The Year in Alté: 12 Songs That Got Us Through 2021

December 28, 2021

Despite being another variant of 2020, 2021 was still a pretty great year for Nigerian music. With major crossovers between the alternative and mainstream pop music scene, this was a very experimental year musically and we loved every bit. As we round up the year, we decided to look back at some of the alternative songs that popped up on our radar in 2021. 

Selense – Cavemen 

The Cavemen stole our hearts in 2020 with the release of their debut album ROOTS. Drowning us in nostalgia, palm wine and pure enjoyment, it comes as no surprise that their second album, Love & Highlife follows the same direction. As the loverboys that they are, on  Selense we find the brothers professing their undying love yet again. What would normally sound corny, ends up being so cute we can’t stop blushing. God save us from Igbo men. 

Angel – Solis 

While Angel is a sultry standout from Solis’ seductive new project Stairway to Heaven, SoundCloud babies like us have known this song for a while now. There’s something about Solis’ voice that makes us want to fall in love, cuddle and make babies, but omo, streets are tough right now. 

Again – Tomi Thomas

Tomi Thomas’ music makes us want to travel to an island somewhere, relax by the beach and just be taken care of. One of the OGs of the alté movement, his ability to creatively mix Nigerian and Island influences is something that should be studied in schools. No one is doing it like Tomi Thomas and we’re obsessed. 

Searching – Lady Donli 

One minute she’s asking you to enjoy your life and the next — and without skipping a beat — she’s forcing you to examine all the life decisions you’ve been making as you embark on a journey of self-discovery. This, right here, is the power of Lady Donli and also why Searching was one of the few songs that really moved us this year. 

The Tree – Dwin, the Stoic and TiwaDara

“Cos I came too far to let these naysayers get their laughs. They’re fine with the fruits, but I’m taking the tree”. On this song, we are serenaded by Dwin’s vocals as he takes us on a journey of understanding self worth, as we reclaim our time and give our haters the middle finger (but with panaché and class). This was our anthem in 2021 and there’s a strong possibility that we’re carrying it over into the new year. 

Deeper – Ogranya and Brum3h

Remember when R&B men used to profess their love while break dancing under the rain? Good ole days. While Ogranya and Brum3h haven’t dropped the visuals for this song, their vocals remind us of those classic baby making music we shouldn’t have been listening to when we were young. These men can sing sha. 

Crazy Tings – Tems 

It’s Tem’s world and we’re all just living in it. Taking over the charts and scoring a feature on Drake’s album, 2021 was the year of Tems and she honestly didn’t need no other body. The first single from her latest EP, Crazy Tings wasn’t love at first listen for us, but now we can’t stop listening to this earworm. By the way, we are still judging all of you that sing “happening” instead of “appuning”. Tems said what she said. 

Peaking – Tay Iwar

If there’s one thing Tay Iwar does well, it’s getting us deep in our feels. He could literally sing the phonebook and we’d lay down, stair into space, thinking about love and life. The Love and Isolation EP is Tay Iwar at his best — subtle, vulnerable and beautifully honest. Closing out the EP, Peaking might have inspired us to call our exes, but then again, YOLO. 

Gone Girl – Obongjayar and Sarz

Obongjayar appeared on our radar right before the pandemic thanks to his incredible EP Which Way is Forward? After providing a soulful soundtrack for the lockdown, Obongjayar teamed up with superstar producer Sarz for a record that helped soundtrack our nights back on the streets in 2021. Sweetness, the EP is a fun ride, but Gone Girl is the song that gets us to our destination. 

Civil War – Isah the Prince featuring Efe Oraka, Nvthy and Kabasii

2020 was a tough year for young Nigerians. Following the events of the #EndSARS protests and the serious gaslighting that followed, there was an undeniable feeling of hopelessness and confusion in the air. And while it’s still hard to be gingered about Nigeria at the moment, something about this song seems to have activated our last two brain cells to fight not just for our country, but our lives as well. With a diverse group of talents, this is one song that helped us deal with the gbas gbos Nigeria kept throwing our way. 

Tycoon – Show Dem Camp

No one is touching Show Dem Camp when it comes to this rap thing. This song is just four minutes of Ghost, Tec and their guest stars flexing on us and to be honest, they’ve earned the rights. While we love their palmwine love music, we all know Show Dem Camp truly shines when they’re being disrespectful AF with hard truths and confidence on their Clone Wars series. 

Jaded – Yinka Bernie 

In a time where beats seem to be the driving force of most of the songs we consume, Yinka Bernie stands out with a voice that seduces and questions you at the same time. After a long hiatus, he makes a grand return with Jaded and trust us, it was all worth the wait. 

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this


Now on Zikoko

Recommended Quizzes

October 30, 2019

2010 was a game-changing one for Nollywood, with our movies making serious cash and getting international acclaim. So, which of these hits released between 2010 and 2019 — from the pace-setting The Wedding Party to the divisive Trip To Jamaica — best suits your personality? Well, that’s what this quiz is here to answer:

June 14, 2020

Have you ever been with someone so horrible that you swore to never date again? Yes? Well, do you know that one or more of your exes probably feels the same way about you? You never thought about that, huh? Thankfully, this quiz is here to let you know just how much of a hassle […]

March 24, 2020

While we know that a lot of the best Nigerian artists deservedly have fans across generations, that won’t stop us from attempting to guess how old you are based on your taste in Nigerian music. So, take this quiz to see if we got it right:

October 30, 2019

Kemi Adetiba’s King of Boys movie got a lot of things right, especially casting, so yes, it was a monster hit. Now, we know you may not have put much thought to this, but the personalities of some of the characters closely match yours, and we would like to help you find the perfect match. […]

More from Pop

January 15, 2022

Emily has stayed in Paris and barely survived, but can she survive here in Nigeria? Read this to find out.


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

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.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

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.