Songwriting in Nigeria is a fairly underrated art. With our version of pop music relying on little more than freestyling, many Nigerians have always asked the question: do these people write songs at all?
Nigeria is blessed with a plethora of songwriting geniuses, with Tiwa Savage, Banky W, Wande Coal and Harrysong being leaders in this field.
With the rise and popularity of ghostwriting, a number of acts have been on the receiving end of work from many songwriters, with few choosing to go down the route of surrogate songwriting. A number of others have also abandoned the art, choosing to go down the route of freestyling.
But songwriters still exists, and Pulse Music presents 12 of the current popular crop of writers in no particular order.
There’s a legend in the industry that Harrysong’s work has at one time or another been responsible for the success of an artiste. The man who currently is at the heart of Five Star Music creative process has credits for all their hits and more.
Timi’s talent is unrivalled with content dovetailing with his rich voice to form the bedrock of her craft. With great evergreen songs such as ‘One Nation’ and ‘Wish me well’, the singer targets the mind with insightful lyrics and visuals.
For one with so few hits, Simi is a great songwriter whose skills are beginning to get the deserved respect. The singer has written for a number of acts including Falz, Darey and Praiz. Her recent successes for ‘Tiff’, and ‘Jamb Question’ bear testament to her powers.
Mavins first lady is a behemoth in the songwriting world, and her music can attest to that. Before her Nigerian exploits, she co-wrote the track ‘Collard Greens & Cornbread’ off Fantasia Barrino’s Grammy-nominated album “Back to Me”. In 2009, Sony/ATV Music Publishing signed Savage to a music deal. The deal solidified her to write for Babyface, Kat Deluna, Fantasia Barrino, Monica and Mýa. She has received songwriting credits for her contribution to Monica’s soul-tinged ballad “Catch Me”. Moreover, her collaboration with Fantasia on the song “Collard Greens & Cornbread” earned the American recording artist a Grammy nomination in 2010. Savage wrote Jaicko’s “Oh Yeah”, featuring Snoop Dogg, and Kat Deluna’s “Push Push”, featuring Akon and David Guetta. In as much as she likes writing for other artists, she finds writing for herself more rewarding. Savage performed background vocals on Whitney Houston’s album I Look to You (2009).
Another vocalist who has undeniable songwriting talent, Darey’s career was catapulted via his songwriting prowess and rich delivery. With an extensive discography, the singer whose songwriting has been limited to his personal works has skill written all over his work.
Rumors have it that a huge percentage of the songs that made Mo’hits Records hit the top relied on Wande Coal’s songwriting genius to create. The man understands music as an art, and took that with him to Mavin Records, before riding solo to create an independent career. His recent album “Wanted” still showed his creative spin on lyrics.
Writing in English is hard enough, but writing in an indigenous language is a skill that few mainstream acts possess, and that has been Flavour’s story. The singer who modelled his songwriting skills after the paces of 90’s highlife singers, and made it modern, has shown this over albums, feeding off of his works to stay relevant.
The skill in Nigeria’s finest R&B singer is self-evident, and shows in every work he throws his hand into. Building a career of R&B, a genre of love writing and poetry, Banky W has held Nigeria spellbound with romance and poetry. That skill has traversed genres, also coming on in the rap and Afro-pop genre that he has been a good part of.
Many might not take Blackface and all he stands for serious again, but remember, Blackface Naija wrote the biggest song in Nigerian Afro-pop history, ‘African Queen’ which was performed by 2face Idibia. While as a member of defunct group Plantashun Boiz, the singer was responsible for over 60% of the songwriting from the group. Works from his time at Plantashun Boiz are still being recorded by 2face Idibia, with 2face’s last hit song “Let somebody love you” owing its first verse to Blackface.
The EME man has poured his soul into music with a long list of works from the EME camo and beyond coming from him. His credit include works from Banky W, Seyi Shay’s ‘Murda’, and Ice Prince’s ‘I swear’.
A creative genius through and through, Sound Sultan is part pf that rare bridge of artistes that can connect with old and new guard, with his lyrical creativity a huge part of this relevance. He has worked with virtually every act on songs, co-wrote a string of hits spanning years and groomed other acts in songwriting.
This man right here is a certified songwriter with studies from masters of the art including Tchaikovsky, Dave Grusin and Haruna Isola. He adapted that for local audiences and currently is signed onto Sony ATV (Sony Publishing) London as a songwriter and has won awards in music as well as his other fields of interest