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5 Nigerian classic albums of the 90s

From Onyeka Onwenu to The Remedies, we picked five classic works from the good old days. 

The Nigerian music scene was very vibrant in the 90s. There was unheralded rapidity in the release of music – good music – and across many genres, artistes released credible projects and stepped into mainstream attention. In this article, we have selected the 5 most vibrant albums of this period.

Seyi Sodimu 
Born in Afrika 
Shakara Entertainment (1998)

While a student in America, Seyi Sodimu made friends with an American, Carl Bassey, a part-time DJ from Howard University in Washington, DC. Already boasting some creative output, he had been commended on his writing (stories and poems) by many of his teachers and professors. 

After saving up enough money, Seyi released Born in Afrika, his debut album, in 1998, which contained the hit song “Love me jeje, love me tender”. The album topped the charts in Nigeria on Ray Power 100 FM and sold over 30,000 copies in the first weeks of its release. The album also earned him nominations and awards in Nigeria. 

So famous is the Afro R n B artiste’s hit song that by this day, he goes by the moniker of “Mr Jeje” – even, in recent times, he tried to bank on the song’s commerciality by featuring American singer Michelle K in a remix. 

Listen on YouTube. 

Onyeka Onwenu 
Golden Songs (Vol. 3) 
Ayollo Records (1991)

The Elegant Stallion, as she so magnificently goes by, has rocked the airways since the 80s.  Onwenu began her music career in 1981 while still working with the NTA, releasing the album “For the Love of You”.  

After that, she went on to delivering classic song after song, delivering virtuoso and mastery performances across the genres of Highlife, Funk, Soul, R n B, and Gospel. 

This collective of songs, aptly titled “golden”, was released and pushed as an album in 1991. It features tracks such as “Keredim”, the super-hits “One Love” and “You and I”, among others. 

Listen on YouTube.

About Tyme 
Premiere Music (1991)

Born Edward Inyang, Blackky’s music is a generous mix of Reggae and its subgenre Reggaeton. His 1991 debut, About Tyme,  showcases the finesse with which he employs these sounds, then encompassing them in relatable themes that are instantly Nigerian. 

The album boasted a number of hits like “Blackky Skank” and the sexually-charged “Sugar Stick”. It is worthy to note that it also featured the smash hit and dance floor darling, “Rosie”, a song most would mention as the biggest of his largely successful career.   

The classic project served as a catalyst for the then 24-year-old artiste who bagged a deal with Polygram Records, a little while after winning the Lekki Sunsplash Talent Hunt Contest. Although the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission banned the tracks Yanshman, Sugar Stick and Bang Belly, the artiste, who started out as a DJ in 1986, was already a star. In the same year, he received a lot of awards, proof of his music’s likability. 

Listen on YouTube. 

Sonny Okosun 
African Soldiers 
Profile Records (1991) 

Although this album was released past his own prime, it was still gold-level work across the continent. With a name that has come to be associated with musical excellence, Sonny Okosun barely relinquishes his vintage quality in the project. 

Best known as the leader of the Ozzidi band, Okosun maintained – contrary to popular opinion about the name being inspired by an Ijaw river god – that the name means “there is a message”. 

And there is, on African Soldiers, which, across two cassettes, displays the mastery of Okosun’s music which has been described as as “a synthesis of Afro-beat, Reggae, and Funk.”

Listen on YouTube. 

The Remedies 
Peace Nigeria 
Kennis Music (1998) 

Made up of the trio of Eedris Abdulkareem, Eddy Remedy and Tony Tetuila, the group caused quite the stir in the 90s with their unique brand of music which fused elements of contemporary Afrobeat and Hip Hop. 

Doused in social commentary and hedonism, their music proved to be zeitgeist. “Shakomo”, released in 1999, was their first song and an instant classic. Later on, they put out songs like “Sade” and “Judile”. In between these, they got a contract with Kennis Music, the biggest label at the time. 

Peace Nigeria, their debut album, was released after the departure of Tony Tetuila, the flamboyant blonde-haired character. Although this fairly affected the album’s reception, it did have stellar singles such as “Belinda” and “Jealousy”. 

To properly understand the historical precedent for today’s Afrobeats rave, one must find him(her)self returning to the music of this legendary group and in doing so, no doubt, unearth the gem which is Peace Nigeria. 

Listen on YouTube.

Read the 5 Nigerian classic albums of the 70s and the 80s.