In early 2016, Nigerian songwriter Mayorkun posted a video of himself covering “The Money,” a 2015 single by Nigerian American pop star Davido. At the time, Mayorkun was dissatisfied with his banking job, and when he submitted his resignation letter, he fortuitously received a DM the same day from Davido, who had seen the clip and wanted to hear more. Mayorkun soon signed to Davido’s DMW label, which released his bubbly 2016 debut single, “Eleko”—named after a beach near Lekki, the city in Lagos State, Nigeria, where he relocated at the beginning of his new chapter as a musician. That same year, Mayorkun released the celebratory “Yawa,” filled with synthesized horns and choral arrangements, but his real breakthrough came in 2017 with “Mama,” a sweet love song about pining for a girl. The first single from his album debut, 2018’s The Mayor of Lagos, it’s now an Afrobeats classic—but you don’t have to be familiar with the genre (or with Nigerian actress Toyin Tomato, referenced in the lyrics) to feel its underlying joy. The tune’s syncopated rhythms, synth accents, and playful interjections of “Scooby Dooby Doo!” express honeymoon-phase infatuation at its most irresistible. Mayorkun’s hot streak has continued ever since, even when he works alongside collaborators. The slick groove of his 2019 track with Nigerian producer Shizzi and singer Teni, “Aye Kan,” suits its lyrics about reveling in late-night dancing, and on last year’s “Holy Father” he linked up with rapper and songwriter Victony to provide spiritual meditation alongside soft, repeating coos. He’s also released many collaborations with Davido; 2017’s percussion-driven “Prayer” and 2020’s summery “Betty Butter” are particular highlights. Last year Mayorkun released his palette-expanding second album, Back in Office (Sony Music West Africa), which incorporates a style of moody South African house music called amapiano. Mayorkun’s most recent single, “Certified Loner (No Competition),” sounds like an extension of that exploration, with a rolling beat that provides a steady foundation for his smooth vocals. As with all his best songs, its elements are simple but potently charming.
Mayorkun Wed 9/28, 7 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage, $54-$65, 18+