelines, and what Nigerian listeners are leaning towards when searching for these foundational genres, we were to make informed decisions on what to include,” she says.

To take a sonic journey through Nigerian history, hit play on the following playlists: see what Zlatan recommends, and keep an eye out for the Naija Bars and Be Lifted takeovers that are still to come. 

Spotify users can also tune into Fresh Finds Africa, for a landscape of blossoming artists’ music not just out of Nigeria, but from across the whole continent. 

Embrace the Nigerian nostalgia with the Sound of Fuji, I Love My 2000s Afrobeats and I Love My 2010s Afrobeats playlists. And if you’re an aspiring creator, visit Spotify For Artists to learn about Spotify’s support tools and resources.

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