After Drake & Wizkid kicked open doors with "One Dance," could "Pana" become a U.S. hit?
Last year, the Nigerian star Tekno heard an instrumental that reminded him of his breakout hit, "Duro." Though the producer, Krizbeatz, was planning to send the beat elsewhere, Tekno asked to take a crack at it. "Then I went upstairs and ate the beat up," the singer tells Billboard. "The feeling I had when I recorded that? I fell in love with my own song like it wasn't mine."
That single, titled "Pana," has gone on to entrap other listeners the same way it conquered its creator, accumulating 30 million streams between YouTube and Spotify. Veterans like Trey Songz and Ludacris have posted clips of themselves listening to the song on Instagram, and "Pana" also caught the attention of Imran Majid, senior vice president of A&R at Columbia, who signed the track and re-released it in December.
Tekno's connection with Columbia is the latest step forward in an inch-by-inch acknowledgement of the commercial viability of Nigerian pop in the U.S. Most of those steps have come via collaborations sprinkled over the last five years -- P-Square and Rick Ross, D'banj and Kanye West, Davido and Meek Mill, Wizkid and Major Lazer, Wizkid and R. Kelly. Nigerian-born Ayo Jay had a minor hit with "Your Number" last year, which got some attention when Fetty Wap appeared on one remix, and Chris Brown and Kid Ink on another. The best-known recent example of a Nigerian-Western team-up is Drake's "One Dance," which included Wizkid. Wizkid is now signed to RCA -- also the home of Davido and Ayo Jay -- with an album due out on the label this summer.