Music in Nigeria

Arts & Culture

If music be the food of love, play on. Williams Shakespeare

'Music is art, creativity, expression, and major groove that is well appreciated the world over'. Music has a way of connecting itself with the free man and its proved in that there is no where in the world that you go to that you would not hear some type of music, its that viral.
Music in Nigeria is only headed for the best imaginable position ever as modern Nigerian sounds have started to gain acceptance on a world level and all this can be traced back to the local sounds, in fact its arguably a variety of the new implementations touching on the old local sounds that make some of the new modern sounds that we hear, so its imperative to scope out the roots of local sounds
Kicking off with the type of local sounds birthed in Nigeria, one will quickly notice the diversity based on the different cultures of Nigerians as a whole. There are several tribes all having signatory tunes that depicts their culture in one way or the other backed up by their instruments but I will list few as examples.
The rich traditional music of the Yoruba culture has been refferred to as perhaps the most prominent kind of West African Folk music; the drums are on another level with various sizes of tension drums along with special band drums; For examples - The Agbe (a shaker), The Ashiko (a cone-shaped drum), Bata drum (a well decorated traditional drum of many tones, with strong links to the Shango deity; this drum produces sharp high tone sounds), The Goje (violin-like instrument like the sahelian kora), Sekere (another type of shaker having beads or cowrie beautifully wound around a gourd), Sakara drum, Agogo, Saworo, Aro, Seli, Agidigbo, Dundun, Bembe etc
The Legendary FELA Anikulapo Kuti is an exemplery leader of the Afro genre who effectively combined most of the instruments listed above to produce the lovely tunes that stood him out and made his trance-like music a worldwide phenomenon that won him several accolades and unimaginable achievement.
The Yoruba tribe can boast of several genres like the Waka Music (Islamic music, common among the Ijẹbu, popularized by Batilẹ Alakẹ and Salawatu Abẹni the [Waka Queen].), the Ṣẹkẹrẹ, Fuji Music, Highlife, Afro beat and Juju Genre etc.
Of course there are notable twists or better still new developments that sees the combination of Fuji and Afro pop being blended to produce a fine mix, speaking of 'Ligali' a song by Dammy Krane and Pasuma - the pair combined two uniquely different genres of music and joined up to deliver a spectacle peice, 21st Century Fuji as it is fondly called. Also we may take a look at 9ice, one of the pioneers of modern Nigeria Music, his mellow tone of music made it easier for him to win the heart of fans all over Nigeria, his splendid use of yoruba proverbs allowed for the pride of the culture.
I will have to mention the late Da'Grin, If he was still alive at the time of writing this, i'm sure he would have been a bigger phenomenon than he was at the time of his life and death as Da'Grin was a lyrical genuis with the local dialect and represented the culture in hip-hop in a very skilled way, pity he did not live to enjoy more of what the world of music had to offer as he lost his life due to internal bleeding following from an accident involving his car and a stationary truck. His memories linger.
Another artist pushing the local dialect is Olamide, the street lingo and interesting use of the language in his songs has won him the hearts of the streets and he is getting massive love from the local and International scene as well. Reminisce is also doing a great job representing the culture.
The yorubas have reserved respects for the great pioneers of yoruba music in their different genres respectively, greats like King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall amongst others
The Yoruba
The south-east neighbors (The Igbos) on the other hand have more impact of Highlife and they play instruments like the; Slit-drum or Ekwe, Gong (Ogene), Cylinder drum (Igba), Flute (Oja), Pottery-drum (UDU), Woodblock (okpola) amongst others.
Sir Warrior (Head of Highlife), Oliver de Coque (King of Highlife), Celestine Ukwu, Onyeka Onwenu, Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe, Bright Chimezie (Duke of Highlife), Nico Mbarga, Oriental Brothers (Stars of Music), Faze, Dr Alban, Lemar and Nnenna Freelon... are few out of the numerous notables of highlife but having to dig out the modern day representation of highlife music may prove to be some work; deserved recognition to the Igbo speaking areas of Delta where the likes of Ogbogu Okonji from Ogwash, Obi Chukwuma (son of Ali Chukwuma) from Aboh, Chijioke Osadebe (Son of Chief Osadebe), Ikem Mazeli, Onye Nze amongst others have in their own ways contributed to the tradition of highlife. A major critique of the present state of igbo highlife points not to the few artists who make sufficient use of the flutes, the gongs and the drums which are the traditional instruments; rather, those who have employed the excessive use of western instruments in the music.
However the modern day igbo sound has evolved also with the culture of hip hop and Afro pop, the likes of Phyno who raps mostly in Igbo language and makes it look as though, effortless. Illbliss, Chidinma, Suspect, Lynxxx amongst others are also artists that represent the modern day igbo movement.
The Igbo

The Northerners do not lack good tunes backed up by instruments like the three-stringed lute called molo, the boat shaped kontigi, Jew's harps, flute, reed instruments, the kakaki and the kananngo drum. The two categories of traditional Hausa music is split between rural folk music and urban court music. Muhamman Shata is a notable northern musician who performs alongside his drummers Audo Yaron Goje, Dan Maraya and Ibrahim Na Habu. And of course Zakki Azzay's contribution also deserves recognition.

Hausa (Northern Music)
The breakthrough of Nigerian sounds to the mainstream international scene has seen the acceptance of not only the sounds but also the instruments as many are being applied in refreshingly new ways for music production. This explains the massive crop of talents involved in the music itself, the production, the management and record labels etc. Every player has a role, strength and weakness which makes the whole music scene fun yet competitive; worthwhile for the winners, sucks for the losers - as reward rests in the hardwork and wisework of an artist and his/her team.
The modern day Nigerian sounds are being represented by really hard working men who have given and still giving it their all to remain relevant in the industry even as they yet make their cool cash. 
A close look at top Nigerian artists who represent their respective genres
Afrobeat - Unarguably traceable to Fela Anikulapo Kuti but injustice will be done to this genre if the name Orlando Julius Ekemode is not recognised after all the creative works pulled as far back as the 80's. Fastforward to the new vibes of afrobeat which saw the likes of Lagbaja representing that genre with his enigmatic, energetic African presence; the sons of the legend Fela - Seun and Femi Kuti respectively also lifted the torch of Afrobeat and they consistently never allowed the flames go out.
The refined, distilled, triple filtered sweet taste of creativity allowed for the Afrobeat to progress and manifest itself in a new ear-pleasing, body moving, eye popping genre Afro-Pop which has come to be accepted on all dancefloors and dancefloors-alike both in Africa and the International scene.
The Afro-Pop is represented by a host of Nigerian artists; D'banj for example- is a Nigerian singer-songwriter, a harmonica player and a business man at CEO levels; D'banj has steady contracts with his own DB Records, Kanye West's G.O.O.D Music and Sony Music; he has three studio albums all released under former label Mo'Hits Records (No Long Thing - released 2005, RunDown Funk U Up - released 2006, The Entertainer - released 2008), Two compilation albums (Curriculum Vitae - released 2007, DKM {D'King's Men } released 2013) with the former released under Mo'Hits Records and the latter under DB Records/Good Music/Sony Music. 
This is how D'banj's trophy cabinet looks like;
Most Promising Male Artist - KORA All African Awards 2005[19]
Hip Hop World Revelation - HIP HOP WORLD AWARDS 2006 hosted by Hip Hop World Magazine[20]
Artist of the year - Nigerian Music Awards (NMA) 2006[21]
Best Newcomer – Tongolo Fizz Awards 2006[22]
Best African Act MTV Europe Music Awards 2007
Hottest Single of the year "Why me" Nigeria Entertainment Awards 2007[23]
Best Special Effects - 2007 Channel O Music Video Awards(“Why Me”)[24]
Artist of the Year - MTV Africa Music Awards 2008[25]
Best Male MTV Africa Music Awards 2008[25]
Listeners Choice - MTV Africa Music Awards 2008
Artist of the Year - MTV Africa Music Awards 2009[26]
Best International Act - Africa BET Awards 2011[27]
Best African Act – MOBO Awards 2012
Another notable nigerian working wonders in the industry through that genre is Wizkid who also have bagged the following - Ghana Music Awards 2013; African Artist of the Year, BET Awards 2012; Best International Act Africa, Hip Hop World Awards (The Headies) 2012; Artist Of The Year - Hip Hop World Revelation Of The Year, Nigeria Entertainment Awards 2012; Best Album of the Year-Superstar - Best Pop/R&B Artist of the Year, MOBO Awards 2012; Best African Act, Hip Hop World Awards (The Headies) 2011; Next Rated, City People Entertainment Award 2011; Best New Male Artist, Dynamix All Youth Awards 2010; Artist of the Year, Promising Artist of the Year.
Other award winning notables like ICEPRINCE who nabbed the BET award 2013 for Best International Act just to add to his rich collection of accolades, PSQUARE, Timaya, Flavor, Iyanya and a whole lot really are respected for their respective impact in the mainstream Nigeria music. The growth of the Industry inspired by their hardwork has brought the international likes of JayZ, Big Sean, Chris Brown even Kim Kardashian to grace stages of different shows in Nigeria, who would've thought?
Its also fun to note that Forbes Africa and Channel O announced their list of the 2013 top 10 most bankable African artists and Mavin Records boss Don Jazzy, P-Square, D'Banj, Wizkid, 2Face Idibia, Ice Prince and Banky W all made the list; of course its expected seeing as Nigerian tunes pushed its way into the world stage.
Let's not forget the goods of beautiful music, the melodous type, there is always a reservation for good music and anybody willing to do this type of complex yet interesting kind of music should be a pro at the vocals, the instruments and what not, that person just has to be skilled because the good ears could be quite critical based on the fact that there is no room for nonsense to fly.
There are really good musical schools in Nigeria poised to bring out the best of skills in students, For examples;

There are many more music schools in Nigeria but any of the listed schools above can comfortable take care of the needs to learn good music and playing good music. The schools are quite capable of impacting knowledge and skill building techniques to help improve a person's career in music, this gives the person a better chance at getting signed by record labels

Music Schools In Nigeria
the record labels in Nigeria have done tremendous jobs by pushing out most of the Nigerian artists making it big right now. All i am saying is you cannot mention D'banj without remembering Mo'Hits Records co-owned by D'banj and DonJazzy, Although Mo'Hits records have dissolved, it only gave way to Mavin Records, fully owned by Don Jazzy. Mavin Records is proudly Nigerian and home to the interesting combination of Dr.SID, Tiwa Savage, Wande Coal and D’Prince.
Other Nigerian Record Labels that have been in topflight past and present are
Empire Mates Entertainment; home to Wizkid (who also has his own label, Star Boy Ent), Banky W, Skales, Niyola, Shaydee, DJ Xclusive. EME was founded in 2002 with its base in Lagos, Nigeria; and has expanded from a Record label to include a EME Management, a production house, Muzik Men Publishing, and the I-AM-CAPABLE Charity Foundation. EME owns 100% of its catalogue.
Storm Records; jointly owned by Obi Asika and Olisa Adibua ; at one point in time, the record label was home to Sasha, Naeto C, GT the guitar man, Jazzman Olofin, Sauce kid and formerly Darey and Ikechukwu.
Kennis Music; This label witnessed the careers of 2face, Kelly Handsome, the Remedies, Olu maintain, the late Goldie, Kenny St Brown and Jaywon take flight.
At present the trending records still include Mavin Records, D'banj's DKM, Aristocrat Records (home to BURNA BOY, OZEE, MOJEED, KAMAR, LERIQ and PUCADO), Star Boy Ent, EME, YBNL - this one is pushed really hard by Olamide and its really paying off for him right now, Hypertek (2'face Idibia's; Dammy Krane is signed under this label)etc. There are other emerging record labels that holds promise of being major forces to liason with in the Industry, only time will tell. 
It will be unfair to not recognize the tremendous efforts of music producers like Don Jazzy, Pheelz, Sam Klef, Shizzy, MasterKraft, Sarz, DVee amongst others; those are few out of the many producers who have really made great impact in the creation of Nigerian tunes that are listened to all over the world, even as this article is written. Disc Jockeys like DJ Jimmy Jatt, DJ Xclusive, DJ Humility and more have as well played Nigerian tunes in different clubs around the world and on air; this massive promotion has helped put Nigeria on the map music-wise.
Record Labels, Music Producers and Disc Jockeys in Nigeria