• Zanku May Be Dying, But the Pioneers Will Survive

Written by: Ayomide , Oriowo

The leaders of Zanku sound are here to stay

Since the inception of mainstream music in Nigeria, dynamism has been the primary determinant of longevity and survival of any artiste. While talent, hard work, and some element of luck are vital in the success of any Artiste, their survival is determined by their ability to adjust to an ever-evolving market.

Dynamism determines continuity, and this much is true of the Nigerian music industry. Different artistes have, at different times, invented new sounds that swept across the country and sending the pioneers into immediate stardom. Over the last two decades, Nigerian music consumers have been treated to a variety of new sounds, the latest being ZANKU.


If there’s a sad trait about sound pioneers in Nigeria, it is their inability to outlive their invention. The inability to retain the attention of consumers after the inevitable expiration of their invention is the reason why many artistes go out of demand along with their music.

This is evident in the career of some sound pioneers who gradually left the picture after the curtain dropped on their sounds. Over the last decade, Terry G, Lil Kesh, and Slim Case practically disappeared out of the scene after the market outgrew their Sanko, Shoki, and Shaku Shaku sounds and its accompanying dance moves. Their unceremonious retirement from the music scene suggests a lack of dynamism required to adjust to a new sound and the absence of a quality required in sustaining the interest of consumers while sticking to their old sounds.


This sad trait is something of a "Pioneer Curse," and the untimely retirement of some artistes is currently being predicted as the Zanku sound seems to have run its course. Zlatan and Naira Marley’s Zanku sound have undoubtedly had a good run that lasted over 18 months and threw them into superstardom. However, consumers have heard all there is to the sound, and there seem to be nothing else left to hear except for strikingly similar beats and regurgitation of lyrics. Hence, it’s safe to say the end of Zanku days is upon us.

At the moment, music critics and fans are keeping their fingers crossed to see if the pioneering figures of Zlatan Ibile and Naira Marley would also Leg Work their way out of the music scene. However, if figures are anything to go by, it may be interesting to note that both Zlatan and Naira Marley have been able to almost double their consumers since their Zanku sound peaked.

Taking a look at the following music platforms the figures shows that;


Naira Marley

Soapy – 1M+ streams

Opotoyi (Marlians) – 988,000 streams

Illuminati – 235,000 streams

Am I A Yahoo Boy – 338,000 streams

Mafo – 1M+ streams

As E Dey Go – 456k

Dido Lobo (Freestyle) – 986k

Aye – 2M+ streams


Gbese – 52,000 streams

Yeye Boyfriend – 850,000 streams

Gbeku – 787,000 streams

Zanku – 1M+ streams

Quilox – 766,000 streams

Of Lala – 160,000 streams

Unripe Pawpaw – 661,000 streams

The Matter – 780,000 streams

All Streams as at August, 6, 2020


Naira Marley

Naija IssaGoal – 530,000 streams

Illuminati – 1,650,000 streams

Soapy – 7,020,000 streams

Mafo – 5,160,000 streams

Bad Influence – 3,530,000 streams

Anywhere – 1,630,000 streams

Am I A Yahoo Boy – 3,670,000 streams

Dido Lobo (Freestyle) – 3,610,000 streams

AYE – 7,020,000 streams

As E Dey Go – 7,130,000 streams


Yeye Boyfriend – 2,680,000 streams

Quilox – 2,240,000 streams

Osanle – 1,680,000 streams

Zanku – 1,390,000 streams

Gbeku – 2,840,000 streams

The Matter – 4,030,000 streams

Of Lala – 3,130,000 streams

Unripe Pawpaw – 3,820,000 streams

All Streams as at August 21, 2020

YouTube NG

Top Songs in the First Half of the Year

Top Artistes in the First Half of the Year

These numbers show that both Naira Marley and Zlatan have been able to retain the attention of listeners, while also bringing new disciples into the fold. Admittedly, streaming culture in Nigeria has grown in recent years and this is responsible for higher numbers for songs that would be considered less popular. However, it also shows that these artistes have been able to grow with the industry - and even lead in some areas. Naira Marley is far ahead in YouTube views from Nigeria in the first half of 2020 - pointing at the fact that consumers still want more of one of the leading voices of the Zanku sound.

Burna Boy, one of the biggest beneficiaries of Zanku sound, has used the sound to stay connected to the local market while he makes international exploit. While "On the Low" and "Ye" reigned supreme off African Giant in Europe and America, "Killin Dem" ensured that he also had arguably the biggest song of 2019.

Still on the course of global dominance with his newly released Twice as Tall, he doubles down on this strategy by adding two songs with Zanku sound in "Bebo" and "Comma" - both songs are produced by the self-acclaimed originator of Zanku sound Rexxie. While "Real Life" featuring Stormzy might have hit No. 1 on UK Afrobeats chart, "Comma" is the only song off Twice as Tall on the inaugural issue of Top Triller Nigeria chart. It is too early to predict success of "Comma" and "Bebo" but initial signs ["Bebo" debuted at No. 4 on Boomplay chart] show that consumers are not yet done with Zanku.

Even as Zanku enters its final act, Naira Marley and Zlatan will be confident that they have inspired a following that will stick with them even after Zanku is laid to rest.

turntablecharts © 2021