One of the important entertainment sector in Nigeria, is the music industry. It is filled with talented artistes, young and old, male and female with diverse skill. It’s the survival of the fittest. Asides talented artistes, the Nigerian music industry has seen the emergence of numerous record labels. Some of them have come and vanished with a speed of light, while others have maintained their relevance churning A-list artistes, promoting their brands, and registering their presence in the minds of music lovers.From contracts to finances and everything in between, being an artist in the music industry can be tough.
It can be hard to understand why any artist would agree to a business deal that limits their capacity to create music on their own time, of their preferred style or leave a good record label at the peak of their career, or think they’ve grown to the point of standing alone, but yet, it happens.
This list is about musicians who have had major hits that was top chart at some point in their career but are currently struggling to maintain the spotlight after leaving their known record label, we hope they they find their way back to the top.
1. Dr Sid
Sidney Onoriode Esiri aka Dr Sid is an award-winning Nigerian musician and son of late veteran actor, Justice Esiri. Dr Sid has been around since 2002 but didn’t have his big break until 2007 when he signed with defunct Mo’hit records. Since then kept dropping hit songs from Pop Something, Something about you, Over the Moon, Baby Tornado, Surulere, Oyari, Kabiyesi, If I Start to Talk, Jensinmi, Open and Close, Good time.
All lovers of music knew Dr Sid and his hit bangers, up until some years ago when he seemed to fade off from the music industry despite his talent. Recall that following a fall out of the partners at Mo’hits record, Don Jazzy and D’Banj, Dr Sid signed on with Mavin record and he kept dropping bangers. It became so regular that all his fans had to do was wait for a period of time and he’d drop at least one hit a year. But it seems the minute Dr Sid left Marvin records, he began to struggle with his music.
He was last heard of in 2020 when he unsuccessfully tried to make a comeback with an EP titled The Interesting. The EP compiled 5-tracks which featured Don Jazzy, M.I Abaga, Eyango and Ladipoe. Dr Sid took to Twitter January 20, to confirm that he had truly left Mavin records.
2. Lil Kesh
Keshinro Ololade, popularly known as Lil Kesh, is a Nigerian singer, rapper and songwriter and he used to be one of the biggest and most influential artists in Africa.
He rose to limelight after releasing the hit single Shoki but this talented young man seems to be living on lost glory. He began his musical career in 2012 and dropped Lyrically that went viral in Nigerian universities, that same year he signed with YBNL Nation founded by musician, Olamide Baddo. Under this label, Kesh dropped series of hit singles like Shoki, Efejoku, Gbese amongst others. Shoki topped several musical charts and was the hit song that brought him to limelight. As a result of this musical production, he was nominated for several awards and won.
In 2016 after the expiration of his contract with YBNL, Lil Kesh established his own record label YAGI Records. He released Is it because I love You, Ibile. Fast forward to a couple of years later Lil Kesh is yet to wow his fans with a hit song like the one that brought him into limelight under his former record label. Although hr released Flenjor ft Duncan Mighty in 2018 and the song didn’t do badly and since then he has been dropping singles and featuring some popular musicians as well but it is yet to be a hit.
His latest song was released late last year, titled Don’t Call Me ft Zinoleesky.
Mo’Cheddah, Born Modupe-Oreoluwa Oyeyemi Ola, was a classic definition of a young girl in the rap industry literally making the “cheddah” until some years back. Despite being in a male dominated industry, especially in the rap game, Mo’Cheddah earned her strides when she bagged the MTV Africa Music Awards and Channel O Music Video Awards in 2010.
She released her debut studio album, Franchise Celebrity, in 2010, while signed to Knighthouse Entertainment. The album was preceded by the 2009 promotional single If You Want Me. She parted ways with Knighthouse in February 2012 and established her own label, Cheddah Music.
At a point, the talented singer went off radar for some years but came back with hits like Destinambari featuring Phyno and Bad featuring Olamide and no other hit since then. At the moment, the new mum seems to be focused on her fashion brand since it’s been difficult having a fullly successful comeback. Hopefully, she returns to the music scene with some more bangers like she did with her hit records ― Survive, My Time, Coming for You featuring May D, and Tori Olorun.
4. Mr May D
Akinmayokun Awodumila, popularly known as May D, is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, and dancer. He was formally signed to R&B duo, defunct P-Square’s record label, Square Records. He rose again to stardom in 2011, the same year he signed with the record label.
Fast forward to August 21, 2012, Label executive, Jude Okoye announced that May D was no longer a part of Square Records, in a terse statement that cited irreconcilable differences as the reason. It was reported that the label dropped May D because he was not as profitable as they thought he’d be. But it must have gone beyond that because they went a step further to delete his music from YouTube – sparking outrage from fans of May D, who thought they were being wicked. May D on the other hand claimed he wasn’t given prior notice, and saw the news of his sacking online as well.
Prior to the sacking issue, May D had been able to successfully carve a niche for himself. He became a top artist with hit songs like Soundtrack, Ile Ijo, Gat Me High, amongst others. The music video of Soundtrack originally had over 10 million views on YouTube before it was deleted by the label. For a while, May D faded into the background until 2020 when he came back into the spotlight to call the Okoye brothers (Jude, Mr P and Rude boy) for abandoning him despite him writing part of their award-winning Invasion Album.
On 25 September 2012, May D founded an independent record label known as Confam Entertainment and released some singles which didn’t do so well. On 18 July 2020, May D announced on twitter that he signed with Davido Music Worldwide. He then released his EP titled Sureboy in October, 2021. He also released a song, Lowo Lowo and a remix with Davido. Of the five songs on the EP, only Lowo Lowo remix seemed to do well. I’m sure many fans of May D are really hoping he can make a comeback with a truly successful hit song and stay on top.
5. Reekardo Banks
Ayoleyi Hanniel Solomon, better known by his stage name Reekado Banks, is a Nigerian singer and songwriter. He signed with Mavin Records in 2014 and left the label in 2018. Reekado Banks was declared Rookie of the Year (2014) and won the controversial Next Rated award (2015).
He signed an endorsement deal with Nigerian telecommunications company, Globacom in 2015, He featured on the critically acclaimed song Dorobucci, Adaobi, Arise, and Looku Looku which were all hits. Reekardo himself has a good number of hit songs, like Turn it Up(2014), Chop Am (2014), Katapot(2015), Oluwa ni (2016), Standard(2016), Easy (Jeje) (2017), Blessings on Me (2018), Rora (2019), Put in Pressure (2019) amongst others. His debut studio album Spotlight (2016), debuted at number 10 on the Billboard World Albums chart; in short, he was doing well, so it came as a rude shock to many when Reekado announced that he was leaving Mavin records in 2018. He quit the label to start his own independent outfit, Banks Music.
After being away with no hit songs, Reekado Banks came back in 2021 with a brand new tune titled Ozumba Mbadiwe hoping to bounce back.