TOP 10 RECORD LABELS IN NIGERIA
Top 10 record labels In Nigeria. This topic is a vast one as record labels in any nation are classified and rated according to the different genres of music common among the people of that nation.
In Nigeria we have our local music sang in our different local dialects, we have highlife, Fuji, Juju, Jazz, Afro music, Gospel, Hip Hop, R & B, Soul, POP Music, Gyration, Acapella, and many others you could add. Interest in the vatious genre of music differs by the age of individuals and the common genre of music in their community. Each of the music genre mentioned have fans, artistes, and record labels responsible for getting the music of these artistes to their fans. For the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on the most common genre of music widely accepted by Nigerians of all ages which is the modern Afro Music.
The modern Afro music is a fussion of HipHop, R & B, Soul, and POP Music, with a blend of Fuji, Juju, Jazz, Gospel, and our Traditional music. There are a lot of record labels out there pushing this brand of modern Afro Music and our musicians to us and audiences worldwide. As you already know, this article focuses on the top 10 record labels in Nigeria. Here are the top 10 record labels in Nigeria currently listed in no particular order:
You cant list top 10 record labels in Nigeria without starting with the phenomenal star packed Mavin records. Being a Mavin alone makes you a star already.
Founded May 8th 2012 by Nigerian super talented music producer Don Jazzy whose real name is Michael Collins Ajereh after parting ways with Mohits Records founded alongside Dbanj, which had himself, Dbanj, Drsid, Dprince, Kswitch, and Wandecoal. The label became an instant home name after the release of its compilation album ‘Solar Plexus’ on thesame date as its launch that saw the label revealing Dprince, Wandecoal, Drsid, and newly signed Tiwa Savage as its major artistes. Don Jazzy later signed producers Timothy Aluko poularly known as ‘Altims’, and Sunday Enejere popularly known as ‘BabyFresh’, to ease his hands as a producer and reduce his work load.
Donjazzy after working with Tiwa Savage, Wandecoal, Dprince, and Drsid for two years decided to bring in new voices to the label by signing Korede Bello, Reekado Banks, and Dija in February 2014. May 2014 saw them blessing the music industry with ‘Dorobucci’ the turned everyone in Nigeria and lovers of Nigerian music worldwide to ‘Doro.’ Dorobucci was an introduction of their newly signed artistes to the world as they all went on to give us bangers in their various careers as musicians.
Iyanya joined the label on October 2016 after leaving Made Men Music Group in a rumoured contract signing until himself and Donjazzy confirmed it with their ‘Up to Something’ collaboration. In February 2017, Donjazzy did another triple signing that saw him bringing Johnny Drille, Ladipoe, and DNA Twins onboard his label.
After these signings, Mavin records went on an hit song draught that got everyone asking where are the Mavins? Whats happening to the label that was once an home of hit songs. Is Mavin about to go down like Mohits? Nothing was said about this by the Mavin boss himself. 2019 saw Donjazzy bringing in two fresh voices to the label in Rema and Crayon. After the signings, Donjazzy and the Mavins answered the questions that were raised before his signing Rema and Crayon with a single ‘All Is In Order’ that saw him unveiling Rema and Crayon. Rema turned out to be the golden boy of Mavin records as he has been releasing hits upon hits since his joining Mavin records that got the labels name back to where it has always belonged, the top.
Wandecoal, Iyanya, Reekado Banks and Tiwa Savage have officially left the label.
Mavin records has an in house DJ who doubles as an artiste. His name is DJ Big N. He joined the Mavin Records family in 2014 after going on tour with Dr Did.
YBNL Nation is one record label that has paid its dues in the Nigerian music industry to make it to the top 10 record labels in Nigeria.
YBNL Nation is a record label owned and runned by Nigerian rapper and king of the Nigerian Hip Hop music street Olamide Adedeji popularly known as Olamide or Badoo as he is called in the streets. It was established in 2012 same time Olamide released his second studio album YBNL which stands for Yahoo Boy No Laptop, a phrase that means you can still make it big in life without being involved in fraudulent activities, according to Olamide. As you already know, the label was named after his second studio album.
Olamide started signing artiste to the label in 2012 when he signed Pelepele and released the song ‘Sinner Man’ that he featured on. He got featured on Olamides Baddest Guy Ever Liveth album on the track Skammer. Pelepele parted ways with Olamide in 2013. 2015 saw him releasing a diss track about Olamide which Olamide replied with his version of the song. Pelepele committed suicide in 2019 for not making it big as he expected in the entertainment industry.
The first producer to be signed to the YBNL Nation is Philip Kayode popularly known as Pheelz Mr Producer. He was impressed with Pheelz production touch on his third studio album Baddest Guy Ever Liveth released in 2013 after his phenomenal touch on the song ‘First Of All’ from his YBNL album, so he decided to keep him as an in House producer for YBNL Nation. Pheelz has not failed to impress him till date. Other than Pheelz, YBNL has two in house producers Young John who loves to be called The Wickedest Producer, and B.Banks in 2014.
2014 seems the biggest year in YBNL Nations calender till date as Olamide signed four very promising acts in Viktoh, Lilkesh, Chinko Ekun, and Adekunle Gold. They all exited the label in 2016 after two years of growing their craft under Olamide. Viktoh and Chinko Ekun didn’t release an album with YBNL till their exit in 2016 even though they showed great potentials, Lilkesh and Adekunle Gold each had an album with YBNL Nation. Lilkesh released YAGI ( Young And Getting It ) in March 2016, Adekunle Gold released his album GOLD, July 2016.
2015 Olamide signed Xino. His contract with YBNL ended in 2016 in a controversial way. To keep the fire of his label burning, Olamide brought in Temmie Ovwasa and Devolee in 2016. Though Temmie Ovwasa is still keeping her position in the label as YBNL Princess till date, Devolee left in 2018. 2018 saw Badoo enter the streets in search of new talents and found Lyta, Limerick, Picazzo Rhap, Yomi Blaze, and Fireboy DML who is the only one of them all still on the label. Since then, Fireboy has released two albums with YBNL, ‘Laughter Tears and Goosebump’ 2019, and ‘Apollo’ in 2020. YBNL has an in house DJ in Olamides younger brother Eniola Olamilekan Adedeji popularly known as DJ Enimoney.
DMW is one label you would have guessed to make it among the top 10 record labels in Nigeria for its contribution so far to the Nigerian Music industry.
DMW stands for Davido Music Worldwide. It is a record label established in 2016 by David Adedeji Adeleke pooularly known Davido after he parted ways with HKN a label he co owns with his brother Adewale.
Davido was the only act in DMW until he signed Adewale Mayowa Emmanuel popularly known as Mayorkun in 2016 after he did a cover of Davidos song ‘The Money’ and uploaded it on Twitter. The video got a wild reception that got him signed to the label. Mayorkun has proven to be a great signing to the label as he has been dishing out hits upon hits from his debut single ‘Eleko’ till date.
In the same 2016, Davido brought in Aboriomoh Femi Raymond popularly known as Dremo. Dremo was with APPE Records before he got signed to DMW. Davido signed Dremo almost thesame time he signed Mayorkun in 2016 after he got impressed with his single ‘Fela’ and his cover of ‘Panda’, making them the first artistes he signed to DMW. Lola Rae had a cameo feature on the DMW label also in 2016 but she wasn’t signed to the label. Davido used his platform to push her music to the Nigerian audiencr. Another artiste who enjoyed this privilege is Ichaba who came from AAPE Records with Dremo and joined DMW but he wasn’t on contract like Dremo and Mayorkun. Davido played a big brother to him and supported his music as he is known.
Davido signed Yonda in January 2017, and brought Peruzzi on board his label as well in November in an agreement that led to a controversy with Peruzzis forner boss Patrick Anyaele and owner of his former label Golden Boy Entertainment. Patrick Anyaele would later claim Peruzzi is still his artiste as he never signed any contract with DMW despite the fact that Peruzzi has released three body of works ‘Heart Work’ 2018, ‘Huncho Vibes Vol 1’ 2019, and ‘3 EP’ 2020, under DMW.
Idowest joined the DMW family in 2018.
Davido has signed five artiste so far in 2020. Ayanfe in January, after listening to Ayanfes cover version of his sing ‘Risky’, Mr May D, in May, Deinde and Lil Frosh in September, though Lil Frosh’s contract got termitted a month after officially joining the label for involvement in domestic voilence against his girlfriend Camille, and the DMW first lady Liya in October . As a Record label, DMW houses DJ Ecool as their official DJ, Kiddominant, Speroach Beatz, and Fresh VDM as their in house producers.
Starboy Entertainment no doubt should make it to this list of top 10 record labels in Nigeria.
Starboy Entertainment is a record label owned by Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun popularly known as Wizkid. He established the record label after he left Banky W and his Empire Mates Entertainment record label in in 2013.
Wizkid started as the sole artiste of the label and later that year brought in talented music producer and singer Maleek Shoyebi popularly known as Maleek Berry and the Legendary Beats brothers Mutay and Zei whose real names are Uzezi and Okiemute Oniko. L.A.X also joined the label in 2013 that saw him releasing two bangers under the label ‘Caro’ and ginger. L.A.X left the label in 2016 then Wizkid decided to make his label international by bringing in more artistes from other countries. He decided to start with West African neighbouring country Ghana where he discovered Mr Eazi, and brought in Ghanian super star singer Efya and the already popular R2bees as artistes of his now Starboy Worldwide label. They all spent a year on the label and left to further their careers as independent artistes after spending a year at Statboy Entertainment.
2018 Wizkid brought in Terri, Ceeza Milli, and Teknos younger brother spotless. They collaborated in ‘Soco’ a song that Wizkid used to introduce them to the world as his new set of artistes. Since then Terri has proven to be the one on of the three to seize the spotlight as he has gone further to release an EP ‘Afro Series Vol 1’ under the Starboy Entertainment label.
Starboy Entertainment has an in house official DJ, in DJ Tunez whose real name is Michael Babatunde Adeyinka. He joined the label in 2015.
Penthauze rings a bell in the ears of every lover of contemporary Nigerian music so it should make this list of top 10 record labels in Nigeria.
Penthauze is a Nigerian record label owned by and headed by Chibuzor Nelson Azubuike popularly known as Phyno or Phyno Fino like he loves to be called. Phyno established his Penthauze record label in 2008 after a successful career with Sputnet Records. The first artiste he brought into the label was Runtown in 2008 soon as he started the label. They worked together as Runtown released two singles ‘Party Like Its 1980’ and ‘Activity Pikin’. Eric Many Entertainment came with a mouth watering contract that saw Runtown exiting the label in 2013 for Eric Many Entertainment.
In 2011 Phyno signed Shugaboi, and Flipside. They released a song ‘Camera Out’ announcing the Penthauze family to the world. 2014 he signed Stormrex as the first lady of his label.
2018 seems to be Phynos best year as he signed Nuno, Cheque, and Rhatti. He introduced them to the music world in a Penthauze family single the called ‘Nyem Space, ‘ an Igbo phrase meaning give me space. I think they used it to pass a message to everyone that would doubt their talents. Since joining Penthauze Records family, Nuno has released a single titled ‘8th Mode,’ Rhatti whose real name is Armstrong Arinze has released a single titled ‘Biko’, Cheque has released a 5 track EP named ‘Razor’ that features the hit song ‘Zoom’ that his fans and lovers of good music are yet to get enough of. So far, Cheque or Superboy Cheque like he loves to be called seem to be the golden boy among Phynos Penthauze triple signings.
Pebthauze Music has an in house DJ known as DJ J Masta. Phyno has not signed any music priducer to his Penthauze Music label, it may be due to the fact that he is a producer. They have worked with producer Soul Large who produced ‘Nyem Space’, DatBoiGetro, who produced Cheques Zoom, BigDreamCraft, who produced Nunos ‘8th Mood’, and Dera who produced Rhattis ‘Biko’.
Burnaboy is a big player in the Nigerian music industry, it would be unfair to create a list of top 10 record labels in Nigeria without including Burnaboys Spaceship Collective label.
Spaceship Collective was established by Burnaboy and his mother Bose Ogulu aka Mama Burna, after Burnaboy left Aristokrat Records in 2014. He officially kicked started the label February 18th 2015 and had himself as the major act of the label that started as Spaceship Entertainment. He named his second studio album ‘On A Spaceship’ after his new born label.
Spaceship Collective is a combination of Spaceship Entertainment and Spaceship Publishing that manages and publish artistes signed to the label. It is Headed by Burnaboys’ mother Bose Ogulu.
Though Burnaboy is signed to Warner Music Group in collaboration with Atlantic Records, and Bad Habit Music, his label Spaceship Entertainment still has a say in his music as he is still under the Spaceship Collective management headed by his mum.
Burnaboys younger sister Nissi Ogulu is the first artiste to be signed to the label. She joined the label in 2019 and released two singles ‘Trouble’ and ‘Tornado’ which introduced her 7 track EP ‘IGNITE’ named after a song on the EP. April, 2020, Burnaboy signed Buju. They both released a remix of Bujus already trending song ‘Lenu’.
Spaceship Collective have Burnaboys long time connect and superb producer Leriq and the new phenomenon Telz that is already making waves as a hit maker. Both of them are responsible for major production on burnaboys ‘Twice As Tall’ album. Leric produced ‘Nor Fit Vex’, ‘Way Too Big’, and ‘Monster You Made’. Telz produced ‘Wonderful’, ‘Onyenka’, ‘Wetin Dey Sup’, and ‘Naughty By Nature’. He is also responsible for Patorankings hit song ‘Abule’.
Spaceship Collective does not have an official DJ as at the time this post was published. It would be updated if they sign any.
DR DOLOR ENTERTAINMENT
This list of top 10 record labels in Nigeria will be void of a worthy label if we don’t add Dr Dolor Entertainment, the label that blessed the Nigerian music industry with Teni the entertainer.
Anywhere you mention Dr Dolor Entertainment Teni is the first name that comes to mind. Some will even tell you she owns the label. Others don’t know she is not the only artiste on the label as she was the one that brought the label to limelight.
Dr Dolor Entertainment is owned and runned by Osadolor Nate Asemota popularly known as Dr Dolor. The label was established in 2016 and unveiled Ryan Omo as their first artiste. Ryan Omo whose real name is Omo Okhuasuyi Adaze Ryan has since joining Dr Dolor Entertainment released the following 5 songs ‘Gimme Love’, ‘Chikito’, ‘On Demand’, ‘Bolanle’, and ‘Nkwobi’ feat Teni.
2017 was the big year for the label as Dr Dolor signed Teniola Apata popularly known as Teni. Teni whose song ‘Fargin’ was already enjoying massive airplays and wide reception around the country released ‘Askamaya’, ‘Case’, and ‘Uyo Meyo’ her back to back hit singles with Dr Dolor Entertainment and it was the hit songs the label needed to stand a ground in the Nigerian entertainment industry. Since dropping ‘Askamaya’, ‘Case’, and ‘Uyo Meyo’, Teni has been blessing the industry with back to back hits. Her first body of work and debut EP ‘Billionaire’ which was released on the 11th of October 2019 cemented her place in the industry as a top act that has come to stay in the industry and keep blessing us with good music. She announced that she was done with her album on the first episode of her Youtube Series ‘My XXXL Life’ released on the 21st of September so we are expecting an album soonest.
Moshood Adeola musicaly known as Hotkid joined the label in 2019. Hotkid got signed on the 19th of July 2019 and has since released ‘FREESTYLE’ a two track EP and the popular EP ‘HONORABLE’ that houses the song ‘OZANA’ that shot him to limelight.
Afin Osha and Nikita joined the record label in 2020. Nikita whose real name is Nicole Uju Eneh, has since joining the label released a 4 track EP titled ‘Better Days’ that has a hit single of same name, and ‘Denero’ featuring Teni. Afin Osha whose real name is Ekene Austin Ngbanwa has released a single titled ‘Mosquito’ since joining the label.
Also on the 18th of September 2020, Dr Dolor dropped an unexpected 14 track album of himself as an artiste titled ‘Unexpected’ featuring the Dr Dolor Entertainment all stars.
Dr Dolor Entertainment has an in house producer by the name Tayoristar. He has a 5 tracks EP named ‘Fire’. Tayoristar is responsible for most productions on Dr Dolors ‘Unexpected’ album and Nikitas’ ‘Better Days’ EP.
Naira Marley is one name that sticks to your heart as a Nigerian music lover either for his banging back to back hits or controversies which has made him an household name. This list of top 10 record label in Nigeria will be missing a worthy label if Naira Marleys’ Marlian Music is not included.
Naira Marley whose real name is Azeez Adeshina Fashola is not just an household name, he is a boss that is out to make other artistes household names. He has proved this since establishing his Marlian Music record label in his December 2019 Marlian Fest where he unveiled the label to his fans and his four newly signed artistes Mohbad, Cblvck, Zinoleesky, and FabianBlu.
Mohbad whose real name is Ilerioluwa Oladimeji has since joining Marlian music released ‘Jaabo’, ‘Real Hustlers’, ‘Balance Zia Gar’, ‘Ronaldo’, ‘See My Bounzer’, ‘Oja’, ‘BB2 Poverty’, ‘Owaale’, ‘Adura’, ‘Fire’, ‘Komajensun’, ‘Over Hype’, and many other collaborations. Cblvck whose real name is Olamilekan Kazeem Kudus has released ‘Ogologo’, ‘All The Best’, ‘Baby Kingsway’, and other collaborations. Zinoleesky whose name is Oniyide Azeez has released ‘Caro’, ‘Mapariwo’, and other collaborations. FabianBlu whose real name is Inim Fabian has released ‘Sisi Nene’, ‘Instagram’, and other collabirations.
2020 saw Naira Marley signing Lyta, the first lady of the label Tori Keeche, and Emograe to the Marlian Music Family. Lyta whose real name is Opeyemi Babatunde Rahim since joining Marlian Music has released ‘Hold Me Down’. Tori Keeche whose real name is Isiogu Chibundu Kenechukwu, has released ‘Yoga’. Emograe whose real name is Opeyemi Michael Edebie has released the following songs ‘0903’, ‘Selense’, ‘Need You’, ‘Lagos Girls’, and ‘Collect’.
Marlian Music has a favorite producer in Eze Chisom Faith popularly known as Rexxie or Yorexxie like you hear in songs produced by the hit maker. If Marlian Music was to sign an in house producer, it would be him as he is responsible for almost all the hit songs of Marlian Music boss Naira Marley.
You must be wondering why Empawa Africa made this list of top 10 record labels in Nigeria. It made it because of its contribution to the music industry in Nigeria and Africa in general. Empawa Africa was established in late 2018 by Mr Eazi as an upcoming artiste incubation and promotion company. It has since blessed the Nigerian music industry with Joeboy whose real name is Joseph Akinwale Akinfenwa. Joeboy was one of the beneficiaries of the $3,000 grant given by Empawa Africa to its first 100 artiste from Africa. After launching Empawa Africa, Mr Eazi called on upcoming artistes around Africa to submit their music demo via an onlime latform with the #empawa100. He got more than 10,000 entries. Of all the entrants, 100 were chosen and given a $3,000 grant to further their career. Joeboy used his own to produce the video of his Mr Eazi feature track Faaji.
Of the hundred that benefited of the grant, Joeboy and nine others were chosen to partake in a 3 weeks mentorship master class in South Africa where they benefited from the experience of Major Lazers music producer and DJ Diplo, UK singer and song writer Raye, Nigerias E Kelly, Guilty Beatz, and Fred Gibson. March 2019, Joeboy released the addictive song ‘Baby’ that shot him to limelight. The song ‘Beginning’ followed. Then, his ‘Love and Light’ addictive 5 track EP that featured the earliervmentioned songs. So far this 2020, he has released two addictive hits, ‘Call’, and lonely.
In 2019, Mr Eazi and Empawa again launched out a collaboration with Youtube Music to discover and help 30 upcoming artiste From Africa and the rest of the world live their dream of becoming fulfilled musicians through the Empawa Africa 30 project.
The project received over 30,000 submissions across the world that was narrowed down to 30 beneficiaries. Of the 30 beneficiaries, 16 were Nigerians, 8 from other parts of Africa, 3 from North America, and 3 from UK. They were all given a $10,000 grant to further their careers after being mentored by Mr Eazi, Sarkodie, Diamond Platnumz, E Kelly, Killer Tunes, Juls, Diplo, Guilty Beatz, Kwesta, and DJ Neptune.
Of the 30 beneficiaries so far, one Nigerian Obasi Chidiebere Samuel musically known as C Natty is showing light to be the next break out star in Nigeria from the Empawa Africa project. Like Joeboy, he already has a single ‘Ojah’ produced by Killer Tunes, that is already enjoying massive airplays around the country.
CHOCOLATE CITY MUSIC
Chocolate City Music deserves its place in this top 10 record labels in Nigeria with the lagacy it has left in the Nigerian music industry over the years and the creative ambitions of its founder Audu Maikori.
Chocolate City Music was founded in the year 2005 by Audu Maikori and Paul Okeugo. The first artiste to be signed to the label was Jeremiah Gyang who released a hit song ‘Nabaka’ that became the name of the album he released under the label.
The label got to its peak when they signed Jude Abaga popularly known as MI in 2008. MI released a single ‘Safe’ that became a street anthem that got Chocolate City Music a stamp in the heart of Nigerian Music lovers and got everyone talking about the label. Later he released his debut album ‘Talk About It’ that got everyone talking about him and Chocolate City Music. After two years with the label, MI brought his brother Jesse Jags and his fellow J town rapper Ice Prince in 2010 to the label. Brymo also joined that year. They all formed a remarkable pair of the label they call the Choc Boys. Brymo later left in 2013 alongside Jesse Jags after dropping one albums each with the label. Ice Prince left in 2016 after dropping 3 albums with the label. Mi stayed until 2020 before he left to establish his own label ‘Incredible Music’ after releasing 8 body of works with the label. MI and Jesse Jags both worked as artistes and music producers while at thr label.
Other artistes that have been associated with the label include Femi Kuti, Victoria Kimani, Pryse, Milli, Ruby Gyang, Koker, Djinee, and ASA.
Dj Caise and Dj Lambo were their in house Dj until they left. Dj Caise left in 2017, while Lambo left in 2019.
The label still houses Nosa, Blaqbonez, Young L, Classiq, Candy Bleakz, Dice Ailes, and Ckay who doubles as an artiste and their in house producer.
Chocolate City Music signed a distribution partnership deal with Warner Music on the 28th of March 2019 that sees its artiste enjoy the support of Warner Music’s through its music distribution and artistes services pplatform