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How Northern Artists Enriched Nigerian Music Industry



Music is said to be food to the soul and the Nigeria music industry is incomplete without contribution from the North. From the late Mamman Shata to Dan Maraya Jos, their contribution in spreading the gospel of music will continue to live on till eternity. ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM writes on the growing talents in the Northern music industry

Zaaki Azaay, better known for singing in Hausa which boosted his musical career tapped from the vineyard of great men like late Maman Shata with his lyrics “Allah ya yeda, Sunan na Zaki”. He is known for going about with torchlights even when there is no darkness. The Benue state born artiste grew up in Kaduna and made lots of wave in the 80s and 90s, opening the door for other young Northern musicians.

From Tu Baba of Benue state to Jeremiah Gyang of Plateau state, the music industry is incomplete without their talents. M.I Abaga the Chairman and his brother Jesse Garba Abaga, popularly known as Jesse Jagz, Ice Prince, were also those artistes who grew up in Jos and represented the north locally and internationally with help from their record label, Chocolate City. Today, they are a big force to reckon with when music is talked about.

Hadiza Blell, better known by her stage name Di’Ja, is a Nigerian singer and songwriter who is currently signed to Mavin Records. She’s another lady doing the north proud just like her other counterparts. But are these the only people opening up the Northern Nigerian Music industry?

For over twenty-five years or more, the Nigerian music industry has produced quite a number of young artistes, with several who have done well for themselves. An example is Fatimah Muhammad Salis aka ‘Sals.’

Sals is a beautiful and talented vocalist whose passion for music developed in her early childhood.

She is a graduate of English and Literary Studies at the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna state. It was where she quickly gathered an army of followers as a result of her electrifying performances in different events on campus.

Although, she decided to quit music for a while, but later heeded to the advise of many in 2018 and started making popular covers to various songs. This little act itself introduced her to a wider range of audiences on the Internet.

According to Sals, her mission is to Inspire and entertain, while she puts music from Northern musicians upfront on the world map. Her long-term plan is to build an image of that “Northern girl next door” who’s ready to conquer the world with her talent.

Just recently, she drove the internet crazy with her cover to Alicia Keys’ “we are here,” hers titled, “Muna Nan” a Hausa clause which also means “we are here”. The song is a socio-cultural one that carries a strong message about pressing issues in the society today. The idea of the song was driven by her passion for positive change and peaceful co-existence.

According to Sals, she recorded the song as her quota contribution for lasting peace in the country, especially in the Northeast.

That is not all, the song “Muna Nan” was accompanied with a video which clearly translates the strong message in her song. Indeed Fatimah Muhammad Salis is an artiste to be on the lookout for.

Just like Salis, DJ Jakes Tudu is a disc jockey, or DJ, in Kaduna. On his weekly radio show, he plays the latest music from local rap artistes.

Hip-hop is very popular in Nigeria. And rappers like Morell, DJ AB, Kheengz, and Classiq are part of a new generation of Kaduna musicians. They are trying to put Kaduna – and northern Nigeria – on the music map.

To most people, Kaduna may seem like a quiet and conservative city. But, its growing music scene shows there is much more to the town.

One popular music artiste in Kaduna is Kevin Words. He is a local celebrity, thanks to songs like “Heaven”.

DJ Jakes is a very big fan of Kevin Words. “Stepping into the Kaduna music industry you have to listen to the likes of Kevin Words because a lot of people out there have this stereotype or this mindset that Kaduna artistes or Kaduna industry is full of mediocres, and when you hear people like Kevin Words, man, trust me you want to sit up.”

Another of Kaduna’s rising stars is  Ibrahim Ilyia. His stage name is IBI.

Ilyia mixes Hausa, the local language, with American hip-hop style. His recent hit song is called “Alhamdulillah.” Ilyia says he fell in love with rap music at a young age. He makes rap music now because he still loves it.

He says many of Kaduna’s rappers move to Lagos to try to advance their music careers. But, Ilyia wants to stay in Kaduna and help build the city’s music scene.

“I’m not actually against people going to Lagos, but if Kaduna people can just build themselves alone, reach a certain level, I mean Lagos is nothing now. We’ll counter them,” he said.