The new wave of Nigerian music began in the late 90s, with the Remedies’ unforgettable single, “Shako mo” and “Judile” and the combination of great songs from Plantashun Boiz, Trybesmen until the present day of Wizkid, Davido, Kiss Daniel among others. However, there have been some acts who have failed after offering much promise through albums, singles and even features. This piece takes a look at such flash in the pan music acts that we can’t find in the thick of it all now.
Made up of Ibrahim Al-Hassan and Mike Aboh, Zule Zoo brought a really unique style forward in musical delivery without forgetting their unbelievable dance steps. With a perfect blend of African tunes presented in modern fashion, Zule Zoo held everyone spell-bound after starting out as professional dancers in 1992 in Benue State before relocating to Lagos in 1996. When their controversial hit song, “Kerewa” was banned by Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for its supposed lewd content back then, many thought it was going to spell doom for the group but their popularity even hit a new high.
But not long after, Ibrahim and Mike went their separate ways, with Ibrahim rebranding and now known as Ibro Zule Zoo and Mike said to have moved far away from Lagos as fans have nothing but the videos and songs to remember the wonderful duo.
With real names as Jimoh Olotu and Omeofa Oghene, the duo of Mountain Black and Mad Melon respectively are better known as Danfo Drivers with the line – “I am a Danfo Driver, Suo” easily jolting the memory of anyone who seems to have forgotten about them. Exposed to the conventional music raga/dancehall as youngsters growing up in the popular Ajegunle suburb of Lagos, they worked as drivers and motor boy on commercial buses to make ends meet before being discovered and signed to Cornerstone Music.
When their hit song was released in 2003, it became such a big hit nationwide, catapulting them to spotlight. Apart from 2face’s “African Queen,” their song was also chosen as one of the sound tracks for the American movie, Phat Girlz, making them the first Nigerian artistes to have their tracks used as soundtracks in a Hollywood movie.
A sophomore album titled Danfo Travel: Success Story in 2005 followed, headlined by the track, “Kpolongo” for which they had to call out Tekno after the latter sampled it without authorisation.
They reportedly embarked on their first European tour in October 2006 but they have since fallen off the radar since then and many wonder if they can ever recapture those glorious days. Mad melon sadly lost his life late last year.
It is hard to release just a song and command the kind of attention that Adol, born Solomon Adewole, commanded yet it happened. With the song titled “Orin” a nd a simple video to boot, the young man who was managed by 9ice’s former wife, Toni Payne, at a time, moved straight to the top of the charts.
But it was a height the young man could not sustain and he has struggled since then, with many having forgotten all about him except you are able to sing his song well enough to make them remember.
It is hard to believe AY.com could ever come into this state of oblivion so soon. With his ability as an artiste never having been in doubt at any time especially after “Baba Kunle” and a popular feature on 2Shotz’s Fast Money, AY.com finally got deserved attention with the hit, “Pass Me Your Love.”
Produced by the unpredictable Terry G, the song fetched both the musician and producer a level of success they had not attained before the time.
However, it was the same thing that led to their misunderstanding, from which AY.com has never recovered while Terry G himself prospered for years after that.
GT D Guitarman
Born in South London, England in 1984, before his family moved back to Nigeria two years later, GT D Guitarman was considered a breath of fresh air when he came onto the scene.
Having been introduced to music as an 11-year-old, he seemed destined for greatness whichever way you looked at his story. A great voice, enviable skills on the guitar, humble disposition and knowledge of music combined, Guitarman joined Storm Records and delivered a number of outstanding singles along with amazing performances include the famous “Dreams”, “Truly” and “I don’t wanna” featuring Naeto C.
So no one was surprised when GT D Guitarman developed a huge fan base and delivered incredible performances at some of the biggest shows in Africa including Calabar Festival and Easter Ball, Nokia’s First Chance, MNET’s Face of Africa, Glo’s G-Bam show, Samsung’s Valentine’s day Concert, AIT Valentine’s Day concert, Asa Live in Lagos, MTN Motivational Seminar with Les Brown, Silverbird Man of the Year Award as well as the Big Brother Africa Eviction Party and Rhythm Unplugged.
However, that was about it as it all fizzled out for the young man who was to marry and start a family much later. Looking back, how the cookies crumbled at Storm Records was a huge factor in what became of his career but he is one of those about whom fans must wonder what went wrong.
Well over a decade and half after Klever J released the hit-track ‘Koni Koni Love,’ the singer, Klever Jay, has not been able to create anything close to that music wise. The Agege, Lagos-born singer has never hidden the fact that it is his biggest song ever but equalling, let alone topping that ‘feel good’ song which fans craved for years.
Edward Ashiedu- Brown was one of trio that made up Nigeria’s first hip hop group, Remedies. With the group offering Nigerians so much joy and kickstarting what is today known as the modern Nigerian music industry, Eddy Remedy, as he is also known, fell by the way side long before we heard of the dissolution of Plantashun Boiz.
Eddy has not been able to bring the prediction that he would the break-out star of Remedies, like 2Face turned out to be among the three that made up Plantashun Boiz, to pass. With Tetuila the first to go solo, Eddy and Eedris Abdulkareem were able to keep it together, that was until 2000 when they went their separate ways.
With both remaining acts under the Kennis Music imprint, Eedris released the successful album, P.A.S.S and followed up with more to leave his imprint as a legend of the game but the talent of Eddy, so apparent in the early days, never came to the fore on his projects. Apart from one or two songs like “Ire”, a track by Kenny St Brown who later became his wife apart from collaborations with Wale Thomson and Yinka Best while Remedies was still a group, not much has been heard of Eddy since then.
Olu Maintain was a co-founder of the original group known as Maintain along with his cousin, Tolu Ogunniyi before Big Bamo joined the group later.
The group gave Nigerian music lovers singles like “Catch Cold”, “Alo”, “Nibo la wa” among others. With not much heard about the group between 2004 and 2006, Olu stormed back to prominence in 2007 with the release of his hit song, “Yahooze”.
Off his debut studio album, Yahooze in the same year, the song was such a monster hit, popular from the north to the east and even the Niger Delta that hardly can any list of greatest Nigerian songs be put together without a huge mention of it.
The song was named Hottest Single of the Year at the Nigeria Entertainment Awards in 2008. He performed the song at the Royal Albert Hall in London, bringing former United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell, on stage at the show.
Having followed up with a second album, Maintain Reloaded a year later, Olu Maintain has dropped some modest jams like “Nawti” (2012) and Cinderella ft. 2face (2015), both with impressive visuals yet the industry seems to have moved on, leaving the act wondering what he needs to do next.
Originally a member of X Appeal, one of the music groups to stake a claim for fame and fortune in the early days of the hip hop movement in the late 90s and early 2000s along with his buddy, Lexy Doo, Jazzman went solo not long after their debut single.
With a number of songs to his name, Jazzman Olofin, who was a close ally of late producer, OJB Jezrel, is best known for the song, “Raise the roof” ft. Fuji music star, Adewale Ayuba. Offering a new style, slow, groovy and easy to sway to, Jazzman Olofin, who insists he is still very relevant on the music scene, has not lived up to the expectation of fans and even neutral music lovers.
The song is titled “Shayo” but its club/danceable feel was too powerful for even those who are not usually swayed by alcohol not to join the bandwagon of the song from Bigiano.
The song was so big it fetched Bigiano, an Obafemi Awolowo University graduate a coveted MTV Africa Music Award (MAMA) nomination. With a video shot in South Africa and even more impressive remix featuring the likes of Vector and Ill Bliss, many close observers of the music industry can be forgiven for concluding that Bigiano had arrived at last.
It was not to be, however, as Bigiano was missing for y ears after that and no matter what he has done since then, nothing seems to have worked.
Only a few music acts in Nigeria have had their entry announced in a way as big as Kelly Hansome’s. with the grand, red carpet-like entry, many expected the controversial US-based act not just to hit the ground running but make a lasting impression.
With the promotion machinery of Kennis Music going at full throttle, it looked like that would be the case, with songs like “Like Play Like Play,” “Maga Don Pay,” “True Love” and others in the impressive debut album, 2 Much Money winning over even the critics.
After that, however, Mr Kelly got too involved in unnecessary fights with colleagues like MI, D’Banj and Wande Coal as well as his label execs at Kennis Music which seemed to sap him of whatever music energy he had left at the time. These days, not many pay him much heed but the act, like many others, will always insist he is still high on the list of top music acts around.
Soul E Baba
Born Emmanuel Okosi, Soul E released the hit single, “Soul E Baba” and everyone was blown away somewhat but when 2face, unarguably the most notable in the land, decided to feature him in the hit single, “E be like say”, many decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. He never lived up to the reputation, with the messy drama of his marriage and separation from the socialite, Queen Ure.
He said he has since become born again and is now a full time minister of God, albeit with a number of funny predictions which some of his critics have put to seeking attention.
Durella, the self-acclaimed King of the Zanga, came out with hit singles like “Enu Ose” “Shayo” “Wizkolo Wiska” among others, making people feel another act boasting the energy and bravado of D’Banj was in town. Featuring prominent stars like D’banj, Femi Kuti, Duncan Mighty, Terry G, Olamide, Dammy Krane and performing live with Wyclef Jean in South Africa, cemented his standing as one of the top acts around.
When Durella was awarded “MTV Base Advance Warning Artist” of the year in 2008, no one would have thought the King of The Zanga could be missing from the scene about five years from the time.
When he stormed back with Reconfigurated, many were still willing to give him a chance but having been missing from the mainstream scene for the past few years once again, the patience of his fans might have waned and it would be a wonder to see him make appreciable impact in the next few years.