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Afrobeats movement began in Nigeria and Ghana – Kenny Ogungbe

The music genre that involves the combination of West African musical styles with a focus on chanted vocals, complex intersecting rhythms, and percussion is enjoying global recognition from Jakarta to Beijing without mentioning London and New York.

The Nigerian music producer and executive Kehinde ‘Kenny Ogungbe traces the origin of the Afrobeats movement in Nigeria and Ghana in the early 2000s.

Other sources say that the music genre was pioneered in the 1970s by Nigerian multi-instrumentalist and bandleader Fela Kuki who is said to be responsible for popularizing the style both within and outside Nigeria. 

Mr. Ogungbe says that it is a blessing to witness all the crazy parts of the world dancing to “our songs”.

The founder of the record label ‘Kennis Music’ was quoted as saying by Nigerian PREMIUM TIMES whilst expressing his thoughts on the Afrobeats movement at the moment.

Mr. Ogungbe together with Dayo Adeneye, also known as D1 is regarded to be part of the pioneers of the Afrobeats movement in Nigeria.

It is therefore not a surprise that the West African country has produced prominent Nigerian Afrobeats artists such as Wizkid, Burnaboy, Davido, Tems, Yemi Alade, and LAX, whose new songs and albums are dominating international music charts.

The music executive, who discovered The Remedies, Tony Tetuila, Sound Sultan, 2face Idibia, and Oritsefemi argues that the origin of Afrobeats dates back to the 2000s.

The Legendary Nigerian music producer Kenny Ogungbe

The legendary producer has sold music for decades, and his label has had the highest number of songs in a catalog.

Going back to the 2000s til 2022,  Mr. Ogungbe’s label has produced the highest numbers of songs in a catalog, the biggest on Afrobeats till today.

Kennis Music has released over 80 albums in the past 20 years, an average of 12 songs per album.

Mr. Ogungbe argues that over the last 20 years no music label has produced the number of songs he has produced.

“You multiply 80 by 12. How many record companies can come out and say that okay, ‘I’ve produced such amount of songs?”

Baba Keke, as the legendary Nigerian producer fondly called notes that classic songs would never die.

Mr. Ogungbe believes that his most important quality is being an identifier.

“My biggest credit is identifying what is good and not good”.

The Nigerian music producer identified ‘African Queen’, a song that is celebrating the endowment of the African woman.

The 2004 album by 2face Idibia became a major hit initially in his home country of Nigeria, but quickly spread through western and southern Africa, and eventually made an impact in Europe as well.

Mr. Ogungbe argues that for an artist to succeed, good behavior and great work ethics are very important. He says that an artist has to be willing to work hard and pray to God for his music to be able to blow.

“And again, with the artist, the attitude of the artist, I said attitude with a deep sense of respect, because averagely, they have a bad attitude.”

If a good attitude is a key to success for an artist according to Mr. Ogungbe, Fireboy DML is the best example to illustrate his argument.

The Nigerian afrobeat star is believed to have discipline and a great work ethic.

Some of the veteran notable work his Kennis Music label has produced over the last two decades include ‘Face 2 Face’ by Tuface Idibia.

“That album has so many songs, African Queen, Nfana Ibaga, so many songs, classics, timeless songs.” happily says the soon-to-be 52-year-old Nigerian music producer.

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