Nigerian music scene and its prevailing genres

The Nigerian music scene has experienced a lot of growth in the 2000s with its popular pop scene and the massive force that has become of the genre, Afrobeat.

The Nigerian music industry in the current pop generation can best be described as having varied genres that have been created to shatter past creative boundaries thereby giving a lot of artist room to expand and be innovative.

Different genres have reigned through several decades ever since independence. We’ve also enjoyed a variety of sounds such as Disco, Juju, Fuji, Highlife, Rock, and many more. Each of this genre and so many other unnamed genres have at one time or the other been regarded as the prevailing and trending sound in the music industry.

Nigerian singer performing- Prob-1
Nigerian music and its popular genre


While a lot of people may find it easy to dismiss the music of the 2000s as lacking in-depth as what was offered in the past, its hard to deny that this era has defined the Nigerian music culture the most as well as producing groundbreaking musical achievements and acceptance.

Here are five music genres that have changed and shaped the Nigerian music industry in recent times


A lot of people may not know this but afrobeat originated from Ghana but was named and owned by the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti when he returned to the country from the West Coast in 1971. He popularized this genre of music as he churned out a medley of songs which he used in addressing societal issues and the tyranny of the military government in power at the time.

Afrobeat is the most distinctive sound in Africa. Its an infusion of highlife, traditional Yoruba sounds concocted with jazz and funk with the key element of live instruments as its distinct sound, making it Nigerian music’s’ most dominant genre.

Nigerian Musician performing- prob-1


Juju is a popular Yoruba genre that emerged in the early 1920s. The likes of Irewolede Denge and Tunde King were some of Nigeria’s first music stars. By the 1950s, the popular music genre has flourished to include a wider range of styles in terms of output and sounds.

I.K Dairo rose to stardom later in the decade, becoming Nigeria’s first international music star thereby paving the way for other juju bands. We also had young starters like Ebenezer Obey and King Sunny Ade beginning to achieve popularity in the 1970s. Despite the success of this genre, by 2000, juju music had ceased to be Nigeria’s favorite genre.

Nigerian music- Prob-1



Nigerian highlife was the dancehall music of Africa’s top and emerging elites in the 1950s. It was the elites’ new, modern ‘’high’’ style of living that inspired the name. The genre had stars such as Dr. Victor Olaiya, Rex Cardinal lawson, and Bobby Benson in high demand.

The beauty of the genre is that it was performed across ethnic lines and enjoyed by diverse ethnicities with its inspiration came from Ghana music style and the American Jazz infused with brass and wind instruments.

A new set of highlife musicians such as Stephen Osita Osadebe and his defecting bands, The Nkengas emerged after the civil war in the mid-1970s. Today, Highlife in Nigeria sits as the status of classical pop music but several prominent high life artists such as Onyeka Onwenu and Sunny Nneji remain on the scene.



Fuji music originated from the Islamic communities of Nigeria’s Yoruba people. Popular Fuji artist, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, after winning a competition among Lagos ajisaari singers, gave the genre its name by naming the music fuji.

Fuji was already overtaking juju as Nigeria’s number one popular music. Another artist emerged to become the clear leader and innovator, Wasiu Ayinde Barrister, also known as KWAM (King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall)

Sikiru Ayinde Barrister- Prob-1
Sikiru Ayinde Barrister- Prob-1


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