Producers are unsung heroes in the Nigerian music industry. With their finesse and creativity, these artists have championed sounds that enjoy global praise. The likes of Don Jazzy, Masterkraft, and Sarz encouraged the long overdue inclusion of producers in the conversation around Nigerian music. From “Galala” to “Shaku Shaku” and “Zanku”, producers have played a major role in the evolution of Nigerian music as a global phenomenon. These past years have seen producers push the envelope, creating sounds that transcend the continent with relatively minimal resources. Adding to their visual identity and now going after what they rightfully deserve, Nigerian producers are marking a sonic identity to symbolize their creative ingenuity in a record. Dunnie’s “Legend o!” Telz’s “Funkula”, London’s “London” are some of the most highly appraised at the moment.
From Yung Willis tapping the South African subgenre, amapiano and scoring double hits with “Highway” and “Squander” to Ransom Beatz using tech to champion his career through Youtube and BeatStars, co-producing “Yaya” by 6ix9ine. Louddaa and Napji’s unheralded rise straight to the industry’s zenith and Dunnie, championing the course for women in production. Here are the Nigerian producers to watch in 2021
Ali ‘Telz’ Odunayo’s penchant for making beats dates back to his church days. Now, with production credits on five records off Burna Boy’ Grammy award-winning album Twice As Tall, the producer is reaching for the crest of the Nigerian music scene. One of the first records he’d sampled on meeting Burna Boy for the first time would become “Naughty by Nature”. Telz further emblazoned his essence in pop culture with Patoranking’s “Abule”, where he delivers an eargasmic blend of Afrobeats and reggae. The producer is now signed to Burna Boy-helmed, Spaceship Records.
Yung Willis (Willis give dem!)
Yung Willis is a Lagos-based music producer whose career took off in his university days. After turning down a job at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 2018, a rendez-vous with Falz produced “Sweet Boy” and “Talk“. Now holding his own, the producer is responsible for the amapiano-infused “Highway” and “Squander”, two of the hottest records in Nigeria. With his debut album in view, Yung Willis has been spotted in the studio with the likes of Wizkid, Patoranking, and Niniola.
Dunnie (Legend o!)
Dunnie is leading the charge not just as a female producer but also by finding the perfect balance as a singer-producer in the Nigerian music scene. In between producing for Sean Tizzle, Becca and featuring in Busiswa’s album, her single “Overdose” featuring Oxlade channels her versatility. Emerging as a beneficiary of the Sarz Academy, Dunnie has teamed with global brands like Ciroc, Maggi and most recently Oppo (alongside Mayorkun) to create fascinating soundtracks. With a record alongside Wande Coal in the works, Dunnie is putting finishing touches to her forthcoming debut album.
The Nigerian music scene was introduced to Kehinde ‘Louddaa’ Alabi following his effort on Ayra Starr’s debut project, helming its production credit with three tracks including Away. According to Don Jazzy, Louddaa, who was first employed as Mavin’s studio engineer, has developed enough chemistry with the singer to mastermind one of Nigeria’s most critically acclaimed projects in 2021 so far.
Ransom Beatz (Ransom got that sauce…innit)
There’s barely a Nigerian producer doing it like Ransom Beatz, born John Iyibor. The producer is wielding tech to navigate his career to new heights, having produced for 6ix9ine, Runtown and also British rappers Big Tobz and Dizzie Rascal through beats he uploaded on Youtube, all from the comfort of his [Abuja] home. At almost 70k, his Youtube channel is known for Afrobeats, trap, drill and dancehall. Ransom Beatz now licenses his beats through music-tech platform, BeatStars and was recently certified as the first and only Nigerian producer to surpass one million streams so far. The producer is carving a niche for himself in the Nigerian music scene in an atypical fashion and we’re eager to see what the year holds for the forward-leaning creative.
The 19-year old is truly one of the young producers shooting Nigerian music to new heights. 2020 saw P,Priime produce over 70% of Olamide’s critically acclaimed album Carpe Diem including proven hits like “Infinity”, “Eru”, “Loading”. After producing five records in Teni’s recent debut album, the producer is, so far, keeping pace with incoming collaborations alongside A-listers such as Wizkid, Davido, Asa. The producer in his interview with PAM says. “Y’all will see more of Priime, not just as a music producer but as a brand. I want to be seen as a full-on musician.”
After a series of unfortunate attempts at the university, London took to music production. The producer moved to Lagos from Kaduna, Northern Nigeria and perfected his craft under the tutelage of Babyfresh, an in-house producer at Mavin. London has since proven to be a force with chart-topping records like Crayon’s So Fine, Tiwa Savage’s “Koroba” featured in the remake of Coming to America, Rema’s Ginger Me, Johnny Drille’s “Mystery Girl”, Wizkid’s “Gyrate” off the singer’s critically acclaimed album. Made in Lagos.
Tempoe has produced for the likes of Ckay and Blaqbonez before emerging as beneficiary of the Sarz Academy. The producer, born Michael Chigozie Alagwu staked a claim in Nigerian music with “Godly” by Omah Lay and “Door”, one of the standout records off Joeboy’s debut album, Somewhere Between Beauty & Magic. If the reception of these records are anything to go by, the producer is in for an interesting run this year.
Ozedikus (Ozedikus Nwanne)
Formerly a graphics designer, Ozedikus tripped into music production for want of a better pay. His affiliation with Mavin is courtesy of his longtime crony, Crayon. The producer struck gold teaming with Rema to make Dumebi, whose beat was rejected several times. Ozedikus’ chemistry with the singer also had him produce “Corny” and “Iron Man” off Rema’s career-defining debut EP. The producer has since risen through the ranks with impressive records like Rema’s “Woman”, Tiwa Savage’s “Pakalamisi”, Ladipoe’s “Lemme Know” and Teni’s “Moslado” off her recent album.
Rexxie (Yo, Rexxie pon dis one)
Also kicking off as drummer at his father’s church, Rexxie has morphed into one of the progenitors of the Zanku wave. From “Able God to Soapy” and “KPK”, the producer’s influence in contemporary pop culture is unmatched. His work has been sampled by heavyweights such as Diamond Platnumz (Baba Lao). In 2020, he produced “Bebo & Comma” off Twice As Tall and “Ole” off Tiwa Savage’s album Celia. He also released his debut album Afrostreets with an assist from Naira Marley.
Type A (Ayyy!)
Following his stint at Freemedigital, he produced “New York City Girl”, the lead single off Fireboy’s sophomore album, Apollo. Type A also contributed five records to the Headies-awarded Album of the Year (2020). The producer holds production credits in records like “Haba” by Blaqbonez, “Oshe” and “Celebration” off Joeboy’s debut album.
Napji (Napji killing dis one)
The DMW signee debuted in mainstream Nigerian music with “FEM”, the first Nigerian song to hit a million views on Youtube within seven hours. He also produced “Jowo” and “Sunlight” off Davido’s album A Better Time – just after meeting Davido during the COVID-induced lockdown. Napji might seem to have stumbled on us, but his offering within such a short time is enough to have him on your radar.
Check out our favorite Nigerian songs of 2021 so far.