The Nigerian Music Industry has grown in size and quality over the past 20 years with the help of numerous record labels. It happens to be one of the fastest growing sectors in the country. New artists spring up from every corner, both from the ghettos and the GRAs.
In order to manage this growth, the music industry has expanded its umbrella of labels to accommodate most of these artists, although a large number of fabulous singers are yet to be discovered by any label. Also, there are a million and one record labels in Nigeria that would be described as “small,” since they do not have the adequate resources, structure or/and good enough artists to make them known.
Notwithstanding, there are also a handful of good, well-structured labels that have produced most of the famous musicians in the country. This list comprises of fifteen of them – the top music labels in Nigeria.
15. Kalakuta Republic
The Kalakuta Republic is the communal compound where Fela Kuti’s recording studio was located. The word “kalakuta” is a caricature of a prison cell named Calcutta that Fela inhabited. This republic of a Record label produced most of Fela’s songs that are still being enjoyed up to date. This is one of the oldest labels in Nigeria and remains a legacy to Nigerian Afro-beat/High life music.
14. Alapomeji Records
Alapomeji Records was founded in 2008 by 9ice after he left Edge Records. In 2013, it was reported that artistes of Alapomeji Records, which included the likes of Seriki Omo-Owo, Kayefi and Wise, had left the label citing lack of support for their musical progress. Currently, Nice is the only artist on Alapomeji Records.
13. Grafton Entertainment
Grafton Entertainment also referred to as Grafton Records, is an artist management company and record label, with dual-headquarters in both United Kingdom and Nigeria. It was formed in 2004 by Rivers State born Tonye Ibiama. The first artists to join the label’s roster were De Indispensables Lenny B and Tick Lips, while the second batch of artists included M Trill, who left the label in 2010. Currently, Grafton’s most successful artist is the waterside boy – Mr. 2Kay. His hit songs include Bad Girl Special and Run This Town.
12. Kaycee Records
Kaycee Records is an independent record label jointly owned and managed by Kennedy Kesidi Richard and Kingsley Chibuzor Aguoru (KayCee). In 2012, Kaycee Records signed Mr Bistop (Amaobi Clement), a former member of the brackets. Aside from the Limpopo Kaycee, the other artist on this record label is Safin De Coque – son of Oliver De Coque.
11. Kennis Music
Kennis Music was founded by popular Nigerian radio DJ Kenny Ogungbe in 1998. The company “Africa’s No 1 Record Label,” has in the past years produced one of Africa’s NO 1 artists – 2face. Other former members of this label include OJB Jezreel, Tony Tetuila and Sound Sultan. Currently, KM is a home label to Eedris Abdulkareem, Kenny Saint Brown, Essence, Capital Femi and Joe EL. The current CEOs of Kennis Music are the world famous duos, Kehinde “Keke” Ogungbe and Dayo “D1” Adeneye.
10. DB Records
Dbanj Records is the new wave of creativity set to change the face of Music and Entertainment in Nigeria and Africa. It was founded by the musical icon, D’Banj following his exist from Mo’Hits. This label manages other artists such as Kay Switch, Jay Sleek, Dee Vee, Jsoul, Kris and the beautiful Nollywood actress, Tonto Dike.
9. 960 Music
960 Music is a record company, content owner, and artist management firm focused on providing diverse audio and visual entertainment across Nigeria. The company is headed by Mark Redguard and co-founded by Efe Omorogbe. 960 Music has Independent record labels under it which include: Hypertek Digital, Aristokrat Records, and Ultima Productions.
8. Dem Mama Soldiers
Dem Mama Records is widely known for its musical beats and sensational collabos with foreign stars. This Record label is led by the Plantain Seller crooner, Enetimi Alfred Odom popularly known as Timaya, and has to its credit the following hit songs: True Story, Plantain Boy, and Sexy Ladies among others.
7. Cobhams Asuquo Music Production
Cobhams Asuquo Music Productions (C.A.M.P) is one of the salient record labels in Nigeria. It was established by Cobhams Asuquo and is located in Ogudu, Lagos Nigeria. The artists under CAMP include Cobhams Asuquo, Bez and Stan Iyke. This label has produced so many hit songs including In The Music by Omawunmi, Stupid Song by Bez and Ordinary People by Cohbams himself.
6. Empire Mates Entertainment
Empire Mates Entertainment (E.M.E) record label was founded by Banky W in 2002. The label is home to recording artists such as Wellington himself, Shaydee and Niyola, while Wizkid and Skales were formerly signed artists. The label’s official DJ is DJ Xclusive, while songs from this label were produced by Masterkraft, Jay Sleek, Cobhams Asuquo, Spellz and Samklef, among others. Some of the most popular hits from Empire Mates Entertainment record label are Ebutemeta, Lagos Party by Banky W, and Holla at Your Boy by Wizkid.
HKN was established by Davido and his elder brother, Wale Adeleke. It’s the sole recording label for all Davido’s music. HKN has produced a lot of hit songs such as Gobe, One of a Kind, Scape Goat, and Aye among others.
4. STAR BOY
Star Boy originated as a brand name for popular Nigerian singer, Wizkid. After he left his former label EME, he established his own record label with the name STARBOY. For now, Wizkid is the major artist in this label and so far has made great music following his relatively new label.
3. Hypertek Digital
Hypertek Digital was founded by recording artist 2face Idibia. It was established following Idibia’s departure from Kennis Music. The label was founded in 2006 and is home to these recording artists – Victor Uwaifo, Dammy Krane and RockSteady. Hypertek label is a subsidiary of 960 Music Group and behind 2face’s latest album “The Ascension.”
2. Chocolate City
One of the biggest and most successful urban record labels in Africa, Chocolate City, was founded in 2005 by Audu Maikori along with Paul Okeugo and Yahaya Maikori. The label is home to recording artists such as M.I, Femi Kuti, Ice Prince, DJ Caise, Pryse, Nosa, Dice Ailes and Koker. Artists formerly signed to the label include Jeremiah Gyang, Brymo and Jesse Jagz.
1. Mavin Records
Mavin Records is actually one of the latest record labels in Nigeria and it is considered one of the fastest growing since its creation in 2012. The label is solely owned by Michael Collins Ajereh who is popularly known as Don Jazzy. It was established after the separation of members of Mo’Hits Records which Don Jazzy co-founded with former music partner, D’Banj.
Mavin has several talented and popular artists, in fact, all of its artists are famous and successful. They include Tiwa Savage, Dr SID, D’ Prince, Di’Ja, Reekado Banks and Korede Bello. This most sort-after Mavin crew produced the phenomenal Dorobucci and Adaobi, as an in-house all stars collabo. Other hit songs from Mavin are Take Banana by D’ Prince, MyDarling by Tiwa Savage, Godwin by Korede Bello, Katapot by Reekado Banks and Yaro by Di’Ja.