While the boys bicker, Tems and Ayra Starr gear up to release career-defining albums

The faith of our song of the summer still lies in great hands. 

To say 2024 got off to a combative start would be an understatement. All the positive energy brought on by the new year quickly dissipated when artists across the globe began using their social media to air out their grievances with one another. From JT vs Yung Miami to Megan the Stallion vs Nicki Minaj, all bets were off when it came to exposing unpleasant information about some of the industry’s mainstream favourites. In Hip-Hop, this volatile energy manifested in multiple chains of interlocking beefs, initiated by a surprise verse delivered by Kendrick Lamar on Future and Metro Boomin’s “Like That”. Any notions of a Big 3 in Hip-Hop (Drake, J.Cole and himself), were shattered when Kendrick took the mic on that record  to crown himself Rap’s lone champion. And in  the month since the song’s release, the verse has prompted a response from J.Cole which was later withdrawn, as well as a slew of social media responses and diss tracks thrown every which way. 

The sentiments have seemingly trickled down to home turf, taking shape in a slightly different format. Since the random Instagram rant where he denied the Afrobeat label, audiences have seen Wizkid be more vocal than ever as he gears up for his upcoming album, ‘Morayo’. As expected, a considerable amount of uproar ensued and Fireboy followed shortly after with similar comments, leaving fans questioning the reasoning behind the sudden need to denounce  a genre that has helped earn artists like them accolades they enjoy today. Shortly after, the resident Prince of Afropop, Rema, took to X fka Twitter to get some things off his chest. After denouncing the decade-established Big 3 of Afropop – Burna boy, Wizkid & Davido – he shared that there’s now a Big 4, while embracing the term many of his peers are  suddenly rejecting: “Afrobeat >> AfroAnything,” he declared on X. 

Just when we thought the dust had finally settled, Wizkid took to X to ruffle some more feathers, a move  many are now led to believe was a stunt to drive sales and streams for current and future releases. After cheekily referring to Mavins CEO, Don Jazzy, as an influencer, Wizkid responded to a fan’s request for new music with a viral video of Davido, which was recently shared by an alleged sexual partner of his. Understandably, this warranted a response from Davido who took a jibe at the former’s music career, reigniting the almost decade long on-and-off squabble between the pair. Eventually, the interaction spiralled from subtle remarks to direct insults about the other’s craft, a stark contrast from the brewing bromance sparked by the announcement of a joint tour early in the year. 

And it’s not just two of the Big 3 going at each other. Abuja-based Drill rappers, Odumodublvk and Esskay, as well as Afropop hit-makers, Kizz Daniel and Tekno have also been at loggerheads. While Odumodublvck dismissed his squabble with Esskay as a PR stunt to promote his upcoming music, the latter pair publicly hashed out their disputes over monetary compensation from their hit song “Buga.”  The issue started over a fake interview where Tekno was said to have shared his feeling of slight for his 50% cut on the song which allegedly earned “billions of naira.” While Tekno denied ever doing the interview, he did throw subliminals in Kizz’s direction. 

In the midst of all the tension, fans are weary of the focus being driven away from the music; because as summer fast approaches, we have no hit single to soundtrack the season. But not to worry, because while the boys bicker over nothing, Tems and Ayra Starr are gearing up to drop highly anticipated, career defining albums this month. Since we last saw full-length project releases from the pair, they were at completely different points in their career and in just a short couple of years, it’s safe to say they’ve surpassed any previously set expectations. 

Since Tems sauntered onto the global stage with a vocal assist for Wizkid’s “Essence,” her rise to stardom has known no bounds. The peerless delivery for the pop star’s ‘Made in Lagos’ album positioned her to stretch her enchanting vocals and skilled penmanship beyond these parts, snagging her credits with Rihanna, Future – which earned her Grammy – and more across various projects. For her sophomore EP, Tems served her charm and chords on a stunning 5-track EP, ‘If Orange Was A Place’ gaining her a growing cult following supported by her inimitable star qualities. While the emotion-laden release was an effective reminder of Tems’ penchant for feel-good music, it provided only a peek into the artist’s ever-evolving yet reliable discography which would later lead down a path to greater success. A first look into the world of her upcoming debut album was “Me & U” a piercingly vulnerable tune where Tems challenges her faith, followed shortly by self-produced “Not An Angel,” with assistance from Sarz. She pulled more of those hit-making recipes with GuiltyBeatz, this time, assisted by Spax for “Love Me Jeje,” in an unofficial debut on the Coachella stage. The star shone brightly alongside  Wizkid and Justin Bieber, after which she previewed the then unreleased single, paying a tribute to Seyi Sodimu’s 1997 love classic with the same name. Basking in the light shone by her memorable performance, Tems announced her debut album, ‘BORN IN THE WILD’ slated to arrive this month. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by TEMS 🕊 (@temsbaby)

Also treading a glorious path to stardom is Ayra Starr, who’s recently enjoyed many outstanding career feats since her debut album ‘19 and Dangerous.’ After releasing a follow-up in the form of a deluxe with features from music icons like Kelly Rowland, Ayra cemented her place as one of the greatest hit-makers of this decade with a slew of hits like “Sability,” “Stamina” and more. On them, she embodies confidence while bearing the crown as one of the youngest and most outstanding female acts coming from this part of the world. However, “Rush” really set things in motion for Ayra’s talent to seep through the cracks of a wider global audience, after the track earned millions of streams online. Deservedly so, she scored her first Grammy nomination for the monster single, granting her the title as the youngest Nigerian woman recognised for the award. Through her relentless efforts, Ayra never fails to remind us of the impact she’s had on the fabric of Afropop and how dearly she holds the responsibility of her position. Ahead of her sophomore album, ‘The Year I Turned 21,’ Ayra is heavy with gratitude on “Commas,” an ode to the journey thus far and the financial gains credited to her hard work and God’s grace. 

With all the negative energy in the air, anchored by random and erratic X rants and shady Instagram stories, it is reassuring to find some promising releases lined up in May’s calendar. And rather than relying on old releases, we can observe the boys, rest assured the faith of our song of the summer still lies in great hands. 

[Featured Image Credits/The NATIVE]