Don’t Be Fooled: The Late OJB, And Nelson Brown (Music Producers) Pioneered Afro-beats
To talk about the history of Afro-beats and its success without the mention of music producers like Nelson Brown and the late OJB will be a colossal mistake. Without a doubt, both are the beat maker that churned out the first generation of Afro-beats songs, and in doing so, they created the pioneer Afro-beats artists that made the world desire for more of that music genre. But having in mind that there’s some form of selective amnesia in the industry as of today, it’s important to make the facts crystal clear, Nelson Brown and OJB are the Godfathers of Afro-beats tunes. All the later successes came from the blueprint they constructed – at a particular point in time; every music producer was sampling or following their Afro-pop (Afro-beats) music production styles.
In hindsight, we can conclude that when Nelson Brown produced the debut album of the group Plantashun Boiz titled ‘Body & Soul’ with singles like ‘Don’t You Know’ – arguably that was one of the most significant music projects of the ongoing Afro-pop era – the genre now with the umbrella name Afro-beats.
He also produced records for other artists like Sound Sultan‘s album ‘The Text-book‘ with tracks like ‘Back In The Days‘ and ‘Motherland‘, which drew massive applause from hip-hop icon Wyclef Jean when he visited Nigeria for a show in 2004.
Wyclef was the first international superstar who started engaging with Nigerian artist’s songs – the first to fall in love with Afro-beats long before the artist Akon did. In Wyclef‘s ‘Creole 101‘ album released October 2004, Sound Sultan, 2baba alongside American rapper Foxy Brown were all featured in it – it became a cult classic. That was the period when Nelson Brown’s magic touch made an impact on the growth of Afro-beats. It’s also worth mentioning that Nelson’s Dove Records also signed the best Afro-beats artists – the likes of Plantashun Boiz, Sound Sultan, and Def 0 Clan of that generation were all in his books. This was at a period when the established record companies did not have any faith in Afro-beats. Nelson also produced the artist Alariwo single ‘Yawa Go Gas’ – according to the reports, that song arguably inspired Wizkid’s single Ojuelegba.
When the late Music Producer OJB produced 2Baba‘s debut album ‘Face 2 Face‘, the lead single ‘African Queen’ became one of the most pivotal Afro-beats hit record ever released into the international music market. From America to Jamaica, everyone was humming to that song. That was the first Afro-beats record that became a continental success. Even though the name Afro-beats was not known to anyone as of then, the world gravitates towards that sound as one of the best in the ‘World music’ category. ‘African Queen’ was a huge song; it landed 2Baba an interview in Atlanta on The Mo’Nique Show broadcasted to millions of audiences in America and across the world. The American movie titled Phat Girlz adapted the song ‘African Queen’ as one of its soundtracks. As a renowned music producer, OJB also worked with international Jamaican superstars like Bennie Man.
OJB was also an acclaimed songwriter and performing artiste with hit singles like ‘Pretete‘ and the classic ‘Searching‘ off his album titled ‘No Drama‘.
So, someday when the history of Afro-beats is premiered anywhere in the world, any omission of producers names like Nelson Brown and the late OJB Should be called out – these legends of the music industry should never be overlooked.
Words by Sesan Adeniji