Every year, the annual #YNaijaPowerList scouts the length and breadth of the country to assemble the most influential young Nigerians under 40 who are braving the odds to get things done. The entertainment scene this year has witnessed a power shift as a new generation appears primed to take over.
Davido has come a long way from days when he was dismissed as a rich kid with little talent and plenty money to burn. He has shrugged off messy family scandals on his way to inking a deal with Sony Music. But that’s not all he’s been at. His HKN/Davido Music Worldwide made a huge splash, launching the career of singer Mayorkun after Davido came across a video of the up and comer singing one of Davido’s hit singles. How’s that for power?
Don Jazzy have been in the music business for the better part of a decade, but that does not mean he is interested in showing any signs of quitting. His Mavin records houses some of the country’s hottest pop stars (Tiwa Savage, Korede Bello) and he managed to guide below the radar Reekado Banks to an upset win for the hotly contested Next Rated Award at the Headies. Don Jazzy proved his mettle once more with the announcement of a partnership between Tiwa Savage and Jay Z’s Roc Nation.
Two years ago, Falz was merely a struggling rapper with a famous last name and a warmly received debut album. Fast forward to the groovy present and Falz may well be the man of the year with across the board successes in music, television and comedy. His Stories that touch sophomore was easily the best rap record of 2015 and this year, Falz took music videos to a whole new level with the long form cut of his massive Soldier single with Simi. Falz also picked up an AMVCA trophy for Best Comedy actor for his work in the sitcom, Jenifa’s Diary.
When you fail, it’s best to fail up like Michael Ugwu who rebounded from losing his former perch atop iROKING by clinching the top job at the newly commissioned offices of Sony Music West Africa headquartered in Lagos. Ugwu was announced General Manager and is expected to lead Sony’s aggressive push into new territories, one that is already yielding fruit with partnerships with Davido and Kenyan, Redsan.
For a spell now, Nollywood fans of the Yoruba divide have been in on Odunlade Adekola, the genre’s biggest leading man and movie star. A veteran of over 100 movies since his star making turn in 2003’s Asiri Gomina wa, Adekola has been quite prolific, producing and starring in some of the biggest and most successful Yoruba films of the last decade, building a cult following along the way. He made the crossover to mainstream audiences last year with the stylish caper Taxi Driver: Oko Ashewo.
Before his Headies explosion where he made it clear that music industry dynamics had shifted and the streets are indeed king, Olamide had through hard work and sheer determination positioned himself as the biggest brand in music. His influence isn’t restricted to his ability to mint chart topping hits, back to back top selling albums and sold out concerts, it is also in his genius ability to replicate his success in the careers of proteges Lil’ Kesh and Adekunle Gold. Olamide is indeed the boss.
When it comes to pure box office attraction, Omoni Oboli is simply without peer. She may not be tagged Africa’s Julia Roberts, neither does she have a listing (yet) on Time Magazine’s Influential 100, but no other actress/producer can draw people to the movies like she does. She was in Fifty and First Lady, two of the highest grossing films of 2015 and this year, has already made a statement with the comedy, Wives on strike. Her movies may be short on quality but they always find an audience.
Osabuohien Osaretin is the person behind the Beats by Sarz moniker that can be heard on some of the biggest records of the last half decade. Sarz has worked with Wizkid (Shabba, Beat of life), MI (Shekpe) and Falz (Clap). In 2015, Sarz started The Sarz Academy, a project that has trained at least 15 young persons in its first season, equipping them with the necessary skills to direct their talent and successfully build a career in music production.
If there is any Nigerian artiste whose musical stock is presently soaring higher than Wizkid’s, we are yet to meet them. One Dance, his collaboration with US rapper/singer Drake just clocked a 9th week atop the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and he has put out collabos with bff Chris Brown (whom he joins on his world tour) and Tinie Tempah. Ill-advised spats with blog queen Linda Ikeji and singer Dammy Krane have not slowed down his momentum in any way.
This impressive singer with the 3 Octave voice has only one studio album to her credit but when it comes to playing the game smartly and staying relevant, Waje is one of the boys. She has been highly visible on The Voice Nigeria, the local version of the popular franchise where she serves as one of the superstar judges. Waje has also been doing impressive work with the ONE Campaign’s Poverty is sexist campaign, working with Bono and other big names to rid Africa of extreme poverty.