Let’s not talk about how the Nigerian music industry is deficient in its treatment of its female artists. Let’s start this conversation with how the new generation of Nigerian female artists are rewriting history and how Ayra Starr is oozing a different kind of “young and getting it” vibe that is unprecedented in the industry.
Like every new artist signed to Don Jazzy’s record label, I was introduced to Ayra’s music through her debut EP, when “Away”, the lead single off the EP was blowing up. I was still a student and in almost every student hostel off-campus, Ayra Starr’s “Away” was the morning devotion. You’d hear the music coming from every window, “Away, away, away, away/ Ah-ah, away ayy,” as though they wanted the song to actually take away their troubles.
But no one knew the storm that Ayra Starr would become. Of course, she’s signed by Don Jazzy and that already gave her sufficient stardom. But outside that, Ayra Starr came prepared; and even though any time would have been the proper time for her to blow due to her ingenious talent, stepping into stardom in 2021 was the perfect time to announce her presence. A year after the rave of the pandemic when everyone was looking to start anew. And there, Ayra Starr came and literally said, “Here I am, the heavenly star you have never witnessed before.”
There is no audacious way to announce your presence as a young female artist in a competitive male-dominated industry than stomping your feet to the ground with a solid album. A few months after her debut EP, Ayra Starr came back with a dangerously brilliant and cohesive album and truthfully titled it, “19 & Dangerous.” She might be 19 years old, but she is dangerously talented. I believe what made Ayra Starr resonate with a lot of young people like myself is how she ushered in the era of Gen-Z. Post-pandemic, Gen-Z all over the world started claiming a spot in the social construct of things. It was the period when the majority of young people started proving their capable abilities in becoming a stakeholder. And this cuts across different industries. In the Nigerian music scene, Ayra Starr was the leading vibe, a ticking dynamite, as she sings in Bloody Samaritan – one of the biggest songs in 2021 which also earned a collaboration with Kelly Rowland – by opening the album with “Cast,” a Gen-Z anthem. And if you try to say Ayra Starr does not matter or you try to kill her vibe, she will blow your candlelight because everything she desires, she go receive.
Ayra Starr is not done yet but within three years in the industry, she has also contributed to reshaping the narrative for female artists in the Nigerian music scene. She has been living up to the star that she is. A Grammy nominee, an MTV Europe Music Award for Best African Act nominee, a Billboard Music Award for Top Afrobeats Song nominee and so many more. It is very obvious that Ayra Starr’s talent flows like a river and e dey rush, e dey rush well well, e dey rush and she is celestial and dangerously talented. A sabi girl.