Grab Your Tissues Because Nigerian Music Is in Its Sad Boy Era

October 25, 2022

What makes a sad song sad? Is it lyrics about heartbreak and pain like P-Square’s Omoge Mi or slow-tempo productions like Darey Art Alade’s Not The Girl? If you said both, then you’re absolutely correct. 

Men making sad boy music has been a thing for a long time, but there’s something about 2022’s releases that’s been overwhelmingly sad… but still danceable. 

Burna Boy

“E don cast. Last last, na everybody go chop breakfast,” from Burna Boy’s Last Last has soundtracked everything from weddings to sold-out concerts this year. Reminiscent of his 2018 hit, Ye, Last Last has become an anthem everyone is obsessed with. But the truth is, we’ve turned two of Odogwu’s darkest periods into club songs sung over red cups and shisha. 

Last Last allegedly talks about Burna Boy’s break up with British rapper, Stefflon Don: “Maybe another time, maybe another life, you’d be wife, and we’d get it right”, and an accident he had in February 2022: “Now, you crash your Ferrari for Lekki, Burna. Na small thing remain, could’ve been all over”. Taking a break from ego-fueled hits, Burna Boy leaned into his vulnerable side for this song, and it totally paid off. 

But Last Last isn’t the only sad song on his album, Love Damini. Despite the misleading dance beat, Burna wonders if anything he does will ever be enough on It’s Plenty. He sings about his struggles with mental health and coming out of a bad place on How Bad Could It Be? And on the album’s outro, Love Damini, he goes into full self-drag mode, talking about his anger issues and not reaching out to the people in his life. 

With songs like these, Love Damini may just be Burna’s most personal album yet, and the record that started this year’s sad boy era of music. 

RECOMMENDED: Do We Love Burna Boy’s “Love, Damini”?

Omah Lay

Unlike baking banana bread and wearing face masks, Omah Lay’s music is one thing we’ve not shaken off since the Covid-19-induced lockdown of 2020. 

With a fresh trap and R&B-influenced sound, Omah Lay’s Get Layd EP and singles, Bad Influence and Damn made him a household name in the same year artists like Wizkid, Tiwa Savage and Burna Boy all dropped career-defining albums. While his EP revealed an artist deeply connected to his emotions, it wasn’t until 2021’s Understand with lyrics like: “I thought we in this together. Give you my necklace pendant. Give you my last card, you spend am. I show you my best friend, you friend am,” that shit started to get real. 

By the time his debut album, Boy Alone (omo, even the title says it all), dropped, it was clear Omah Lay was in his full emo phase. 

The album’s opening track, Recognize, finds Omah Lay trying to convince himself he’s made for fame. Alcohol, as a tool to escape imposter syndrome and loneliness, is the theme of I’m a Mess. And by the time the album’s closer, Purple Song, rolls out, Omah Lay has gone through the motions of heartbreak, loss and redemption in under 40 minutes. 

RECOMMENDED: Omah Lay’s Emotions Take Centre Stage on “Boy Alone”

Yinka Bernie 

Closing out sad boy era, for now, is one of the alté scene’s secret weapons, Yinka Bernie. 

Probably one of the most vulnerable projects on this list (and of the year), Yinka Bernie’s Something New EP is introspective and deeply moving. There’s something soothing about his vocals and melody that makes you feel his every emotion on that song even before you really understand the lyrics. 

Opening with Who Do You Call?, Yinka asks the question over and over again, as if waiting for you to provide a clear answer, before ending with “You can call me.” In a time when we’re interrogating who men talk to when times get rough, this song feels very apt and necessary. 

Closing out the 12-minute EP, Yinka Bernie reminds us It’s Okay to Cry, with backing vocals from Joyce Olong. This song is where Yinka is most vulnerable, singing lines like: “Every time I think about death, I drown. You see your friends progress while you stuck”. Despite being so raw with his fears and doubts, Yinka manages to make the song calming and reassuring for his listeners. When he ends the song with “Breathe in. Breathe out,” you almost find yourself following his instructions. 

We need more sad boy music 

As someone who thrives on sad music, I enjoyed these albums and appreciated the artists’ decision to be as vulnerable as possible. Listening to these songs is like reading entries from their diaries. 

With 2022 coming to an end, I’m hopeful for some more sad boy music. No, I’m not a masochist. I just enjoy being in my feelings, no matter how dark they are. 

ALSO READ: It’s Important to Set Boundaries With Your Parents — Man Like Yinka Bernie

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

Watch

Now on Zikoko

December 1, 2022

On November 30, 2022, the Federal Government absolved itself of total blame concerning poverty in Nigeria. The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, shifted some of the blame to governors of the 36 states. The minister said the governors should stop spending borrowed money on unnecessary projects and spend on projects […]

Recommended Quizzes

November 27, 2019

Do you have a face that could make angels jealous, or should you really be walking around with a nylon bag over your head so you don’t scare children? Well, this quiz is here to answer that by telling you exactly how good-looking you are. Take and find out: 11 Quizzes For People Who Aren’t […]

November 28, 2019

There are so many talented and stunning Nollywood actors that make it hard not to fall in love with them. So, while we all know the likelihood of us ending up with any of them is super low, it’s still fun to imagine a world where we actually stood a chance, and that’s why this […]

November 4, 2019

After successfully predicting when y’all are getting married (please, email any complaints to noneofourbusiness@nayousabi.com), we are back to tell you how much is currently in your account. How, you might ask? By using your taste in Nollywood, of course. Shhh. No questions. Just take it already:

November 25, 2019

We already guessed how many people you’ve slept with, and y’all were out here denying the truth. Anyway, we won’t hold that against you. This time, however, we’ve created a quiz that predicts who you’ll sleep with next — so you can either prepare or try (unsuccessfully) to prevent it. So, take and see:

More from Music

October 27, 2022

Tems and Rihanna were destined to work together. They’re on the same wavelength, with similar sounding alto voices and songs like Try Me and Hard that announced each of them as women not to be messed with.  When I heard Tems was co-writing Rihanna’s new song for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, it reminded me of […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

September 13, 2022
Vs The World is a Zikoko original video series that follows best friends Astor and Hassan as they take on the world.
August 23, 2022
Zikoko Ships is a Zikoko Original series where we invite two people who share a relationship to play the Zikoko card games
December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X