In 2017, when Nigerian street music switched from the fast-paced, dance-ready “Shaku Shaku”, the “Zanku” sound was introduced, and Zlatan spear-headed the movement. 

Since then, he’s released at least two songs and several guest features that’ve kept him relevant. Fast forward to 2024, and Zlatan’s career has climbed up the ranks to place as one of Nigeria’s best.

These eight songs in particular are what got him there.

My Body — Zlatan ft. Olamide

Zlatan was a seasoned underground artist way before he bagged his first hit with My Body in 2017 — an upbeat street banger about clubbing and debauchery. Between the first and third verse, he hops from party silliness, to being so drunk he can’t feel his face, to trying to leave an impression on women with his money. Olamide took the chorus, effectively directing mainstream attention to an interesting new act. 

Killin Dem — Zlatan and Burna Boy 

In a move that had his Zanku sound dominating Shaku Shaku — the preceding street sound — Zlatan joined forces with Burna Boy on this 2019 hit track. With his memorable verse, he declared it was his time, and it was indeed. From its infectious beat and melody to its jerky moonwalk and kung-fu kick dance, Killin Dem wasn’t just on repeat across clubs and parties, it propelled Zlatan to a large international audience. The song later appeared on Burna’s Grammy-nominated African Giant album (2019).

Gelato — DJ Cuppy ft. Zlatan

No one could hide the radiance of Zanku in 2019. Even the bubbly, ultra-rich Afropop of DJ Cuppy flirted with it that year. And who did she call on to make the fusion work? 

It was a surprise collaboration that didn’t seem possible at the time because no one thought the streets and the 1% could mix, but Zlatan carried Gelato from what could’ve been whining about ice-cream to a universal metaphor for enjoyment. A memorable part of the song is the “Who’s your daddy?” call-and-response that had Zlatan and Cuppy proudly claiming their family names.

Cash App — Bella Shmurda ft. Zlatan & Lincoln

Shortly before #EndSARS happened in 2020, Cash App came out and went viral, sealing Bella Shmurda’s break into the music industry. He had Zlatan on the hit song that referenced a money transaction app that’s commonly used for cybercrime. It gained so much attention that a section of the internet petitioned the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to take down the song for its yahoo-yahoo promotion.

Hallelu — Masterkraft ft. Zlatan & Bella Shmurda

Zlatan and Bella Shmurda teamed up again on a Masterkraft song titled Hallelu. Zlatan delivered his motivational, grass-to-grace and braggadocious style of rap on the first and second verses. This jam owned all the December raves in 2020.

Money — Zlatan ft. Davido

One thing Zlatan will always sing about is cash and the importance of its abundance. Whether it rolls off his tongue like broken-shaming or motivational yarns, his gospel to trenches kids will always revolve around money. The song features Davido, who added his hitmaker flavour, but Zlatan’s solid chorus and melodic verse carried the jam.

Elon Musk Remix — Shallipopi ft. Zlatan & Fireboy DML

Although Elon Musk was already a hit, 2023’s breakout star, Shallipopi, employed Zlatan’s assistance as a street-pop general to take the music to the grassroots with this remix. 

IDK — Wizkid ft. Zlatan

Zlatan still has an amazing run as one of the sought-after collaborators in Nigerian music. His latest feature was Wizkid’s IDK off of his S2 EP that dropped in December 2023. The rapper used the second verse of the song to reiterate the importance of money, especially the role it plays in modern relationships. Zlatan’s bars reinforce the famous saying that “Love is sweet when there’s money.”

Zlatan has come a long way since the viral Am I A Yahoo Boy and Eye Boyfriend era of 2019, to supporting new acts like Shallipopi and Ayox, to featuring with the Big Three — Wizkid, Davido and Burna. Nothing screams “king of the streets” more than this.

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