It was once said that Music had its origin from Africa but it is a statement that is subject to people opinion.
The music of Nigeria includes many kinds of folk and popular music, some of which are known worldwide. Styles of folk music are related to the multitudes of ethnic groups in the country, each with their own techniques, instruments, and songs. Little is known about the country’s music history prior to European contact, although bronze carvings dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries have been found depicting musicians and their instruments. The largest ethnic groups are the Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba. Traditional music from Nigeria and throughout Africa is almost always functional; in other words, it is performed to mark a ritual such as a wedding or funeral and not to achieve artistic goals.
Although some Nigerians, especially children and the elderly, play instruments for their own amusement, solo performance is otherwise rare. Music is closely linked to agriculture, and there are restrictions on, for example, which instruments can be played during different parts of the growing season. Although nowadays music are made not just for function but for poetry , business and entertainment purposes.
The 1950s, ’60s and ’70s
Following World War II, Nigerian music started to take on new instruments and techniques, including electric instruments imported from the United States and Europe. Rock N’ roll, soul, and later funk, became very popular in Nigeria, and elements of these genres were added to jùjú by artists such as IK Dairo. Meanwhile, highlife had been slowly gaining in popularity among the Igbo people, and their unique style soon found a national audience. At the same time, apala’s Haruna Ishola was becoming one of the country’s biggest stars. In the early to mid-1970s, three of the biggest names in Nigerian music history were at their peak: Fela Kuti, Ebenezer Obey and King Sunny Adé, while the end of that decade saw the start of Yo-pop and Nigerian reggae.
Although popular styles such as highlife and jùjú were at the top of the Nigerian charts in the ’60s, traditional music remained widespread. Traditional stars included the Hausa Dan Maraya, who was so well known that he was brought to the battlefield during the 1967 Nigerian Civil War to lift the morale of the federal troops.
How juju evolved
Following World War II, Tunde Nightingale’s s’o wa mbe style made him one of the first jùjú stars, and he introduced more Westernised pop influences to the genre. During the 1950s, recording technology grew more advanced, and the gangan talking drum, electric guitar and accordion were incorporated into jùjú. Much of this innovation was the work of IK Dairo & the Morning Star Orchestra (later IK Dairo & the Blue Spots), which formed in 1957.these performers brought jùjú from the rural poor to the urban cities of Nigeria and beyond. Dairo became perhaps the biggest star of African music by the ’60s, recording numerous hit songs that spread his fame to as far away as Japan. In 1963, he became the only African musician ever honoured by receiving membership of the Order of the British Empire, an order of chivalry in the United Kingdom.
Spread of highlife
Among the Igbo people, Ghanaian highlife became popular in the early 1950s, and other guitar-band styles from Cameroon and Zaire soon followed. The Ghanaian E. T. Mensah, easily the most popular highlife performer of the 1950s, toured Igbo-land frequently, drawing huge crowds of devoted fans. Bobby Benson & His Combo was the first Nigerian highlife band to find audiences across the country. Benson was followed by Jim Lawson & the Mayor’s Dance Band, who achieved national fame in the mid-’70s, ending with Lawson’s death in 1971. During the same period, other highlife performers were reaching their peak. These included Prince Nico Mbarga and his band Rocafil Jazz, whose “Sweet Mother” was a pan-African hit that sold more than 13 million copies, more than any other African single of any kind. Mbarga used English lyrics in a style that he dubbed panko, which incorporated “sophisticated rumba guitar-phrasing into the highlife idiom”.
After the civil war in the 1960s, Igbo musicians were forced out of Lagos and returned to their homeland. The result was that highlife ceased to be a major part of mainstream Nigerian music, and was thought of as being something purely associated with the Igbos of the east. Highlife’s popularity slowly dwindled among the Igbos, supplanted by jùjú and fuji. However, a few performers kept the style alive, such as Yoruba singer and trumpeter Victor Olaiya (the only Nigerian to ever earn a platinum record), Stephen Osita Osadebe, Oliver De Coque, Celestine Ukwu, Oriental Brothers, Sonny Okosun, Victor Uwaifo, and Orlando “Dr. Ganja” Owoh, whose distinctive toye style fused jùjú and highlife.
The discovery of fuji
Apala, a traditional style from Ogun state, one of yoruba state in Nigeria, became very popular in the 1960s, led by performers like Haruna Ishola, Sefiu Ayan, Kasumu Adio, and Ayinla Omowura. Ishola, who was one of Nigeria’s most consistent hit makers between 1955 and his death in 1983, recorded apala songs, which alternated between slow and emotional, and swift and energetic. His lyrics were a mixture of improvised praise and passages from the Quran, as well as traditional proverbs. His work became a formative influence on the developing fuji style.
The late 1960s saw the appearance of the first fuji bands. Fuji was named after Mount Fuji in Japan, purely for the sound of the word, according to Ayinde Barrister. Fuji was a synthesis of apala with the “ornamented, free-rhythmic” vocals of ajisari devotional musicians and was accompanied by the sakara, a tambourine-drum, and Hawaiian guitar. Among the genre’s earliest stars were Haruna Ishola and Ayinla Omowura; Ishola released numerous hits from the late ’50s to the early ’80s, becoming one of the country’s most famous performers. Fuji grew steadily more popular between the 1960s and ’70s, becoming closely associated with Islam in the process.
Fuji has been described as jùjú without guitars; ironically, Ebenezer Obey once described jùjú as mambo with guitars. However, at its roots, fuji is a mixture of Muslim traditional were music’ajisari songs with “aspects of apala percussion and vocal songs and brooding, philosophical sakara music”; of these elements, apala is the fundamental basis of fuji The first stars of fuji were the rival bandleaders Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister and Ayinla Kollington Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister started his fuji career in the early 1970s with the Golden Fuji Group”, although he had sung Muslim songs since he was 10 years old. He first changed his group’s name to “Fuji Londoners” when he came back from a trip to London, England. After a very long time — with hits such as “Orilonise”, Fuji Disco/Iku Baba Obey”, “Oke Agba”, “Aye”, and “Suuru” — he later changed the group’s name to “Supreme Fuji Commanders” with a bang!, “Orelope” that went platinum instantly. Ayinde’s rival was Ayinla Kollington, “Baba Alatika”, known for fast tempo and dance-able brand of fuji, who also recorded hit albums like “ko bo simi lo’run mo e, in the 80s he released “ijo yoyo, Lakukulala and American megastar” to mention few of his successful albums. With all due respect Ayinla Kollington is a coherent social commentator. He was followed in the 1980s by burgeoning stars such as Wasiu Ayinde Marshall.
Sunny Ade and Obey
Ebenezer Obey formed the International Brothers in 1964, and his band soon rivalled that of IK Dairo as the biggest Nigerian group. They played a form of bluesy, guitar-based and highlife-influenced jùjú that included complex talking drum-dominated percussion elements. Obey’s lyrics addressed issues that appealed to urban listeners, and incorporated Yoruba traditions and his conservative Christian faith. His rival was King Sunny Adé, who emerged in the same period, forming the Green Spots in 1966 and then achieving some major hits with the African Beats after 1974’s Esu Biri Ebo Mi. Ade and Obey raced to incorporate new influences into jùjú music and to gather new fans; Hawaiian slack-key, keyboards and background vocals were among the innovations added during this rapidly changing period. Ade added strong elements of Jamaican dub music, and introduced the practice of having the guitar play the rhythm and the drums play the melody. During this period, jùjú songs changed from short pop songs to long tracks, often over 20 minutes in length. Bands increased from four performers in the original ensembles, to 10 with IK Dairo and more than 30 with Obey and Ade.
1980s and ’90s
In the early 1980s, both Obey and Ade found larger audiences outside of Nigeria. In 1982, Ade was signed to Island Records, who hoped to replicate Bob Marley’s success, and released Juju Music, which sold far beyond expectations in Europe and the United States. Obey released Current Affairs in 1980 on Virgin Records and became a brief star in the UK, but was not able to sustain his international career as long as Ade. Ade led a brief period of international fame for jùjú, which ended in 1985 when he lost his record contract after the commercial failure of Aura (recorded with Stevie Wonder) and his band walked out in the middle of a huge Japanese tour. Ade’s brush with international renown brought a lot of attention from mainstream record companies, and helped to inspire the burgeoning world music industry. By the end of the 1980s, jùjú had lost out to other styles, like Yo-pop, gospel and reggae. In the 1990s, however, fuji and jùjú remained popular, as did waka music and Nigerian reggae. At the very end of the decade, hip hop music spread to the country after being a major part of music in neighboring regions like Senegal.
Yo-pop and Afro-jùjú (1980s)
Main articles: Yo-pop and Afro-juju
Two of the biggest stars of the ’80s were Segun Adewale and Shina Peters, who started their careers performing in the mid-’70s with Prince Adekunle. They eventually left Adekunle and formed a brief partnership as Shina Adewale & the International Superstars before beginning solo careers. Adewale was the first of the two to gain success, when he became the most famous performer of Yo-pop.
The Yo-pop craze did not last for long, replaced by Shina Peters’ Afro-juju style, which broke into the mainstream after the release of Afro-Juju Series 1 (1989). Afro-juju was a combination of Afrobeat and fuji, and it ignited such fervor among Shina’s fans that the phenomenon was dubbed “Shinamania”. Though he was awarded Juju Musician of the Year in 1990, Shina’s follow-up, Shinamania sold respectively but was panned by critics. His success opened up the field to newcomers, however, leading to the success of Fabulous Olu Fajemirokun and Adewale Ayuba. The same period saw the rise of new styles like the funky juju pioneered by Dele Taiwo.
Afrobeat is a style most closely associated with Nigeria, though practitioners and fans are found throughout West Africa, and Afrobeat recordings are a prominent part of the world music category found throughout the developed world. It is music with elements of highlife, and other styles of West African music. The most popular and well-known performer, indeed the most famous Nigerian musician in history, is undoubtedly Fela Kuti.
Fela Kuti began performing in 1961, but did not start playing in his distinctive Afrobeat style until his exposure to Sierra Leonean Afro-soul singer Geraldo Pino in 1963. Although Kuti is often credited as the only pioneer of Afrobeat, other musicians such as Orlando Julius Ekemode were also prominent in the early Afrobeat scene, where they combined highlife, jazz and funk. A brief period in the United States saw him exposed to the Black Power movement and the Black Panthers, an influence that he would come to express in his lyrics. After living in London briefly, he moved back to Lagos and opened a club, The Shrine, which was one of the most popular music spots in the city. He started recording with Africa ’70, a huge band featuring drummer Tony Allen, who has since gone on to become a well-known musician in his own right. With Africa 70, Kuti recorded a series of hits, earning the ire of the government as he tackled such diverse issues as poverty, traffic and skin-bleaching. In 1985, Kuti was jailed for five years, but was released after only two years after international outcry and massive domestic protests. Upon release, Kuti continued to criticise the government in his songs, and became known for eccentric behaviour, such as suddenly divorcing all twenty-eight wives because “no man has the right to own a woman’s vagina”. His death from AIDS in 1997 sparked a period of national mourning that was unprecedented in documented Nigerian history.
In the 1980s, Afrobeat became affiliated with the burgeoning genre of world music. In Europe and North America, so-called “world music” acts came from all over the world and played in a multitude of styles. Fela Kuti and his Afrobeat followers were among the most famous of the musicians considered world music.
By the end of the ’80s and early ’90s, Afrobeat had diversified by taking in new influences from jazz and rock and roll. The ever-masked and enigmatic Lágbájá became one of the standard-bearers of the new wave of Afrobeat, especially after his 1996 LP C’est Une African Thing. Following a surprise appearance in place of his father, Fela, Femi Kuti garnered a large fan base that enabled him to tour across Europe.
The popular songstress Salawa Abeni had become nationally renowned after the release of Late General Murtala Ramat Mohammed in 1976, which was the first Nigerian recording by a woman to sell more than a million copies. In the 1980s, she remained one of the nation’s best-selling artists, creating her own unique variety of music called waka; she was so closely associated with the genre that a royal figure, the Alaafin of Oyo, Obalamidi Adeyemi, crowned her the “Queen of Waka Music” in 1992. Waka was a fusion of jùjú, fuji and traditional Yoruba music.Waka music is coming back into the new age with fresh artist like Tila man Timi Korus and Dollar billz bringing back the old school into new school.In an interview granted by Timi Korus he acknowledge that Waka Music was made popular to younger generations during the time of salawa abeni but waka music has been in the industry in a long time.
Reggae and hip hop
When talking about reggae music in Nigeria, this brand of music was started by a musician simply called “Terakota”. By the 80s, Nigerian reggae stars included The Mandators, Ras Kimono, Majek Fashek, whose 1988 cover of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”, became an unprecedented success for reggae in Nigeria. Like many later Nigerian reggae stars, Fashek was a part of the long-running band The Mandators, who toured and recorded incessantly during the mid to late 1980s and early ’90s. Later prominent reggae musicians included Jerri Jheto and Daddy Showkey.
The African Caribbean fusion is one that has been popular and growing over the years, especially in the 21st century. In this genre of music African musicians incorporate Jamaican patois into their lyrics and beats. Although, very popular in Jamaica, this genre well blended genre became well known in the African region around the 19th century because of the Nigerian Reggae musician Majek Fashek who attracted international attention to this fusion. This genre of music still gaining far more presence in Nigeria with recent 21st century artists like Duncan Mighty, Timaya, Orezi, and Patoranking who are attracting a younger audience.
Hip hop music was brought to Nigeria in the late 1980s, and grew steadily popular throughout the first part of the 1990s. The first acts included Sound on Sound, Emphasis, Ruff Rugged & Raw, SWAT ROOT, De Weez and Black Masquradaz. Moreover, mainstream success grew later in the decade, with attention brought by early hits like The Trybesmen’s “Trybal Marks” (1999) and the trio The Remedies’ “Judile” and “Sakoma”. One of The Remedies, Tony Tetuila, went on to work with the Plantashun Boiz to great commercial acclaim. The 1999 founding of Paybacktyme Records by Solomon Dare, popularly known as Solodee, Kennis Music by Kenny Ogungbe, Dove Records by Nelson Brown, and Trybe Records by eLDee helped redefined and establish a Nigerian hip hop scene.
Also, the general rapid growth of the entertainment scene with support from the media helped popularise Hiphop music in Nigeria. Television Programmes like Videowheels, HipTV, Music Africa, Music Africa, Nigezie, and Soundcity played a major role. Other prominent Nigerian hip-hop musicians include Ruggedman, Debanj, Eedris Abdulkareem, Weird MC, Naeto C, Twin-X, and P-Square
Around the close of the 2010 decade, more hip-hop acts began to gain popularity. Notable hip hop acts in this era include Olamide, Vector, Reminisce, Ice Prince and M.I Abaga. Some upcoming acts as of then such as Kiss Daniel, Tekno, Mc Galaxy, Adekunle Gold, Dammy Krane, Erigga, and Lil Kesh have also started to receive more attention for their songs .
Then comes Afropop which has be the most produced song type in nigeria.
2face Idibia. He is one of the most decorated and successful Afro pop artists in Africa, and is also one of the most bankable performing music artistes in Africa.
With over 2 decades in the industry, 2Baba remains influential in the Nigerian Entertainment space.
Moreover Davido , Wizkid, Adekunle Gold, Burna boy, Yemi alade, Tiwa Salvage and many other women in music who enter the music industry with this type of music so much promises and have proven them selves in the industry.
We are now witnessing the the youger generation conquering the industry in this new decade with the like of Rema, Naira Marley, Zlatan ible, Blackbonez, Joeboy, Teni, Simi
These contemporary Nigerian musician are going ground on different levels as an integral part of the entertainment industry , we have seen the likes of Burna boy being a runner up at the Grammy award and this is a more or less an indication of how the industry is growing and going globally.