It’s a year that will ring a bell for decades to come. From Laycon’s BBNaija heroics, DJ Switch’s controversial claims on Lekki shooting to Hushpuppi’s arrest and extradition, 2020 is definitely packed with several events that would dominate discussions for long.
In no particular order, here is a list of the most-talked about celebrities of the outgoing year.
Mr Macaroni may have been a sensation on social media for his comedy skits prior to 2020. But that he gained an unprecedented prominence in the outgoing year is unarguable. The reason is not far-fetched due to his participation in the #EndSARS protest.
The comedian started gaining traction in several quarters after staging an overnight demonstration alongside other #EndSARS protesters at the Lagos house of assembly — a development which informed an emergency meeting of the state parliament. He would later emerge one of the top voices for the protest with critical remarks about the country’s politicians, including a dig at Atiku Abubakar and call for President Muhammadu Buhari’s resignation amid the country’s insecurity.
His link to Atiku alongside other top #EndSARS protesters also stirred heated controversies while he elicited mixed reactions for claiming the government hasn’t done anything for him in a skit. The 27-year-old also joined other comedians to condemn jokes on sexual violence.
He capped off the year on a high note, snagging the ‘Content creation’ gong at the 2020 edition of The Future Awards Africa (TFAA) 2020.
By now, many would have come to terms with Laycon’s description of himself as “a god in a human body“.
From relative obscurity, the 2020 Brother Nigeria (BBNaija) winner rose to limelight on the groundswell of several factors including his face-off with Erica, a former housemate, and his ‘Who Is Laycon?‘ EP.
Laycon’s personality endeared him to many, a development which made him one of the top trending people in Nigeria for the outgoing year. His appointment as Ogun state’s youth ambassador and brand new Mercedes Benz gift by fans on his 27th birthday were symptomatic of the fact that he is loved by many. The graduate of philosophy also bagged several deals, music collaborations as well as a deluge of followers dubbed ‘Icons’ since he left the ‘Lockdown’ house.
He was at the heart of several heated controversies including a remark by Teni, his birthday, SC genotype as well as tax tussle involving the Lagos Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) and the Ogun State Internal Revenue Service (OGIRS).
Hushpuppi, an Instagram celebrity, has been in the news over his flamboyant lifestyles — which he constantly boasts about. But he became a global sensation after the police in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), barred lurid details of his arrest for alleged involvement in cyber-fraud — which could see him spend 20 years in prison if convicted.
It didn’t take long after his arrest before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) branded him as “Nigeria’s most-wanted hacker”.
His arrest and subsequent extradition to the US for trial would later become a subject of heated controversies, social media jokes, as well as accusations and counter-accusations involving Gal Pissetzky, his lawyer, who earlier claimed that the 38-year-old was kidnapped by the FBI.
Daddy Freeze, a Nigerian OAP, also came under intense criticisms for allegedly backing the self-acclaimed billionaire — a claim the media personality denied.
Although his trial was eventually postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, inquiries about him topped the trending searches on Google for 2020.
Naira Marley has continued to show that controversy remains one of the fastest tickets to fame. His emergence as Nigeria’s most-viewed artiste on YouTube for 2019 after strings of dramas was a good example.
The ‘Soapy’ crooner started out 2020 against the backdrop of a car theft allegation against him, which was later struck out by a court. But shortly after, he was embroiled in several other heated dramas.
It started with being tagged a ‘demon’ by a pastor which was followed by the hijacking of his Twitter account by hackers. He thereafter sparked outrage over his coronavirus tweet. In a seemingly unending cycle of dramas, Naira Marley dominated discussions for long due to his party during lockdown ordeal, Abuja concert and the attendant face-off with Executive Jet.
Barely a few months after his 26th birthday, the ‘Tesumole’ crooner again returned to the headlines over several issues including the shelving of his earlier plan to lead a scheduled #EndSARS protest. He was also in the news over his ‘racism’ rant against Turkish Airlines and redemption of his N1 million pledge to Jude Chukwuka, a veteran actor, who performed a karaoke version of ‘Mafo‘.
D’banj doesn’t always make the headlines like most of his peers. But 2020 was different. The singer was enmeshed in a heated scandal during the year after Seyi Babatayo, a lady, accused him of rape in 2018.
The allegation led to series of developments, starting with reactions from celebrities, a N100 million lawsuit, a probe order from Mohammed Adamu, the inspector-general of police (IGP); signing of petitions against the singer and calls for his arrest.
As the rape allegation, which occurred about the same time the Koko Master marked his 4th wedding anniversary, continued to trend on Twitter, it ushered in more revelation, lawsuit and probe order until the police eventually cleared him after his accuser withdrew her petition.
The ‘Fall in Love’ singer also left tongues wagging for flouting COVID-19 protocols at an Abuja party before eventually darting into relative obscurity from the social media.
DJ Switch’s rise to global prominence in a blink during the outgoing year remains a mystery to many. Barely many knew her until her impressive stint at the BBNaija’s Saturday party which in a short time fuelled comparison between her and DJ Cuppy.
But about two months after, the Nigerian entertainer-turned-activist attracted huge followers due to her Instagram live update on the night of October 20, when soldiers opened fire on unarmed #EndSARS protesters at Lekki toll gate.
The entertainer’s claim that at least 15 people died at the protest, thereafter, ignited a heated controversy which earned her admiration from some Nigerians, several interviews with international media platforms as well as the Canadian parliament and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Switch also engaged in a face-off with Lai Mohammed and Babajide Sanwo-Olu and then made headlines after alleging death threats which prompted petitions against her rumoured request for asylum in Canada. She has since continued to weigh in on socio-political issues affecting Nigeria while pushing the narrative that the people can inspire the much-needed change.
Desmond Elliot, an actor-turned-politician, least expected the reactions that trailed his comment backing godfatherism ahead of the Edo 2020 election. When he eventually appeared to have calmed frayed nerves with his support for the #EndSARS movement, the lawmaker again ignited a new wave of criticism for seemingly advocating the regulation of social media, despite earlier denying pushing for such.
The movie star would later apologise over his comment after being called out for opposing social media which aided his electoral victory.
Wizkid’s recognition by the Grammys as ‘Afrobeats’ key player’ exemplifies his growing influence over the past decade. The ‘Ojuelegba’ crooner started 2020 in a grand style, snagging continental and international recognitions.
He thereafter made the headlines over controversies bordering on the “greatest of all time” tag before talks of his ‘Made in Lagos‘ album, which was eventually released in October, after several postponements.
Outside music, the 30-year-old singer engaged in heated exchanges with the country’s political class, taking on President Muhammadu Buhari and Lauretta Onochie, his aide, on social media occasionally amid the #EndSARS protest — a development which elicited mixed reactions.
Wizkid also appeared in several supremacy conversations involving him, Davido as well as Burna Boy. If not anything, the outgoing year is another evidence that the ‘Fever’ crooner remains a force to reckon with in the global music industry after another impressive showing which includes winning the ‘Best African Act’ category at the MOBO Awards (Music of Black Origin).
Davido kickstarted the year 2020 on the backdrop of several controversies, first over his trip to Ghana, ‘betrayal‘ allegations and his decision to flaunt his family’s private jet.
The ‘Risky’ crooner again dominated discussions in several quarters after news of Chioma Avril, his fiancee, contracting COVID-19 broke. He was also at the centre of another round of controversies after declaring himself and Wizkid as Nigeria’s greatest musicians of all time.
The ‘OBO’ singer thereafter darted into social media hiatus and returned with ‘FEM‘, his hit single, which would become #EndSARS protest song. Davido’s involvement in the campaign was not without some drama as he jostled to debunk several claims about his visit to the IGP during the peak of the protest.
The ‘Assurance’ singer then sent the music world into a frenzy following the release of ‘A Better Time‘ album. His Wizkid’s snub claim, comment on Psquare’s feud, Cynthia Morgan’s ordeal, sack of Lil Frosh Burna Boy-Wizkid ‘gang up’ remark among others also stirred mixed reactions on social media platforms.
Notwithstanding the controversies, Davido scaled new heights in the music landscape during the outgoing year with several beautiful offerings as well as recognition to his name.
Losing the Grammys definitely isn’t the best way for Burna Boy to start the year 2020. But for the ‘African Giant’ crooner, it was an eye-opener and motivation to consolidate on his 2019 heroics.
Not long after the dust surrounding his Grammys’ loss settled, the ‘Ye’ singer ignited a flurry of reactions over the claim nobody paved the way for him and Fela’s comparison.
He again came under intense criticisms over his comment on Davido’s description of himself and Wizkid as Nigeria’s “all-time greatest musicians” followed by another heated exchange with Sho Madjozi, a South African rapper.
Burna Boy returned to the spotlight over his ‘Twice As Tall‘ album which was released after much delay. His refusal to join Omoyele Sowore’s RevolutionNow movement generated outrage on social media platforms while his initial absence at #EndSARS protest also sparked another round of criticisms until he reacted.
He would eventually emerge as one of the top voices for the protest dropping a single about the movement and commenting occasionally on the campaign as well as socio-political issues in Nigeria. The ‘Wonderful’ singer also took centre stage on social media over an alleged secret love affair with a lady simply identified as Jopearl.
For now, the ‘Like to Party’ crooner looks unstoppable, and his nomination for the 2021 Grammys is only indicative of one thing: his best is yet to come.
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