Five Nigerian Artists Whose Music Were Featured On Dwayne Johnson’s “Ballers” TV Show

afro, hip-hop, alte & whatnot

Five Nigerian Artists Whose Music Were Featured On Dwayne Johnson’s “Ballers” TV Show

November 20, 2019 Editorials 0

Days ago, I was watching “Hellboy” and there was this particular scene where Rosalia’s “Malamente” was played. It instantly put me in some kind of mood, because “Malamente” is a song that I knew, and loved. I mean, I also knew the song was popular, but still hearing it on that movie still managed to throw me in some kind of frenzy.

Now imagine what I felt when I heard certain Nigerian hits on a HBO show starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, one of my favorite actors of all time. You can only imagine. “Ballers”, a comedy sport TV series, which premiered in 2015 with The Rock as lead actor, is a show about American football, the NFL, black players and the heroic Spencer Strasmore character.

The series is about how a black retired player is navigating the business of numbers, in the NFL. He ended up pulling something big when he became the first black majority owner of a NFL team. All that definitely called for some “black” music, as soundtracks and big hip-hop and trap songs fit in perfectly. In fact the theme song is a YMCMB track. But at what point did someone say “oh, we need to put in some African vibes”?

Nobody probably ever said that, or maybe someone really did. Doesn’t matter. The point is, somehow, Nigerian music is getting the attention of not just Africans in diaspora or international fans, but also that of those calling the shots in creative industries, abroad. And the fact that it wasn’t just once or twice, means the international campaign and promotions are actually paying off. Afrobeats is really going global, to say the least.


The one and only Starboy, Wizkid has scaled some really big great heights and since his 2014 sophomore, “Ayo” blew up across the African continent, he’s been the face of the new Afrobeats, especially internationally. That’s why when someone now says stuff like “afrobeats doesn’t have a face”, you ask what Wizkid is then?

In 2015, he featured Canadian star, Drake and UK rapper, Skepta on the remix of his smash hit, “Ojuelegba.” Afterwards, Drake put him on “One Dance” and he almost got a Grammy for it. In 2017, “Come Closer” hit us and it’s still kind of the biggest Afro international collaboration we’ve got, ever.

His music is constantly getting played on Apple’s Beats 1 and he’s shut down O2, twice. Keyword, twice. In 2018, his dancehall hit “Daddy Yo” was one of the soundtracks on Pacific Rim Uprising, an American movie starring John Boyega.

“Sweet Love” was featured on Ballers, back in 2017, on an Episode in Season of the show.

Burna Boy

Compared to Wiz, I guess we could say Burna Boy is relatively new. At least, in the major league and on the international front. But the Port Harcourt afro-fusion singer, has been making music and making stuff happen.

Sold out shows abroad, contribution to Drake’s album, topping charts and amazing collaborations with such celebrated artists as, Lily Allen, Angelique Kidjo, Damian Marley, YG, Jeremih, Mahalia. Guy’s been hot!

And this year, the heat was so much everyone had to notice the boy. For one, his music is high-spirited, energetic and felakutic and it’s kind of what people outside here expect when they hear “Afro.”

The vibe is pure afro-fusion, with EDM and sprinkles of some Sean Paul and Bob Marley. Yeah, so we all know why is music is powerful and why people love it.

In one of the episodes on Season 5 of Ballers, his little song “Anybody” (you’ve probably heard of it) was used as as soundtrack, and for me o, I reminded and reminded to listen to his that vibe cake in. Sounded magical.


She’s one hell of a lady, you know. In such a short time, Teniola has achieved twice what even her make counterparts couldn’t and wouldn’t achieve in half a decade.

Funny thing is, she’s not even a sex symbol, it’s purely the vibes, the energy and the content. And she’s won big, for that.


When it comes to making hits that bang, Teni is a major. “Askamaya” one of her earliest hits made it onto one of Baller’s episodes this year. Based on how long the track has been out, one would immediately know that it wasn’t the “Askamaya” track, it was Teni that just has to be featured.

In other words, if “Askamaya” was someone else’s hit, there’s a good chance it was another Teni song that would have been featured.


Odunsi in “Star Signs” Video

As we have it, it’s not just music from the mainstream market in Africa that’s getting noticed, off shore. Odunsi The Engine, is part of the new wave of what used to be regarded as “Soundcloud artists”.

His kind of music is what brought about the tag “afro-fusion” because it’s got that Palmwine vibe from Ghanaian alkayida, fused with EDM, R&B, hip-hop and whatever comes along the line.

“Star Signs” a song on which he featured one of Africa’s finest, Runtown, was also one of the tracks on the particular Episode 7 of Season 5, which is just full of Afro vibes.


Maybe Odunsi wasn’t enough? Well, now we know alté is really gaining recognition, overseas. Santi, the ‘rebellious’ alternative artist, with all the genres from afro to dancehall and hip-hop, hasn’t even penetrated the Nigerian scene deep enough, compared to Odunsi or ’em Nonso Amadi’s.

His song “Rapid Fire” was on that same episode of Ballers. The dancehall tune features South African hip-hop artist, Shane Eagle, Nigerian female Soul singer, Tomi Agape and Amaarae. Also, “Maayaa” his song with Ghanaian producer Juls, was also on the series.

Bottom line is, either it’s Wizkid or Teni, or Santi, point is, we really should be proud of what our art has become over the years. Our music is all over Hollywood, already.

Who’s to say Joeboy’s music won’t be on one foreign movie, pretty  soon?


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