Every once in a while, we get to witness the birth of a new captivating and unbelievably gifted star in the music industry. The newest fast rising star on the block is no other than the singer, songwriter, drummer and rapper, Teni a.k.a. Teni Makanaki or Teni the Entertainer(which ever you prefer). Her undeniable talent landed her on the radar of many listeners and critics this year. Proudly wearing her passion for her art on her sleeves she has garnered a number of successes under her belt. A feat not many have been able to accomplish in such little time. To think about a year ago the name Teni the Entertainer was far removed from the minds of many.
A star in her own right, she burst into the scene with a rather comedic and relatable single, Fargin. The song which was initially a mini freestyle posted by the artist on her social media pages, show off her funny side and effortless writing prowess. The art of song writing is quite an underappreciated skill that most Nigerian artists and audiences aren’t particularly fond of. The discussion surrounding the lack of lyricism currently in the music scene is a tale as old as time. For the artists, enlisting the help of songwriters is not something often looked into or considered. For the audiences, their favourite artists using the services of a songwriter may come off as their faves being inauthentic. But none of this deterred Teni from putting her song writing skills to great use. However a bit of backlash was received when an excited Teni took to her Twitter to announce that she wrote Davido’s hit Like Dat a few days before it’s release. Many felt that it came off as malicious. Others felt like she didn’t need to announce her achievement. Teni’s move was quite an important one seeing as songwriters barely get credit for their work especially in Nigeria.
When we think of Teni what comes to mind is limitless carefree self-expression which her sense of style connotes. Fully aware of her being a part of an image led industry, Teni has been quite open about her past fears of her image working against her career. A notion which was resounded to her numerous times by execs in the industry who wanted her to be more “feminine” and try wearing weaves. In a chat with The New York Times she unapologetically states “First of all, weaves make me sweat, It is hot here. I will have rashes on my neck.” The artist who’s typical looks consists of durags, over sized tees, and a pair of sneakers chose to stay true to herself and let the music speak for itself and she’s been soaring ever since.
No discussion on Teni’s rise to stardom would however be complete without noting her unique larger than life personality. Her hilarious social media posts make her more endearing to her fans as they get to see Teni… well just being Teni. Her talent was further acknowledged during the 2018 edition of Nigeria’s most prestigious music award shows, The Headies. She won the award for Rookie of the Year which is given to newcomers in the music industry who are considered to have massive potential. The award was once bestowed on many key players in the Nigerian music industry today such as Mayorkun.
Defying all odds, her stamp on the industry was finally solidified with the release of Askamaya. The Spellz produced song which takes on Ayuba Adewale’s Omoge Cinderella finally gave her the much needed aha moment every new artist craves. For those that were unsure of Teni’s place in the industry, it was made clear that she is set to be a force to be reckoned with in the industry just like her equally talented sister, Niniola. The song has since gone on to become a huge hit shuttling her into the mainstream limelight. We know this is only the beginning for Teni and we can’t wait to see what she gets up to in 2019.
For a year full of outstanding excellence she is definitely deserving of our award of Woman of the Year.