About a decade ago, collaborations between Nigerian and international stars never felt organic or even remotely impactful — the best that fans could hope for were laughably lacklustre verses on remixes to already established hits. With each passing year, however, these team-ups get bigger, better and much more intentional.
In this regard, 2019 has been a landmark year. From Beyonce’s The Lion King: The Gift to GoldLink’s Diaspora, it seems no international album is complete without at least one Nigerian star on the roster. So, to celebrate this monumental shift, we’ve decided to rank nine of the year’s very best Nigerian-international collaborations.
9. DJ Spinall — “What Do You See” ft. Kojo Funds
When it comes to DJs who also create their own hits, DJ Spinall is way ahead of the pack, thanks to collaborations with stars like Wizkid, Kizz Daniel and Tiwa Savage. For his underrated 2019 single, “What Do You See”, he joined forces with Kojo Funds, and, like he always does, he brought out the very best in the British rapper.
8. Patoranking — “Wilmer” ft. Bera
“Wilmer”, the title track off Patoranking’s acclaimed sophomore LP, finds the dancehall star singing about how much he loves his daughter. So, of course, he enlisted her godfather, Bera — a gifted Georgian singer — to assist on the track. The heartwarming collaboration, their second following “Fire To The Sun”, is an album standout.
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7. Seyi Shay — “Gimme Love (Remix)” ft. Teyana Taylor
About a month before the Runtown-aided original would go on to win ‘Best R&B Single’ at the Headies, Seyi Shay called on Teyana Taylor for a remix that’s arguably even better. Their synergy on the track is palpable, making for the rare international remix of a Nigerian song that doesn’t feel forced or utterly unnecessary.
6. GoldLink — “Zulu Screams” ft. Maleek Berry, Bibi Bourelly
While GoldLink’s anthemic “Zulu Screams” didn’t originally get the attention it deserved, its presence on the FIFA 20 soundtrack is earning it a whole new fanbase, with many calling it the game’s best track. Maleek Berry, in particular, is also getting a lot of love for his hook, which some people are comparing to Akon’s earlier work.
5. J Balvin, Bad Bunny — “COMO UN BEBÉ” ft. Mr Eazi
Mr Eazi is currently one of Nigeria’s most in-demand artists, and out of the many international tracks he’s appeared on this year, his very best work can be found on the Legendury Beatz-produced banger, “COMO UN BEBE” — an afropop-influenced gem off Grammy-nominated duo, J Balvin and Bad Bunny’s collaborative album, Oasis.
4. Odunsi — “Tipsy” ft. RAYE
RAYE, the fast-rising British singer-songwriter, has previously worked with two Nigerian stars on this list, Maleek Berry (“Confidence”) and Mr Eazi (“Decline”, “Tied Up”), but it’s Odunsi’s “Tipsy” that truly utilises her sultry voice to full effect. Little wonder, then, that the Headies-nominated track is already his most successful single to date.
3. Davido, Chris Brown — “Blow My Mind”
It doesn’t take a genius to predict that a team-up between Davido and Chris Brown — two of the biggest stars in their respective corners of the world— would end up becoming a monster hit. The true surprise here is that “Blow My Mind” is actually good, and they’ve since proven that their chemistry was no fluke with the solid “Lower Body”.
2. Burna Boy — “Gum Body” ft. Jorja Smith
Burna Boy has collaborated with a lot of international stars this year — from Dave to Future to Wretch 32 — but none of those songs, while all quite good, can claim to work as well as African Giant standout, “Gum Body”. On the impossibly sexy track, Burna and Jorja manage to generate enough heat to power a nuclear plant.
1. Beyonce – “Brown Skin Girl” ft. Wizkid, Blue Ivy and SAINt JHN
“Brown Skin Girl”, the biggest song off Beyoncé’s The Lion King: The Gift, still feels a little like a fever dream. Thankfully, the collaboration is very real, and not only is it sonically fantastic — with Wizkid holding his own against one of the greatest singers of all time — but it also benefits from having an important, timely message.
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