Every artist wants their work to speak for them.
I want you to see the first few seconds of a movie and say Segun Akande wrote this. Same applies for our favourite stars in music. But the audience always needs some help and most artists are more than happy to provide it.
Voice tags are what an artist screams or croons at the beginning of the song to let you know they’re in the building. It could be as simple as a melody or as complex as a long slang that has no meaning in any language.
Voice tags are not always perfect, but when they work, they can have you excited before the song starts.
If the jazz is strong even, you’ll catch yourself repeating the tag on its own.
In no particular order, these are the best voice tags in Nigerian music. They’re not the product of any rocket science but when we hear them, we know it’s about to go down.
Davido – Shekpe
Literally means “to swear”. Sometime last year, Davido sacrificed the old boring “It’s Davido” for this gem and it was an instant hit.
It’s a tag so alarming that you want to know what comes after. And judging by the songs that come to mind when we hear it, that promise is often fulfilled.
Tekno – Alhaji Tekno
A subtle hint at what to expect in the music. Because Tekno is not an Alhaji, neither are karate and mathematics remotely related.
Santi – Okay Now
From his sound, videos and all-around style, Santi is as quirky as they come and the tag is no different. “Okay Now” sounds like something you’d say after being begged for hours till you decide to do the song so you can rest.
The only difference here is Santi knows exactly what he’s doing. ‘Okay Now’ is more of a warning than anything. Things switch shortly after.
Zlatan – Kapaichumarimarichopaco
Please. Read here.
You know, some things are not worth knowing, because the payout is like an airtime recharge. Nice, but largely inconsequential next to a credit alert.
Tiwa Savage – Tiwa Savage
Just her name. Nothing more. Because what else would a queen need to do?
Niniola – Nini De O
Nini’s music is always a mix of Yoruba folk and something else. What better way to let you know that the first lady of Nigerian Afro-House is on a song than to literally say it.
What makes it even better is that Nini’s voice tag is sung with a melody that makes you want to listen to the full song. Talk about using your words wisely.
Burna Boy – “OluwaBurna”, “Up to the Top, Dem Fi Know Say Burna Rankin, Nigerian Don Gorgon Bla Bla Bla”, “Burna Boy Lo Fe K’Orin Bayi O”
God safe us.
Peruzzi – “I’m Losing…”
See, you know that thing about Peruzzi you can’t quite put your finger on. I know it. Peruzzi seems like he tries too hard, unlike Teni, who invariably has become his nemesis, thanks to this.
This voice tag is the best example. It came from a song, a line everyone seemed to enjoy singing back at concerts. Then Tobechukwu decided to start singing it on every song.
His second tag, “Be The Bang Bang” is more… unique. Sometimes, it feels like an overzealous adlib.
D’Banj – “I’m D’banj”
Pure gold. Legends never die. D’banj’s voice tag was the firestarter for an entire generation. What it did to every party was pretty much what happened on “Rock Your Body” is probably the best example of what it did at every party.
But D’banj used it even as well in conversation or to start interviews. He said it so much. Good times.
Wizkid – “Starboy Dey Here”
Remember the dark ages when Wizkid would just scream “Iye, ye, ye” and move on with his life? Luckily, we’re past that now. The Weeknd may be the more popular Starboy in world music at the moment, but Wizkid isn’t planning on letting that name go anytime soon.
The difference between the two is that while Abel Tesfaye is cute and all that, Wizkid believes he was born to be Starboy. We’re inclined to belice him.
Reekado Banks – “RRRR”
Reekado’s voice tag is arguably my favourite of the bunch. Sure, sometimes he goes the distance and calls out “Reeky Baby!”
But when he sounds like he’s having trouble pronouncing his first name, a vibe usually comes after. Also, Reeky’s not one of those people who pronounce R as W and that’s good enough in my book.