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Naira Marley

British-Nigerian Afro-trap star Naira Marley brings a brash, colorful sound which has won him legions of fans, who dub themselves "Marlians." Despite a controversial image and numerous brushes with the law, he has become one of the biggest stars in the Nigerian Street Pop movement, and one of the most popular African artists in the U.K. Born Azeez Adeshina Fashola on May 10, 1991, in Agege, Lagos State, Nigeria, he moved with his family to Peckham, South London, England, at the age of 11. From a young age, his ambition was to be a voice actor, but, while studying business law at college, he developed a passion for music and a love of singing. His friends encouraged him to pursue a music career, and he made his debut on the 2013 track "Marry Juana," with Max Twigz, before releasing his debut EP Gotta Dance in 2014. His stage name is taken from that of the Nigerian unit of currency. Marley began spending time in Nigeria, and gained prominence there with the release of the single "Issa Goal," featuring Olamide and Lil Kesh, which became the theme song for the Super Eagles, the Nigerian national team, at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. His music, a blend of Afrobeats and hip-hop, which came to be known as "Afro-trap," was delivered in a mixture of English, Pidgin, and Yoruba. Despite (or perhaps because of) criticism for his alleged criminality and coarse lyrical content, his music found a large and obsessive fan base among working-class Nigerians. In 2019, Marley released the controversial track "Am I a Yahoo Boy," which led to his arrest by the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on what he described as trumped-up charges. (A "yahoo boy" is a cybercrime scammer.) After a brief spell in prison, he released the single "Soapy," which led to a viral dance craze and won Viewers' Choice at the 2020 Soundcity MVP Awards. His second EP, Lord of Lamba, was released later in 2019. That year Marley also launched his own Marlian Records; the label released his first album, God's Timing's the Best (GTTB), in 2022.
© John D. Buchanan /TiVo

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