These 5 Nigerian Songs Will Help You Figure Out Adulthood

April 24, 2019

Nowadays, Nigerian music is getting accolades as the hot new flavour on the global stage. If you listen to popular commentators like Ebro Darden, there’s something about Nigerian music makes you want to dance. But behind all those danceable rhythms and melodies, some of our music is also deeply introspective.

Good luck listening to a Brymo song without questioning your place in this world. It shouldn’t be surprising – for centuries, our music was mostly used to pass down oral tradition and the wisdom of the old ones (whatever that means).

And if you’re wondering just how much of today’s music is the stuff of life lessons, these 10 songs offer the kind of wisdom you need to find your way through adulthood.

  • M.I. – Money

For most people, adulting starts when life wants more money from you than you have. And no song captures the average person’s relationship with their finances quite like M.I’s “Money” off his debut studio album, “Talk About It”. Like MI says, “Money is the key if you want life to chill”. Even when your major focus is not ‘chills’, but career or some noble pursuit, M.I reminds you that “Money is the Juice to produce some skills”.

The entire song is a story of his own relationship with money from childhood which is why you should to his guidelines with dealing with it- “Some money can break you if you’re so unfaithful/Don’t love her too much because she will forsake you/Some give her everything and shower praise/But what a **tch, money never stays”

  • Fela Kuti – Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am

Abami Eda’s 1972 classic is one of the most unusual of his songs. For one, it’s a lot calmer than you expect and it continues to feel the soundtrack to a counselling session till the end. It makes sense because Fela is teaching one of the most important life lessons; emotional intelligence.

Okay, so some explanation is needed here. Yanga primarily means arrogance but it could also be used to refer to rude behaviour. See where this is going? Fela paints stories of people letting their yanga put them in trouble; my favourite is one of a landlord asking a tenant who has just his wife, his financial security for rent. Wetin he dey find? Wahala. Learning to pick your battles and when to fight them is a big part of growing up.

  • Sasha – Adara

The first lady of Nigerian rap made this song at her coming-of-age; in 2008 as she was leaving the label that raised her, Trybesmen to start a new journey at Storm Records. Like most young people, Sacha questions all of her decisions up to that point considering she didn’t hit the heights she expected with Trybesmen.

Adult life is an endless case of ‘gbas gbos‘ and just when you think things are going great, new challenges often show up to knock the wind right out of your sails. Sasha reminds us, speaking as her mother, you need to remain steadfast – “Keep Your Head Up, Don’t You Cry” and even when you feel limited, “Put your work in and let God do the rest”. Things get better.

  • Adekunle Gold – Ire

Adekunle Gold’s music is an ode to bygone folk musicians whose songs could be translated into an extra chapter in the Book of Proverbs. I’m talking icons like King Sunny Ade and Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey. If you’re new to his music, Ire is a good place to start. Made in the memory of his late sister, Ire pretty much explains how life is less within our control than we like to think.

Everyone wants success and good tidings and we are often convinced that the grass is greener on the other side. But if you will believe Mr Gold, the grass is greener where you water it, and trust to grant you goodwill. Now screengrab this paragraph and read it out verbatim to your son on his 18th birthday to win his respect forever.

  • Darey – Pray For Me

Adulthood is actually a journey and this song by Dare shows how literal it can get at times. Not everyone can mature on their own terms and for some, it takes some self-awareness, rebellion and risk to do it. In Dare’s story, the main character leaves home without his father’s blessings to earn his place in the world. Over the 3 minutes, Dare writes letters home, acknowledging the weight of his decision and asking for his father’s blessing.

The chorus “Pray for me” asks the father to forgive his son because this journey was necessary and the latter “just had to take a chance”. In the end, the song is a positive story about victory against all odds and the weight of the decisions we often have to make as we come of age. You learn to make your own choices and live with them – and that’s as literal as adulting can get.

You'll like this

February 21, 2019

Oh, come on. Who else would be on this list if not them?   “Isn’t it amazing how stuff can look like the best thing ever one day and then look like absolute garbage the next?”   This is the question I ask myself whenever I revisit music, music videos. and movies from the late […]

Segun Akande

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.


Now on Zikoko

October 26, 2020

Body dysmorphia is a mental health disorder that makes you obsess over your physical appearance. You constantly try to fix or hide these perceived flaws that may not be noticeable to others but yourself. We spoke to five Nigerian women about what it is like hating their body in a way that makes them obsess […]

October 26, 2020

Babatunde Fashola, former governor of Lagos State, now Minister of Works, Housing and Power (we should have known this guy had some serious powers; how else could he be the head of not one, not two, but three crucial ministries?) yesterday miraculously discovered a camera at the scene of the Lekki massacre, conveniently perched by […]

Recommended Quizzes

November 22, 2019

It can be very stressful when you’re trying to find the love of your life, but you only keep meeting people that are exactly like your yeye ex. To help you be more aware of that problem, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know the kind of people you are attracting. Take it to […]

December 5, 2019

We already tried to guess how much you have in your account and your current net worth, and we think we did a pretty great job (keep any complaints to yourself). Now, we’re going to try and guess your monthly salary based on your relationship with money. Oya, take the quiz: 11 Quizzes For Nigerians […]

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 That’ll Separate The Ajepakos […]

November 12, 2019

Are you a single pringle, stuck in a complicated situationship or happily married to the love of your life? This quiz is here to guess your current relationship status, and as you know, Zikoko quizzes are incredibly accurate (don’t quote us). So, give a shot:

More from Pop

October 14, 2020

For the past seven days Nigeria has had it’s biggest national scale protest since 1993.  The #EndSARS protest is a peaceful but powerful movement against police brutality in Nigeria, both generally, and specifically by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police. In these marches, music is an important tool to keep the people going. This […]

October 7, 2020

Here’s a statement that you can’t disagree to: Nollywood movies are getting better every year. The growth in the quality of production, storytelling and general execution is noteworthy and must be celebrated. On Ranked today, I’ll go back to 2019, the gift that keeps giving, and rate some of the best movies released that year. […]

October 6, 2020

Picture this: It’s a Nollywood movie. There’s a rich man with a big house. One wife, one maid and family problems. He has a gateman. The gateman is… well you already know: funny, foolish, all the works. Here’s a list of all the stereotypes of Nollywood gatemen. 1. Unnecessary foolishness We get that the gatemen […]

October 3, 2020

When EbonyLife released the trailer for Oloture a few weeks ago, we were on the edge of our seats. The thriller about a young and naive investigative journalist who goes undercover as a Lagos prostitute to expose human traffickers premiered on Netflix on Friday, 2nd October 2020, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. There’s one thing […]

September 30, 2020

I wasn’t a big Runtown fan until I listened to a shitload of his songs for this Ranked. He’s actually got a great body of work, so I ranked his top ten best songs. Here you go: 10. Baby Answer “Girl my love for you be like kilimanjarooo…” and then the rhymes that follow. 2014 […]

September 29, 2020

If you had planned to skip the upcoming FIFA 21, you should probably reconsider. Yesterday, EA released the official soundtrack for the game, and it features songs by Nigerian superstars, Fireboy DML and Rema. Fireboy DML’s “Scatter”, off his acclaimed debut album, Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps, and Rema’s “Beamer” both made the cut, alongside tracks […]


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

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.
February 6, 2020
Who doesn't want to find love? In our bid to help, we paired up a bunch of single Nigerians, sending them on an all-expense paid date, and interviewing them before and after they met.
January 27, 2020
Nigerians Talk is what happened when a motley crew of young Nigerians were put in front of a camera and asked a bunch of apparently random questions about life, love, money and more.

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.