New discoveries, discarded norms, and technological interventions, Vanessa Obioha looks back at how the entertainment and lifestyle industry fared in the last decade
The music industry in Nigeria went through dramatic changes in the 2010s. The previous decade served as a litmus test on the acceptance of Nigerian music by mainstream media. What emerged was an influx of different sounds of Afrobeats and a new crop of artistes who took the industry by storm. But the industry also experienced some hiccups. Here are some of the significant trends that enveloped the industry.
How Burna Boy, Wizkid, Davido, Olamide Took over the Street
he early part of the 2010s witnessed the emergence of Burna Boy, Wizkid, Davido, and Olamide who took the Nigerian music to another level of popularity. They became the new faces of the music industry and set the tone for how our music should be consumed.
Burna, the grandson of Benson Idonije, music critic and first band manager of Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, rose to prominence in 2012 with the hit ‘Like To Party’ from his debut studio album L.I.F.E under Aristokrat Records. Prior to that, he released a mixtape ‘Burn Identity’ in 2011 which reportedly sold 40,000 copies on the first day of its release.
Burna was critically praised for ‘Like To Party’, an afro-pop song built on a mixture of harmonious sounds. It was only a matter of time before the song became a party anthem for music lovers.
Burna would suffer a hiatus after the release of his second album in 2015. By then, he had split from his Aristokrat to launch his own record label, ‘On a Spaceship’. Part of the reason for this lacuna in his music career stemmed from his attitude. However, he rose back to prominence like a phoenix in 2018 with the album ‘Outside’. Described as a mixtape, ‘Outside’ consists mostly of Afrobeats, dancehall, reggae and road rap. It features guest vocals from English musicians J Hus, Lily Allen and Mabel. The album also had the award winning song ‘Ye’ which shot him to a greater spotlight.
In 2019, Burna was adjudged the artiste of the year and ‘African Giant’, a name he gave himself in an Instagram post over the space given to himself in the promotional ad of the international music festival Coachella. The moniker would become the title of his fourth album. His growing fame was attributed to his unique sounds which reflected the Afrobeat rhythm of Fela. Though a number of artistes have sampled the innovative sound but Burna perfected it.
The year also saw him featured on American singer Beyonce’s ‘Lion King: The Gift’ album and clinching international awards such as the BET and the MTV Europe Music Awards. The greatest achievement of the artiste this year was his Grammy nomination. Burna was nominated in the World Music category for his album ‘African Giant’. There are high expectations that he will bring the gramophone trophy home.
It was on January 2, 2010, that Wizkid was beamed to Nigerians with his hit track: ‘Holla at Your Boy’.
Fresh-faced and signed under the Banky W’s record label Empire Mates Entertainment (E.M.E), Wizkid wooed Nigerians with his music, delivering hits that appealed to different classes of people. He was the ideal boyfriend for young ladies, the sweet little boy that elderly people loved to have around and the perfect role model for young boys who had an interest in music. He would later cement his place in the music industry by gaining international prominence through collaboration and concerts. His star wattage has not waned a bit. He is still ruling the airwaves and even has a record label as evidence of his enduring success.
Shortly after the arrival of Wizkid, Davido, a young man from the wealthy Adeleke clan stormed the music scene. Back from London, formerly in a group with his cousins, Davido’s style of music at first was not lauded but with his debut studio album ‘Omo Baba Olowo’, Davido turned the tables around. The 2011 album had hits such as ‘Dami Duro’ which became an anthem of some sort for music lovers. Like Wizkid, Davido landed some international collaborators, record label deals as well as flaunt his own record label Davido Music Worldwide (DMW).
2011 was also the year Nigerians were introduced to Olamide, the ‘King of Street Rap’ signed to ID Cabasa’s Coded Tunes, Olamide followed in the footsteps of Lord of Ajasa, a popular indigenous rapper, but with a Midas touch. He rapped mostly in his native language Yoruba, polished it with some street lingo that fetched him widespread recognition.
His first album Rapsodi released in 2011 under Coded Tunes had the lead single ‘Omo to Shan’ dominating the airwaves. However, the track that really swayed Nigerians to his music as well as kick-started his music fame was ‘First of All’, from his second studio album ‘YBNL’.
The album was released under his own record label, YBNL Nation. Olamide revolutionized street music with his unique blend of sounds, dance moves, and lingo. He became the first Nigerian artiste to land an ambassadorial deal with Ciroc and the first to have sold-out concerts in Nigeria.
Arguably, Wizkid, Olamide, and Davido set the trend for the sounds of Nigerian music in the last decade. Their success fired up the ambitions of budding artistes who have also recorded impressive feats like Lil Kesh, Peruzzi among others.
And Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, Simi Ruled the Stage
The 2010s also witnessed the rise of female artistes. Tiwa Savage came into the spotlight in 2013, with her debut studio album, ‘Once Upon A Time’. The album boasted singles such as ‘Love Me’ and ‘Kele Kele Love’ under Mavin Records owned by Don Jazzy. Though now signed to Universal Music Group Nigeria, Savage garnered fame with the Mavin Records.
After winning the Peak Milk Talent Show in 2009, Yemi Alade was poised to launch her full career in the next decade. She finally did in 2014 when she debuted her studio album ‘King of Queens’ under Effyzzie Music Group. The hit track that catapulted Alade to worldwide fame was ‘Johnny’. The track brought international acclaim to Alade and the young the singer continued to ride on its success to maintain relevance in the continent.
2014 also saw the rise of another female star Simi. Though she had been in the music industry for a while, her music received acclaim after she was signed to X3M Music Label. Her 2014 single ‘Tiff’ shot her to spotlight and made her one of the dominating female music stars.
Other music superstars of the decade include Kizz Daniel, Phyno, Tekno, Patoranking, Falz, Burna Boy among others.
Dance Revolution: From Azonto to Alingo, Skelewu to Shoki…Then, Shaku Shaku
Dancing was a major hit this decade. Musicians introduced quite a number of dance moves in this era. Ghanaian star, Fuse ODG, brought the Azonto dance move which P-Square modified into Alingo; Davido introduced Nigerians to Skelewu, while Iyanya popularised Etighi. Lil Kesh caused a dance rave with ‘Shoki’, while Olamide took over the street with the accompanying dance to his ‘Bobo’. There was also the Shaku Shaku dance that credits Mr. Real as the originator though Olamide made it famous. Recently, the trending step is leg work known as Zanku with the finishing style that requires one to jump and kick.
Due to the proliferation of the dance steps, lovers of the performing arts with the help of social media shared viral videos that likewise fetched them fame.
Things Fell Apart at Record Labels
It was the season of artiste-owned record labels. With the issues of trust affecting relationships between artistes and record management, most musicians thought it wise to have total control of their own music. Some of the artistes who launched their own record label this decade include Wizkid formerly with EME; Olamide previously with Coded Tunes; Don Jazzy who metamorphosed his former label with partner D’banj to Mavin Records in 2012; Kizz Daniel, formerly with G-Worldwide Entertainment but left in 2017 following a publicized contract dispute and a court case to launch his own label FlyBoy Inc.
Simi also flaunted her own record label Studio Brat this year after her contract with X3M Music Label expired.
Wizkid Ditched Banky-W
From music groups to record labels, quite a number of heartbreaks and goodbyes were witnessed in the 2010s. Each farewell was characterized by drama and tension, sparking discourse in the public space. There was a split between Wizkid and his record label E.M.E. in 2013. Prior to the break-up, there were rumours that all was not well in the empire following the label’s All-Stars Concert the previous year. Different sides of the story were reported in the media but the most recurring statement was that money was at the centre of the breakup.
Though Banky W tried to manage the situation, and keep their issues away from public glare, Wizkid was very vocal on Twitter and his actions were more visible. He reportedly moved out of the mansion the label acquired for him into his own home. He later left the label at the end of his five-year contract, launching his own record label Starboy Entertainment.
…Olamide Decoded Coded Tunes
Olamide’s departure from Coded Tunes did not grab headlines but it was a major step for the ‘Turn Up’ crooner. He launched the label YBNL Nation in 2012. It was the former home to music stars like Lil Kesh and Adekunle Gold. The imprint biggest act at the moment is Fireboy.
P-Square Squared off as Paul, Peter Parted Ways
Perhaps the biggest break-up of the decade is P-square, the sensational music group of the twins Peter and Paul Okoye. The news of their split did not rock the music industry in Nigeria alone but reverberated around the continent. The first sign of a crack between the twins who are managed by their older brother Jude was when Peter’s wife Lola came into the picture. It was speculated that she was not welcomed by the family and Peter now known as Mr. P refused to give in to his family demands and stuck with his beau.
Another widespread rumour was in the management of their music. Mr. P complained of the lopsidedness in management that affected their music. By 2016, the rumour intensified that the band which was once the most expensive band in the continent had disbanded. However, in 2017, Mr. P made it public by sending a termination letter to their lawyer.
The public display between the twins arguing and abusing each other was relished in the media. Sources close to the group disclosed that the break was inevitable, claiming that their late mother was the only glue that kept them together. Though their fame had dwindled since they went solo, fans still hope for a reunion even if none of the brothers have shown interest in extending the olive branch.
Burna Boy Grabbed Grammy Nomination
The early part of the decade saw a rise in street music. Young music stars who came from humble backgrounds and attached to the street kind of music dominated the music scene with Olamide proclaimed the street rap king. However, towards the tail end of the decade, a new crop of artistes reverses the order of music, tilting more to sounds that crossed genres and appealed to the West.
Burna Boy, the artiste of the moment falls under the list. His style of afro-fusion gives room to sample other styles of music that appeal to a wider audience such that it fetched him a Grammy nomination.
Such notable acts include Rema whose style of music is gaining fame both locally and internationally. He was on the summer playlist of the former president of the United States, Barack Obama and made the Rolling Stone list of best songs of 2019.
There are also the children of influential Nigerians like DJ Cuppy, Falz, as well as returnees from the States and London like Tiwa Savage.
Flashback on Nigeria’s Decade of Music Concerts and Tours
Music concerts and tours were a big trend in the 2010s. Apart from lifestyle brands curating events where music artistes performed, artistes held self-themed music concerts both at home and internationally. Selling out concert venues became a necessary yardstick to measure success as Olamide pointed out in his ‘Eyan Mayweather’ track. The street rap king is paraded as the first Nigerian artiste to sell out the Eko Convention Center, for three consecutive years 2014, 2015 and 2016. In 2017, he held his concert Olamide Live in Concert (OLIC) at Teslim Balogun Stadium I Surulere, Lagos and sold out the venue with over 12,000 persons in attendance. He repeated the feat in 2018 when he returned to Eko Convention Centre. This year, the concert was held at Eko Energy City.
Wizkid, on the other hand, made Africans proud when he sold out the O2 arena in London this year at his Starboy Fest, making it the second time he is achieving the feat. The first time he did was at the AfroRepublik concert in 2018. Prior to that, he sold-out the Royal Albert Hall in London. At home, his concerts are very well attended and are usually held during the yuletide season.
Remarkable music experience of the decade perhaps is the Darey Art Alade ‘Love Like A Movie’ concert. Though now metamorphosed into Livespot X Festival, the concert upped the ante of musical experiences with the variety of theatrical displays and international celebrities that headlined the shows. The first edition had American celebrity Kim Kardashian-West as the headliner. Other editions saw Kelly Rowland, a member of the defunct American girl group Destiny’s Child gracing the stage as well as American singer Ciara. For the maiden edition of the Livespot X Festival, Darey and his creative agency brought Cardi B.
The show was highly successful and once again placed Darey as a leader in such musical experiences. Like Wizkid, Davido also sold out the O2 Arena in London this year with his headline concert. Other notable concerts of the decade include Kizz Daniel Live in Concert, Burna Boy concert, Tiwa Savage concert, and Falz Experience.
Again, Afrobeat Took Centre Stage
Never in the history of Nigerian. The music industry has the international spotlight beamed on it like it did this decade. The music industry boasted of many musical exports who did the continent proud through their sounds of music. From 2Baba to Wizkid to Burna Boy, these artistes showed the world how blessed Nigeria is musically. It was only a matter of time before the westerners attributed all sounds emanating from Africa as ‘Afrobeats’, a title which emerged from the popular genre of the legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, who invented ‘Afrobeat’. Though the new title does not sit well with all, it, however, puts Nigerian music in the world stage.
The Rise of DJs
One can say that the 2010s was a DJ era. Formerly restricted mainly to clubs and radio stations, disc jockeys assumed a celebrity status this decade by attaching themselves to either a brand, a popular artiste or releasing their own songs. Some of the prominent DJs of the era include Jimmy Jatt, Spinall, Neptune, Cuppy, Lambo, XClusive, Obi, Caise among others.
Nigerian Artistes Stepped up International Collaboration
As the world familiarised themselves with Afrobeats, the artistes behind the exposure gained international acclaim. The decade saw quite a number of international collaborations between Nigerian artistes and international stars. Wizkid sits on top of the list with a number of international collaborations, notably his effort with Canadian superstar Drake and more recently Beyonce on the ‘Lion King: the Gift’ album. That album recorded a large number of Nigerian artistes like Burna Boy, Mr. Eazi, Tiwa Savage and Yemi Alade. 2Baba, Davido, Patoranking, are some of the artistes who have collaborated with international stars.
Apart from featuring international stars, Nigerian musicians were also recognized in prestigious music awards platforms such as the BET Awards, MTV Europe Music Awards, Billboard Music Award, iHeart Music Radio Awards among others. Recipients of such awards include Wizkid, Burna Boy and Tiwa Savage.
CD Albums Suffered a Decline
Technology changed the way people consumed music in this era. People no longer purchased the physical CD album and opted to download or stream music. The new format eventually led to the disappearance of colourful CD albums on music stores. Nowadays, streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music dominate the distribution of music. The implication of this format is that it reduced the life-span of music, placing a kind of pressure on musicians to release as much music as possible. The other side of it was that most artistes were not inspired to release a full body of work, rather they released back-to-back singles with the aim of maintaining relevance in a saturated music scene.
Jazzing Things up Lagos International Jazz Festival
There are few jazz events in the country but one that has arguably stood the test of time is the Lagos International Jazz Festival. Founded by the helmsman of Inspiro Productions Ayoola Sadare, LIJF has expanded to one of the sought out events to celebrate the internationally recognized Jazz Appreciation Month. Birthed in 2008, Sadare has consulted for the Bayelsa International Jazz Festival that was headlined by the late Hugh Masekela, organized the MUSON Jazz Festival from 2009-2013, as well as created other platforms to promote jazz and related activities such as NAIJAZZ. Through the platform, international stars Angie Stone, Kenny G had visited the country to promote the unique music genre.
Nollywood’s Glitz Caught Ex-President Jonathan’s Attention
One of the popular praises of Nollywood is that it grew with little or no help from the government. However, former president Jonathan Goodluck turned the tables around when he decided to host the industry in 2013 to mark the supposedly 20th anniversary of the industry. The occasion was also aligned to the 20th anniversary of the Living in Bondage film which arguably kick-started Nollywood. It was the first time the government was recognizing the efforts of the filmmakers who tell stories that placed Nigeria in the spotlight. The Nigerian film industry was reportedly worth ₦853.9 billion ($5.1 billion) in 2014, making it the third most valuable film industry in the world, after the United States and India. At that event, the president pledged to give financial support to the industry.
In 2010, President Goodluck Jonathan launched a ₦30 billion ($200 million) “Creative and Entertainment Industry” Intervention Fund, financed by Bank of Industry (BOI), in conjunction with Nigerian Export and Import (NEXIM) Bank. In 2013, ₦3 billion ($20 million) solely for Nollywood, and specifically for the production of high-quality films, and to sponsor filmmakers for formal training in film schools was also pledged by Jonathan. In 2015, the Bank of Industry launched another “NollyFund” for loans to film producers.
The late adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Oronto Douglas was widely believed to have worked in concert with the founder of the Africa Movies Academy Awards, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe and the late film producer and director, Amaka Igwe to make these interventions possible.
Earlier this year, the Central Bank of Nigeria urged stakeholders in the creative industry to take advantage of the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI) loan plan which allows banks to grant loans to operators in that sector. Nollywood stakeholders can access loans ranging from N30 million to N500 million for movie production and distribution.
Return of the Cinemas
Cinema culture was one of the highpoints of the decade. With the opening of Silverbird Galleria in the 2000s, other key players began to penetrate the cinema exhibition hall chain. Filmhouse Cinemas was the game-changer in that field for the decade. It started as a budding exhibition hall in Surulere in 2012 but has since expanded to over 10 cinemas in the country. One of the set goals of the company is to create innovative cinema experiences for moviegoers and to a large extent, it has been successful in its pursuit.
For instance, in September 2016, it partnered Canadian Theatre Company, IMAX Corporation to launch the Filmhouse IMAX Cinemas situated in Lekki, Lagos. It was the first of its kind in West Africa, boasting a 339 seater IMAX screen (considered the largest screen in West Africa), two regular 75-seater screens, luxury private screen for 8-12 guests, and a 33-seater luxury screen, a lounge, and a rooftop bar.
In similar efforts, it achieved another milestone recently with the launch of the Coca-Cola MX4D Motion EFX Theatre at Landmark Retail Boulevard in Victoria Island, Lagos this year. The theatre is the newest evolution in 4D cinema experience, providing an immersive environment, where one feels the action on the screen from the built-in motion effects in the seats and theatre. The new theatre boasts six cinema screens (1 MX4D, 4 premium screens, and 1 cube), with over 300 seaters, a fully stocked bar, a kids’ party area, and a self-service station.
Apart from the multiplexes, other exhibition halls for movies such as Heritage Cinemas in local communities also opened for business.
93 Days, The Wedding Party Stood Out
Like the music industry, the power of collaboration was visibly seen in the film industry. Filmmakers team up with one another, production studios and distribution companies for their productions. A very good example is the 2016 movie ‘The Wedding Party’, a collective effort of four major production houses in Nigeria: EbonyLife Films, FilmOne Distribution, Inkblot Productions, and Koga Studios. Another instance is the 2016 movie 93 Days which tells the story of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Nigeria. The film is a joint effort of Native FilmWorks, Michel Angelo Production, and Bolanle Austen-Peters Production.
Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Mo Abudu Upped Their Ante
For a long time, Nollywood has sought to meet up to the standards of Hollywood either through film or winning awards from their roster of awards shows. The latter part of the decade saw Nollywood receive international recognition. For the first time, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences invited Nollywood practitioners to become voting members in 2018 as part of its goal to increase the diversity of its membership.
The first batch of Nollywood practitioners to receive the honour were prominent filmmaker, Femi Odugbemi (Documentary), actress Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde (actor), movie producers Ngozi (feature) and Simon Onwurah (producer),
In a similar feat, Mo Abudu was appointed as the director of the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the organization responsible for staging the world-famous International Emmy Awards last year. This year, she received a gold membership card from the organisation for her new role and became the first African woman to chair the 47th Emmy Awards Gala held recently.
MultiChoice Africa Took Creativity a Notch Higher
As part of the efforts to improve the quality of movies as well as talent development, there were creative interventions from MultiChoice Africa through its MultiChoice Talent Factory. The initiative was launched in May 2018 and had three touchpoints: academy, masterclasses, and the portal. It was founded on the reality that Africa needs more technically and operationally skilled professionals in the film and television industry. As such, MTF is spread across three regions in Africa: Southern Africa, West Africa, and East Africa. Nigeria is the hub for West African, Kenya for East Africa and Zambia for Southern African countries. The academy which is a 12-month intensive training focuses on the youth market with a curriculum that is developed in partnership with relevant local and international industry experts.
The masterclasses on the other hand deal with industry practitioners who cannot attend the academy and focuses on single skill sets while the portal serves as an online platform that connects all African creative industries. The first batch of students graduated this year.
The Del-York International Film Academy founded by Linus Idahosa, husband of actress Stephanie Okereke. The academy was a kind of wake-up call to the film industry as everyone realized the importance of honing their skills professionally. Not a few Nollywood actors and producers attended the school for training and benefit from the international affiliations.
Nollywood’s Unforgettable, Fashionable Film Premieres
Unlike in the past where films were premiered to little or no fanfare, this decade saw a number of fashionable film premieres. In fact, movie premieres are to a large extent a major part of the marketing plan of movies. Filmmakers struggle to get the cream of the society to attend, get brands to sponsor the screening as well as turn them to fashionable events. Notable film premieres include ‘The Wedding Party’ (1&2), ‘Bling Lagosians’, ‘Your Excellency’, ‘Merry Men: The Real Yoruba Demons’, ‘Living in Bondage: Breaking Free’ and more recently ‘Sugar Rush’. The premieres were not only limited to local films. Hollywood blockbuster movies also followed this trend.
LionHeart, Daughters of Chibok Went Digital
As technology continued to make in-road in the entertainment scene, the film industry was not left out in the revolution. A major decline in DVDs changed the way people consumed films. While the cinema culture still holds sway in Nigeria, the emergence of streaming platforms like Netflix suggests that the culture would soon face stiff competition.
Nollywood’s love for Netflix reached a new high after the streaming platform acquired Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart film for an undisclosed large sum of money. Since that intervention, various Nollywood films are now available on the platform.
The virtual reality which is relatively newfound a place in the film industry as well, particularly after Joel Kachi Benson clinched the VR Award for his film ‘Daughters of Chibok’ at the Venice International Film Festival this year. The film which centres on the economic and emotional plight of families affected by the infamous 2014 Chibok girls’ abduction revealed the power of VR as a powerful tool for storytelling.
Actors Who Became Directors, Producers
Quite a number of actors went behind the camera this decade. Actors such as Ramsey Nouah who made his debut with ‘Living in Bondage: Breaking Free’ this year, actress Genevieve Nnaji who produced ‘Lionheart’, in 2018, actress Stephanie Okereke-Linus who produced and directed ‘Dry’ in 2014, actress Omoni Oboli who produced and directed ‘Wives on Strike’ in 2016, among others.
Music Met Runway
Nigerian fashion scene exploded this decade with more fashion enthusiasts cropping up. From fashion designers to events to influencers, the scene boasted with creatives who were determined to take fashion to the next level.
Fashion events such as the Arise Fashion Week, GTB Fashion Weekend, Lagos Fashion and Design Week, Music Meets Runway, Weddings by Mai are some of the events that brought together buyers, consumers and the media to view the current collections of designers in the fashion capital of Lagos, Nigeria.
Social media also gave birth to a new crop of celebrities known as fashion influencers. They were mostly bloggers who entertain their fans and followers on social media platforms with their styles and thoughts on the fashion scene. Notable fashion influencers include Denola Grey, Temi Otedola, Yvonne Nwosu among others.
Some of the notable fashion designers of the decade include Andrea Iyamah, Kenneth Ize and the Clan.
Many companies delved into the lifestyle industry this decade, particularly financial institutions. GTB introduced its Food and Drink Fair, Access bank launched the Born in Africa Festival, Zenith Bank birthed the Lifestyle Fair while companies like Guinness launched Baileys Bakefest for bakers. There is also the Balmoral International Drinks Festival among others.