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These 10 Iconic Nigerian Music Groups Will Leave You Nostalgic

No man is an island. As much as we like to deny it, we need people. It may be because we are scared to be alone and desire company or simply want to share experiences with others. Being a lone ranger isn’t always fun. This is one of the various reasons why artists form musical groups. 

Several artists begin their music careers in groups, but many eventually decide to branch out independently, while a few stay put. Between the 1990s and early 2000s, the Nigerian music industry experienced an influx of groups. Young Nigerians across the nation were influenced to put their various musical talents on display. The increasing popularity of hip-hop and pop in America at the time may have contributed to this.   

Today, groups are not as common anymore, but their impact, which spans different genres, will always be felt. Here are 10 musical groups that took the Nigerian music industry by storm.

Trybesmen

This hip-hop trio was principally composed of eLDee The Don, Freestyle and Kaboom. They were later joined by olaDELe and T.K.O. Trybesmen is one of the most influential Nigerian musical groups. They are the originators of modern rap in Nigeria. Their debut album, L.A.G Style Volume 1, was widely praised.

Trybesmen were popular for seamlessly blending hip-hop, Afrobeats, pop and highlife genres and incorporating local languages into their raps. These skills, alongside their innovative rhyming, set them apart from other hip-hop groups. Following their 2004 split, eLDee and Freestyle went ahead to pursue solo careers. 

Plantashun Boiz

This group flourished in the late 90s and early 2000s. It was made up of Innocent Idibia (2Face now known as 2Baba), Chibuzor Oji (Faze) and Ahmedu Augustine Obiano (Blackface). Plantashun Boiz is one of the most successful Nigerian musical groups. They released two albums and are remembered for hits like Say You Believe Me, You and I and Plantashun Boiz. 

2Baba wanted to go solo and sign with Kennis Music but Faze and Blackface did not support his decision. They separated, went ahead with their individual music careers and found success. 2Baba later admitted that theirs was a case of “three captains in one ship”, which led to their separation and individual careers. In 2007, they reunited and released the album Plan B.

The Remedies

This Nigerian hip-hop group, founded in 1997, consisted of Eedris Abdulkareem, Tony Tetuila and Eddy Remedy (also called Eddy Montana). They released only one album together, but songs like Shakomo and Sade are still classics. They chose to pursue individual music careers and split in the early 2000s.

Tony Tetuila and Eedris Abdulkareem remained in the limelight. Tony found success with Hit My Car and Omode Meta. Eedris did the same with Oko Omoge and the socially conscious hits- Mr Lecturer and Jaga Jaga. Eddy Remedy dropped two projects and fizzled out of the limelight shortly after. 

Maintain

Olumide Edwards Adegbulu, popularly known as Olu Maintain, co-founded this group with his cousin, Tolu Ogunniyi. Adeboye Bammeke (Big Bamo) also joined the group, and they released six albums between 1998 and 2004, finding fame with songs like I Catch Cold, Domitila and Alo. In 2004, they split, and Olu Maintain went on to have a successful solo music career. 

Bracket

Obumneme Ali (also known as Smash) and Nwachukwu Ozioko (also known as Vast) make up this duo. Initially, Bracket was a trio, but one member, Bistop dropped out.  It is primarily an Afro-pop and R&B duo that sings in English, pidgin and Igbo. They shot into the spotlight after releasing Yori Yori, which received massive airplay and Girl, Happy Day and Ada Owerri afterwards. They are still together. 

Skuki

This is an Afro-hip-hop duo composed of brothers Tumininu Laolu-Ogunniyi (also known as Vavavoom) and Atewologun Laolu-Ogunniyi (also known as Peeshaun). Skuki became popular in the late 2000s and is known for hit singles- Fire, Stamina, Banger, B.A.D, and Pass the Agbara. They are still together. 

KCee Presh

This duo gained popularity after winning the Star Quest TV show in 2002. The group’s name is derived from their first names, Kingsley and Precious. They released two albums together, won awards and had hits, the most popular of which is Shokori Bobo.

They split in 2011, and KCee went ahead to pursue a solo music career. Presh later attributed his exit from the group to dissatisfaction with their style of music. 

Zulezoo

Mike Aboh and Ibrahim Alhassan made up this duo. They found fame after releasing their catchy record, Kerewa, which was banned for obscene content. They eventually went their separate ways but never released any other hit song. Earlier this year, Mike Aboh passed away.

Infinity

They became popular following the release of Aye Ole, Only Praise and Olori Oko off their debut album in 2007. Infinity released only one album. After the lead singer- Kehinde Akinbode (now known as K’ore)- left, the remaining members tried to stay together, but it didn’t work out.

K’ore later accused the other members of the gospel group of not practising what they preached in their music.

They tried to stay together after his exit but separated after some time. 

KUSH

This is a now-defunct contemporary gospel group composed of Lara George (née Bajomo), TY Bello (née Sokefun), Emem Ema and Dapo Torimiro. “KUSH” is an acronym for Kinetically Ushering Salvation into Hearts and Homes. The group was founded in 1999 when the members met at a campus fellowship while studying at the University of Lagos. They rose to prominence in the early 2000s with the singles Angels By My Side and Let’s Live Together and released their first and only album- The Experience, in 2002. 

KUSH’s music style was very different from the norm at the time. Their sound was close to R&B and their themes were inspirational but that did not deter them. Their vocals, multilingual lyricism and fashion choices were powerful, particularly because they were in a male-dominated industry and in the gospel scene. Also, they had a female rapper, a very rare but valiant feat because gospel rap was very contentious at the time, talkless of a woman doing the rapping. The group had an international level of bravery, but their music was still rooted in enough Nigerian-ness for them to be taken seriously. 

In conversations about Nigerian contemporary music groups, KUSH is usually left out, which is strange because they were one of the first groups to do gospel and paved the way for future groups, but also expected because they were mostly women in a predominantly male industry. 

After their 2004 split, all the members have gone ahead to excel greatly in their respective career paths. Emem founded a successful artiste management company, Lara released widely acclaimed gospel albums, and TY has had incredible, concurrent music and photography careers. On the other hand, Dapo is a renowned multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and record producer. He has scored several television and film projects across the world. 

Some honourable mentions are Junior and Pretty, Mountain Black and Mad Melon and Rooftop MCs.

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