The idea that names have an impact on destinies is as old as time. Names have always been said to wield great power and be the first real attempt at manifesting what one’s life could be but the particularly interesting thing to consider is that most people don’t come up with their names themselves. That’s where nicknames often come in, giving individuals the ability to dictate how they want to be identified and what they want to be represented by. We took a look at some of Nigerian music’s ten most interesting nicknames and the origins of the monikers.
Alaga Ibile loosely translates to Chairman of the Occasion in English. The self-proclaimed nickname stuck after it served as the name of Reminisce’s second studio album is ultimately rooted in Reminisce’s (like every rapper’s) attitude to the game and belief that he’s the best at what he does.
Mayor of Lagos
Mayorkun began to position himself as “The Mayor of Lagos” in 2017 as he began the build-up to his debut project also named the former. Within industry circles, he’d quickly become known as Mayor after he debuted on the scene with Eleko and as he developed his identity as a mainstay in the city, it only made sense that he went all in on it. After all, who doesn’t love themselves a little bit of Lagos?
Wizkid’s fans began to hail the Afrobeats star as Machala after he moved to Ghana. According to Wizkid FC, Machala translates to “King” and “Man of the People, a nickname that shows the devotion of his fanbase to him.
Formerly going only by “Celestial Being,” Ayra Starr decided that she was ready to flaunt her success and introduced herself as “Sabi Girl” when she released her first brand new solo single, Rush, since her debut album released over a year prior. “Sabi girl no dey too like talk” she sings on the song’s intro; she asserts her dominance as a young woman in the industry. After spending some time as the top song in the country, Rush now has almost 50M streams on Spotify alone.
Translated from Yoruba, OBO (Omo Baba Olowo) means “the child of a wealthy father.” Davido’s seminal album alluded to the affluence of his dad, who is one of Nigeria’s richest men. As a newcomer in the industry, young Davido needed to gain some respect and a solid footing; leveraging his unique upbringing enabled him glide through the start of his career with the much-needed bravado to succeed.
Renowned for being at the forefront of indigenous rap, his street credibility, and his generosity to upcoming artists in the industry, Olamide Baddo is a household name. His nickname ‘Baddo’ was coined from the name of his third studio album ‘Baddest Guy Ever Liveth’, and stems from his self-acclaim as the baddest in the game.
The name “Phyno” is short for phenomenal, and that aptly describes his array of nicknames -Ezege, Eze Nnunu, and the playmaker. “Ezege” is an Igbo term that loosely translates to “master of kings” or “great man”, and the name came about as a result of a hit single of the same name in his 2nd studio album “The Playmaker.” Phyno was amongst the first acts to consistently rap in the Igbo language. The nickname stuck because he blazed the trail in the South-Eastern region of Nigeria like no one before or since, and made the genre commercially viable. It’s only right that his nickname connotes such great feats.
The former Mo’Hit Records singer started to publicly call himself Black Diamond in 2013. This coincided with the year that he launched his own record label which is also named Black Diamond Entertainment. He officially launched his label with the release of the song, The Kick, where he featured Don Jazzy. Since then, the nickname has stuck.
D’Banj answers many names: Mr. Endowed, BangaLee, Ejanla, and KokoMaster. But it is the last, perhaps, that most people can readily identify. The name is self-imposed and can be traced to the song Tongolo, which is part of the singer’s debut album, No Long Thing (2005). Don Jazzy produced the album, and it was released under the now-defunct Mo’Hit Records.
As he geared up for the release of his debut album, Rema began assuming the title of Rave Lorde; he already had some claim to the title thanks to the energy that is usually seen at his shows. However, the moniker became more solid after his debut album dropped and he went on his Rave and Roses tour. The tour was one of the most successful and talked about by a young Nigerian act.
Descriptions by Wisdom Mudasiru, Michael Aromolaran, Tomi Idowu, Somto Mbah and Opeyemi Rasak-Oyadiran