It seems like everything we’ve hoped and dreamed for in Nigerian and on a larger scale, African music is finally coming to fruition. Chocolate City Records has entered into a major partnership with global music powerhouse, Warner Music Group (WMG). This is huge. The world has caught on to the fire that is the African melody and is now quickly becoming addicted to the sound. With Davido’s “Fall” and “If” blowing up American music charts for umpteen months and Mavin Records getting a multi-million dollar investment with Kupanda Holdings, 2019 has already been an eventful year for African music.
The Chairman himself, M.I. Abaga, broke the news of the partnership on his Instagram in all caps to probably show his exuberance.
Chocolate City was formed in northern Nigeria by lawyer and businessman Audu Maikori and Paul Okeugo in 2005. This label was once revered as the first real influential African label, housing acts such as Brymo, MI, Ice Prince, Jesse Jagz, and Victoria Kimani. During their heyday, Chocolate City released albums and songs that have now reached legendary status. Songs like “Oleku,””Ara,” “Aboki,” “Good Morning,” “Bad Girl” and so many more (I hope this doesn’t make you feel old). This partnership will probably bring Chocolate City back to their former prominence.
The partnership with WMG will continue to allow Maikori and Okeugo to retain their roles as CEO and COO, respectively. MI Abaga will still be External VP of Imprints and Aibee Abidoye will continue to be External VP of Recorded Music. The partnership will also bring Femi Kuti (the son of the Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti), M.I. Abaga, Dice Ailes, Nosa, ClassiQ, Ruby Gyang and budding new acts Blaqbonez, C Kay and Street Billionaires into the label partnership as well. These artists will receive the immense support of WMG, including distribution and artist services via ADA—WMG’s independent label services division. Per the Chocolate City Music official website, “The Chocolate City team will continue to develop local artists and support the management of WMG’s global superstars across Sub Saharan Africa, including a strategic, reciprocal marketing agreement with WMG South Africa. WMG will also provide financial support for Chocolate City to help achieve its mission of signing and developing the best local talent in this fast-growing market.”
Slowly but surely the whole world is catching on to the African riddim, hopefully all these partnerships and record deals from Western labels are not parasitic. Here’s to hoping that they won’t leach off the African sound and hard work. I leave you with the wise words of pioneer of the real “Afrobeat” sound on how the true African Renaissance will begin with African art and music. Africa to the world!