I think it’s safe to say that 2017 was the best year for Afrobeats in a really long time. This year we’ve seen Afrobeats on an international scale, having certain acts be featured in magazines, to having celebrities like Swizz Beats, Alicia Keys, Diddy, and R. Kelly all posting videos of themselves enjoying the wonderful sounds from the other side. When songs blow up we often give credit to the artist and unfairly overlook the geniuses behind the board, the producers. So let’s take a look back at the top producers from this past year.
7. Young John
Young John really proved himself to be the “wicked producer” this year. As the resident producer for YBNL, Young John is just as hardworking as his label head. Having produced all but one song on Lagos NaWa (Wobey Sound), it’s no secret that Young John and Olamide make wonderful music together.
Having produced Yawa for Tekno, and “Odoo” and “Medicine” for Wizkid, Masterkraft has had a pretty productive year. During his time working with Coke studio Africa, Masterkraft proved that not only could he release amazing afrobeats hits, but also tackle a variety of genres while being able to properly infuse different artists and their sounds to give us nothing but bangers. Along with working on CSA, He also released an album titled Unlimited, featuring one of his best hits “Finally” with Sarkodie and Flavour. Though not in the forefront as the other producers on this list, it’s very safe to say that 2017 was overall a very good year for Masterkraft.
Though he’s not new to the game, 2017 has definitely proved to be Kiddominants “Jordan Year”. Although he’s produced hits before for both Orezi and Davido, the work he’s done this year has definitely solidified his place in the industry. From “Fall” for Davido to both of Mayorkuns biggest hits this year “Mama” and “Che Che“, Kiddominant has done his job well.
4. Maleek Berry
Making the transition from producer to artist is never an easy one, but in the past year, Maleek Berry has proved that it is very much possible. While providing us with his own summer bangers, he hasn’t let that slow down his work for other artists, having also produced “Short Skirt” for Mr. Eazi “Me and You” for Tiwa Savage and “Until the Dawn” for Efya. Gearing up to release his next EP “Last Dayz of Winter“, Maleek has also been hard at work in Nigeria performing with some of the biggest acts in the industry.
Having produced arguably one of Davido’s biggest hits to date, Tekno has really become a hot commodity in the Nigerian music industry. It might be safe to say Tekno has the midas touch considering how every song he does turns into a hit. Some could say he’s the Drake of afrobeats? Ironically, he’s now teamed up with the biggest culture vulture in the music industry and we can only imagine the greatness, or lack there of, that will come from this Six God/Slim Daddy collaboration. We all saw what one dance did for Wizkid’s career, who’s to say the same won’t happen for Tekno?
Sarz really killed it this year. Wizkid’s long time collaborator, Sars deserves a lot more credit than he gets. Not only does he give Wiz the hits like “Come Closer”, but he also works with newer artists and helps break them into the industry – Niniola’s “Maradona” and “Get up” ft Flash. To be able to produce such high quality music on seemingly opposite ends of the afrobeats spectrum, isn’t something to ignore.
“Juls baby” was a household name this year. Juls seemingly came out of nowhere and made a wave all within one year, all it took was a Leap of Faith (see what I did there?). After having worked on many of the hits that helped bring Mr. Eazi to the point he is now, He has now released two EP’s in the same year which have both garnered positive reviews. He stepped foot in the industry and made a lane for himself that no one had tapped into. When you think of Afrobeats, you think of upbeat dance tunes that you can shoki and azonto to but Juls gives you the slower more instrument focused production while teaming up with some of the talented up and coming acts like Nonso and Odunsi to create magic.
Honorable Mention: Legendury Beatz, Spellz, Shizzi, Mugeez, DJ Spinall