The Tragic Death Of The Likes Of Daddy Showkey And Marvellous Benjy’s Ajegunle Music On Mainstream
In hindsight, looking at today’s Nigerian music industry through the prism of the last era that ended December 2019, they are several things to be thankful for, as well they are things that make one very sad. On top of those regrettable activities is the tragic death and disappearance of Ajegunle Ghetto music from the mainstream music industry. How did we allow one of the most organic music genre created in the last three decades to fade away from pop culture conversations? The structural formation of AJ music, its cultural connotation and lifestyle characteristics like the dances that surround it, arguably makes it one of the most authentic music genre like Fela’s Afrobeat – maybe even more precious than it. Just the way reggae is to the Caribbean colony like Jamaica so is Ajegunle ghetto music to the Ajegunle community and its close suburbs – the music was true to its content and context. Each song is a reflection of the reality in the ghetto. If we have worked hard enough to shape the narrative of AJ music and preserve it in its totality, that music genre could have been as iconic as Jamaican reggae.
Words By Sesan Adeniji
The sad tale of how Ajegunle music and all its artistes disappeared from the mainstream Nigerian music industry is shocking. The rise of AJ music (Nigeria’s ghetto ragga music) at the start of 1992 was like a beacon of hope. When musicians from the defunct music group Pretty Busy Boys (Daddy Showkey, Daddy Fresh, Sexy Pretty, and Cashman Davies) spearheaded the movement for AJ Musicians, the whole industry warmed up to them. Back then, with Nelson Brown the major music producer that orchestrated most of the hit albums, and Feline Records signing all the major talents – AJ Music became a household name.
The quest for fame for AJ artistes started in the first quarter of the 90s”, it came of age in the late 90s” and early months of the year 2000 with artistes like Nico Gravity, African China, and the group Black Reverendz of the “Ayangba” fame among the cult heroes. When Pretty Busy Boys broke up, Daddy Fresh became the first solo superstar among the trio.
In 1995 when Daddy Fresh released his second album titled Faka Fiki Faka produced by Nelson Brown, he became an instant superstar. At that same time, Nico Gravity‘s ‘Nigerian Girls‘ was also trending. 1996, Baba Fryo‘s single ‘Denge Pose‘ became a hit. 1997, the late Father U Turn‘s ‘Shakara‘ and Cashman Davies‘ ‘Joromi‘ gained traction.
Daddy Showkey‘s ‘Welcome‘ also became an instant hit (arguably in 1994). In 1998, he followed it up with another smash hits album ‘Diana‘ – that remains an evergreen to date. From that moment onward, everyone was paying attention to AJ music. Concerning the lifestyle and cultural influences, the sound from Ajegunle Ragga Ghetto music has a subtle nuance with Jamaican reggae – an appealing factor that made the songs a classic. It will be unaccepted to talk about the success of AJ Music without mentioning Raggadum Chapel – the dancehall club where all the mentioned artistes frequently visit for freestyle performances.
Although the geographical area of AJ city is notorious for all the attributes of a typical inner-city, yet, it once produced some of the iconic superstars in the entertainment industry and as well as in the footballing realm (Samson Siasia, Taribo West, and Peter Rufia). Known as the place where only the strong survive, the wise excel and the lonely die slowly, nevertheless, the young AJ citizens and those from its close environs chose music as one of their only escape route. They pioneered a unique form of Ragga ( Ajegunle music) genre with a combined sound extracted from its diverse ethnicity majority. In the past three decades, it was the only music genre (post highlife, Juju and Fuji music era) that came in handy with dance moves that typify the uniqueness of the Nigerian multi-cultural heritage and as well, has its origin geographical community.
From Galala dance steps to Swo and konto, the younger artists that came through the ranks like Marvelous Benjy‘s 2005 hit Swo, African China‘s 1999 hit ‘Crisis‘ and 2002 ‘Mr. President‘, Professor Linkin‘s hit ‘Jogodo‘, Flekta Man’s 2002 No Think Am, and 2004 E Don Red, Sterioman’s 2004 hit ‘Sample Ekwe‘ and 2005 ‘E dey Pain Me‘, the duo of the 2004 Danfo Driver’s fame, and Oritse Femi and Solidstar ( The only flagbearers as of today) became famous. We also had other artists that were popular as of then – the likes of China Ray with the hit ‘Akpoche‘ and the group Naughty and Waffy with the 1998 hit ‘God Pass Dem’.
For the top AJ musicians, the fame came, the money flooded in, they flew around the world preaching their gospel until the change in the music world caught up with them. With the influx and dominance of Hip-hop music, AJ music took a back seat cos most of the artistes find it difficult to integrate into the new sound. Slowly, they churned out fewer numbers of artistes, and the music gradually disappeared from the mainstream.
Another major key factor that contributed to the demise of AJ music was the fact that Nelson Brown who produced 90% of all the hit records for the AJ artistes relocated from Ajegunle To Festac town where he met with the Plantashun Boiz while working on a project for Weird Mc. His plans changes, he started producing R&B Hip-hop music not just for the Plantashun Boiz but for the entire supers that came out of Festac town. As of that time, the sovereign power of the music industry moved from Ajegunle artists and their Ghetto Ragga music to hip-hop artistes and their hip sound from Festac town. AJ artistes arguably failed to work hard enough on themselves and their music to compete, and gradually, their music eroded from the mainstream from the tail end of 2010 upward. Anything close to it now is just mere shadow.