Sometimes, you hear two artistes are working together, and it makes a lot of sense — Wande Coal and Olamide, Wizkid and Burna Boy, The Cavemen and Asa or Flavour and Phyno. Other times, your first reaction to a collaboration is, “WTF?”
This is a list of the collaborations that started out as “WTF?” but after listening, changed to “Yasss.”
Showmetheway — Cruel Santino and Poco Lee
A collaboration between alté king, Cruel Santino, and hype man, Poco Lee, wasn’t on my bingo card for 2023, but here we are today. Even though Showmetheway has been a popular sound on TikTok since 2022, listening to the full version with its unexpected feature is a whole other experience. Poco Lee’s appearance is a blink-and-you-’ll-miss-it moment, but it further amplifies the synthy-owambe fuji music vibe of the song.
Stand Strong — Davido and The Sunday Service Choir
It’s easy to imagine Kanye West’s Sunday Service Choir providing backup to some inspirational song by Cobhams, Asa or Darey Art Alade that’ll get you teary-eyed. But a song with David Adeleke, Nigeria’s very own Shakespeare? No one saw that coming.
Surprisingly, Stand Strong stands out, pun very much intended here, as one of Davido’s best songs to date. Over ten years into his career, the song is a testament to Davido’s growth from Back When to international choirmaster.
All I Ever Wanted — Asa and Amaarae
2022 came with many surprises, but listening to Asa and Amaarae vibe on lyrics about hotel sex, eating coochie and five-star diamond dick was lowkey one of the year’s biggest surprises. Having the artiste who made alté music way before it was called alté on a track with one of the sound’s new leading voices was the gift we didn’t know we needed until we got it.
Every time Burna Boy collaborated with white people
From rock bands like The Fallout Boys (Sunshine Riptide) and Coldplay (Monsters You Made) to British icons Lily Allen (Heaven’s Gate), Sam Smith (My Oasis) and Ed Sheeran (For My Hand), Burna Boy has built a reputation for the most unhinged international collaborations.
If you think an artiste’s sound won’t work well with Burna’s, that’s the artiste he’ll carry on his head. The best part is his coloniser collabs always slap.
Coming — Naira Marley and Busiswa
Naira Marley and Busiswa’s Coming is everyone’s guilty pleasure. Granted, we can’t play it in our Nigerian homes (or you’ll have to explain doggy style to your parents).
Still, it’s two artistes who lead two very different movements. Naira Marley rules street pop, and Busiswa is the South African queen of house music. Now, we just need someone to erase this Tiny Desk version from the internet and our minds:
Crown of Clay — M.I and Vector
What if 2Pac and Biggie Smalls squashed their beef and released a song together after years of dragging each other like small gen? That’s what Vector and M.I did when they hooked up with Pheelz for the song, Crown of Clay.
This 2021 collaboration was so unexpected because I can’t imagine working with someone who called me Judas, The Rat. M.I is a much better person than most because the beef would’ve turned to shaki by now. Nice song, though.
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Beautiful Onyinye — P-Square and Rick Ross
P-Square and Rick Ross’ Beautiful Onyinye remix is hands down one of the most random international collaborations ever. Then again, the song came out when Nigerians were willing to take any international collaborations that came their way. Remember Wizkid’s remix of Don’t Dull with Akon? P-Square threw in a random rapper on an audience fave, and now, we can’t listen to the original because the remix is somehow better.
Sweet in the Middle — Wurld, Zlatan and Naira Marley
Only Davido could think of adding Wurld on a Zlatan and Naira Marley feature. After dropping R&B and alté-inspired songs like Show You Off and Contagious, Wurld laying vocals alongside two of the biggest names in street pop sounded weird, but Sweet in the Middle became a major bop. Each featured act killed their parts, with Davido’s adlibs tying it together.
Calm Down — Rema and Selena Gomez
Before anyone drags me, I’ll drag myself by admitting I didn’t like this Rema and Selena Gomez remix when it first dropped. But you know what? My opinion has changed.
Although the remix doesn’t even come close to the magic Rema captured on its original, it’s hard not to like it — especially after hearing it 100 times a day thanks to the radio, TV and social media.
High — Adekunle Gold and Davido
Adekunle Gold’s transition from sweet Orente baby boy to Afropop Zaddy reached an all-time high in 2021 when he dropped High alongside Davido.
While an Adekunle and Wizkid collaboration might’ve sounded very on-brand, something about collaborating with Davido felt off. But that’s exactly what Adekunle needed to complete his transition. High was so good it ended up on our 2021 list of best Amapiano songs.