Obi Asika, Jimmy Jatt, Emma Ugolee and others make top 20 list of pioneers of the new Nigerian music era

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List compiled by Reading-Bridges magazine.Totally agree with it…guess that’s why I’m sharing it :-).

Once upon a time, the oyibo man ran Nigerian music when big international music labels as Sony, EMI, Motown etc set up here and called the shots. Unable to contain the yawa they met, they packed their baggage and left. Leaving us with no clue as to what to do.

Those who decided to invent a new Nigerian sound were criticized strongly by the older music act as being armatures who were heading nowhere. The press too, was not exactly kind to their course. But they stuck to their guns with sacrifices and today we have thousands making millions out of an industry they slaved for These are the top 20 guys who began and grew the new age Nigerian music industry. The seed sowers and pioneers who created and promoted the new sound that feeds millions today and put our music on the Global map. See the guys after the cut…

1    1) Kennis Music : Nigeria’s foremost indigenous record label. Even though they had a structure that promoted basically acts under its umbrella, they generally gave the new school artist an enviable status. Hype masters who were undeniable experts of bestowing a larger than life perception to the new school Nigerian music artist and warming them into the hearts of Nigerians via the widest TV network at the time. This often attracted followership for the artist, increasing their fan base as well as big bucks from the corporate sponsors. Kennis music hold the record of getting the first new school Nigerian act (Rapper EedrisAbdulkareem) to be paid N1,000,000:00 for one show

2  2)  Ben Omoage, popularly known as Grand Master Lee and widely called GML. A strong crusader for the new school act. His voice was on radio and it was loud. His platform had power and he used the power predominantly to call attention to the emergence of a new kind of sound. He was loud and he was heard. GML was known to be kind to the new bunch of musicians and gave them air time they could never pay for.

3  3) Ayo Animashaun : The resilience of another pioneer. His introduction was with his magazine that thought a generation the lyrics of all their favorite songs. He was one of the first to play Mongo Park with the hip hop world. Discovering a whole new world of Nigerian music. Ayo also engineered the most enviable reward scheme for the new school act with an Award ceremony that replicated Hollywood’s glitz and glam

4   4)  Emma Ugolee: A forerunner with the introduction of music videos as the new tool for marketing the new Nigerian artist. On TV, this presenter, producer was the only alternative to the Kennis music dynasty. As inventor of the first ever all Nigerian music video countdown, his TV show was making more artist than we expected. Renowned for his ear and eyes for talent and personal support for most of Nigeria’s biggest music acts today from the early days of their struggle. A force the industry would never forget

5) Dj Jimmy Jatt: An old school Dj with the new school flavor. If Jimmy played your song, it was like getting a seal of industry approval, cause unlike many of his colleagues who were still stuck with music from the west, Jimmy celebrated the new Nigerian music by playing at the biggest platforms in his time. Every leader of the new school has a cherished favor given by Jimmy in the wake of his career. In the words of Tuface “back then na Jimmy Jattna him dey give us instrumental”


6) Paul Play: New school producer extraordinaire. Made that fresh sound for so many of the pioneers as well as himself. Formed one of the first new schoolR and B groups in Nigeria called Oxygen. Paul IK Dairo had big shoes to fill with a musical icon of a father, but like Femi Kuti, he too had found his own path and identity but also carried quite a crowd on his back in the process.

7)  Kwame : Kwame was another voice on radio with a following that was hard to ignore. His style made us all want to listen to what he said. This presenter deserved our attention. When the new school took off. Kwame was a pilot that the journey wouldn’t do without. He used his platform well for the good of the course. His hunger expanded to TV where Nigizziewas eventually born



8)  Eldee: For an under graduate in his late teens, his vision was legendary. Forming his solo record label (tribe records) and initiating trade with the Alaba trader for the industry are landmarks that changed the business, inspiring a whole lot. Attributable all to a man aptly called the Don. Tribe records also went on to create a long chain of successful careers.

9)  Nelson Brown : Another producer of the new Nigerian sound. The legendary Daddy Showkey’s “Diana”  and Plantation boy’s “body and soul” albums are one of the many industry redefining sounds that came out of the stable of Mr Brown’s dove records that operated from a small kiosk in Festac. Nelson’s versatility was amazing as he made hip hop hits for Def O clan, Love songs for P.boiz  and yet sold that Ajegunle new school to Nigeria.

10)  Obi Asika : Heavy weight that enjoyed throwing his weight behind the new Nigerian sound. His backing for Junior and Pretty was one of the early signs that the industry was better off with Obi sticking around. This was made manifest over time as many more owed their blossoming careers to his dedication to improving the industry


11) Swat root: When rap music had taken over the world and we were wondering who could represent the nation with the way it should be done. A team of Northern Nigerian based rappers known as Swat root did not let us wait for long. These intellectual kings of punchlines made so many youngsters believe that they too could get a shot at this as a means of living. The acknowledgment intro of Ice prince’s ELI album lists their names as OD, Terry tharapman, Mode 9, Six foot plus, Ruclean and EldeeXtra Large

12)  Uzo Okpechi : The man who took directing music videos personal. Invested for the sake of showing that we too can look like the guys on MTV Europe and Channel O. He was at a time the sole supplier for quality videos to all who played them. His tag team with Mr Emma Ugolee mentioned earlier was memorable as defining what is today called packaging with visuals.

13). Plantation boys : As Jodeci, New Edition, The boys, Boys to men, etc all got everyday black American boys to believe in coming together to make music magic, Plantation boys did same for the Naija kids. Totally fresh sound from the boys next door, transformed their reality into millions of achievable dreams for music hopefuls who flooded the industry. Body and Soul- the album remains the contact point for many with the new age Nigerian sound

14) Remedies : Another Music redefining band. Made music that opened doors to the acceptance of the new school.Eddie, Tony and Eedris where the symbol of the new school super stars. They inspired many to make that trip to the studio and make the sponsors of entertainment take the new school seriously

15) Ojb Jezreel : Like Paul play and Eldee. Ojb too had opened his doors to the production of talent that congested his studio daily. If he got paid for free beats he gave out, he would have been a millionaire. Responsible for the 1st sounds from Dbanj, Rugged man, Funke etc… He was another one man mopol that defended the new music

16) Femi Lasode : Here is a man who set up a business to make money out of music with his Africa ‘n Vogue concept but ended up playing father Christmas all year round with free studio sessions and video making ticket to countless who could not afford it. Femi was supportive of the new music and must be proud of where it has gotten.

17) Tee Joe : it takes one to know one they say. A music lover but also a business man.Approached by Eldee with a plan to make paper packages for cd’s instead of the expensive plastic cases. Then also to use the Nollywood distribution network to spread this new emerging sound. The catch was for him to provide  a bulk sum to finish production and invests in the distribution. That game changing decision in favor of millions to come was made by Tee joe and today millions of naira flow through that system

18) Eddie Lawani : The bearded one is everybody’s uncle. Not only as a sign of respect for his mature, fatherly demeanor but for his mentorship role that pointed many budding acts in the right direction with his wealth od experience. A technical guru with events production but also uses the link to put bread on many tables as a go between sponsors and artistes

19) Cali Ikpe : Cali was also a crusader on TV. The first man to put plantation boiz on TV. Cali didn’t believe that we should make our guys look local. He did what he could to equate the hype he gave home grown talents on his show “Live Beats” to the one he gave international act

20) Charles Novia : Charlie as he was fondly called is today more remembered for his contribution to Nollywood but he had long b4 that been a pillar for the music industry. TV was his medium, and playing videos and interviews was his timely share of introducing and promoting the new era music. His show “who is on” in 1996 forced aoot of Nigerians to accept the new kids on the block with the most populay medium called the NTA network

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