In this digital age, the number of Nigerian music stars with university degrees is in their hundreds. Interestingly, a seemingly conservative field of study like Law has over time built up its rank of graduates and actual Legal Practitioners that are performing artists in Nigeria. Equally intriguing is the fact that a number of the Lawyer-Turned-Musicians are children of very senior Lawyers and highly revered Judges. Here is the story of a few of them:

From inception, the art of creating music had been a profession that widely thrived on the backdrop of inherent talent and inspiration, with the insignificant application of formal education. But in the light of the constant evolution in the dynamics of the world and increasing relevance of academic exploits in the attainment of professionalism in diverse works of life, the need for education up to the tertiary level as a foundation for sundry categories of career pursuits – including music, is becoming essential.

 

This notion is apparently exemplified by the modern-day surge in numbers of graduates of higher institutions excelling in such industries as fashion, sports, arts, and entertainment – amongst a list of career paths that historically barely paraded scholars, subjectively in the Nigerian context.

 

In this digital age, the number of Nigerian music stars with university degrees is in their hundreds. Even seemingly conservative fields of study like Law have over time built up their rank of graduates and Legal Practitioners that are performing artists in Nigeria. Equally intriguing is the fact that a number of the Lawyer-Turned-Musicians are children of very senior Lawyers and highly revered Judges. Here are a few trained lawyers that risked (or are still risking) it all to follow their true creative passion and actualized their musical potentials in exchange for the much more ‘socially correct’ law practice they initially trained and signed up for:

 

Sir Dauda

The eclectic fast-rising star recently took the Nigerian music scene by surprise with an unexpected entrance and unconventional style

 

Sir Dauda’s signature ode to his artistic persona audaciously reads: “Straight from the upper echelons of music, I am Sir Dauda – last born of the gods, first son of the ministry. High Priest in the temple of music, Lord of lyrical logistics, master of musical magic, and keeper of the deep shop.”

 

To simplify his mystique introduction, he explains; “Last born of the gods means that I have parts of my mind that relate to the past, to my folks’ generation. I understand their concepts of respect, decorum, values, tenets, and proverbs. The first son of the ministry implies; that the ministry is today, it’s the movement and the hustle of this day. In summary, my mind is traceable to my ancestral generations, yet fully in tune with the present time”.

 

Born Oluwatobiloba Dawodu in Lagos-Nigeria in the late 80s, his stage name “Sir Dauda” derives from the phrase “Spirit In Rhythm” added with a different pronunciation of “Dawodu”, i.e. Dauda; the Arabic version of David, representing – king, shepherd, soldier, musician, writer, poet, which he claims all sums up his genetic makeup and personality.

 

Sir Dauda built on a solid musical background that took roots during his primary and secondary school years, and by the time he departed Nigeria for his university education abroad, he finally got on track with his true calling – music, and submitted to its rhythm and flow.

After bagging a law degree from the University of Buckingham UK, he progressed to the University of Toronto, Canada to study courses like ‘ethics, society and law’, psychology, philosophy, and classical mythology. While there, he formed alliances with fellow musically inclined friends and set sail for his musical voyage.

 

Barely into the music game on his return home to Nigeria, he already started making strides and towering in a class of his own. Shortly after graduating from the Nigeria Law School in Abuja, he got signed to the famed Bahd Guys Records owned by rapper Falz, and in 2020 he put together a compelling artistic collection on his first body of work, the EP “Love Ex Machina” (a Greek expression meaning ‘love to the rescue’) which announced him as an outstanding talent to be reckoned with. Notable among his recent songs include; “Woman” ft. Simi, “Logba logba” ft. GoodGirl LA, “Landlord”, “Aint nobody”, plus a remarkable list of collaborative songs he has featured on with popular music stars.

 

Describing his music, he calls it “Jungle Funk,” a unique style influenced by a robust assortment of genres, cultures, and lifestyles. He humbly walks in through the lobby of our meeting location in an all-black casual outfit, rocking his new dreadlock hairstyle bonded upwards, with a broad electrifying smile, and takes a seat to engage in this exclusive “tell it all” interview…

 

Real Reasons Why I Ditched Law Practice for Music

…  Sir Dauda Says his Mother (A Justice of the Court of Appeal) is his number one fan

 

 

Shed some light on your family background…

I’m from a small family of three children with me being the middle child, a sister before me, and a brother after me. But I also have two sisters and another brother that are non-biological but I grew up with and call family. My dad is in the medical profession, while my mom is on the legal side, and she’s my biggest fan. My entire family has been very supportive of my musical journey, but my mom tops the rank of my fans, she would attend every of my show if she had the chance. Dad being from his old school era took a while to approve of it, as he always wants the best, so knowing it was a hard life for musicians of his generation, he needed to be sure it was right for me. And now that it’s all clear, I have his full support. One of my songs “Landlord” is dedicated to him – as a birthday gift.

 

Safe to assume you made the law career choice to follow in your mom’s footsteps?

I’ve always had a thing for speaking up for people, looking at situations from unbiased angles, and taking a fair stand, maybe due to being born between two kids and having to mediate sometimes. But of course, since one of my parents was already into legal practice, it helped me see things I admired about the profession. So when I felt the need to study a professional course, I knew it had to be law for me. For one reason, we live in a country where professional courses are highly respected and celebrated, and that seemed nice to me for a background certification. Another reason is as a backup plan, that if all else fails, I’d have another occupation I’m passionate about to fall back on. As fate would have it, I’ve practiced only for a short period so far.

 

What do you love about being a lawyer and what are the shortcomings?

Practicing law in Nigeria is almost like doing any other business here because everything has to be done through fighting tooth and nail, as situations are tougher in these parts. You have to deal with various obstacles to efficiently execute your duties. Court processes can be unnecessarily lengthy, so many cases in court but not enough judges, hence why many people think lawyers are just liars that only want your money. It’s very tasking really. Being into law and music comes with two different perspectives which are both beneficial, especially when both sectors are bridged. You can be an entertainment lawyer, and otherwise, the law experience helps guide against shady contracts and manipulative deals, plus it provides networks of learned colleagues available to back you in the case of any rights infringement. Despite pursuing my career in music now, I still maintain links with the law profession. In addition, I like the narrative and interpretation idea of it too, making cases out of stories and advocating it within the rules and guidelines of the law.

 

Why choose music over law?

You can reach the highest level in the law profession, be very successful and lead a quiet life. Like being a SAN for example, yet you might only be known amongst your clients and colleagues. But there’s no way you can be highly successful as a musician without being famous.

Though I like a quiet private life, so the anonymity of being a lawyer would suit me better. But spiritually and emotionally, I’m an artist; I’ve always been creative and see things from the artistic side of life. Everything we have passes away, but art is eternal. We’re products of our situations, we’ve already lost so much to colonization as Africans, lucky for us some traditions have been passed down to us, and they must be preserved by all measures. I choose to do that by playing my part through music.

 

Narrate the origin of your affair with music.

My first exposure to music was as a child through my parents, my dad played a lot of Fela Kuti’s music at home, he never used to miss Fela’s musical rehearsals back in the day. The benefit of that comes in handy through his invaluable advice and encouragement. Like when I’m finding it difficult to work through a song, he’d refer me to how Fela did it in his time, such as how the legend never shied away from practicing his new songs over and over at rehearsals until he perfected them.

 

So apparently, I grew up listening to loads of Fela music, Stevie Wonder as well, Bob Marley, country music, classical music – I, in fact, used to go to the Muson Center for classical music training in my childhood, there I got my first piano and guitar lessons. Also in church, I was singing and performing in the choir, acapella and choreography groups, including writing songs since I was a kid. Amongst the most remarkable songs, I wrote as a youngster was one for my cousin’s wedding and another that went on to become the theme song for a big youth fellowship church in the north. These served as part of the main foundation blocks for my musical journey.

 

When was your actual encounter with music that attracted you to performing the art?

In my teens, I was introduced by my elder sister to the more expressive music genres like hip-hop, soul, R&B, etc. And in my university days in Toronto, I discovered spoken word poetry myself and that opened up new avenues to my experiment with art. I started thinking about the creation of music from a more God-like perspective, in the sense of creating something that never existed before and making it relevant, out of nothing to something, that to me is a God-like activity.

It was around the same time I decided to pick up playing guitar from where I left off in my teens. So I got myself an acoustic guitar, perfected my playing skills, along with my friend we formed a band and performed in school gatherings, marking the point from where I forever fell in love with performing live music and the actual beginning of the journey.

 

Describe your style of music.

First and foremost, I’m in the process of creating a style of music that differs from all existing genres. The style of music that I’ve chosen to propagate is a mixture of all the elements that have influenced me in my journey so far. I call the style Jungle Funk – meaning beauty (poetry) out of chaos. From the way I’ve been inspired, my music is a bunch of different things, there’s hip-hop, R&B, poetry, folk music, traditional apala/fuji, Bhangra (Indian pop music), Iraqi music, etc. At a time, I used to listen only to music from the 50s and the 60s.

So my style is a reflection of many things I’d absorbed over time. Art has always been a safe space for me as I’m quite a shy person. Asides from music, I’m also into visual arts; I draw and create art paintings, those skills also impact my music creation.

 

Give some insight into what informed your brand of music.

From schooling in the UK and Canada, I made a bunch of friends with origins from different parts of the world that introduced me to their own native music. I got deep into Caribbean music that is so vast and varies in style, just like the regional types of music common to us that have different intricate parts than we know of. I got familiar with the various categories of Caribbean music, as well as that of Spanish, Portuguese, and music from all around Africa which is my motherland. That’s where all my influences come from and that feels like a jungle to me, but then I find a rhythm out of that and am able to bring out something artistic, that’s how I feel about my music. For instance, Lagos can be a loud rumbling chaotic place, but everyone tries to find sanity and the right vibe in it, that’s what I see through my music, “rhythm out of chaos”. Finding your safe space, a place where you can achieve your full potentials with all the madness happening around you. That’s what my music signifies.

 

Challenges faced in balancing music pursuit and law career?

That played out after I completed my university study abroad and returned home to proceed to law school. I had gotten deep into music at that point and was very ecstatic about the future of it. I’d started performing live in Lagos and building my stage confidence at African cultural centers such as Bogobiri, Freedom Park, Terra Kulture, etc. Prior to law school, I had put out a couple of tracks, including a feature on an artiste’s song, plus a song I had written for another artiste too was out. So things got quite jammed up while in law school as my music schedules and classes were clashing, but I was unrelenting on the music at the time because it felt like I was getting an adrenaline rush from it and couldn’t slow down. I was also performing in small gatherings in law school as well. These cost me one of my exams that I had to retake the following year; after having to refocus and deciding to wrap up my studies at once in order to face music squarely. But it has been worth every bit of the sacrifices I’ve made for the culture so far because my conviction and belief were pure from the onset.

 

Though the realities of the Nigerian music industry will land you big blows and checkmate you, thereby teaching you how to maneuver the landscape strategically, while making unconventional compromises in a manner to position you favorably. The ultimate lesson is learning that eventual success demands time, attention, and intention.

 

What was the deciding factor to start music and face it squarely?

One of my songs “Kalakuta” was inspired by an important dream at a point in this journey. There was a time I slept and dreamt about Fela Anikulapo Kuti, and I heard his voice telling me “take them to Africa, take them all to Africa, take them all the way to Africa”. That was when I realized this music thing was truly my calling and decided to follow through with it all the way; as it became clear to me that it wasn’t just from me but a calling. So it’s my duty to put all I have into it and the universe can take care of the rest. In whatever dialect I’m singing with, be it Yoruba, English, or pidgin, I always stay true to where I’m from, always flying the flag high. If the message of my music or how I convey it however departs from the African context, I’d be betraying my calling.

 

I’ve been to many foreign places, spoken to many foreign people, I’ve lived with them, got educated with them, and I understand fully well that they are no different from us, they’re only more proud of what’s theirs than we are of ours. All they do is sell us their culture, yet Africans have so much more to be proud of.

 

What inspires your lyrics and sound?

There’s a theory that says all stories are one story, every single story is the same story, as you can easily see yourself in another person, you can see your story in that of someone else’s. We all as human beings are different but we’re the same, this is part of the attitude I take into my writing. The younger generation today should feel blessed for technological breakthroughs that make information about just anything anywhere easily accessible in this age. Just how it blows my mind the way the internet makes it possible for anyone to listen and appreciate music made from any place or culture across the earth no matter the distance. I feel like that’s the beauty and purpose of art, to connect people from anywhere in the world irrespective of differences. Hence, I try to create original music just as the mind ministers it to me from deep within. That’s inclusive of my music mentality and approach in the creation of my music, which is the “Jungle Funk” mindset, and would be replicated on my next project that’s currently in the works – “The Book of Jungle Stories” … (Stories inspired by Lagos).

 

Share your religious and spiritual orientation.

I was born in a Christian home and raised on Baptist doctrine; I was an active church kid to the point of being a teen’s pastor and children’s pastor. But in the course of life, I’ve discovered that the way Christianity is being practiced in Nigeria is like dogma, like a cult-like movement where one sect perceives itself as better or loftier than the others. This is in contrast to various groups of people I’ve come in contact with from other parts of the world that hold diverse spiritual orientations yet manifest as the nicest people.

 

Religion is supposed to give us something to hope for and to give clarity to our confusions.

I feel like the position of any religion in society should be to make humans more loving and peaceful, as the underlining rule for righteousness is to love your neighbor as yourself and love God. Doing unto others only as you would have people do to you, but that’s not our reality here.

The irony is that; for every congregation, there’s a leader that is accorded power and converts it for personal purposes, as it’s in the nature of humans to be greedy and selfish.

The church for example is a community, and all the wealth that is being used to acquire mega-church buildings, luxury cars, and jets; should be used in developing communities where the worshipers inhabit.

 

With multitudes of talents in the industry and only a few music companies, what was your leverage to being the first artiste signed to Falz’ Bahd Guys Records?

I count that as part of the divine engineering towards my musical manifestation. A friend of mine in the university that I got really close with had a thing for music just like I did. We had great flow, shared music ideas, and enjoyed good music together. We always wanted more from music, so on a certain day, we walked by a music store and didn’t hesitate to buy my first guitar. After honing some playing skills on it, we formed a music band named “Fobi” (the first two letters of our names) and started performing around school and small events. Then there was a time she played me some songs she said was by her brother, they sounded so nice and nothing like I had heard from Nigeria, very original with good humor in funny pidgin and Yoruba accent, I instantly took interest in him. It turned out the brother is the Falz we know today and my friend and former bandmate is his sister. From that point, we started having interactions over the net and on meeting in person, the connection was real. We linked up in the studio and instantly made our first song together titled “How far”. We connected artistically and mutually understood each other’s musical perspectives. He afforded me the liberty of creative control in making my music; we agreed on contract terms and sealed the deal.

 

So far it’s been an interesting and amazing experience being signed under the label, though it comes with its challenges – as it is with every hustle, I’ve loved every bit of it. Bahd Guys Entertainment is a place where everyone has one creative skill or the other, so that makes things happen fast and impeccably.

 

What’s your current music preference and source of musical inspiration?

I pay attention to all music trends because I understand that it’s a wave you must keep up with to stay relevant, so I try to listen to everything, all genres of music. As an artiste you’re like a sponge, part of your job is to soak in your whole environment and filter out the best content for your fans. Music is emotional and spiritual, when I see how well people react to certain music in clubs and social gatherings, it guides me in my song creations. And I also reach deep into my spirit to tap the purest melody unique to me when composing.

 

Of Western genres, I love hip-hop, R&B, soul, and from the time I’ve drawn inspiration from acts like Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Mos Def (Yasiin Bey), Common, Talib Kweli, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, and The Fugees. The first album CD I bought with my money was Wyclef Jean’s “Masquerade” and I still remember the tracklisting.

 

My affinity for hip-hop intensified with my cousin schooling me deeper into the roots and evolution of hip-hop, added with the course on the history of music that I studied at the university, and my project being about the late hip-hop legend Tupac Shakur. So I had to read loads of books on his life, listened to all his music including those of his former associate turned rival – Biggie Smalls, specifically his songs that referenced the duo’s relationship, feud, and statements surrounding Tupac’s death.

 

Then it struck me that these artistes were not just making songs about social vices for fun or profits but were detailing the reality of their societies, i.e. the struggles of young African Americans in a White ruled and dominated system that is rigged against the minorities.

That enlightened me more about the story aspect of music, the necessity of story-telling in music that makes it part of an artiste’s job to tell stories of the time, like journalists but from a poetic angle. We learn from every experience shared when we pay attention, as perspective is key to our thought process, once we’re able to see things from other’s perspectives, we gain more knowledge.

 

Considering the depth of your content, who are your target audience?

My music is narrative in style; I like to tell a lot of stories, so I feel no matter whom you are you’ll find some interest in it. There’s a distinct contrast between music recorded in the studio and being played live, mine is live in nature so it offers an undiluted feel to it – hits harder when you hear it live. In a nutshell, my music – ‘Jungle Funk’–  is more of live music and it caters to anyone that loves live performances.

 

The biggest challenge alternative music or explorative sounds face in these parts in my opinion, is that Nigerians don’t have enough free time on their hands to try out different kinds of stuff they’re not used to, and that’s due to the absence of conducive living conditions. Hence they find pop music easily appealing, as that is what’s popular and all they have time for because everyone’s busy trying to just survive. But success is only a matter of time. We have a lot working for us through technological developments in the world today, unlike the huge challenges musicians of the old school experienced in carrying out their trade. So with consistency in these times, you’ll make headway whatever your style is.

 

What’s the force that draws you to artists you associate and collaborates with?

For me, it’s the spirit and the vibe that leads. My gang and I jokingly call ourselves the “Forest folk”, these are artistes I’m musically in sync with, the likes of Falz and my Bahd guys crew, Show Dem Camp, Ladipoe, Aramide, Funbi Music, Jessica Bongos, Eva, Falana Music, Tomi Thomas, Adekunle Gold, Simi, and the list goes on. The spirit must be right for me to relate with artistes on that level. Amongst producers, I vibe with the likes of Kid Konnect, Sizzle Pro, Focus Ramon, and many more. These are artistes whose style and spirit connects with mine.

I started out as an underground artiste for some years, not knowing anyone or being known by anybody. Then a friend I went to school with introduced me to my first producer in Lagos (Kid Konnect), we indeed connected well and made a lot of music together. Through him, I met Show Dem Camp and also formed a great bond with them as I’d always been a big fan of theirs.

So far, that’s how it’s been for me and forging great relationships with artists whose works I admire and appreciate. It goes a long way for an artiste when told how much their music means to a fan, it reaffirms that all that goes into creating that work of art isn’t wasted, and helps an artiste be more creative.

 

Could you mention artistes you look forward to having future collaborations with?

A whole variety of talents, but to mention a few; J.Cole, Erykah Badu, Tobe Nwigwe, Koffee, Billie Eilish, Sza, Skepta, Little Simz, Kronix, etc. On that list too are wave-making Nigerian acts whose sounds I admire, artists like; Terry Apala, Bella Shmurda, Zinoleesky, Buju, Ruger, amongst other new-generation talents.

What’s been your biggest challenge to attaining your music career goals?

Music is a business of creation that connects with people in different situations. My biggest challenge has been about putting my entire mind into it, to make sure that my mind is in the space of musical creation permanently, regardless of what I’m hearing around me. If I allow myself to get distracted by conforming to popular trends, I’d be losing my path. So the struggle is to be consistent, staying true to my innermost artistic inspiration, and remain relevant to my listeners.

 

Make a musical wish.

My wish would be to be possessed by the spirits of Bob Marley and Fela Anikulapo Kuti. With such spirit, there would rarely be any public opinions that matter, because those guys were sure of their mission and never compromised on it. They were apparently prophetic messengers of love, hope, and liberation. If I’m on that level, it would be almost certain that my artistic and musical endeavors would represent my people and be in line with my purpose.

 

 

FALZ

The self-proclaimed ‘Bahd Guy’ (translated as Brilliant and highly distinct Guy), is born to lawyer parents of exemplary prominence. His parents, Funmi and Femi Falana are renowned civil rights activists and seasoned attorneys.

 

Falz the Bahd Guy (as he’s fondly called) aged 31, was born in Lagos-Nigeria and began his musical expedition from secondary school, where he and schoolmates formed a singing group they called “The School Boys”. After high school, he advanced to the United Kingdom to study law at the University of Reading and bagged his LLB honors degree. It is however no surprise that Falz followed in the same legal path as his parents by opting to do law for his university study, though he claims his choice was unrelated to his parents’ professional status or expectation of him. What’s surprising is his decision to later ditch his courtroom ambition for a full-time career on stage.

 

He first tested the waters of the music industry with the release of a compilation of some of his recordings titled, Shakara: The Mixtape, which contained impressive tracks that gave him the required boost he needed in forging ahead and to launch a professional career in music. On his return to Nigeria after university graduation, he proceeded to the Nigeria Law School in Abuja and after graduating was called to the Nigerian bar and became a Barrister in 2012. He then spent the following couple of years working in his father’s chambers before his eventual transition into a music star.

With a series of catchy singles already to his name, he officially set off his professional music debut with the release of his first album “Wazup Guy” in 2014, which garnered many accolades including major award nominations for songs on the album.

 

He followed up the success with the release of his sophomore “Stories that Touch” album in 2015, which again did great numbers including nominations at the Nigeria Entertainment Awards for “Best Rap Act of The Year” and “Best New Act to Watch.” He consistently kept breaking limits with each subsequent album release, namely; “Chemistry” (2016 joint mixtape with Simi), “27” (2017), and “Moral Instruction” (2019), all without any doubt being nothing short of remarkable.

 

Widely adored for his humorous skits and comical punch lines in his raps, Falz describes his style of music as “Wazup music” which is the fusion of comic lyrics in different languages mixed with contemporary hip-hop, in a faux Yoruba accent. He is hailed for his ability to contrive thoughts and channel them through witty funny lyrics while switching accents and conveying them with captivating delivery.

 

The multitalented rapper, songwriter, actor, producer, fashion icon and TV host has since crossing over from law to music evolved into various awesomely creative forms. Asides from establishing and operating one of the most distinguished record labels in Nigeria – Bahd Guys Records, which has artistes like the Afro-centric singer Sir Dauda signed to it, his venture into acting has placed him in a vantage position in the movie industry, with the launch of his film production company named House21TV, that kicked off in 2020 with a YouTube-aired comedy series titled ‘Therapy’.

 

In the last 5 years of his silver screen endeavor, he has been privileged to play both lead and supporting roles, plus cameo features in a wide selection of high grossing movies, TV dramas, stage plays, and web series. Some of the movies to his credit are; Tinsel, 10 Days in Sun City, Merry Men, Chief Daddy, Your Excellency, Quam’s Money, and many more. Both his zealous music and movie careers have evidently earned him grounds in the entertainment industry and rewarded him with a long list of awards and recognition within his country and overseas. Notable among them are; 2016 “Best Actor in a Comedy Movie/Series” and 2018 “Best Supporting Actor” at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards for his roles in the TV series “Jenifa’s Diary” and the movie “New Money”, respectively. Also in 2016, he was voted winner of the “Viewer’s Choice Best New International Act” category of the BET Awards.

 

His hugely popularity at home and beyond the borders of Nigeria is also partly traceable to his involvement in civil rights activism. As a socio-political activist, he has extensively used his far-reaching platform to influence positive change in the country. The ‘lawyer turned musician’ is well known for protesting against bad governance and social ills through his music, on social media, and also on the streets; like he did with the #EndSARS protest against police brutality where he was at the forefront of the movement. This availed him more international acclaim from media houses as CNN, BBC, Aljazeera, etc. His 2018 politically motivated song “This Is Nigeria” which was inspired by Childish Gambino’s “This is America” and highlighted Nigeria’s social, political, and economic challenges, also drew global attention to him.

Commenting on why he was very active on the #EndSARS protests, he disclosed: “It was something that had to be done, after endless online agitation I felt it was time to take to the streets. My motive for activism is just for the sake of humanity, I believe the ‘ordinary’ citizens need to be as motivated as I am about humanity. There is no ulterior motive, I want to see that there is a certain standard of living that the ordinary Nigerian is enjoying. I want to see that there is light, food, jobs, and an enabling environment”.

 

Expressing how his training and career in law have afforded him broad enlightenment, the “Squander” crooner shared that some of the skills he learnt as a lawyer are now helping in his musical career and life in general, hence he plans on still practicing law despite having a very successful run as an entertainer. In his words, “the skills that are helping me as an artiste include analytical mindset because as a lawyer, one has to critically analyze things. My lyrics usually have a lot of depth, I do not just make music, I make sure it has a lot of meaning.”

 

 

 Chinko Ekun

 

For many followers of Nigerian music, the name Chinko Ekun was first announced through the viral 2018 hit song “Able God” that featured sensational rappers Zlatan and Lil Kesh. This was the rapper’s enormous breakthrough song that shot him into the limelight after starting off his budding music career being underground for a few years

 

Chinko Ekun whose real name is Oladipo Olamide Emmanuel is from Ondo State, southwest of Nigeria but was born in Lagos to a family of three, where he is the second child. He had his primary and secondary education in Lagos. His university education was at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Osun state, where he studied law and graduated with a LLB degree. The rapper and songwriter that sings in English, Yoruba, and Pidgin languages, describes music as his first love, having developed a deep connection with the art from his childhood by listening to a wide array of songs and learning to recite them.

His stage name, Chinko Ekun, which translates to ‘China/Chinese Tiger’ can be linked to his looks and random use of Chinese lingo/accent in his rhymes, added with the ferocity of his rap delivery. He officially embarked on his professional music career in 2011, posting videos of his freestyles on Instagram and released his first official single “Ekun” in 2013.

 

It wasn’t long for industry giant, Olamide, to discover the talent and sign him to his YBNL music label the year that followed his debut. As proof of his outstanding ability, Chinko Ekun featured multiple times on Olamide’s 2014 “Street OT” album, on tracks like; “100 To Million”, “Bang” and “Usain Bolt.” The following year saw him dropping a few singles through the YBNL label, and 2016 saw his exit from the record company after his contract’s expiration.

 

He then joined a Dubai-based record label Dek-Niyor Entertainment in 2017. The year 2018 was the season of his grandest hit till date, with the release of his smash hit “Able God”. The song earned him multiple awards, from the Headies Awards to City People Music Awards.

 

Despite not being a regular on the music scene, Chinko has since become one of Nigeria’s hip-hop fans’ favorite. With the revelation of his remarkable talent and lyrical dexterity, it would be expected that Chinko ranks amongst the top-selling artistes of his genre, but in an interview prior to his graduation, he cited the pressure from his law studies at school as responsible for his seemingly lackluster music career, stating that it had been quite a challenge balancing both careers. Fingers remain crossed in the expectation that the completion of his university programme would herald more hits for the ‘Able God’ singer.

 

 

Omawumi

 

The pacesetting songstress and trained Lawyer, with an imposing sound and image, is undoubtedly part of a musical generation that ushered in the era of wholesome exportable African music and gave a new definition to Nigerian music and its global perception, while also paving the way for some of today’s trending singers.

 

 

Omawumi Megbele known professionally simply as Omawumi was born in 1982 in Delta State, Nigeria, where she was raised through primary and secondary school. On concluding high school, she pursued a law career at the Ambrose Alli University, Edo state, and after obtaining her law degree in 2005, she took up a job in her family’s law firm – O.S Megbele and Associates in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. While at the law firm, she studied French at Alliance Francaise and actually succeeded in speaking the language fluently, in addition to English and her native languages.

It was at this period she decided to take a shot at the West African Idols singing competition which indeed panned out well for her life’s journey, as she emerged first runner-up of the highly competitive show in 2007.

 

With the popularity gained from contesting at the events and the overwhelming display of support from fans of the show, her future in music was evidently bright. Hence, she immediately grabbed the opportunity availed her and hit the ground running. After the West African Idols competition, she commenced an estimable music career and has remained in the spotlight over the years as a result of her relentless activities in showbiz, in lieu of her legal profession.

 

In the course of her singing ‘hustle,’ Omawumi has enjoyed the privilege of performing with Nigerian and international superstars like; Wizkid, 2face Idibia, D’Banj, Banky W, M.I, 9ice, P-Square, Carl Thomas, Angie Stone, Donell Jones, Angelique Kidjo, Chaka Demus and Pliers et al. Owing to her dedication and hard work, the soulful Afropop singer has to her credit an impressive discography of four successful albums and has earned herself special recognitions and awards, notably: a two-time winner of “Best vocal performance” at the Headies Awards.

The Itsekiri singer and songwriter that is well celebrated for her unmatched vocal prowess owns her own record label and over time has secured endorsement deals with big corporations like Globacom and Malta Guinness, to mention just a few.

The multi-talented artist has not only excelled in music but also making great strides in the film industry, having featured in a number of Nollywood movies that include “Inale”, “The Return of Jenifa”, “House of Gold” (a Ghanian-Nigerian comedy series), “Make a Move”, amongst others. Her acting stint has apparently granted her more opportunities to creatively express herself, including providing her a platform that is fundamental to her cause of documenting and publishing the plights of women in Nigeria. To this end, she co-owns a media company – Hermanes Media, launched in 2019 along with fellow singer and associate Waje Iruobe, and they’ve succeeded at independently producing movies like “She Is” via the company.

 

 

 

 

SASHA P

 

A few female rappers ascended Nigeria’s rap music pedestal before and after her, but she was the first female performer in Nigeria to be crowned by adoring fans as the ‘First Lady’ of hip-hop and still holds the title after nearly two decades. She is Yetunde Alabi, better known by her stage name – “Sasha P”

 

The “Adara” rapper in her heyday was the most notable lady in Nigeria’s male-dominated music industry, hence her ‘First Lady’ title. Having gained success at a time when indigenous hip-hop music was just beginning to thrive in Nigeria, with only a handful of females daring to step up to the challenge of composing lyrically potent rhymes, Sasha took the stage and rocked the microphone by storm, to the extent of being the most decorated Nigerian female rapper of all time.

 

The ‘First Lady’ is skilled in diverse ways which makes her not only a musician but also a lawyer, fashion designer, motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and humanitarian. Her love for music began while growing up as a child in her birthplace of Ibadan, Oyo state. She did her initial schooling in the ancient city before proceeding to Lagos where she studied law at the University of Lagos and earned a bachelor’s degree. With abounding exposure and musical influences on campus, she began penning rap verses, recording, spreading her songs, and performing among groups of schoolmates. She in the process got the attention of pioneering hip-hop veteran – eLDee the Don, and got signed on to his Trybe Records label.

 

Her music career thus gained momentum from that point, accompanied by collaborations with top artistes and series of wave-making singles. As her prominence grew, she secured a more promising record deal with Obi Asika’s Storm Records and released her classic debut album “First Lady” under that imprint in 2007. The massive success of the album paved the way for her for even bigger accomplishments, and also for other female rappers and musicians that followed in her steps. In no time, “Sasha P” became a household name, her career continued to boom and accolades flowed without limits, from home and abroad.

 

With the album, she set various records of ‘firsts’ in the Nigerian music industry, and the smash hits “Adara” and “Only One” won her several awards, amongst which were: “Best Female Artist” award at the UK’s Women in Entertainment Awards, first Nigerian artiste to win “Best Female Award” at the MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMAs) and the then prestigious Channel O’ Awards. She was the first Nigerian female artist to perform at the World Music Awards, sharing the stage at 20th anniversary of the awards with a host of international acts like; Boyz 2 men, Rihanna, Shakira, P.Diddy, John Legend etc.

 

At the peak of her career she was endorsed as brand ambassador for telecom and tech giants, Etisalat and Samsung respectively. In 2012 she was Olympic torch bearer for Nigeria and was named Cultural Ambassador for Ekiti state by Gov Kayode Fayemi in 2013.

She had a brief movie stint too with her appearance in the popular film, “The Return of Jenifa”.

At the height of a very successful musical career, Sasha revisited her fashion craft which she initially experimented with in her early varsity days, and later announced that she was taking a break from the music scene to focus on fashion business. She delved into the fashion industry with the establishment of her own clothing line ‘Eclectic by Sasha’, her ready-to-wear collection designed by the style icon herself. Since then, her involvement in music has been narrowed down to her role as Artiste Manager for Flytime Promotions, an events production company. As well as her A&R project – The Hard Knock Series, a music academy she launched in 2019 to help equip upcoming artistes with necessary skills and knowledge in navigating the murky waters of the music industry.

 

Through her eventful career journey, she owes her success partly to her decision to study law which was her dream profession before music took center stage. She states that her pursuit of a law career stemmed from her desire to have a ‘voice’, which she inadvertently earned through music, but admits that her legal experience has been invaluable in her negotiations and business dealings. She also assures of not being done with music and could return with a banger anytime.

Chris Okotie

 

A slight shift from the flock of “lawyers turned musicians” to a “lawyer/musician turned pastor.” Please welcome Christopher Oghenebrorie Okotie generally known as Reverend Chris Okotie, head pastor of the Household of God Church International Ministries, a Pentecostal congregation he founded in Lagos since his musical hiatus in the late 80s.

 

Pastor Chris Okotie, the 63-year-old cleric from Delta State, Nigeria, unknown to many (especially much younger persons) first gained popularity as a pop star before swapping the music stage for the podium of gospel ministry. He developed the passion for music while growing up and was known to have loved singing from his childhood. In his high school days at Edo College, Benin City, he was actively involved in the school’s Music Club and along with other members, regularly thrilled their audiences with music performances. At the inception of his affair with music, he was only performing as a hobby, but that changed in his first year at university when he decided to do it commercially following his father’s death.

 

Having joggled music and studies through his years as a Law student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, he graduated with a law degree and afterwards disembarked from his legal ambition to pursue a pop music career full-time.

 

With the stage moniker ‘Kris Okotie’, he won the hearts of music fans across Nigeria with series of hit songs that trended in the mainstream pop music of the 80s, some of the popular songs were “Just for you”, “Please don’t go”, “Show me your backside” amongst many. Over some years of impressive musical run, he made a detour back to education by advancing to the Nigeria Law School, but aborted that course halfway through it to begin his theological mission. The controversial preacher then attended the Grace Fellowship Bible School in Oklahoma, USA, and on completion of the programme, he returned to Nigeria to establish the Household of God Ministry.

 

He thrived on the pulpit as his ministry continued to flourish over the following decades. In fact news of his wealth and fame spread through regions, even as he appeared on Forbes’ top list of richest pastors in the world. In 2003, he declared his candidacy in Nigeria’s presidential race, contested but lost to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. This led him to form his own political party, Fresh Democratic Party under which he contested and lost both the 2007 and 2011 presidential elections.

 

As an author, the televangelist has written and published several religious, social and political books; and is a regular contributor to many Nigerian newspapers. He still remains an active singer in the gospel realm till date.