Over the last decade, the Nigerian entertainment industry has grown in leaps and bounds with new paradigms emerging and the landscape of the business evolving to new heights. In the last decade, big box office blockbusters have been made, international superstar acts have been born and Nigerian content has never been consumed more, internationally.
The industry didn’t just get there on its own though. In this list, we identify some of the personalities that have contributed their talents and genius to the incredible growth and spread of Nigerian entertainment over the last decade.
In no particular order, here are our Nigerian entertainment personalities of the decade (2009 – 2019):
It is almost unbelievable that 2baba’s career which has spanned two decades is at the level that it currently is, especially in an era that fans’ support for musicians is fickle. While many of his peers have since taken the backseat and retreated to focus on other stuff in their lives, Innocent Idibia continues to find his way into the new generation’s playlist with new hits.
Despite the influx of younger and brilliant Nigerians into the field of music video direction, Clarence Peters holds forth as the most influential in the land. The CEO of a multimedia content creation outfit, CAPital Dream Pictures, was at some point responsible for directing 5 out of every new set of 10 videos in the land. He also released a 25-minute horror film, Hex in 2015 which went on to win the award for “Best Short Film” at the 5th Africa International Film Festival.
In the last decade, the record producer, singer, songwriter, and music executive extraordinaire has remained one of the most relevant and respected voices in the entertainment industry. Don Jazzy has solidified his hold on the pop scene with the multiple Mavin signings, propelling the careers of Dr Sid and Tiwa Savage whilst discovering new talents such as Reekado Banks, Korede Bello and Rema.
But for Jude Abaga, rap music in Nigeria would have been pushed even further to the backseat as pop music gained widespread recognition from fans and executives alike. From arriving on the scene as a prospect signed to Chocolate City, the ‘short black boy’ grew to become CEO of the giant label whilst putting the rap game in a chokehold through a series of exceptional albums and mixtapes in the last decade.
The conversations around entertainment in Nigerian can never be complete without the contributions of Ayo Animashun. Through his Smooth Promotions Productions, the visionary media entrepreneur has launched some of the most relevant entertainment platforms including The Headies and the 24-hour music channel, Hip TV.
Ayodeji Richard Makun, also known by his stage name A.Y, is an actor, comedian, compere, writer, producer and director. In the past decade, AY Makun has produced four of the top ten highest grossing Nigerian movies ever and went on to create a slew of hit stand-up specials. Four of AY Makun’s movies in this decade have made a collective N722.7 million, per lists.ng.
Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo, known by his stage name D’banj, is a Nigerian musician, singer, songwriter, entrepreneur and television personality. Following a legendary run of three successful albums and an even more impactful Mo’Hits movement, D’banj and Don Jazzy split up leaving a big hole in the Nigerian music industry. After his fallout with longtime collaborator Don Jazzy, D’banj signed with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music, pioneering a defining wave of the decade: Nigerian pop stars signing international record deals.
It was from her days having to explain to her white classmates in Kent that they didn’t live in trees back home in Africa that Mosunmola ‘Mo’ Abudu’s passion began to take form. This passion grew to become ‘Moments With Mo’, the first syndicated daily talk show in Africa. It also gave birth to Africa’s first global black entertainment network, EbonyLife TV and subsequently, EbonyLife Films – a venture that has seen her produce some of the highest grossing Nollywood movies of all time, including ‘The Wedding Party’ and ‘Chief Daddy’.
Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, also known as Burna Boy, is a singer, performer and writer and is self-credited with founding the genre “Afrofusion.” Burna Boy’s career has been a literal slow burner (pun intended) up until the latter parts of the decade. But he has made this list for more than that. He has directly impacted the careers of various producers and has had the most consistent sound over the longest time.
Tajudeen Adepetu is a writer, TV producer and media entrepreneur. Since founding Corporate Media Associates Limited in 2001, Tajudeen Adepetu has gone on to build one of the largest, if not the largest, privately-held media companies in Nigeria. CMA’s contribution to the Nigerian entertainment industry include: Urban96 Radio Network, Soundcity Radio Network, Soundcity TV, Spice TV, Televista TV, Trybe TV and ONTV, among others.
Kafayat Oluwatoyin Shafau (born 30 June 1980), also known by her stage name Kaffy, is a Nigerian dancer, choreographer, dance instructor and fitness coach. She has broken world records and single-handedly brought the dance industry into the 21st century, helping to kickstart some of the first reality dance shows in Nigeria.
Ayo Balogun, popularly known as Wizkid, a.k.a Starboy is one of the biggest artists out of Nigeria in this decade. Since the success of “Holla At Your Boy” in 2010, Wizkid has not slowed down and has continued to break records. He is the only Nigerian to have won the BET ‘International Act’ award twice and been nominated for the MTV EMAs five times. In 2016, Wizkid became one of Africa’s biggest music exports after his feature with Drake became number 1 in over 15 countries across the world. That Record, “One Dance” also gave him his first Grammy credit. He got his second Grammy credit this year for his song, “Brown Skin Girl” with Beyonce.
Owning one of the most successful record labels in Nigeria YBNL(Yahoo Boy No Laptop), Olamide has served as a launchpad for the career of artistes like Lil Kesh, Adekunle Gold, Chinko Ekun, Fireboy who have become excellent markers for genre evolution. The success of his Olamide Live In Concert (OLIC) since he started in 2014 has been a blueprint for his peers in the industry who have also now begun to hold end of year concerts for their fans. Olamide’s sound and artistry has inspired the new wave street newbies. The likes of Naira Marley, Zlatan, Lil frosh and the likes fall under this category.
Folarin Falana’s influence in Nigerian music cannot be overemphasized. His music has served as a tool for socio-political activism, scrutiny, and critical examination of corrupt vices at all levels. Falz has released a total of four studio albums; “Wazzup Guy” (2014), “Stories that touch” (2015), “27” (2017) and his most recent award winning politically charged album “Moral Instruction” (2019).
A country like Nigeria where music is male dominated, Tiwa Savage has fought her way off that cage and mentality. Now, she is arguably the most successful female artiste in Nigeria. Her consistency and input over the years has been brilliant. In the space of 10 years the 39-year-old has released a total of 3 successful music projects; Once Upon a Time (2013), R.E.D (2015), and Sugarcane (2017).
Sarz has helmed Drake’s “One Dance,” unveiled a chemistry between Wizkid and Skepta on “Energy (Stay Far Away),” and added composition on Beyoncé’s Lion King: The Gift album. Helming at least one defining banger every single year he’s without a doubt one of the heavy weights in music production. The award winning producer has also worked with the biggest stars in afrobeats, and a look through his catalogue has hits every year since 2007.
David Adedeji Adeleke’s consistency over the years has been superb. He has released 3 music projects (“Omo Baba Olowo” (2012), “Son of Mercy” (2016), and “A Good Time” (2019)) and has been featured in many international jams. To top it up, in 2019 the superstar had an impressive year, and sold out his headline concert at the 20,000 capacity O2 Arena in London. In the space of 10 years, Davido has received a total of 28 awards.
Aside from comedy, Basketmouth has also been a host for concerts that have featured celebrities like Jay Z, Rihanna, Beyonce, Chris Brown, Sean Paul, Wyclef Jean, Akon, Buster Rhymes, Snoop Dogg, Ciara, and more. He also hosted the MTV Base Big Friday show from 2012 to 2017. He started producing his award-winning TV series, “My Flatmates” in 2013 and the show is still running till date. He is set to make his directorial debut with a horror feature film, “The Exorcism of Alu”. Basketmouth has mentored and helped to grow and improve the craft of a few upcoming comedians.
Ikponmwosa Osakioduwa, popularly known as IK ventured into the media space in 2001 as an OAP on Rhythm FM and remained with Rhythm for 18 years till March 2019. He however quickly expanded his influence and area of concentration beyond the radio station. Early in his career, he made a move to TV. He hosted TV shows like Temptation Nigeria alongside Kemi Adetiba, MNET’s Studio 53 and Comedy Club: Live in Lagos. However, it wasn’t until he started hosting Big Brother Africa in 2009 before he became very popular. He went on to host the show for 6 years till it was called off.
Funke Akindele went from appearing in a United Nations Population Funded TV series in 2002 to becoming one of the most influential people in Nollywood at the end of this decade. She has produced 7 movies and series, including the award-winning Jenifa’s Diaries. She has also featured in block-buster movies like Maami, A Trip To Jamaica, Moms At War, Isoken, Chief Daddy, and Married But Living Single.
Because everybody can’t make the list but we still need to acknowledge the contributions of other people whose impact on the space is undeniable. Those are the innovators on our honorable mentions list and they deserve all their accolades. From the premier event centre Eko Hotel to Osagie Alonge’s impact on how entertainment journalism carried into the digital age, each person on our honorable mentions list is a powerhouse in their own right and their impact on the industry is unquestioned.