Fela, King Sunny Ade, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, Majek Fashek, Tu Face Idibia, Wizkid, Davido; Who Is Nigeria’s Greatest Music Export?
The Nigerian music scene has been on the rise from the day Nigerians broke out of colonial rule; maybe not politically but in the aspect of art and aesthetics. The point Nigerians gave their own artistes listening hears, the emancipation of the Nigerian music world!
Nigeria might not be a nation or just a conglomeration of different ethnic groups but that’s the joy, the feeling of knowing you are different in tribe but unified in one language- Music!
The Nigerian music scene has given birth to some musicians of all spheres of life; From the prophetic to the love peddlers, from the mourners to the praise singers and from the trend makers to the dance makers and of course, we love them all.
Here, we take a look at some extraordinary Nigerian musicians that have distinguished themselves in their different genres of music and have excelled even outside the sphere of Nigeria and Africa.
Fela (Fela Anikulapo Kuti)
Fela Anikulapo Kuti born October 15, 1938, in Abeokuta, Nigeria. He is unarguably the pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre.
From the on, he was never a conformist as it is not a rumour that the Late music icon ditched law for music after his father had paid heavily for him to study abroad. He carried this determination and ‘stubbornness’ into his music. His idea of music was prophetic and highly popular due to the gospel of anti-governmental themes he expressed in his lyrics.
His rebellious song lyrics made him the governments’ enemy number one! Not only the military regimes but also to the civilian governments whose greed and corruption threatened the ever dwindling unity of Nigeria.
In majority of his songs, he questioned why Nigerians were naïve to ask for what was rightfully theirs because of the fear for Uniforms (the particular song was titled Zombie), some were even more direct to the government and high rank government individuals in ITT(International Thief Thief) amongst many others. In 1989, after touring the United States, He released Beasts of No Nation. The album cover portrays world leaders Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan (among others) as cartoon vampires baring bloody characters.
Yet with is local language, pidgin English and a fair amount of local slangs, he was loved by all; home and abroad. If you didn’t like him for dress sense which obviously ruled the collections of the youths of those days, you would have fallen for his sarcasms, mostly during his stage performances and interviews. He could play virtually all instruments and would hardly rehearse his songs until he starts playing on stage with his dance queens as back ups .
Maybe that’s why he died with AIDS related issues in 1997, at the age of 58, in Lagos, Nigeria. Roughly 1 million people attended his funeral procession, which began at Tafawa Balewa Square and ended at Kuti’s home, Kalakuta, in Ikeja, Nigeria, where he was laid to rest in the front yard.
King Sunny Ade
Chief Sunday Adeniyi Adegeye popularly called King Sunny Ade born Sept. 1, 1946, Osun Oshogbo, Nigeria.
Born into a royal family, he most notably deceived his parents that he was in school (UNILAG) when he was actually in the city of Lagos pursuing his music carrier. His brand of music was unique and danceable; in fact his contemporaries could not stand his rise to fame. Many even nicknamed him the Minister of Enjoyment!
He could play musical instruments and most notably the guitar and with his incredible dance steps that thrills even non-africans with his Juju music.
KSA launched his own record label in 1974. In the decades since, the label has released more than 100 of Ade‘s recordings in Nigeria. Ade began to attract attention in the western world when three of his albums — Juju Music, Synchro System, and Aura — were released in the early ’80s on the Mango label, a subsidiary of Island Records.
In 1998, KSA broke into the world, leaving all other Nigerians in the same industry far behind with his record breaking Album, Odu- a collection of ancient Nigerian songs which was nominated for Grammy.
This obviously makes him one of the greatest Nigerian musical exports of all time!
Sikiru Ayinde Barrister
Sikiru Ololade Ayinde Balogun, born February 9, 1948 in Ibadan, Oyos state Nigeria known by his stage name Ayinde Barrister, Alhaji Agba or Mr Fuji.
Arguably the progenitor of the Fuji music in Nigeria; Even non yorubas, which the lyrics of his songs are majorly sang in, could dance to the rhythmic symphony of talking drums, bata and hand-made drums that accompany his music. During his lifetime, he had over a hundred albums to his name and he inspired several generations of Fuji musicians.
He travelled far and wide spreading his Fuji brand of music and made himself an icon of the Yoruba race; not minding the range of people he sang to or performed for, he would notably dress in the traditional robe known as agbada and dance in beautiful admiration to the tune of the music.
Till his death on the 16th dec, 2010, he was the leader of fuji music in Nigeria with his competitors such as Collington Ayinla, Kwam 1 and others admitting he had brought Fuji to lam light.
Majekodunmi Fasheke, popularly known as Majek Fashek, was born in Benin, Edo State on February 6 (His real birth date is not known as both parents gave him contradicting months, but he later adopted his musical hero Bob Marley’s birthday – 6 February – as his own) to a Yoruba father and an Edo mother.
His blend of Juju with Raggae music was so unique that even the whites could not resist.
In 1987, he rose to international prominence with his music, send down the rain which came in the right time maybe, coincidentally brought a rain storm that ended the worst drought in Nigeria for decades. He was labeled a prophet and his debut album Prisoner of Conscience sold over 200,000 copies in Nigeria alone.
In December 2016 Fashek contributed the song “We Are Not Afraid” to a video featuring 200 celebrities to raise funds for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Innocent Ujah Idibia also known as Tu Baba or 2Face born 18 September 1975 is the father of modern Nigerian hip-hop music. A benue born Nigerian Singer, song writer, record label owner amongst others.
With several years of group involvement with his home town friend, Black face (Ahmedu Augustine Obiabo) and music pal, Faze(Chibuzor Oji) popularly known as plantashun boiz, his music career was announded to the general public. With relativeky few opportunities in the group, certain outbursts lead to the inherent failure of the group and the trio went solo.
Tuface came out hot with a great single that threw him into the world of music relevance- African Queen in 2003. This track made him sell over 2 million copies of his first album, Face to face which also took him to global prominence with some tracks used as sound tracks in Hollywood movies such as Phart Girlz.
In 2010, 2Face became the first Nigerian to release an international edition of an album with the release of The Unstoppable International Edition with which he had an appropriately priced album in the music world.
Numerous awards and many laurels followed his rise and stay on the top. Most notably, he was the first African to win MTV Europe Music Awards.
No modern hip-hop Nigerian artiste will argue that he is indeed the father of contemporary hip-hop music in Nigeria.
Wizkid And Davido
It would be criminal not to mentioned these two: These two are pitched together because they are still struggling for the supremacy and they sing the same genre of music but they have made more impact internationally even more than the great Tu face.
Wizkid, Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun is 27 years of age but he has moved the world with his brand of Hip-hop cum Afro style of music. With hits after Hits, he has won major awards in Nigeria and internationally as well.
He most recently Sold out the 02 Arena in London for his music concert. This was followed by a guest appearance at the Dolce and Gabanna show in Milan, Italy with his photos selling at astonishing prices.
Davido, the OBO, David Adedeji Adeleke is 25 years old has also been on the heels of his new found friend and industry competitor, Wizkid. He moved the music world with his music Tour, the 30 billion tour touching over 30 locations world- wide.
He his holing his own down with a couple of hits as well and couples of international collaborations off his sleeves.
Still these two are just worth a mention, we still don’t think they stand the class of the legends that made the list of Nigeria’s Greatest Music Export.
Whats your take???