We’ve seen Nigerian music make giant strides last year and part of this success would be alluded to the creative genius of producers. They’re constantly devising sounds that foster the gospel and trajectory of Nigerian music year in and out. Music producers in Nigeria have, in the last few years, gone from being underrepresented to becoming relevant shot callers, especially as investors are starting to show interest in them. In 2021, producers like London, Ozedikus – both featured in last year’s list – scored lucrative publishing deals with Sony Music France. Sarz, with an assist from Sony, released Luv n Attn, a project that houses one of the hottest songs in 2021, “Monalisa”.
We saw new names like Andrevibez team up with Ladipoe and Buju in a record that had Nigerians in their “Feelings” for a better part of the year. We also noticed gradual mainstream recognition of more women producers like Saszy Afroshii who produced “Satisfy My Soul”, one of the critically acclaimed records off Ria Sean’s debut project. Producers like Mystro, Blaisebeatz, who are by no means strangers in the game, stepped up to the plate with delivery of Tiwa Savage & Brandy’s “Somebody’s Son” and Kizz Daniel’s “Lie” respectively.
Barely a quarter into the new year, Pheelz has the country spellbound with “Finesse” where he’s the producer and lead act. The record went viral right after the producer teased a studio snippet on Tiktok. It has since peaked at No. 1 on the Shazam Global Charts and debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard World Digital Song Sales Chart. Last week, Young John was welcomed to Chocolate City alongside a single release where he’s also producer and lead act. More than ever, Nigerian music producers are taking the reins and switching things up in interesting ways. If these developments are anything to go by, here are some of the producers we’re keeping an eye on from 2022 and beyond.
Blaisebeatz is no newcomer to the Nigerian music scene. He has, in the past, worked with Banky W, Niyola, LAX, Maleek Berry, and more. He started to garner momentum in 2020 after producing “Pami”, a dreamy record that features DJ Tunes, Wizkid, Adekunle Gold, and Omah Lay. The producer, born Marcel Akunwata contributed in sealing Adekunle Gold’s evolution from Alternative-folk into being a Pop sensation with career-defining records like “Something Different” and “Okay”. He upped the ante in 2021 by producing a number of records that defined the past year such as Buju’s “Outside”, Omah Lay’s “Free My Mind”, Davido & CKay’s “La La”, 1da Banton’s “No Wahala”, which has since gone viral on Tiktok, with a remix that features Tiwa Savage and Kizz Daniel.
Blaisebeatz shares an interesting chemistry with Adekunle Gold, producing five tracks off the singer’s latest project, Catch Me If You Can – including lead singles such as “Sinner”, “It Is What It Is”, “Mercy”. He also produced three records off Kizz Daniel’s Barnabas, one of the best performing Nigerian projects in 2021 – including its most popular track, “Lie”. His name might not ring a bell but his work is everywhere around you.
Andrevibez is arguably last year’s breakout producer. You’re not wrong if you don’t consider him a greenhorn as he produced for Rema and Alpha P back when they used to be a duo in Benin. He’s also the son of late Victor Uwaifo, one of Nigeria’s foremost Highlife musicians. Andrevibez produced Ladipoe and Buju’s “Feelings”, one of Nigeria’s biggest records in 2021. He also produced Crayon & Rema’s “Too Correct”, Ladipoe & Fireboy’s “Running” and most recently Rema’s “Calm Down”, which reached No. 1 in eight countries. The producer emerged winner of the ‘Don Jazzy New Discovery Producer’ at the just-concluded The Beatz Award as a way to close the year.
Eskeez garnered mainstream acclaim after producing Olamide’s 2021 studio album, UY Scuti which houses records like “Rock”, “Jailer” etc. Since Olamide’s third album, he’s nursed his penchant for spotlighting unsung producers with each project. This has marked the rise of producers like Pheelz, P.Priime and now Eskeez, who’s a longtime ally of the singer. Eskeez has since kicked off 2022 with “Hate Me” by Olamide and Wande Coal, one of the year’s most anticipated records so far.
Saszy is one of the few women pushing the envelope in music production. She has bubbled under for a minute where she produced “Baddest Boss” by Ghana’s Ms Vee and Mugeez in 2020. Like Dunnie, Saszy is on course to further the case for the inclusion of more women music producers. In the past year, she produced “Satisfy My Soul”, one of the standout records off Ria Sean’s debut project. She has also kicked off the year with “Mr Man”, a fan-favorite off Fave’s new project. In 2020, she signed a publishing agreement with Aristokrat records and has since worked with the likes of Ceeza Mili, Wizkid etc.
Before Ruger’s emergence in January 2021, Kukbeatz would be reckoned as a regular name who’s once worked with 2baba, Sound Sultan, Flavour. In just a couple months, he upended that conjecture to become a certified hitmaker with records like “Snapchat”, “Dior”, “Bounce” – one of the hottest Nigerian songs last year. His knack for music would contribute in marking Ruger’s ascent with the two projects in the singer’s discography that Kukbeatz singlehandedly produced. He was nominated as ‘Afropop producer of the year’ at the last The Beatz Awards.
Niphkeys is a purveyor of street sounds propagated by the likes of Zinoleesky with “Kilofeshe”, which became a hit across digital and traditional platforms. Its remix also features South African singer, Busiswa. The producer, whose musical foray officially kicked off in 2015, followed up with successful records like “Koleyewon” by Naira Marley, “Feel Good” by Mohbad, “Don’t Call Me” by Lil Kesh featuring Zinoleesky and most recently “S.M.K” off Fave’s project. There’s every reason to keep an eye on him as he gears up for his debut release alongside Reekado Banks.
Mystro is a longtime player in the music industry, having collaborated with Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, Chidinma in the past. He’d taken to music production after spending some time behind the scenes. This turn has since culminated in the production of three tracks off Tiwa Savage’s last project Water & Garri, including “Somebody’s Son” featuring Brandy. Considering his range as a producer and penchant for scoring infectious hooks as a singer, Mystro is getting his shine and is poised to make even bigger strides this year.
Semzi Beatz is best known for his work with BadBoy Timz on records like “MJ”, and most recently “Skelele” featuring Olamide. He also produced some of the records that soundtracked the earlier part of 2021 like “Pronto” by Ajebo Hustlers & Omah Lay, “The Best” featuring Mayorkun off Davido’s last album. He also produced “Consent”, off Joeboy’s debut album. He was nominated for the Don Jazzy Discovery award for producing “Fall For Me” by Laycon and YKB. His Midas touch is evident in the newly-released “Sweet Daddy” remix by Dai Verse and Buju.
The 21-year-old, who produced Olakira’s “Maserati” which also features Davido, has pursued music since high school. He is influenced by his musical background as his dad controls one of the largest music libraries in Lagos – including old school and Billboard chart songs. Before his big moment in 2020, he worked on “L’enu remix” by Buju and Burna Boy. He would later produce the two songs off Buju’s recent project that peaked at the Top 2 spots of Nigerian Apple charts. Timi Jay is also reckoned as an experienced sound engineer with records like Reekado Banks’ “Ozumba Mbadiwe”, Fave’s “Baby Riddim” to his name. He emerged ‘Best Sound Engineer’ at the last Beatz Award. His effort in the past year is proof enough that Timi Jay is inching towards his best days with music production.