Musicians and artists have always received all the plaudits for creating hit songs, but record producers also deserve to share that recognition. Over the years several talented and era-defining producers have walked these streets, mesmerizing us with their melodious beats and brilliant musical ingenuity. These producers have not only given us great songs, they have carried the music industries on their shoulders and brought Nigerian music into the limelight.
Following the ‘battle’ between Sarz and Shizzi, we are inspired to create a list of 10 greatest Nigerian music producers of this generation (from the late 90’s till date). Enjoy, share
1. Don Jazzy
Don Jazzy is arguably the greatest Nigerian producer ever, collaborating with virtually every A-list artist in the industry since he and D’Banj burst onto the scene in 2004. His catalogue of production credits is filled with endless smash hits such as Tongolo, Surulere, Dorobucci, Oliver Twist, Mr Endowed, to mention a few, as well as numerous classic albums. Don Jazzy has also had international collaborations, most notably his work with Jay-Z and Kanye West on the production of Lift Off, featuring Beyoncé on the album Watch The Throne which was released on 8 August 2011. Lately, it seems like the veteran producer has left much of the producing work to Altims and Babyfresh, but he remains the very best.
2. OJB Jezreel
The late OJB Jezreel single handedly produced ‘Face 2 Face’ which contained arguably the biggest record by any Nigerian artist in the 21st century, ‘African Queen’. The song became one of the most essential Afro-beats hits as it became a continental and international success. He produced artists like RuggedMan, with whom he re-established rap music in Nigeria. He also produced for Jazzman Olofin, Weird MC, Paul Ik Dairo, Daddy Showkey, Sir Shina Peters, Olu Maintain. OJB also produced albums and songs for Faze, Iyanya, D’banj, Durella, Wizkid, Yemi Alade among others. He made so much impact in the music industry and remains one of the greatest producers ever to emerge from the continent Africa.
3. Nelson Brown
Nelson Brown is responsible for producing the debut album of the group Plantashun Boiz titled ‘Body & Soul’ with singles like ‘Don’t You Know’ – arguably one of the most significant music projects of the Afro-pop era. He also produced records for other artists like Sound Sultan‘s album ‘The Text-book‘ with tracks like ‘Back In The Days‘ and ‘Motherland‘, which drew massive applause from hip-hop icon Wyclef Jean when he visited Nigeria for a show in 2004.
4. ID Cabasa
ID Cabasa is another veteran producer who took the Nigerian music industry by storm producing hit songs for 9ice and Lord of Ajasa. 9ice’s 2008 album, which was majorly produced by ID Cabasa is regarded as one of the greatest albums ever with back to back hits that defined both his career and 9ices. After a while away from the limelight, he made a comeback with Totori which featured Wizkid and Olamide in 2019.
Cobhams Asuquo is one of the most renowned and recognised music producers in Nigeria. He was responsible for Aşa’s highly acclaimed international album ASA He also wrote and co-wrote several songs on the album including the singles, “Fire on the Mountain” and “Jailer. He has worked with numerous musicians both local (Nigeria) and International. From the early 2000s production hit’s ‘Maintain in India’ ‘Catch cold’ by Maintain;‘Ego’- Djinne ; ‘In the music’, ‘If you ask me’ by Omawumi. He has arranged music, and performed with bands at international music events as The Harare International Festival of Arts, the AFA Sponsored French Cultural Center Concert with Asa and Angelique Kidjo; AFA Sponsored French Cultural Center Concert in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nigeria Week in Paris and the launch of MTV’s one hundredth channel (MTV Base Africa) at Abuja, Nigeria.
Sarz has one of the most impressive production CVs in Nigeria, with countless hit collaborations. His first full credit production work was for Lord of Ajasa’s “See Drama” in 2007 and since then he has not looked back. In 2010, Sarz produced the hit single “Jor Oh” and the Remix for Jahbless which featured Durella, RuggedMan, Reminisce, Ice Prince and eLDee. Sarz has produced tracks for an array of artists which include Wizkid, Naeto C, Banky W, Skales, Shank, Reminisce, Goldie Harvey, eLDee, Wande Coal, YQ and Niniola. In 2019, Sarz released two albums, first, a six track EP titled Sarz Is Not Your Mate (S.I.N.Y.M) displaying his incredible skill and imagination and his soulful collaboration with WURLD. What makes Sarz a special producer is the fact that unlike majority of his peers, he is not a skilled instrumentalist and doesn’t possess so much musical background.
Samklef is mostly known for producing a large portion of Wizkid’s widely acclaimed album Superstar, thereby significantly contributing to the huge success of the album. The producer has also worked with names like Sunny Neji, Ruggedman, Durella, Skales, D’Prince (Mo’ Hits), Simisola, J Bryte, Emmsong, O’cube, Jahdiel, Vector, Mudina. Along with his extensive work, Samklef has also worked with international acts such as Timberland and Kanye West. Some of his hits include Enemies by Durella, Noni by Wizkid, Kilode by Vector, Jonzing World by D’Prince among others.
Shizzi achieved recognition for his work on Davido’s 2011 single “Dami Duro”, and produced six songs on the singer’s 2012 debut album Omo Baba Olowo. Prior to that, the producer had worked with Wizkid, producing “Love My Baby” off his 2011 album, Superstar. He also produced more hits such as “Skelewu” and “Gobe” and has worked with the likes of Sasha, Harrysong, OD Woods, Naeto C, Sauce Kid, Wande Coal, Wizkid, D’Prince, May D, Danagog, Emmy Gee, Shank and Skuki, among others. In 2013, he co-produced Davido’s “Tchelete” with Uhuru/dj maphorisa featuring Mafikizolo as well as Rands and Naira (Remix)’ by Emmy Gee featuring Ice Prince, Cassper Nyovest, Phyno, ANATII, Dj Dimplez and AB Crazy. Other hit songs include Who You Epp,’ ‘Show You Off’ ‘Like Dat’ ‘Blow My Mind’ among others. Arguably his biggest milestone so far is working on Beyonce’s The Lion King: The Gift album
Pheelz burst onto the scene in 2012 as the main producer in Olamide’s Baddest Guy Ever Liveth album which contained hit singles such as “Durosoke” “First of All” and “Fucking With The Devil” to mention a few. This made him gain grounds in the Nigerian music industry and won him a nomination at The Headies 2013. He further established himself as a top producer in the country with more collaborations with Olamide in several acclaimed albums like Street OT, Eyan Maywheather, 2 Kings among others. Pheelz went on to produce and be credited in popular songs and albums including The Chairman by M.I, Ghetto University by Runtown and Seyi or Shay by Seyi Shay. After taking a hiatus between mid 2017 and early 2018, he returned with new tag ‘Riddimahcoolayo’ and has produced smash hit songs for the likes of Tiwa Savage and Teni.
He is regarded as one of the most versatile music producers in Nigeria especially because of his ability to play multiple instruments. Masterkraft doesn’t really appear in the limelight very often, but his extensive production which is filled with hits, speaks for itself. He began his professional music career with Kennis Music, and has worked with artists such as Flavour, Bracket, Banky W., Sound Sultan, Timaya, Lynxxx, M.I and J. Martins, among others.
Do you think we missed any? Share in the comments.