Downtown’s Crystal Ball: Starring 30+ Creatives Poised To Conquer 2022
The creative industry was perhaps the biggest benefactor of what was a rather difficult year plagued by a pandemic and several events that triggered nationwide anxiety. As more people spent their time working remotely and avoiding physical contact with other humans, their screentime shot through the roof, and their appetite for art got bigger. Creatives know the competition that they have to face for our ever-dwindling attention span, so they keep pushing the envelope and bettering their art.
In a year where we saw tremendous success in the entertainment industry with our songs travelling far and wide, our films racking streams on Netflix, and the return of runway fashion, one would not be mistaken to think that 2021 was the biggest ever year for Nigerian creatives. Topping the achievements of last year will require an enormous amount of creativity and consistency, but then, we are Nigerians—we never run out of creative juice.
To look forward, the DOWNTOWN team played the role of a crystal ball as we predict some of the names that are primed to take their respective industries by storm in 2022.
Adedamola Adefolahan ‘Fireboy’
In 2019, when he released his first studio album, Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps, everyone in and around the industry knew just how talented he was. In an industry like ours where lengthy projects take a backseat to incessant singles, nothing prepared Nigerians for another Fireboy album less than a year later. His sophomore album, Apollo, landed an 8.3 rating out of 10 on American online music publication, Pitchfork. This feat began to cement his status as a leader of the new school, but there’s more. Although we didn’t get the third album from Fireboy in 2021, his hit single, Peru, affirmed his afrobeats intelligence. This year, Fireboy is expected to release his third studio album. And if his collaboration with Ed Sheeran on Peru Remix is anything to go by, we might have the biggest Nigerian act of 2022 on our hands in Fireboy DML.
GodsFavour Chidozie ‘Fave’
During the lockdown in 2020, a shy 20-year-old artist took to social media to post her renditions of different songs –some of them were original songs, others were mashups. An independent artist at the time, Fave immediately caught people’s attention online as she drew comparisons with Tems, another alté (alternative music) artist to have come through the ranks. In 2021, Fave released a numberone hit song, Baby Riddim, two months after she featured on two of the best tracks on Olamide’s R&B album, UY Scuti.
From recording tracks for SoundCloud to owning the biggest Nigerian song late last year, there’s no stopping the moving train that is Fave in 2022.
Anthony Chukwuebuka Victor ‘Victony’
Another SoundCloud-to-number-one-hit-song story features rapper-turned-R&B sensation, Victony. Victony, who was a victim of a ghastly car crash, began to garner attention on a much larger scale when celebrities such as Davido, Laycon, Ric Hassani, and many others tweeted a prayer for him, trending the #prayforvictony and setting up a GoFundMe account for his surgical procedure.
Also known as ‘The Outlaw King’ by fans from his early beginning, Victony’s lyricism —which is a result of his mixtape days as a rap artist— is what sets him clear of his peers. After carrying the chorus and hook in Mayorkun’s nationwide hit song, Holy Father, the attention on the 20-yearold has tripled. He’s now expected to feature on tracks with the biggest names in the industry such as Wizkid, Davido, and Burna Boy. It is looking like 2022 is Victony’s year.
Gabriel Afolayan is an actor in every sense of the word. Since his breakout role as ‘Dosu’ in Tade Ogidan’s Madam Dearest in 2005, he has played almost every role imaginable. He is regarded by many as one of the best actors in Nollywood, appearing in both English and Yoruba films.
In 2021, he appeared in two films, Lugard and Besties. The actor also took on Netflix in 2021. His films, Hustle and Mama’s Diamond, both of which he played major characters, received praises from fans and critics. Both movies trended on social media and streaming sites. His appearance on Netflix’s Christmas postcard alongside some of Nollywood’s best and brightest augurs well for him in 2022.
Folarin Falana ‘Falz’ and Toke Makinwa
One of the more interesting productions that provided a lot of entertainment in the pandemic was Therapy, the Toke Makinwa and Falz – powered comedy returned for a second season in late 2021 and will continue into 2022. It is easy to see why the show is so popular. The energy and chemistry between the two leads are genuine and as such their antics are genuinely hilarious. 2022 will only lead to more popularity for the show and for Falz and Toke.
Daniel Etim Effiong
Daniel Etim-Effiong had a busy 2021. Appearing in four productions that were released last year (Including Superstar) and two more already coming in 2022, this actor’s career seems primed to take off. His roles in the films Collision and Still Falling was intriguing and we can’t wait to see more from him in the coming year.
When owners, Funke(F), Ijeoma(I) and Abisose(A), launched the FIA brand in June 2015, it was to service the trendy, eccentric, and classy woman. It is more than just fashion – the trio is targeting edgy and luxurious women – like celebrity writers who are being celebrated for their words. As well as beautiful actors heading to a movie premiere. FIA sees itself as the new generation of African designers, and some might agree.
By the end of 2021, they had put in the work. A lot has led to the moment that has seen the brand showcase at fashion weeks and weekends in Africa’s largest city, Lagos. With the likes of Chimamanda Simmons, Betty Irabor, Dakore Egbuson- Akande checking their list of patrons, this new year will see statements being made through bold designs that mirror a confident female folk that the world is yearning for. A brand policy that continues the push of a strong women folk of character is what is going to be repeated in FIA’s messaging and designs this year.
ATAFO by Ohimai Atafo
Several years at it cultivating custommade corporate designs, mainly suits and traditional dresses have made multiskilled tailor, Ohimai Atafo the desired fixer for C-suite leaders. Interestingly, this isn’t a complete view of all the audiences he is currently serving. Looking back at the wedding boom in Nigeria that began early in the last decade, before long pandemics and quarantined megacities that halted social gatherings, Atafo, his fashion label had been serving hearts and he keeps on catering to the diverse audiences that are careful to make symbols out of every moment in their lives.
2022 would picture Atafo in an adaptation to a new way the world is working. With a young middle-class population expanding the more, there will be avenues for brands like this to excite with their creative minds as moderate fashion slowly infects the globe.
ETHNIK by Tunde Owolabi
There is a renaissance going on with Tunde Owolabi’s Ethnik brand. Ethnik is about promoting culture and giving back to the community. Aso Oke, a traditional, weaved linen native to sub-Saharan Africa Yorùbás is being reintroduced to the younger generation as footwear. It is thrilling to see such reimagining of culture to speak to the young communities currently being inspired to make a change in their world and countries.
Ethnik, although just six years into existence, has already started a bond between fashionistas caught in its web of attraction. One that is spurned by colourful bags and sneakers made from traditional, redesigned aso oke. Early into 2022, the conversation would still be about consuming less – and hand-woven linen – instead of carbon-intensivefarming- derived leather shoes, could be part of ways of cutting consumption. The Ethnik brand started by Owolabi can unite in that environment, which in turn could solve some of the issues connected with the problem of climate change facing the planet.
TV – Zainab Balogun-Nwachukwu
Zainab Balogun-Nwachukwu has worked as a presenter on EbonyLife TV for a while now. In recent times, she has taken up production roles on other projects such as The Spot and Jumia TV’s “The J-ist”. 2022 should see her profile increase and with it, more rightfully deserved mainstream recognition.
Radio – Oluwakemi Itari Owatemi ‘Kemi Smallz’
Kemi Smallz is a Nigerian on-air personality and voiceover artist. With many citations, recognitions, and overall breathtaking performances across various media platforms, Kemi Smallz has had her fair share of clout in the media industry.
The 5-foot on-air darling, who started her career at the age of 14 as a kid presenter for Tales Africa, Kiddies Island, and Generation Next, now works for Cool FM, alongside other gigs with Inside Radio. 17 years later, no one can argue that Kemi Smallz hasn’t paid her dues and 2022 looks super bright for her brand.
Online Media – Mary Edoro
Fashion Journalist and Digital Media Strategist, and influencer, Mary Edoro, is the head of content at BellaNaija Style. Her passion for fashion and the impact that African designers can have in the industry has led her far and wide, making her one of the key figures in the growth of the fashion industry through online media.
Print (Magazines) – Anslem Jon
Heading a magazine that focuses on celebrating excelling Nigerian youth is one thing, but the care and time put into each edition alongside running an online version of the paper is what makes this man special. Tush has been talking to the best young talents in our space for years and 2022 might just be their year to shine.
Also known as T. A’la Mode Beauty has about 77.8k followers on Instagram. A makeup artist, beauty educator, and YouTuber entrepreneur who teaches makeup and sells makeup products. From bridal make-up to photoshoots, T. A’la Mode has a style of blending loud and soft colours together which makes her make-up look very catchy to the eyes. Having worked with the likes of Sharon Ooja, Adesua Etomi, Omawunmi, Kaffy Ekpata, and others, T. A’la Mode is one to watch out for in 2022.
Popularly known as Anita Brows, Anita Adetoye is a make-up artist and influencer. With over 212k followers on Instagram, Anita Brows certainly knows her soft nude, and bronze glow look.
When it comes to make-up, she has been on the scene for quite a while and we can see that from her catalogue of clients, like Toke Makinwa, Niniola, Idia Aisien, and many more. Her near perfect make-up style is why we can’t seem to get enough of her. She is one to look out for when it comes to clean beats.
Also known as Jide of St.Ola on Instagram, Olajide david is a local and international male make-up artist and beauty enthusiast with a fresh and classy connotation. Jide is a make-up artist who has certainly done well for himself so far, with each look depicting elegance and sophistication. With 211k followers on instagram, he has worked with celebrity clients likes Funke Akindele, Dija, Maria Chike Benjamin, Nengi, Asa, and a host of other gorgeous women.
FK Abudu and Jollz (I Said What I Said)
The one-time DOWNTOWN cover personalities lead the industry in terms of listeners; they host the most-streamed podcast in the country. According to the duo, the podcast is the African millennial experience – they didn’t lie.
They have gained a reputation as two of the most likeable podcasters in Nigeria, a testament to the sold-out live shows they had in Lagos and Abuja, and the Owambe party they hosted last month. Their stock is bound to keep rising.
Temisan Emmanuel ‘Taymesan’ (Tea With Tay)
Media presenter, actor, and MC, Temisan Emmanuel, widely known as Taymesan launched his podcast, Tea With Tay, in mid-October -less than three months after its launch, his episode featuring Davido -The 30 Billion Gang- topped the Apple podcast chart in Nigeria.
The light-hearted podcast gained popularity thanks to its star power as it features high-profile celebrities such as Davido, Toke Makinwa, Uti Nwachukwu, Nancy Isime, Timini, Chigul, and so on. If Taymesan keeps pulling these names, there’s no questioning what height he can take his podcast to this year.
Gbemi Olateru Olagbegi and Tolu Oniru (OffAir)
The OffAir Show was birthed by popular demand from fans that had listened to Gbemi and Toolz for almost a decade during their daily handover sessions on The Beat 99.9FM. The transition happened to be a seamless one as they are now in the fourth season and can only grow stronger.
OffAir Show is an informal podcast with the most amusing and hard-hitting chatter about trending topics in entertainment and everything inbetween.
Chukwuemeka Emmanuel Ejekwu (Mr Funny)
A relatively new face in the Nigerian Instagram comedy space, Mr Funny rose to the top of the food chain this year. His character, Sabinus, is a frustrated Nigerian youth who in a bid to better his living situation, becomes susceptible to the ills of society.
His “Something Hooge” skit was one of the biggest last year. We wouldn’t bet against him to keep being funny in 2022.
Abiri-Roland Tobi Folagade (Folagade Banks)
Usually, when comics online do improv, they alter their appearance — in costume or filter— to look like the character they try to portray; not Folagade Banks though.
The self-acclaimed ‘cruise master’ plays an average Yoruba mother as he dishes our daily contents that are as refreshing as they are nostalgic. His understanding of this role and steady rise to prominence in the skit industry make him one to watch out for in 2022.
Olaitan Ademola (Demo UK)
Tiktok sensation, Demo UK, had an amazing year creating relatable funny content across all social media platforms. Demo’s brand of comedy is one that resonates with young bachelors in Nigeria as they tell stories of his struggle with life and women.
Demo who also creates content for Kraks TV has since seen his stock go up and it is only normal to project him as a leading skitmaker in 2022.
Mordi’s approach to capturing stills offers a unique insight into how he sees the world. His in-depth use of Lightroom shows his technique and understanding for striking the right hue balancce. This difference is what makes him one to watch in 2022.
Bobo Iso, a young Nigerian photographer who, from the looks of 2021, does not appear to be slowing down any time soon. Leaving a career in Mathematics, Iso has gone on to work with some of the country’s biggest stars in showbiz and is on an upward trajectory that shows no signs of waning.
The Nigerian photographer is slowly but surely making a name for himself in the commercial photography space.
His work entails documentary-style profiling and a purpose to connect people through images. He has worked with several Nigerian brands to tell the stories of their products.
The artist is rapidly rising in the realm of photography with his unique concepts. His accurate depictions of subjects through meticulously natural poses make him one to keep an eye on in 2022.
Eniola ‘Korty’ Olanrewaju
At age 22, Korty is one of the youngest YouTubers in Nigeria. Her candid demeanour and attention to detail are some of the features that set her apart from the rest.
Having worked with Empawa Africa as a video content creator, she has also worked as a model, graphic artist, and filmmaker, making up a pretty impressive CV—and it can only get bigger.
In her vlogs, award-winning media personality, Tomike Adeoye matches her freespirited personality with her TV persona. Her wedding videos which will make you desire romantic love and affection are unique in that she’s not afraid to share her personal life with her viewers, who she refers to as her “family members.”
From her wedding vlogs to her pregnancy vlogs, and even her childbirth videos, her YouTube channel inspires young and talented women as they go through the everyday challenges of life.
Due to the nature of her content and overall aura, Tomike promises to have a good year.
Dimma Umeh blogs about fashion, make-up, and skincare. She has been blogging since 2011 and has been featured by local and international brands such as Essence magazine. She is also an E! People’s Choice Awards nominee.
In addition to her practical approach to content creation and her consistency over the years, she has become one of the most popular female YouTubers in Nigeria. With more than 300 videos on her channel, she has over 24 million views, and 400k subscribers. Dimma’s stock is bound to go up this year.
Prince Osinachi (Digital Artist)
Prince Jacon “Osinachi” Igwe is a Nigerian visual artist and the brains behind SocialStack. He is the Chief Compliance Officer at SocialStack, a social token protocol built on Ethereum and Celo. The former librarian whose NFT was the first African NFT to be sold at a digital auction will be an artist to keep on your radar.
Iyobosa Rehoboth “Prodigeezy” (Video Director and Digital Artist)
The new year seems to be looking up for this curious and cautious creative. With the digital age already here, Rehoboth intends to take full advantage of it. The digital artist is one of the few Nigerians who have fully immersed themselves in what 2022 has to offer on the technology front. Like most tech geeks, he has been biding his time, learning and adapting to the technological advancements in the world and this year we can’t wait to see what exciting projects he has to offer to the world.
Anthony Azekwoh (Digital Artist)
2022 might finally be the year for digital artists like Anthony to prevail. With the recent adoption of NFTs worldwide and the sale of his NFT, Charged Particles, the new year holds a lot of promise for young artists.