NATIVE Team Picks: The Best Music Videos of the 2010s

The most culturally impactful videos of the decade

In late 1979,  British synth-pop band The Buggles released their magnum opus; “Video Killed The Radio Star”; a Nostradamus level take on the future of music consumption. Whilst they were referring to the increasing popularity of the television, the title could be updated in 2019 to “Youtube Killed The MTV Star”, and it would be equally factual.

This shift from television sets to YouTube has achieved what every technological advancement in music has done in the last decade: cut out unnecessary barriers to entry. Artists no longer need to hope they make the Channel O countdown, or the TRL hits of the day – anyone can simply upload videos directly to Beyoncé’s Internet, and everyone has access to it.

But with fewer boundaries, comes more filler. Whilst a music video was previously a necessary accompaniment to a lead single, they have become an even more powerful way for an artist to introduce us to their creative worlds. Although it’s not new to this decade, it can’t be denied that since 2010, we’ve seen greater attention to detail and a refreshed laser focus to the the visual art form in Nigeria.

In the last three years especially, we’ve seen some of the strongest music videos we’ve ever had out of the country, and it has ushered in a new generation of young, fearless directors such as Santi, TG Omori, Ademola Falomo, Meji Alabi and more. Where last decade, the videos released in that time didn’t have crossover power, the internet has broadened the reach of these music videos, and have contributed to the appeal of Nigerian artists all over the world.

So as we draw the curtains on the 2010s of Nigerian music, the NATIVE team came together and made a list of all of our favourite music videos through the decade. From the beginning of Wizkid’s career, “Holla At Your Boy”, to Santi taking us on a cinematic experience with the visuals for “Raw Dinner”, here are our picks, in chronological order.

“Lagos Party” – Banky W (2010)

Featuring one of the most iconic hooks of the decade, this Kemi Adetiba-directed video was the perfect welcome into the 2010s, especially looking back now at some of the cameos – Wizkid, Omawumi, Jesse Jagz, P-Square- and the success they’ve had since 2010.

This song was released at peak record label dominance – following the Storm and Mo’Hits runs, EME was the next stable to make you wish you were part of their clique. All the hallmarks of an early 2010s videos were seen within the first 30 seconds: Oversized mansion – check, champagne being poured – check, a seemingly over-formal dress code – check, cut-aways for the verses – check. This video set the tone for what was to come in the early 2010s, and watching it back now, it really wasn’t too far from what Lagos Parties were (and still are!).

“Holla At Your Boy” – Wizkid (2010)

Beyond his reverence in the music scene, we don’t really discuss Wizkid’s influence in the fashion scene, and this has been the case right from his breakout. In his debut video for “Holla At Your Boy”, he’s in school flexing his boyish charm to a love interest.

Many young boys/men could relate to Wizkid around this time, so much that they often also dressed like him. This Patrick Ellis-directed video shows the starting point of the era of multi-coloured inscribed t-shirts, colourful skinny jeans and plaid shirts in the 2010s. Throughout the decade, Wizkid has made several other trends pop in these parts, whilst also making strides in the global fashion industry from walking the Dolce & Gabbana runway alongside Naomi Campbell to modelling a capsule collection for Moschino x Ciroc.

“Mr Endowed Remix” – D’Banj ft Snoop Dogg (2011)

Before the Nigerian music scene evolved into what it is today, D’banj & Don Jazzy ushered in the decade with a Snoop Dogg feature, which they also managed to get a video featuring him in Atlanta.

D’Banj, Snoop Dogg and Don Jazzy exchange flows in a lavish Atlanta mansion, showcasing the pomp and swag we see in many other videos to follow throughout the decade from Davido’s “Fans Mi” to Naira Marley’s “Ma Fo”.  This Sesan-directed video is definitely a worthy jewel to crown one of the most dominant runs in afropop history, and is a foreshadowing of sorts of the shift in culture we’re currently experiencing.

“Be My Man” – Asa (2011)

The accurate choreography, vivid colours and a funky retro vibe of Asa’s video already set her apart from her counterparts all the way in 2011. Many other videos in Nigeria at the time we’re quite the standard of an Asa clip, and we’re still enjoying picturesque visuals from the enigmatic star today.

While this wasn’t directed by a Nigerian filmmaker, it definitely upped the ante for those back home and having introduced us to the talent of directors like Meji Alabi, Asa’s contribution to the music industry wasn’t limited to just the music alone.

“Azonto” – Fuse ODG (2012)

Viral dance moves are a part and parcel of West African pop culture, and this has been the case for a very long time. Back in the day, we had popular dance steps like Galala and Makossa, and now this decade from the Azonto to the Zlatan-invented Zanku.

Fuse ODG’s “Azonto” came at the time in the decade when we were shifting to the Internet full time, which immediately gained him attention of West Africans from all over the world.

Dance moves tend to inform the kind of songs we’re getting, as musicians tend to want everyone doing the most popular dance to their song, and the Azonto shaped the sound of a few popular songs at that time. While now, it has been replaced by a more trendy Zanku, other dancemoves such as the shoki, shaku shaku and now zanku, they certainly have the azonto to thank for lighting the way.

“Khona” – Mafikizolo (2013)

Mafikizolo have managed to survive two decades in the game, and in this time succeeded in organically crossing over into the continental market, most notably with 2013’s “Khona”. The song was a tribute to their late bandmate, and it definitely left a lasting impact on South African House music, which has also laid the foundation for the street-hop sound in Nigeria today.

The emotive vocal performance from the band made “Khona” resonate with listeners, while the traditional costumes and art displayed in the video is what successfully bridged the gap between the continents. One could even say that the dashikis in the video also influenced a spark in the trend around that time, which became the trend for Africans, even in the diaspora.

“Pata Pata” – Temi Dollface (2013)

Temi Dollface had a hot moment on the scene, and that was all thanks to how carefully curated her bold and daring looks were. This is what makes her video for “Pata Pata” one of the decade’s standouts, as at this point in the culture, we weren’t getting such thoughtful and careful creation.

With an extensive wardrobe and daring make up, “Pata Pata” presents the vintage texture of a classic American commercial from the 1950s. The style in the video blends retro silhouettes with contemporary African designs, to create stunning visuals for the EDM-fuelled song.

“Onye” – Waje & Tiwa Savage (2014)

Given that this is one of the few female collaborations we’ve had in the entire decade, the song and video (which was also directed by a woman) can’t go unnoticed. In the sultry video, which is an interesting blend of Brandy & Monica’s “The Boy Is Mine” and The Stepford wives, Waje and Tiwa Savage find out that they’re being played by their lover, and end up in a face off as a result.

Although the video contains some tropes that won’t be acceptable in woke 2019, the Kemi-Adetiba video is stunning to look at, and engaging throughout its duration.

“Ojuelegba” – Wizkid (2014)

Being one of his most popular songs, which increased Wizkid’s crossover potential, it made sense that the accompanying video for “Ojuelegba” was a nod to where it all began for him. Set in the bustling area itself, the video is mellow and reflective as we watch as a simply dressed Wizkid boards a Danfo, whilst looking back on his journey to stardom. Clarence Peters does an excellent job of focusing the visual story around the narrative of Wizkid’s come up, and at the same time is giving us a love letter to Lagos to accompany an evergreen anthem.

“Gangsta Fear” – Santi & Odunsi (2016)

As one of the songs which shaped the altè scene as we know it today – featuring one of the strongest music duos we’ve seen this decade – the accompanying video for “Gangster Fear” also serves as a defining moment in Santi’s career as a visual artist. Working closely with Ademola Falomo, Santi presents us his standard scenic and colourful settings, which we’ve grown accustomed to today with videos such as Skepta & Wizkid’s “Bad Energy”, Runtown’s “Redemption”, Odunsi’s “Star Signs” and more.

The video relies heavily on the visual appeal, and we barely see Santi or Odunsi performing their lyrics throughout the video like one would in a typical Nigerian music video. However, in between the scenic cuts of picturesque surroundings, we’re shown several different people vibing to the song the way anyone viewing would be too.

“Soldier” – Simi & Falz (2016)

Today, we all know Falz as a rapper, comedian and award-winning actor, and this acclaim as one of the decade’s most dynamic entertainers was sealed when the video for “Soldier” was released in 2016. The video played into Falz’ penchant to speak about socio-political issues, as it was also a timely reference to grievance against the rife kidnappings around that time.

Falz & Simi’s joint project, Chemistry, fuelled some rumours about a budding relationship, and this video also fanned the fire. Simi’s acting is impressive, as she plays the average girl next door who dismisses Falz’ advances, a trope she’s gone on to portray in her Nollywood debut in Kunle Afolayan’s Mokalik.

“Like Dat” – Davido (2017)

Nigerian-American director, Daps is one of the nation’s biggest exports, having worked with the likes of Young Thug, Nicki Minaj, Migos, Kendrick Lamar and more. This is why it made sense that at the peak of his Back To Basics campaign, with just enough international appeal, Davido enlisted Daps for the video of one of that era’s best songs.

Paying homage to Biggie’s “Mo Money Mo Problems” video, Daps’ direction made “Like Dat” one of the most defining videos of this era, as it was certainly on the mood board for many other directors at that time, including Clarence Peters’ video for “Yé”.

“Science Student” – Olamide (2018)

Olamide’s “Science Student” certainly caught the nation’s attention with his commentary on drug abuse, and the song’s ban by the NBC also created an avenue for discourse around the topic and our country’s attitude towards such social issues.  The video follows Olamide’s nightmare-ish journey through an asylum, showing us the the pitiful state of rehabilitation centres in the country, and our negligence towards the rife drug problem.

While his haphazard lyrics might not get the job done, since not everyone understands Yoruba, the video highlights everything the song says, making his middle finger to Nigerian culture and society crystal clear.

“Hate” – Zamir (2018)

Zamir has remained true to the tough-guy persona from all the way back in his LOS days. While his wardrobe choices and carefully curated Instagram page reflect the cold-hearted threats often heard in his raps, the music video for “Hate” remains the most menacing we have ever seen him.

Directed by Seun Opabisi, we see Zamir stalks his trembling foes through a room filled with gamblers, a slaughterhouse and a church. Symbolic images of floating pig heads, blood-stained walls, cop cars, and burning clothes also add to the sense of danger while Zamir perform his menacing lines.

“Alte Cruise” – Odunsi (2018)

Social media and smartphones have allowed this generation of DIY acts to find innovative ways to connect with their audience. There’s no better realisation of that potential, than the music video for “Alte Cruise” by Odunsi, Zamir and Santi. The nearly 3-minute long video is a mashup of different clips collected from different concerts and parties Santi and his friends attended.

Just as the song tributes the free-spirited nature of the alte artists, the music video also follows a similarly unceremonious direction, with the grainy images and lightweight plot that only tries to capture the face of the creatives, tastemakers and fans within the creative scene.

“Raw Dinner” – Santi (2019)

Santi has definitely left a mark as one of the most gifted visual artists this decade, and the accompanying video for one of his album’s standouts, “Raw Dinner”, completely seals this. Featuring everything we have grown to love from Santi in his hard-to-forget videos, the 8-minute short film builds a detailed story of a Demon Queen’s transformation through 6 chapters of Nollywood-inspired drama.

With the convincing costumes, acting and plot that dabbled into surrealism and fantasy, the video for “Raw Dinner” is nothing like we’ve ever seen before in the Nigerian music industry, and through this Santi continues to set the standard for artistic exploration in Nigeria, whilst also creating a platform for himself on a global stage.

“Thuggin/ Darko” – Burna Boy x DJDS (2019)

In the video for “Thuggin/ Darko” , Burna Boy explores gang-violence through gritty black and white filters and a cast of colourfully clad people performing rituals. The Daniel Regan-directed video blurs the lines between beauty and bleakness, as we watch Burna playing the role of a caretaker and gang banger who loses a dear one as a result of the gang violence he’s involved in. While he mourns the loss, the video ironically goes from the black and white filter it began with to a colourful frame that celebrates the African burial rites, making for a thought-provoking piece which serves as a good accessory to the already thought-provoking song.

“Am I A Yahoo Boy” – Naira Marley

Days before he got taken into EFCC custody, Naira Marley released the Zlatan-assisted “Am I A Yahoo Boy”, which got eyes on him very quick. Naira was no stranger to talking about his run ins with the law in his songs, however, this came at the perfect time as there was civil unrest due to the #endsarz campaign.

In the accompanying TG Omori-directed video, he built the entire set in a bid to pay homage to Snoop Dogg and Tupac in the ’90s. Given that Naira’s trajectory is playing out a little like theirs did, the video was the starting point of Naira Marley’s current dominance in the game, and in turn, led the path for TG Omori who has now worked with all the musicians he could only dream of working with earlier on in the decade.

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