At the last edition of the acclaimed Hip
Hop World Awards held in March 2008, 9ice was voted winner for the
Revelation of the Year award and the Best Vocal Performer in the male
category. Roughly a month later at the first edition of Soundcity
Music Video Awards, 9ice finished as a nominee in the category of
Best New Artiste. Beyond formal awards and public endorsements, the
young artiste did succeed in implanting his name at the heart of lovers
of good music in across Nigeria, around and outside the African continent.
9ice is definitely a household name in the Nigerian hip hop scene.
He has carved a niche for himself as a great writer and hook man who
placed creativity and originality at the forefront of his endeavour.
His ingenuity broke boundaries within a very short period, left lasting
impression on anyone that cared to listen to his strongly worded and
lyrically loaded songs. This youngster is currently enjoying the success
of his single, entitled: Gongo Aso.The wave making hit is the most
popular song on radio today in Nigeria.
PSquare -Dynamic RNB Duo
The story of P Square began in St. Murumba College,
a small Catholic school in Jos, Nigeria. Identical twins Peter and
Paul joined their school music and drama club where they began singing,
dancing, and miming songs by MC Hammer, Bobby Brown and Michael
They later formed an a cappella quartet called MMPP (Michael, Melvin,
Peter and Paul). Drawing inspiration from their music idol Michael
Jackson, they began break dancing, and formed the group called "Smooth
Criminals" in 1997. Their artistic talent and precise dance
routine soon made them household names in the city of Jos, where
they performed at school functions and other occasions.
Later in 1999, Peters and Paul returned to music school to develop
their skills on keyboard, drums, bass and rhythm guitar. Their work
includes the soundtracks for films like Tobi, Mama Sunday, Moment
of Bitterness, Evas River.
Academic pursuits led them to the University of Abuja later that
year, where they were admitted to read Business Administration.
The Smooth Criminals disbanded when its members were dispersed to
northern universities in Nigeria. Subsequently Peter and Paul formed
their own group, variously called "Double P", "P&P",
and "Da Pees", until they eventually settled on "P
In 2001, P Square won the "Grab Da Mic" competition,
and hence Benson & Hedges sponsored their debut album, titled
"Last Nite", which was released under Timbuk2 Music Label.
They are managed by Bayo Odusami aka Howie T, a seasoned concert
promoter and the CEO of Adrot Nigeria Limited. P Square was nominated
as "Most Promising African Group" in the Kora Awards three
months after the release of their debut album. They eventually won
the 2003 Amen Award for Best R&B Group.
P Square has now released their second album, "Get Squared"
under their own label, Square Records. This album is marketed nationwide
by TJoe Enterprises, although they are still managed by Howie T
of Adrot Nigeria Limited.
The video for the second album, "Get Squared", held the
#1 position on the MTV Base chart for four straight weeks.
They have an ever growing fan base across South Africa with a particular
stronghold of die hard fans in Cape Town. Audi station wagon sales
numbers have rocketed in Cape Town since one featured in the band's
Asa Fire on the
Unlike her peers, Asa’s emergence as a serious artiste is deeply
embedded in mystery. And her name, which means hawk in Yoruba, is
no less enthralling. She has managed, in a very short time, to capture
the attention of music lovers, especially the upper class, with her
sonorous voice, laced with solemn instrumentation and good stage presence.
But she feels that her music is still evolving, just like her character
and passion. “My music is a journey, but for now, it will
be safe to call it Soul. Asa, as a whole, is unfolding. I am a brand
that is still developing and it will be unwise to permanently give
myself a name because I am still searching. I am young and still
growing and as time goes on, I will add other things to everything
that I already know and have,” she said.
However, she acknowledges that her music is a fusion of hip-hop,
folk, jazz and many other influences. In a way, understanding Asa
requires a glimpse into her childhood. As a child, Asa was restless
and swift like the hawk. One day, she strayed away from home, causing
emotional trauma to her parents. After many hours of fruitless search
in the neighbourhood, her parents and the search party gave up,
thinking she may never be seen again. Then suddenly, to the relief
of everybody, the young girl appeared in the company of a woman
who had found her loitering at a street corner many kilometres away
from home. She was re-christened ‘Asa’ in the confusion
and excitement that followed her re-appearance in the company of
an old woman.
Since then, Asa has lived her new name, doing extraordinary things
like the hawk. But the journey to self-realisation was strewn with
challenges. First, she remembers the tortuous experience of travelling
from Lagos to Jos, Plateau State, a 14-hour journey by road, just
to attend secondary school. But that also gave her an early lesson
in perseverance. “That was when I saw life from a different
perspective because I had to stay with different people and learn
about their characteristics and behaviours,” she recalls.
Although Asa had exhibited tendencies towards music earlier in
life, it was still a little difficult gaining the confidence of
her skeptical parents who thought differently about her line of
career. “Like most parents in Nigeria, they hoped and anxiously
waited for me to go straight into what they wanted me to do, probably
law or medicine. But I refused. So, I will advise every parent,
if you find a talent in your child, please help the child develop
it. I am a master in what I do. I will be a flop if I go into Law
because that is not what I want to do.”
Today, the Abeokuta, Ogun State-born artiste is happy that she
followed her mind. Though she refuses to disclose her age, claiming
“she is too young to die, and too old to cry,” she is
definitely on the path to self-actualisation. Asa has done quite
well with her solo performances at different events. She has also
collaborated with fellow musicians like Lagbaja and many others.
A few years ago, she undertook a major tour of French cities, following
an invitation from the French government. The artiste who recently
returned from a musical tour of the United Kingdom has also taken
her music to Lisbon, Portugal and other parts of Europe. And for
her, no height is unattainable. “I want to see my music making
some sense, people appreciating it, and myself being on the biggest
stages and performing with great musicians. I have dreams.”
Though she sees herself as a young artiste who still has a long
way to go, she, nevertheless, confesses that she is overwhelmed
at the way people are touched by her music. “My music makes
people to sit down and think; it makes people appreciate God the
more, and it makes them appreciate music too. That is one thing
that makes me glad because it is positive,” she noted. Outside
music, Asa is eager to be a veritable role model to young people.
In fact, she told TheNEWS that her focus is to inspire young children
and, to live what she preaches.
She is, however, worried by new generation of children who are
all products of television and radio. She agrees that everybody
has been seriously affected by Western influences, yet she believes
that we can rescue the next generation by infusing into their lives,
African culture, language and ways of life. But she also thinks
that parents share in much of the blame, especially the elite, who
encourage the exclusive use of English language at the expense of
traditional languages. This, according to her, has resulted in not
just outright alienation, but also exclusion from African ways of
On stage, Asa could easily be mistaken for Tracy Chapman, the Jamaican
soul diva, because of her vintage guitar, dreadlocks, stage mannerisms,
austere costume and even the genre of music. But she dismisses any
influence from Chapman, though she agrees having been influenced
by such music greats as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Lagbaja, Bob Marley,
Marvin Gaye and Eryka Badu. And for those who continually link her
with Chapman, Asa has a response: “I have not really listened
to her, but just because I use the guitar and I have dreadlocks,
people keep saying that I remind them of Tracy Chapman. Or probably
the content of my music. I do a lot of conscious music, and she
does that too.”
Those who thought lightly of her at the beginning of her career,
mainly due to her very quiet disposition, are beginning to have
a re-think. Though she is conspicuously missing on the pages of
Nigerian newspapers and magazines, Asa is “slowly but surely,”
according to her, headed for the top.
But she has a lot to contend with as she consolidates on this upward
movement. And she is widely believed to be working hard to maintain
a high standard in an industry that is fraught with inconsistencies.
Nonetheless, she hopes to draw from her professional experience
which began from her days at the Department of Theatre Arts and
Music, Lagos State University. Asa also came under the influence
of Peter King, a jazzist whose College of Music in Badagry, Lagos,
provided lessons for her on the guitar and theory of music. She
was also at a school of jazz in France where she honed her skills
in voice training and stage techniques. Her journey may have only
just begun, but Asa is definitely a good sign of the things to come
in the Nigeria music industry.
Paul "Play" Dairo, Nigeria's
version of Babyface,
Paul Babatunde Dairo, who records under the name Paul Play, is wowing
audiences across the world with his smooth voice. He is the son of
famous Nigerian juju musician, I. K. Dairo, who died at age 65 on
February 7, 1996. I.K. Dairo was the only musician to be honored by
Queen Elizabeth II in Africa in the sixties.
"I've always wanted to make R&B evergreen songs as an artiste,"
said Paul Play. "But my father left so much behind in terms of
his music and fans, so I thought it well to keep his fans happy and
his style of music alive," he said.
His father, was thought to be the first truly international star of
African music, Mr. Dairo specialized in juju music, a lively mixture
of traditional Yoruba social dance drumming, songs, and praise poetry,
Latin American rhythms, and Christian church hymns, performed on guitar,
percussion, and talking drums. In a career spanning more than fifty
years, Dairo made hundreds of records, and toured Africa, Asia, Europe,
and the Americas, paving the way for younger musicians such as King
Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Sina Peters and many others.
Paul Play is an R&B artist who has enjoyed a lot of success since
his debut album in 1999. His hits include a remake of his father "Mo
Sorire," "Angel of My Life," "Bus Stop,"
"Happy Day" and "Don't You Play That Game," my
personal favorite. His lyrics are complex and thoughtful and the tonality
of his voice is remincent of Carl Thomas and Dave Hollister.
Paul Play's cocktail of genres from western world R&B and Rap
To traditional Highlife music and Juju music is responsible for his
unmatchable uniqueness. Paul started as a producer, songwriter and
back up vocalist before hitting the limelight. He joined "le
griffe" an R&B group with his brother and cousin, Banji and
Henry Dairo (both late now) in the late eighties, Paul Play vowed
to keep the dream alive. He moved on to join other groups which include
"De Klan", "Oxygen" and Pure Heart Impression.
He went solo after fears of continuity with his last group to record
his first album titled "Dairo Music Foundation Project"
in 1999 featuring hit singles like; Mosorire Happy Day and Yes O!
. The Album remains a timeless classic, popular amongst Nigerians
and Africans in Diaspora. The album has sold over two million copies
and is still selling till date. To keep the marriage between his irreplaceable
passion for music and the legacy left behind by his father intact,
Paul Play's debut album was a unique blend of remaking his fathers
old hits and his first love; R&B.
In 2002, the entire crew of styl-plus (including managers T-Jazz
and Joey; and producers SUNKY and Mekoyo) were virtual unknowns in
the African music world. Now, STYL-PLUS has become a household name
in Nigeria, and is rapidly growing in popularity in the UK, USA and
South Africa. Have been called the African " Boys 2 Men",
these young mavericks have inspired the music world of nigeria, starting
from the scratch, without any support; then growing into the most
promising group in Nigerian music, in the horizon. Their hit tracks
Olufunmi, Runaway and Call My NAme, proved to the world that Nigerian
music could be as good as any; with their phenomenal successes on
their airwaves in their home country.
The song Olufunmi their first major hit was voted song of the year
2003 by listeners on 96.9 Cool FM Abuja . It was the most requested
song on every major station in the country, including, Ray Power,
Rhythm Fm, Cool Fm, Eko Fm, Brilla Fm, Kapital Fm, and Metro Fm Lagos.
Olufunmi and Run Away werer are the most requested love songs on
all the R & B or radio love shows nation wide. Since then they
have gone from strength to strength and are riding high with their
latest offerings from the Album Expressions.
A Christian gospel group made up of five guys: David Akintayo Thomas,
Kehinde Akinbode, Samson Nwagwu, Joseph Okogun and Sunny Steven;
have set the charts alight with their sensational voices, talent.
And strong gospel songs which they have featured in slick well produced
The song ‘Olori Oko’ is their most popular hit to date
and has earned them the much deserved popularity in Nigeria and worldwide
as well as the best video award at the recently held Nigeria Music
Their songs are an absolute must for all true gospel music lovers
Face Idibia: Nigeria's African King
From the country that gave the world pop star Seal,
jazz and R&B singer Sade comes a man who is arguably one of the
most important artists of all with his hit song, "African Queen.
Born Innocent Ujah Idibia in Jos, Nigeria just outside of the capital
city of Abuja, he is on a one man crusade to change the image of Afro
Hip Hop and to elevate it to the stature of Reggaeton. 2Face idibia
sometimes spelt tuface crooner extradionaire is the star protegee
of Nigeria's music Mongul Kenny Ogungbe.
To many he is the face of Nigeria's new fast growing music industry
with a string of hits since the single 'African queen' such as 'For
Instance' Stylee and No Shakin and collaborations with international
artists such as Beenie man, Tuface is now one of the most recognisable
faces of the African music scene to date.
a Nigerian singer and song writer as well as harmonica guru, a charismatic
stage performer with boundless energy…. D’Banj grew up
listening to Fela’s music, “his mentor” and he has
performed at Femi Kuti’s new AFRIKAN SHRINE in Lagos as well
as the Shrine Synchro System’s regular London Night at Cargo.
He also performed at the Black President Concert in memory of Fela’s
art and legacy at the Barbican in London. Without ever turning into
a carbon copy of his hero, D’Banj brings Afrobeat to life and
into the 21st century with breathless enthusiasm as well as a good
dose of humor.
All of his songs are based on true life stories of his own life,
often hilarious but with a deeper meaning which documents the struggle
of a young African trying to achieve his dreams. In his case is to
be a successful artiste/musician. D’Banj is music and music
is D’Banj. He performs in Yoruba, English and like his hero
Fela Kuti in Pidgin English and has performed his songs as guest at
various JJC & 419 Squad shows including WOMAD River mead.
Whilst being a charming, easy-going and humble young man, D’Banj
has just one ambition; to be the biggest living African artiste in
the world. With his first album titled NO LONG THING which was produce
by young and talented producer; Don Jazzy which has hit tracks like;
TONGOLO, MOBO LOWO WON, ALL THE WAY, SOCOR & AIRBORNE, an infectious
Afrobeat tune with a juju edge, the dream is not far fetch. D’Banj
was born as Dapo Daniel Oyebanjo in the Northern city of Zaria, Kaduna
State, Nigeria to an artillery officer and a church dignitary whom
hailed from Shagamu in Ogun State.
Due to his father’s job, D’Banj moved several times
within Nigeria as well as abroad to India. He was sent to Nigerian
military school at age 11 and was expected to enter the military like
his father, but at 14 D’Banj picked up a weapon of different
kind and altogether more peaceful; the harmonica. He was introduced
to this instrument by his late brother who tragically died in a plane
crash at age 17. His brother’s harmonica was one of his possessions
recovered after the incidence and D’BANJ started to cherish
it. His incredible harmonica skills are self taught; he says, “I
play the harmonica like it was built for me”. D’Banj became
more and more involved in music and he cannot see himself doing anything
else with the same passion. His song “All The Way” is
about the struggles he has faced with his parents over his chosen
career. Dapo has now adopted the elegant, almost French-sounding name
“D’Banj”, a combination of his first name Dapo and
his surname Oyebanjo. He has recorded songs with established artistes
like Ruggedman, SID, JJC & 419 Squad among others.
He has also performed along side many international artiste in Nigeria
like Jay-Z, Beyonce, Missy Elliot, Ja Rule, Bennie Manand [[Wayne
Wonder.He is a natural charismatic, energetic and infectious performer
that can hold his audience to ransom for as long as he wants because
nobody ever gets tired of listening to him. He is a kind of artiste
that can do more than hold his own any time. He started making serious
waves in Nigeria in 2006 with Rundown Funk U Up album. His most influencial
tracks are 'Why Me','Tongolo Remix', and 'Booty Call'. But when the
Curriculum Vitae (Mo Hits Crew Compilation) with the formerly unknown
members of Mo Hits Crew, D' Prince, Wande Coal and D'Angelo, his popularity
increased even much and now it has even extended to other parts of
Africa especially South Africa and Ghana.