In this article, I will be shining the spotlight on the top 10 Nigerian music producers that have helped shaped the Nigerian music industry over the decade. The criterion is based on my personal opinion, so if you have a contrary view, kindly leave a comment in the comments section below.
In an industry where all the attention is given to singers and rappers, music producers tend to take the backstage and remain hidden. While being the backbone of the creative process, music producers seldom get the recognition they deserve. They get cut out of important deals while the artistes continue to profit for years. Nigerian music producers over the last two decades have been an integral part of the music industry. They have helped shaped the structure of the industry and in birthing the sound that is now recognized worldwide as Afro beats.
Top 10 Nigerian music producers:
The producer come singer debuted in the Nigerian music scene in the mid 2000s, producing hits for pop artistes like Durella and D’prince. However, he did not become a household name until the year 2010 when he produced the Wizkid hit single “don’t dull”. The song became an instant hit, bringing both the singer and producer to major limelight.
He went on to produce more hit songs for Wizkd and made major production contributions to the singer’s debut album “Superstar”. It can be said that Samlef made the album the success it was, creating classics like “don’t dull, pakurumo and tease me”. Samklef helped in creating a new sound for young Afro beats stars and inspired a new generation of producers. He also went on to produce songs for other young emerging artistes like Olamide and Iceprince. His work in 2011 earned him the city people award for producer of the year.
9. Legendury beatz
The production duo is made up of brothers Uzezi and Okiemute Oniko. They emerged in the music scene in 2009 producing two songs for rapper Weird MC. Though the songs were not commercially successful, they made a major breakthrough after producing then chocolate city signed artiste Brymo’s first single “Ara”. The song became a national hit and bringing the production duo the much-needed recognition the needed, “Ara” went on to win recording of the year at the 2012 headies award.
More success came along the way, but majorly in 2013. This was when they were signed to singer Wizkid’s record label “Starboy Entertainment’ and went on to produce on the singers sophomore Album “Ayo”. The duo produced four songs on the album, but their best work was on the singers evergreen song “Ojuelegba” which became a national and international hit.
Ojuelegba is arguably wizkid and legendury beatz best song ever and is regarded as one of the greatest Nigerian songs. The song earned the duo an award for producer of the year at the 2015 headies award and also song of the year. They have gone on to produce songs for various Nigerian musicians and also international artistes like Wale and Tiney Tempah.
8. Cobhams Asuquo
The visually impaired singer, songwriter, producer and multi instrumentalist debuted into the scene in the early 2000s with songwriting and production credits for the gospel rap group rooftop MCs. He became a household name after his writing and production work on Nigeria’s soul musician Asa’s critically acclaimed debut Album “Asha”. Cobhams over the last ten years has gone on to write and produce several award-winning hit records for musicians like Omawumi, Timi Dakolo and Bez.
7. Jesse Jagz
Jesse jags emerged on the scene with production credits on label mate and brother M.I Abaga’s debut album talk about it. The album which debuted to much critical acclaim received many praises for its production. After getting signed by chocolate city, Jesse jags went on to produce songs for other label mates amongst which is Ice prince’s debut single Oleku. The song earned him a producer of the year nomination at the 2010 Headies award.
He produced his own debut album “Jags of trade” to much critical acclaim. His work on the album earned him producer of the year nomination at the Headies award in 2010 and an award for producer of the year at the TFAA awards. He provided the framework for his label mates Ice prince and Brymo’s debut albums which are regarded as masterpieces. Jagz received immense praises for his productions on both albums and a Headies award nomination for producer of the year for Ice prince’s album E.L.I.
The producer debuted on the scene with production on his longtime collaborator Burna boy’s break out single “like to party”. The single was a critical and commercial success which brought both parties to the limelight. He went on to produce the artiste’s debut album L.I.F.E to much critical acclaim and success. He received a Headies nomination for producer of the year. Leriq has gone on to produce on more albums for album and other artistes.
The Producer’s signature style and sound has set him apart over the years with his ability to reinvent sounds regarded as outdated into Afro beats. His contributions to Burna boys grammy award-winning album Twice as Tall album earned him his first Grammy Awards recognition.
Shizzi came to the limelight in 2010 after producing Davido’s hit single “dami duro” and contributing a song to Wizkid’s debut album “starboy”. He went on to produce six songs on Davido’s debut album “O.B.O”. The album was a critical and commercial success.
This marked the beginning of a long term partnership between the artiste and the producer. He has also produced for other musicians like Tiwa savage and Wande Coal. Known for his ability to create party hits, shizzi has his name to some of Nigeria’s biggest club hits with songs like Gobe and Skelewu. In 2019, he made production contributions to Beyoncé’s critically acclaimed soundtrack album “Lion King: the gift”.
Known for his hit making ability, Masterkraft started his production career with the label Kennis music. The versatile producer has produced songs for virtually every big artiste in the Nigerian music industry. He is regraded as one of the most successful Nigerian music producers and has produced hits for musicians in various musical genres. Artists like Flavour and Banky W credit him for producing some of their biggest commercial hits. Masterkraft has also worked with Wizkid, M.I, Tiwa savage and so many others.
He made his debut in 2007 with his first official production credit for indigenous rapper Lord of Ajasa. He went on to produce for other artistes like Ruggedman and Durrella. Sarz road to success officially began in 2010 after producing the smash street hit “jor oh” for rapper Jahbless. The song won the best street hop award at the Headies. Further success came in 2011 with his production of rapper Reminisce’s hit single “kako bi chicken”. This made Sarz a household name and sought after producer.
He released a collaborative single with musician Wizkid titled “samba: beat of life”. The song became a commercial hit and club banger. He went on to provide production contributions for Wizkid’s sophomore album and also produced many more hit songs for the artiste. Sarz is noted for creating the afro house sound with musician Niniola and also his work with afro r&b artiste world.
At number two is the multi instrumentalist, singer and songwriter. He burst into the scene in 2011 at the young age of 17 with his production on indeginious rapper Olamide’s hit single “go down low”. It marked the beginning of a long time collaboration with both artistes. Pheelz went on to produce the rapper’s sophomore album “YBNL” to much critical and commercial success.
His ability to switch between making hardcore hiphop beats and smash pop hits made him a sought after artiste. It also earned him back to back producer of the year nominations at the Headies.
He provided production on r&b singer Tiwa Savage’s album Celia. Pheelz also produced industry new comer Fireboy’s debut and sophomore album. Both won multiple awards at the Headies awards alongside his production of singer Teni’s hit single “billionaire”.
1. No 1 on the list of Nigerian music producers is Don JazzyEmbed from Getty Images
At number one on this list of the top 10 Nigerian music producers is the legendary Don Jazzy. His production carreer officially started in the United Kingdom when he started producing for UK based rap group JJC & the 419 squad. In 2004, the producer moved to Nigeria with pop artiste and long term collaborator, Dbanj.
Together they debuted their first single “tongolo” followed by their debut album. They created the record label Mo’hits and in 2008 they released Dbanj’s sophomore album “The Entertainer”. The album was executively produced by Don jazzy. The album was an instant commercial success. This was followed up by label signee Wande Coal’s debut album “mushin to mohits” and a collaborative label album which were both commercial and critical successes.
After his split with Dbanj in 2011, Don Jazzy dissolved the Mo’hits label and started Mavin records. He also signed singer Tiwa Savage and brought on to the label new and young artistes which he described as the future of the label. He went on to produce the debut albums of artistes like Raekado Banks and Korede Bello.
Over the years, Don jazzy has taken on more of the role of a music executive than music producer. This does not take away from the multi-talented instrumentalist and song writer’s catalogue of hits. He has produced for musicians in Nigeria and other African artistes. Don Jazzy also provided production on the critically acclaimed international album by Jay-z and Kanye West “Watch the throne”. The multiple award winner has the producer of the year awards at the Nigerian Music Awards (2006), Nigerian Entertainment Awards (2007), and the Headies 2011 & 2014.