In this article, we examine 10 of the most renowned Nigerian-based record labels in recent history.
Record labels are essential pillars of the music industry, providing artists with the platform and support they need for successful careers. In this overview, we delve into the powerhouses of the Nigerian music industry, highlighting ten prominent Nigerian music labels, and we’ll touch on some labels from the past that made significant impacts.
1. Mavin Records
Mavin Records, also known as the Supreme Mavin Dynasty, emerged on May 8, 2012, founded by the renowned record producer and artist, Don Jazzy. This label’s inception followed the closure of Mo’ Hits Records, co-owned by Don Jazzy and D’banj. It boasts renowned artists like Rema, Ayra Starr, London, and Andre Vibez, and has been home to legends like Tiwa Savage, Wande Coal, and Iyanya.
Founded by the rap icon Olamide in 2012, YBNL (Yahoo Boy No Laptop) entered into a partnership with the international label Empire in 2020. Apart from its current stars like Asake and Fireboy, the label played a pivotal role in catapulting the careers of artists such as Lil Kesh, Adekunle Gold, and Chinko Ekun. It has also been the former home to in-house producers turned recording artistes Pheelz and Young Jonn.
3. Chocolate City
Chocolate City, founded in 2005 by lawyers Audu Maikori, Paul Okeugo, and Yahaya Maikori, stands as one of Africa’s most successful indigenous labels. In 2019, they partnered with Warner Music Group and are currently home to artists like M.I Abaga, CKay, Blaqbonez, Femi Kuti, Candy Bleakz, and more. Notably, they were former homes to Ice Prince, Jesse Jagz, and Brymo.
Founded by Davido, DMW (Davido Music Worldwide) has functioned as both a record label and a talent incubator since its inception in 2016. It has fostered the development of artists such as Mayorkun, Dremo, Yonda, Peruzzi, and more. In anticipation of the release of Davido’s “Timeless” album, the label recently underwent a rebrand, introducing emerging talents Morravey and Logos Olori as its latest signings.
5. Penthauze Music
Penthauze Music is a Nigerian record label spearheaded by rapper Phyno, who also serves as the label’s CEO. In its early days in 2011, Penthauze had artists like Runtown, Shugaboi, and Flipside under its banner. The label welcomed Storm Rex in 2014, making her the sole female artist on their roster. Since its inception in 2008, Penthauze has remained a prominent player in the music industry and currently boasts talents such as Cheque and Phyno himself.
6. Jonzing World
Founded on March 22, 2019, by the artist-turned-music executive D’Prince, Jonzing World has played a pivotal role in catapulting the careers of talents such as Rema, Ruger, and the newly introduced GDZILLA. The label also has a partial ownership affiliation with Mavin Records.
7. Starboy Entertainment
In 2012, Wizkid established Starboy Entertainment, creating a creative haven for artists and producers such as L.A.X, Terri, Maleek Berry, and Legendury Beatz. In 2014, Starboy Entertainment collaborated with Empire Mates Entertainment (EME) to release Wizkid’s album titled “Ayo.” Following his performance at the 2016 VGMA’s, the Nigerian singer disclosed that he had signed prominent Ghanaian artists R2bees, Efya, and Mr Eazi to his label. However, not much significant development followed this announcement.
8. Kennis Music
Kennis Music, established by Nigerian radio DJ Kenny Ogungbe in the late 1990s, stands as a renowned record label with the resounding slogan, “Africa’s No 1 Record Label,” it has earned a significant place in the Nigerian music industry.
Kennis Music boasts one of the lengthiest and most illustrious rosters of artists in Nigeria. The list of legends associated with this label is nothing short of profound, including iconic figures like 2Baba, IDRISS Abdulkareem, eLDee, Sound Sultan, Tony Tetuila, Sir Shina Peters, and a legion of others. It counts as the most legendary Nigerian music label.
Empire Mates Entertainment (E.M.E), founded by Banky W and Tunde Demuren in 2002, was an iconic old-school label home to Wizkid, Skales, Banky W, Niyola, and others. Although it became defunct in 2018, it remains iconic in Nigerian music history.
Established in 2006, Mo’Hits is widely considered the most iconic Nigerian record label, helmed by Don Jazzy as its President/CEO and D’banj as its prominent co-founder and face. The label boasted talented artists such as Wande Coal, Dr. Sid, D’Prince, and K-Switch among its signed acts. Although the co-founders, D’Banj and Don Jazzy, had a highly publicized fallout in 2012, the now-disbanded Mo’Hits label continues to hold legendary status.