Five notable Nigerian artists that started from the scratch

Every day, we meet people from different all walks of life; whether a lawyer or a classroom teacher; a Managing Director or a gate man; a banker or bus conductor, the list is endless. Everyone has a story to tell.

However, regardless of our sundry careers, professions or work, what ultimately define us is the quality and strength of our attitudes of mind. Quite frankly, we have heard the almost banal and cliched statement that – “as our faces are different, so are our challenges, desires, and aspirations”

Below is a compilation of five Nigerian artist that hustled their way to fame.

1. Patoranking


He is arguably Nigeria’s number one reggae/dance-hall artist at the moment. From being the face and ambassador of several top brands and organisations to returning as a judge in the ongoing musical competition – The Voice Nigeria, Patoranking has shown not only his versatility but also the fruit of hard-work. Now you see all the glitz and glamour that surrounds and exudes from him, and you wish your life could like his. However, before you quickly latch upon the glory you see, please let’s take a plunge into his STORY.

Before coming to lime light, he was a brick layer. If you are yet to grasp what that means…this is it: He didn’t just do brick laying, he also carried “kponkpon”. Kponkpon is the pan used to carry sand from one place to another within a building or construction site.

To further strengthen his hustle, and to raise funds to support his family (being the first born) and his musical career, he sold rat poison (maybe something like “ota piapia”) on the street. Nobody wey no fit to make am!

2. Wizkid


Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, better known by his stage name Wizkid, is definitely Nigeria’s finest and hottest entertainment export. Born on 16 July 1990, Wizzy quickly embraced his musical destiny at age 11. Formerly known as Lil’ Prinz, his early career wasn’t as smooth as you might think.

Unlike some artists that were born with “golden spoons”, and had billions in their accounts even before venturing into music, wizzy was not that fortunate. He literally became a studio rat; he ate and slept in popular studios in pursuit of his dreams…these were his days in Surulere and Ojuelegba. He never relied on hand outs from patronage or parentage.

He has shared stages with a lot of Nigeria’s finest artist, and has entered global relevance with collaboration with renowned artists like Drake.

Today regardless of what you think of him, the name WizKid will forever resound in the annals of Nigerian history.

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3. PSquare

The twin brother once worked as a supermarket attendant while Paul did some electrical repairs for pay,
below is a past interview they granted after their mum’s demise:

“We have our poverty story, however. Yes, in our own way, we experienced poverty. It was very bad. Our mother used to sell pap and our father was trying to set up his bakery. After school, we all would go to the bakery to see how we could help out. When you have six boys and two girls living in a one-room apartment, that should tell you how bad it was. The kids live in the living room, where there were two beds and my parents had their own room, where they stayed with our sisters. Paul and I are the last boys.

I remembered in a day I cannot spend up to N100, breakfast N30, lunch and supper get the same budget, the remaining N10 for pure water. To survive, I once worked as a supermarket attendant and Paul did some electrical repair for pay.

Coming to Lagos

Before we moved to Lagos after our graduation, we took our CD and DVD to our parents. The DVD contained our video. We told them we are done with schooling and we wanted to move to Lagos. We assured them that music will change our lives. In preparation for our relocation, we started selling little things that we had and also some of our father’s little stuffs. We even stole some of his money, about N100,000 or so, though he wasn’t aware. We were four boys about to embark on that exodus.


4. Terry G

Popular singer Terry G has said he made no money when he started singing because he started with R&B songs. He said but soon as he changed his style of music to what people have termed madness, he began to make a lot of money.

In his words;
“What gives me inspiration is frustration. I was frustrated; I used to sing r’n’b songs just like my fans that were following from the beginning would know. I tried to do good music but it didn’t put food on my table, so frustration came up and frustration gave me a sign that you have to make money through frustration. Right now I’m being termed a mad man because I make money through madness”.

5. Don Jazzy

Collins Ajereh born November 26, 1982, better known as Don Jazzy, is a Nigerian Multi award-winning record producer, singer-songwriter, musician, former CEO of Nigerian record label Mo’ Hits Records founded in 2004 and current CEO of the Mavin Records label which he founded in May 2012, after his split up with childhood friend and Mo’Hits partner, D’banj.

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Born in Umuahia in Abia state, his first signing was D’banj who was at that time also the Vice-President of the label. Don Jazzy’s first full credit production work was in 2004 on Tongolo for Nigerian singer D’banj.

He went on to produce D’banj’s first studio album titled No Long Thing released in 2005. Michael Collins Ajereh was born in Umuahia and hail from Delta state.

His family moved to Ajegunle city in Lagos state where he was raised, and graduated from Federal Government College Lagos. Michael Had always had a flair for music singing and playing the drums from the age of four. He developed a passion for the bass guitar at the age of 12, he went on study Business Management at the Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma in Edo state. He moved to London in the United Kingdom in 2000 after his Uncle invited him to come play the drums for the neighborhood Church. Various odd jobs followed including working at McDonalds and as a security guard. Already imbued with an intimate knowledge of traditional and percussion instruments, Don Jazzy further built on his musical knowledge during his UK stint. Finding fellow musical minded people, the likes of Solek, JJC, Kas, The 419 squad and D’Banj, the gang would spend unrelenting hours practicing, recording and performing different types of music. He has produced tracks for Dr SID, Wande Coal, D’Prince, Darey, Naeto C, Olakunle Excel et Zanga (O.A.U), Sauce Kid, Ikechukwu & Tiwa Savage.

He also collaborated with Jay-Z and Kanye West on the production of Lift Off, featuring Beyoncé on the album Watch The Throne.

6. 9ice

Alexandra Abolore Adigun, better known as 9ice, climbing to the top didn’t come very easy. He was admitted to study law at the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, but dropped out of school to pursue a career in music, which eventually paid off for him.
The singer started attracting the curiosity of music faithfuls in Nigeria with his song; ‘Little Money’ around year 2005, but he said that the song was recorded around 2000. Soon after, he stole the hearts of many music lovers with ‘Ganja’ and by then, he was seen as a good singer with prospects.
Even though his voice sounds like a cracked one, this did not stop him from becoming the darling of many music lovers. Later, 9ice became an A-list artiste with his ‘Gongo Aso’, which ruled the music scene in Africa.9ice was one of the musicians privileged to perform in London during the 90th birthday celebration of the late South African leader, Nelson Mandela some years ago.

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The Nigerian singer was reportedly paid heavily for his performance, where he played his ‘Gongo Aso’ hit tune to the delight of the audience.

Speaking sometime ago in a radio interview, the Ogbomosho, Oyo State-born singer disclosed that he once used the money meant to purchase a JAMB form for his sister, who happens to be the last child of the family, for his music career.

“I used the money given to me to purchase a JAMB form for the last child of our family, Atinuke, to record ‘Little Money’. Those days, when you want to get JAMB forms, you go to Ikoyi (Lagos)for it. When I got to the Third Mainland Bridge, at Iyana Oworo end of the bridge, I started contemplating whether to board a bus to Ikoyi or not.

After some time,I went to Akoka from there and headed to ID Cabasa’s studio and gave him the N10,000 with me.“I told him I would use the money to record two songs, but I felt I should do ‘Little Money’ first. I can remember while that song was still on the mix, some friends of Cabasa that came around liked it and asked who did the song. They told Cabasa to quickly finish mixing the song and get it released. Some of them gave me money as a form of encouragement and I was able to get the N10,000 back,” 9ice narrated.

Finally, are you still complaining and grouching about your current situation, please pick and dust yourself, have a dream, and work hard at it like your life depends on it…because it does.

So many people leave this wicked globe we call earth, and their next door neighbours do not even have the faintest idea that someone just left because their level of consciousness and contribution is very microscopic, with the good always comes the bad, to get to the top ain’t a day journey, it takes a lot of hard-work, dedication and sacrifice. Please decide today to change the narrative of your life and re-edit your story.


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