Whatever appeals to you the most cannot do a better job than music does; arguably. ‘Food for the soul and more’ is how we all ought to portray music. You might have a better description though. And just like food, what you see on your TV screens, what you hear on the radio, on streaming platforms and whichever way you listen and watch music videos passes through a process.
The process, the means to a beautiful end, is what YNaija in partnership with Entertainment Consult is recognising this year as it celebrates the ‘undergees’ of the Nigerian music industry. They are the ones who enable lifted spirits; who lighten up our mood, our day. They are not the ones you would ordinarily see on your screen or the voices you hear. They are the ones who make the food turn out well.
On this Music 50 list, we have the sound producers, the music video directors, the label executives, the PR managers. And to help ensure credibility, we had Motolani Alake and Minjin Lawanson join the team on this.
Phillip ‘Pheelz’ Kayode
Pheelz‘ name has become a household name for anyone who cares to listen to Nigerian music and has his footprint in almost all major albums. You can hardly pick out successful albums that he is not part of.
Starting out at 12; learning to play the keyboard and drums, and with an impressive track record, Pheelz’ name is already stamped in Nigeria’s entertainment Hall of Fame. Talk about one of the most celebrated music producers.
His breakthrough as a music producer happened in 2012 when he produced heavy rotation singles for the YBNL boss, Olamide, in his third studio album, Baddest Guy Ever Liveth (BGEL).
Pheelz has not slowed down his pace and keeping up with someone who keeps doing better is going to take more than hard work.
Ayodeji Olatunde Olowu (Cracker Mallo)
If there’s a successful startup story you need to hear, Cracker Mallo’s story should do it for you. After a series of aliases – ‘Drum Head,’ ‘Cracker Beats’ – Ayodeji Olatunde Oluwo settled with ‘Cracker Mallo’ after his self-imposed break in 2018.
Cracker has worked backstage as far back as 2012 where he worked at Mr Real’s studio with other producers. In 2018, Mr Real facilitated Cracker Mallo’s return from a self-imposed break for him to produce the hit single ‘Issa Banger‘ by D’banj featuring Slimcase and Mr Real himself.
Other hits to his name are Vector’s ‘Mad‘, Slim Case’s ‘Otunba Lamba‘, Mayorkun’s ‘Sope‘ and a few others. He also produced the hit song ‘Jealous‘ by YBNL signee, Fireboy DML.
Igbinoba Osaze (Ozedikus Nwanne)
Ozedikus Nwanne! Sounds familiar? You will agree that many of our favourite songs start with that name. From Rema’s ‘Dumebi’ to Crayon’s ‘Unusual’, his imprint is deeper than we all think.
Igbinoba is signed to Marvin Records and, like many, found his passion for music from playing the keyboard at church. His interest in creating sounds and producing music, however, peaked on his first visit to a recording studio in 2014. He has worked with the likes of Crayon, Ladipoe, DNA, Dr Sid, Bad boy Timz, Yovi and so on.
Samuel Giveson (SMJ)
Samuel’s breakout story is one of hardwork and dedication. Popularly known as SMJ, Samuel expressed his interest in sounds at the age of five when he started playing the piano after mastering a few drumming skills at three.
In 2010, SMJ gathered the attention of popular record producer, Masterkraft who automatically became his mentor. With the influence and his dedication, SMJ was introduced to popular Nigerian gospel singer, Tim Godfery, who bought him an automatic ticket with the Xtreme gospel choir. And at 17, SMJ had already produced two albums for the award-winning gospel artist.
We have to watch out for this one.
Bello Emmanuel Adeshina (Fresh VDM)
Best known for producing Davido‘s critically acclaimed single ‘Fia‘ in 2017 which stands as one of Davido’s career markers after topping international charts and getting massive global reviews by international acts, Fresh VDM’s contribution to Afropop is quite notable.
The Togolese-born Nigerian was first introduced to music by his choirmaster who taught him to play the piano and the drum.
Fresh has been nominated for six producers of the year awards from 2018 to 2019 and has snagged three out of those: City People’s Music Award, Nigeria Entertainment Awards and the All Africa Music Awards. He continues to inspire!
Akwuba Charles Ugochukwu (DJ Coublon)
If there is one music producer who knows his audience too well, it would be DJ Coublon. With years of experience producing music and influencing the styles for music artists, DJ Coublon is a sound shaper, and Afro music will testify to that.
With 8 award nominations and two wins, DJ Coublon has worked with artists like Yemi Alade, Seyi Shay, Olamide, Kizz Daniel, and so many others.
Legendury Beatz is a mastermind of the brothers: Uzezi Oniko and Okiemute Oniko. With a production style deeply rooted in afrobeat and a fusion of other genres, the duo have shown a huge amount of dedication to their craft.
Legendury Beatz made international and local headlines in the Nigerian recording industry after producing the critically acclaimed single ‘Azonto‘.
The top-rated production group usually works with Wizkid, but you will see their markers on other major Nigerian tracks too. The duo have produced songs with vocal contribution from artists such as American rapper Wale, British rappers Tinie Tempah and Yxng Bane, Urbano Latino artists Bad Bunny and J Balvin, 2face, Ice Prince, Efya, Banky W, Seyi Shay and Chidinma and others.
Sunday Ginikachukwu Nweke (MasterKraft)
MasterKraft is a multi-talented Nigerian record producer, DJ, band director, pianist, and songwriter. He started his professional music career with Kennis Music and has worked with a number of Nigerian and international artists over the years.
MasterKraft is also a sound teacher of the craft. He has lent his skills and knowledge in the grooming of other producers who have an interest in mastering the craft of music production.
Rotimi Keys is a new age music producer with undeniable talent. Rotimi has worked with a few mainstream artists like Yemi Alade and also contributed vocally for them.
Like many other producers, Keys’ creativity speaks for him. The producer worked on the campaign theme song for former Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, Gulder Ultimate Search theme song, MTN Project fame theme song, to mention a few others.
Rotimi Keys has also worked with artists like Olamide, Ice Prince, Simi, MI and a host of others.
Udoma Peter Kelvin Amba (Kel P)
The famous ‘It’s Kel P Vibes’ have registered in the hearts of every Nigerian music lover for every masterpiece produced by this creative. Kel P is the primary producer of the acclaimed African Giant album by Burna Boy which won him a Grammy Nomination.
Signed to Aristokrat Records in 2017 and producing Solid Star’s “Eleganza” (2017) Kel P introduced himself to Nigeria and has not fallen short in delivering groovy hits for Nigerian artists.
Kel P’s fame is more than just to the Nigerian audience as he has been celebrated abroad by popular American rapper Future, for his creative prowess.
Chisom Faith Eze (Rexxie)
If you have heard of the Zanku Dance, then you should be very familiar with the sound. Rexxie is the original curator of this new sound that has created a new school of artists in Nigeria.
Rexxie is also responsible for a lot of songs credited to popular Nigerian singer, Zlatan Ibile – who has been crowned as the Zanku Dance master. The multi-talented artiste has also collaborated with Zlatan Ibile, Naira Marley, Lil Kesh and a host of others. Together, they have made some of the biggest songs on the music scene
Rexxie owes his style of music to the streets of Lagos and growing up in Lagos, as he states in a This Day Live interview in 2019.
Oluwaseyi Akerele (Shizzi)
Shizzi, like many other producers, started out as a drummer in church. He achieved recognition for his work on Davido’s 2011 single “Dami Duro”, and produced six songs on the singer’s debut album Omo Baba Olowo (2012). In 2019, he also produced a song off Beyonce’s Lion King inspired album – The Gift.
Shizzi is more than just a music producer. He has also written some songs for artists that became hits and topped charts across Africa. In 2016, Shizzi signed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing as a record producer and a songwriter.
He however, started his own record label in 2016, Magic Fingers, with his first signee, Teni the official release of her single “Amen”.
Alfred Victor Ayokanmi (VStix)
Vstix is one music producer with the promise of bringing good music to Nigerians. Coming to light in 2019, VStix has worked with a couple of Nigerian artists including the production of Davido’s acclaimed 2019 album, A Good Time.
VStix is also the mastermind to a few songs from Mr May D’s debut EP ”May Day” which was released in 2020.
VStix like a few other producers learned the art of producing from the legendary music producer, ID Cabasa.
Beats By Jayy
On some days, he is known as Big Daddy Jayy, the artiste and music producer who has released three EPs in three years. BBJ is responsible for a number of singles for the Hip-Hop genre in Nigerian music and has worked with a number of artists.
The producer has a self-styled Afro-inspired urban, pop, and Hip-Hop sound that blends with the Nigerians audience. In 2020 alone, Beats By Jayy has sealed major or a 100% production credits on four projects – Judah EP, God’s Engineering, The Live Report and Jaynius.
Dera The Boy
Dera the Boy started off as a singer and songwriter at Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK) with his famous ‘18 and lonely’ song which spoke on the struggles of a young mind.
The creative, since then has built himself on a position to create beautiful sounds. Notable work by the producer is his contribution to JoeBoy’s 2020 acclaimed single, ‘Call’.
18-year-old Priime is the producer responsible for a lot of 2020 banger hits in Nigeria. From Zlatan to Joeboy, Fireboy, DJ Cuppy and lots more, P Prime has tagged himself as a sound terrorist.
P-Priime is the genius behind popular songs like ‘Like I Do’ for Fireboy, ‘Money Devotion’ for Gbasky, ‘Gelato’ for DJ Cuppy and ‘Unripe Paw Paw’ for Zlatan, ‘Egungun’ for Zlatan and more.
Mansa Jabulani started his career as an artist back in secondary school days. He began making beats in the 2010. His productions cross a wide range of Afrobeat music styles, Dancehall, Afro-house, Afropop, Afro Trap and Reggae.
With a constantly evolving sound, Mansa Jabulani enjoys experimenting with sounds which cross over into various musical genres.
Jabulani is also versatile music composer, song-writer and talent manager. He has also worked with lots of up and coming artists and is currently managing Zlatan Ibile.
Folorunso Busayo Phillips (Fliptyce)
Fliptyce has worked with many talented Nigerian artistes – Davido, Ice Prince, Vector, Iyanya, Bracket, Yemi Alade, P-Square and more. He is the genius who produced PSquare’s “Chop my Money”, both the original and remix with Akon.
Many people know Fliptyce, our Spark B.O.S.S., only as a music producer, but he is a lot more than that. He is a graduate of Geology and Applied Geophysics, who relocated to Lagos in 2009 to pursue a career in music production and is doing this just right. You need to watch out for this one.
ThankGod Omori Jeesam (Boy Director)
TG Omori, also known as Boy Director is a music video director and cinematographer. Omori has directed music videos for recording artists across various genres of new generation sounds.
Omori started making videos from the early age of 16, but only went professional at 18 after film school. His interest as a director started at 15 while overseeing stage plays in his school and church. He graduated from Pencil Film Institute at 18, making him the youngest professional filmmaker in Nigeria at the time.
Cookey is a cinematographer and director who has influenced music directing in Nigeria. Adasa Cookey is also known as the founder of Squareball Media Productions Limited established in 2010.
He obtained a degree in Architecture from Rivers State Science and Technology. He also went for video directing at the Del York Academy Film Academy.
Cookey came to limelight in 20102 after his work on the music videos for singles such as Like to Party by Burna boy, Gucci Bag by D’Prince as well as “Adaobi” by Mavins
Peters is a celebrated Nigerian music video director, filmmaker and cinematographer. Establishing his own brand – Capital Dream Pictures, Peters focuses in production that specialises in the realms of the performing arts, film and video
Clarence is best known for his work with mainstream Nigerian music artists and other filmmakers.He directed 40 episodes of the famous TV series Everyday People. Peters has also directed music videos for recording artists across an array of genres and generations, including Darey, Durella, and Wizkid.
In 2012, he shot the music video for MTV’s Shuga’s theme song, which was recorded by Boneye from P-Unit, Banky W., Wizkid and L-Tido.
Like a few many directors, Twitch started out by experimenting with photography. In 2013 he started monetizing his experimental photos before delving fully into making videos.
In 2017, Twitch recorded a major collaboration with Director Q as an editor which also helped him in positioning himself as a video director. By the end of 2017, he kicked off his career in music video production with his personal brand.
Meji Alabi is a Nigerian video director who has worked with a host of many Nigerian artists bringing to light ideas for their songs.
Known to tap into the African culture in his works, Meiji has infused the originality of the Nigerian heritage to the world acceptance of Afro music.
His passion can be summarised in two things – people and his love for filmmaking. With his skill sets spanning across directing music videos – Meiji has worked with Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy, Davido and a host of others.
Oladapo Fagbenle (Daps)
Daps, is a Nigerian-born British artist, video director, and former NCAA athlete. He is best known for directing music videos for local and international recording artists such as Migos, Stormzy, Iggy Azalea, Kendrick Lamar, Willie xo, Wizkid, 2 Chainz and Davido .
Daps began his career within the media industry as a video producer in New York and London. Daps is also the brother of British actor, O. T. Fagbenle, video producer, Luti Fagbenle, and basketball player Temi Fagbenle. Daps currently resides in Los Angeles, California.
Paul Gambit (real name Paul Obata) is a Nigerian music video director graduating from the Yaba College of Technology in Lagos. He is the mastermind behind Yemi Alade’s ‘Sugar’ video. He also directed Dipps Rock video titled ‘Your Body’
The talented director has also been credited with the direction of many videos for Nigerian artists like Solidstar and Orezi.
Buari Olalekan Oluwasegun (Unlimited LA)
Unlimited LA is one of the biggest music video directors of repute in the music industry. Unlimited LA, who is responsible for Olamide’s “Motigbana”, 2face’s “Amaka”, and others, is also a renowned filmmaker and cinematographer.
The desire to become a video director started in 2005 when he was working with his cousin, DJ Tee on set for various music production and video production. Starting out as being people’s camera operator, D.O.P and gaffer, Unlimited LA has successfully built a name for himself.
Ani James (Aje Filmworks)
Ani James, is one of Nigeria’s most sought-after video directors and cinematographers. Following years of watching and analysing music videos and documentaries, James have built a clarity in the direction of his works.
With irrepressible self-belief and an unbridled passion for videography, Ani remained focused on his dream and worked his way to the top where he stands today amongst Africa’s A-list video directors – as Founder of AJE Filmworks Limited (AJE, coined from his initials).
Director Sesan is a Nigerian UK-based director often credited for his work as Sesan. He has directed music videos for Afrobeats genre artists such as D’Banj, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage and Davido.
He is also the CEO of Film Factory Nigeria, a video production company in Lagos; and Film Factory South Africa, in Johannesburg.
The Managers and PR Execs
Akpor Gbemre is a Lagos based promoter/publicist & one of the most sought-after talent managers in the music industry.
He is famous for his listings in the music industry which ranks music artists, Directors and producers.
Bose Ogulu (Mama Burna)
Bose is the mother of Grammy Nominated Nigerian singer Burna Boy who is also his manager.
Bose Ogulu is popularly known as Mama Burna in the Nigerian music circles. Bose Ogulu has successfully managed Burna Boy’s music career from its starting point to where it is today.
Popularly known as the fixer, Bukola is a well known PR specialist in the Nigerian music business. Her PR establishment, BukiHQ Media is a well known PR firm for many Nigerian artists.
Her idea of managing clients built up in her University days. Bukola has also served as a director for popular Nigerian record label, Chocolate City.
Asa Asika is the Nigerian entertainment enthusiasts dominating the entertainment PR business. His famous block parties have become legendary across Nigeria.
Asa’s first dash at the business came from his organizing parties in secondary school at the prestigious Whitesands School in Lekki. His career in entertainment came naturally with his uncle, Obi Asika, known as the great music business legend, who once ran pop music in Nigeria via Storm 360 Records.
Latti Ronke Bamisedun
Latti is the Founder of BWL Agency, an award-winning strategic communications agency based in Lagos, Nigeria.
Her experience in PR has won her the title of a go-to person in the Nigerian music industry. Having consulted for several multinational companies such as Pernod Ricard Nigeria and Universal Music Group Nigeria, Latti’s BWL was recognized for Best PR Campaign in Western Africa at the SABRE 2018 awards.
Taiye Aliyu is the CEO of popular Nigerian music group, Effizzi. He is famous for his managing skills and PR skills as well.
Taiye is also fammed for successfully managing popular Nigerian singer, Yemi Alade.
Efe is the CEO and founder of popular Nigerian music group, Now Muzik, which specializes in PR and promotion for Nigerian artists.
Efe continues to be a major force in the development of entertainment in Nigeria and has been one time named among the most influential people in the Nigerian entertainment industry.
Sunday Are has worked effortlessly in the making of many of the big names in the Nigerian music space. He is a major player that have risen to become one of the nation’s most influential and successful artist managers.
He is famed for his managerial impact on singers Asa and Lagbaja.
Osagie Osarenkhoe is a music manager with high ratings in the media space. Osagie is famed for managing Nigerian singer, Skales, Wizkid and a host of other Nigerian artists.
Abuchi Peter Ugwu
Ugwu is the former manager of popular Nigerian rapper, MI Abaga. He was also one of the managers of the prestigious Chocolate City music group in Nigeria.
Godwin is a renowned talent manager, creative entrepreneur and the CEO at iManage Africa. Godwin has worked and managed artists like MI, Wizkid, Waje, Davido, Rooftop MCs, and many others.
Focusing on developing tailor-made strategies that suit the business needs and goals of his clients, Tom has established an identity in the Nigerian music scene With 10 years of solidand practical experience at management level for Marketing and Public Relations.
Kamal Ajiboye is a popular Nigerian talent manager with decades of experience in talents, image and events management. He has worked and helped build the likes of Mohits Records, Davido Music Worldwide (DMW) and has also worked in the making of events as Rhythm Unplugged, One Africa Music fest.
Olukorede ‘Kimani Moore’ Ogunyonade
Olukorede Ogunyonade aka Kimani Moore as she is known is a mini-mogul, culture fiend and is shaping up to become one of the most influential women in the Nigerian music business.
Her innate understanding of the economic side of the creative music industry has made her a legend of sorts in the underground music scene and a sage helping relatively unknown artists market their music to waiting audiences.
David Adeleke – Davido
Davido is an American-born Nigerian singer, songwriter and record producer. Born in Atlanta, US, and raised in Lagos; Davido made his music debut as a member of the music group KB International.
In 2016, Davido announced on Twitter that he had signed a record deal with Sony Music and a few months later he founded the record label Davido Music Worldwide (DMW), which houses popular artists like Dremo, Mayorkun, Yonda and Peruzzi.
The DMW crew is famed for building careers for many up and coming acts, with Davido as the chairman.
Michael Ajereh – Don Jazzy
Don Jazzy or Don Baba J, is a Nigerian record producer, singer, songwriter, entrepreneur and philanthropist.
He co-founded the now defunct record label Mo’ Hits Records in 2004. Following the closure of the record label, Don Jazzy set up Mavin Records on 8 May 2012. The record label houses stars like Korede Bello, Dija, D’Prince, Rekado Bankzs and a few others.
Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun – WizKid
Wizkid established Starboy Entertainment in March 2013. The label was established for the signing of new acts in support of their music and local sounds.
StarBoy records signed Maleek Berry and Legendury Beatz to his imprint one month after it was established. The record label is also home to L.A.X, Efya, R2Bees, Mr Eazi, Terri and a few other acts.
The YBNL Nation is an independent record label founded by indigenous rapper, Olamide in 2012. The label is responsible for the signing of fresh acts who stood as culture establishers in the Nigerian music scene.
YBNL is home to fresh acts like FireBoy DML, Temmie Ovwasa and a few others.
Audu Maikori is the co-founder and President of Chocolate City Entertainment. Mostly regarded as one of the most successful record label, the label is home to recording artists such as M.I Abaga, Femi Kuti, Nosa, Dice Ailes, Blaqbonez, ClassiQ, CKay, Candy Bleakz, Torna and Dijay Cinch.
Artists formerly signed to the label include Victoria Kimani, Ice Prince, DJ Caise, DJ Lambo, Jeremiah Gyang, Ruby Gyang, Pryse, Brymo, Koker and Jesse Jagz, Lemon Adisa,
Afeez Fashola – Naira Marley
Controversial Nigerian rapper, Naira Marley, is the face behind Marlian Records. The label was established in January 2020 after an announcement in December at the premier Marlian fest.
Marlian records was birthed with the signing of Zinoleesky, MohBad, Fabian Blu and C-Blvck. Zinoleesky is known as the social media sensation who shook Instagram with avant-garde fashion choices and interesting raps in Yoruba alongside Lil Frosh.
Osadolor Nate Asemota – Dr Dolor
Dr. Dolor is the Chief Executive’s Officer of Dr Dolor Entertainment. He started out from the telecommunications industry before pivoting to music and establishing a record label Dr. Dolor Entertainment, in Lagos.
Dr. Dolor Entertainment is home to recording artists like Vanilla, Ryan, Teniola Apata popularly known as Teni.
Steve is a Nigerian advertising and music executive, public advocate, and founder of X3M Ideas, a Lagos-based digital advertising agency that was listed in 2017 as “one of Nigeria’s fastest growing communication agencies.
He is also the Founder/CEO of X3M Music, home to popular singer-songwriter, Simi and Praiz.
EeZee Conceptz Limited is a gospel music label with a vision to reach out to all generations and win souls for Christ through music.
The record label is home to popular gospel sensation like Mercy Chinwo, Judikay and GUC.
Meet The Jury
Motolani is a Nigerian lawyer who has worked in legal practice, corporate investment, humanitarian aid and now practices as a multimedia [pop of] Culture Journalist who produces written, visual and audio content. He is known for his analytical style to journalism, covering entertainment tech and interviewing some of the biggest personalities in Nigerian entertainment and culture industries.
Asides that, he continues to break some important stories while contributing ways to improve Nigerian entertainment.
Minjin Adewale Lawanson
Valued for his distinct Afro-soul sound that embodies western influences, and popularly known by his brand name, Minjin is a Nigerian international singer, producer, model, visual artiste.
He rose to fame with the smashing hit single Coupe Decale featuring Iyanya with millions of streams after being signed by Kennis Music. The song became an anthem across all francophone countries which made earned him the title African King. He is currently an independent artist under his own imprint, Skookum Heritage Entertainment.
His latest single “Sugarboy“ is doing quite well across several music platforms.