Since Eedris Abdulkareem and the Remedies turned pop music with an afro bent profitable, we’ve seen a fresh batch of superstars pop out from the ‘streets’ and reinvent the sound every other year. Every successive generator of genre bending wunderkinds comes with its class of pop starlets, with the pipes and the potential to become a pop star to rival Rihanna and grow an honest to goodness fandom. And each time we’re sorely disappointed.
Here are a few of the greats who schooled us on how to be a proverbial flash in the pan.
Soti’s Malaria is hands down one of the best love songs ever written by a Nigerian musician, coming out of Port Harcourt, Malaria swept through the country helped heavily by a before-its-time music video. Soti teased an album for weeks, that turned months and then years. She tried to make a comeback in the late noughties but that petered out too.
Justina’s Omo You Too Sexy was the big dance hit of 2009, with witty lyrics and a delivery that Nigeria’s male afro-pop stars didn’t cover till 2012. With that kind of raw sexuality and a pretty good grasp of dance music, building a career like Madonna’s was almost within Justina’s reach, but after that one song, we never heard from her again.
Say what you want about them, but you can’t deny that Nigga Raw’s Desperate Chicks was one of the most successful Nigerian girl groups of all time. Started in the late 2000’s as a Destiny’s Child transplants, songs like the uber successful Okpomekwe and Who get dat ting are songs that many still know the lyrics to today. Their distinct style, a mix of uber-trashy personalities and a traditional, almost gospel Igbo sounds was familiar enough to draw people in but with enough edge to keep things interesting. They almost had it, almost.
Ashionye might be a successful actress now but she started her career as a part of the girl band Emete. There was something in the water in the 2000’s and girl bands were in. But after two single and a highly publicized split that saw Ashionye dye her hair an auburn blonde and launch a solo career complete with a debut album that had some people making comparisms to Beyonce (sorry Tiwa, you weren’t the first). We actually thought she’d go the distance. But a role in the DSTV drama the Doctors Quarters was all it took to put a nail in that coffin.
Abuja based Rikeino Jackson Bent was the daughter of senator Jackson Bent and one of the few child singers after Chi-chi of Africa who ventured into pop music. A few music videos which never made it onto Youtube and an EP ‘This Race’ that had Modenine on it at his most popular. We thought Rikky Bent would become at least a Stacie Orrico but an unexpected pregnancy in her teens had her smuggled off to the US and shut the door on any hopes of a career here.
My Naija Guy wasn’t the most lyrically or melodically proficient song, but in 2005 when the only person who could hold a note was Esther Ike of Resonance, most people weren’t looking to singer Angelica to rival Whitney. But she had long blonde hair, and wasn’t afraid to bludgeon us with her sexuality and a good dose of a stretch limo in her music video. But that was literally the last we heard of her.
Rapper and OAP, Kemistry is one third of Nigeria’s original female rap trinity (the others were Sasha P and Blaise who don’t make this list because they still have careers, somewhat). Spitfire Kemistry was known for her delivery and was connected to the folks over at Trybesmen for a long time. Then she put out Shake, her version of a party song. Apart from this and ‘Ijo Ti Ya’ a lacklustre Independence day tribute song, Kemistry hung the mic and kept out of the limelight.
Nnenna was instrumental to Modenine winning his famed Channel O award for his breakthrough song ‘Cry’. Her heart wrenching chorus haunted us long after the song was done. Coming into popularity during Nigeria’s female troubadour phase (that gave us Asa and Nneka) Nnenna tried to capitalize on Modenine’s success with a moody power ballad ‘Oluchi’ under Question Mark records. It hit all the right notes but Nnenna just couldn’t muster enough hype to launch a career on the shoulders of what has turned into a contemporary Nigerian classic.