So far, 2022 has been a remarkable year for Nigerian music and the Nigerian music scene, with the spotlight mostly being placed on the artists. However it is impossible to talk about the success the industry has enjoyed without talking about the interesting producer and artist partnerships that the industry has birthed. Usually taking the backseat in the music industry, producers are responsible for not only crafting the sounds we enjoy, but soundtracking entire generations, and collaborating with our favorite artists to create the songs we love and move our bodies to.
As we continue to give artists their accolades, it is paramount that we do not forget the producers that put in a lot of effort behind the scenes. These producers sit behind their laptops and equipment in their studios, and craft vibrant instrumentals from scratch. Gone are the days when producers—special beings who bring new and different sounds to life—were unsung heroes in the entertainment industry, with most of them becoming celebrities in their own right.
While the importance of variety and working with different producers as an artist must not be downplayed, it is arguably more important for an artist to find a producer who understands them: one they share great chemistry with. When an artist and a producer are on similar wavelengths, there is no limit to the magic they can create when they put their heads together to come up with never before seen ideas and sounds. Many music lovers look forward to specific producer-artist partnerships because there’s usually an assurance that the songs are going to be bangers.
In today’s instalment of CC Ranking, we have curated a list of some of the most notable producer-artist partnerships in the Nigerian music industry—both old school and new school—that have blown minds, dominated charts, and set major achievements.
15. Davido & Kiddominant
The most intriguing thing about a Kiddominant-produced Davido track is how they manage to sound like the perfect duo. After his work on The Money in 2015, his first production for Davido, the dream team have gone on to create more magic. His contribution on Davido’s A Good Time album cannot be overlooked, especially considering that he was responsible for the stellar production on Davido’s hit song Fall.
14. SDC & Spax
Over the years, Show Dem Camp have honed their signature Palmwine music; a brilliant combination of Yoruba folk melodies and Calypso. The group have successfully retained their originality while experimenting with more modern sounds, and while their genius is undeniable, it would have been impossible without a talented producer like Spax. Spax’s tagline “if it’s Spax then it’s got to be…classic” is embodied in his alternative production that perfectly complements the SDC vibe. His work on the SDC Palmwine series — Palmwine Music Vol 1, Palmwine Music 2, The Palmwine Express and Palmwine Music 3 highlights a rare type of chemistry between producer and artist.
13. Naira & Rexxie
Naira Marley bears a myriad of experiences, considering his upbringing in both Agege and Peckham. His diverse influences reflect in his music and who better to bring his fascinating creativity to life than Rexxie? The master producer is responsible for a fair number of hits released by Naira, such as Tesumole, Mafo, Puta and Soapy. While acknowledging Rexxie’s input on 9 tracks off his God’s Timing’s The Best (GTTB) album, Naira Marley referred to the Grammy-winning producer as his “everything.”
12. Olamide & Pheelz
Olamide has risen to become one of the biggest and most influential music acts out of Nigeria. What makes his sound stand out is how authentic and personalised his delivery is. Together with Pheelz, Olamide has given us multiple street music classics including Lagos Boys, Turn Up, Melo Melo and Durosoke. The prolific hit maker, Pheelz “Mr Producer”, knows how to make the beat work for Olamide, subtly backing his flow without diluting his street boy flow.
11. Mr Eazi & Juls
After meeting Juls on Twitter, Mr. Eazi sent him the vocals for his song, Bankulize. This collaboration would go on to announce Mr. Eazi to a fan base in the diaspora and quickly become a hit song. Since then, Juls and Mr. Eazi have linked up on several occasions, including Skin Tight, Surrender and Anointing. Mr. Eazi’s laid back cadence pairs perfectly with Juls careful production, birthing music that sounds like it was definitely meant to be.
10. Sarz & Lojay
Over the years, talented music producer, Sarz has become not just one of the best music producers in Nigeria, but has become a popular trendsetter. He has spent years serenading our ears with addictive beats behind the scenes, but he teamed up with Lojay in 2021 to deliver a captivating body of work. Over two years after his amazing collaboration with WurlD on I Love Girls With Trobul, Sarz and Lojay released LV N ATTN that featured the groovy amapiano infused Monalisa which is one of Lojay and Sarz’s biggest songs, and led to a Chris Brown remix. Monalisa was an irrefutable jam and chart-topper at the time of its release, and has remained at a healthy spot on the charts months after its release. Lojay’s smooth melodious voice coupled with Sarz’s infectious beat is the perfect recipe for a smash hit.
10. Burna & Kel P
It’s almost impossible for Burna and Kel P’s chemistry to not make this list. The producer and songwriter is not just responsible for producing multiple Burna Boy hits, but is responsible for writing them too. Kel P, also known as Kelvin Peter Udoma Amba, produced nine of the 19 singles off Burna Boy’s Grammy nominated 2019 album African Giant such as On The Low and Pull Up.
8. Falz & Sess
Known for his tagline “Sess, The Problem Kid,” record producer Sess has enjoyed an amazing partnership with Falz. Falz and Sess’ relationship started with Falz’s second album, Stories that Touch, and continued with 27, and Moral Instructions which was the highest point of their relationship. The two have undeniable chemistry when it comes to songs; their synergy is easy to spot with the ease at which Sess matches Falz tempo by tempo. Storming into the Nigerian music industry with Sess at his side, Falz disrupted the contemporary music scene. Sess has produced a high volume of Falz’ songs and albums. The songs include Karishika, Ello Bae, Wehdone Sir, and many others. Falz and Sess have together established themselves as a force to be reckoned with.
7. Burna Boy & Leriq
Burna Boy and Leriq have been partners back from their early days as Aristokrat Records signees. Leriq was responsible for producing the whole of Burna’s debut album, L.I.F.E, which featured hits like Like To Party, Run my Race, and Yawa Dey. Even though their musical journey hasn’t led Leriq to produce another full album for Burna since L.I.F.E, he was called upon again to produce Burna’s Redemption EP. Leriq is also responsible for the production of some of Burna’s smash hit records like Rockstar, Monsters You Made, Way Too Big, and No Fit Vex.
6. Rema & London
Since Rema’s debut in 2019, he has been super intentional with the producers he works with, sticking with only a few producers for his first 3 EPs. Arguably holding the number one spot amongst new school producer-artist partnerships, London and Rema first worked together on Soundgasm which is still one of Rema’s most commercially successful songs ever. The duo went on to work together on a single, Calm Down, which would see Rema’s global recognition skyrocket: leading to a remix with Selena Gomez. This chemistry between Rema and London led to the producer working closely with Rema on his debut album; working with the singer on 14 out of the 16 records on the project. So far, the duo haven’t disappointed since they began working together, with London also playing DJ at some of Rema’s stops for his ongoing Rave & Roses tour.
5. WurlD & Sarz
Sarz is back on this list because of how consistent he’s been as a music producer over the last two decades. As he’s transitioned from just producing songs for artists, to collaborating with them to create timeless projects, his chemistry with WurlD on their joint 2019 album, I LOVE GIRLS WITH TROBUL, is smooth, captivating, and one for the books. The album featured hits like Mad, TROBUL, and Sade. WurlD’s evocative writing and seductive vocals paired with Sarz’s impeccable production is always a vibe. With chemistry that can be said to be “out of this world”, their perfect synergy is a recipe for success.
4. Davido & Shizzi
Serving as one of Davido’s most credible and dependable producers, Shizzi and his “magic fingers” are responsible for a number of key songs that Davido has released. The first time the two worked together was on Dami Duro which Davido initially produced but later handed over to Shizzi who came on board and made tweaks to the record. The move can be pinpointed as the beginning of their fruitful relationship which would see them go on to roll out hit records like Overseas, Skelewu, Gobe, Ekuro, Tchelete (Good Life), Fans Mi, The Sound, Gbagbe Oshi, Like That, Blow My Mind, Green Light Riddim, and a recent collab between Davido and Lil Baby, Showing Off Her Body.
3. Wizkid & Sarz
Anytime Sarz and Wizkid “come closer”, it’s always sure to be a gbedu wey dey burst brain. Working together on smash hit records like Come Closer, Jaiye Jaiye, Energy (Stay Far Away), and a number of songs on Wizkid’s Sounds From The Other Side album, Wizkid and Sarz always create beautiful music when they link up. Sarz has not only produced songs for Wizkid, but he has also featured the artist on his own songs like his 2012 single, Beat Of Life (Samba). In his 2021 joint EP with Lojay, he tapped Wizkid again on LV N ATTN which is one of his most successful records till date. They might not have hundreds of songs together, but the few that they have are songs that have been met with wide reception, and commercial success.
2. Asake & Magicsticks
When you talk about producer-artist partnerships, you can’t leave out the phenomenal run Asake has enjoyed in 2022, and how Magicsticks has been an integral part of that run. Responsible for producing every song on Asake’s debut album, Magicsticks is a certified hit maker and his partnership with Asake has been somewhat divine. Even though we’ve only been privileged to enjoy their collaboration for less than a year, the duo have begun an incredible journey that most Nigerians can’t get enough of. It’s safe to dub Asake and Magicsticks the most successful new-school producer-artist pair we’ve seen in the last few years; they’ve had a strong hold on the charts and the entire country.
1. D’Banj & Don Jazzy
D’Banj & Don Jazzy had one of the best producer-artist partnerships the Nigerian music scene has ever seen; they had the music industry in their palms for a very long time. The duo left the UK where Don Jazzy was a producer working for JJC and D’Banj was a security guard with dreams of becoming a superstar, to come back home, pursue their music careers, and make a name for themselves–which they did. Their first release, Tongolo, was a smash hit and their partnership led to more hits than any artist in their time could boast of. The duo were also founders of Mo’hits Records, one of the biggest labels at that time that provided a platform for artists like Wande Coal, D’Prince, and Dr Sid.
BNXN & Walahi Steph, Zinoleesky & Niphkeys, P-Prime & Olamide, Timaya & Young D, Olamide & Young John, and Ruger & Kukuruku.