The Coal City holds its own as a cultural hub with the contribution of numerous music stars made in Enugu. Enugu has delivered some of the very best artists to Nigeria’s vibrant scene. Many of today’s star musicians started their careers in Enugu, with the IMT as a launching pad for quite a few. Below is a parade of top artists with strong roots in Enugu who gained national and worldwide recognition

1. Flavour

There is more to Flavour beyond the N’Abania – and it is in the taste and appeal, as one reviewer discovered in an Enugu Metro exposition. Flavour’s real name is Chinedu Okoli. He was born, grew up in and began his musical career in Coal City. His stage name, Flavour, was derived from his first album, Flavour n’Abania. This star singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, is especially appreciated for his unique blend of highlife and afrobeat. He has several hit songs and albums that attracted over a billion online views on YouTube, the first of the two Nigerian musicians ever to reach this milestone.

Here is his most popular online song (157M views)

Time to Party 127.5M views

2. Phyno

Phyno (Chibuzor Nelson Azubuike) was born in Enugu City on 9 October 1986. His stage name Phyno was coined from Phenomenal, a tag from a high school mate in praise of his musical skills. Phyno is a rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer. Like most other artists featured here, he also enrolled at IMT to study public administration and this was where his music career took off. He is still producing hit songs, the latest being “Do I (ft. Burna Boy). His combined YouTube Views of 229.1 Million stand in second place behind his buddy, Flavour. Here is his most popular online song (35M views)

3. 2Baba

2Baba: Born Boniface Idibia in Jos, Plateau State on 18 September 1975, the Idoma native began his music career in Enugu after he enrolled at IMT to study business administration. Known on Campus as Lord Elly (before he adopted 2Face), he played gigs at IMT and nearby institutions, notably UNEC and ESUT. 2Face was leader of the band, Plantashun Boiz with Blackface (Ahmedu Augustine Obiabo) and Faze (Chibuzor Orji). He dropped out of IMT to pursue his music career in 1996, learning composition and initially surviving by producing jingles for Enugu State Broadcasting Service (ESBS). He changed his name to 2Baba, when he had already blown it big in Lagos. Combined YouTube Views: 152.8 Million

His ever-green and most popular song (22M views)

4. Frank Edward

Born Frank Ugochukwu Edwards on 22 July 1989, Frank is established as one of the greatest gospel singers out of Nigeria. He is also a music producer and sound engineer with his own record label, Rocktown Records. He now lives in Lagos but was born and raised in Enugu where he began singing and learnt to play the piano at the age of 10. Frank is a pentecostal Christian and has many hit songs to his name. Combined YouTube Views: 111.4Million. His most recent album is Emmanuel (featuring Moses Bliss) which is doing well on YouTube  at over 1.0M views.

His most popular song, Under the Canopy, garnered 17 million views on YouTube

5. Zoro

Zoro: Zoro is Coal City’s 5th most popular online artist, with combined YouTube views of 22.1Million. His real name is Chimaobi Chrismathner Owoh and he is a rapper and singer noted for his dexterity with Igbo rapping. In collaboration with the other Enugu big names – Flavour and Phyno especially – Zoro has released several hit tracks including Ogene which features Flavour and Phyno. Predictably, his most popular online song is  Ogene, featuring Flavour at 5.2M views. Combined YouTube video views: 22.1M

Most popular song:

6. Mr. Raw

His most popular online song is Ko Gbadun, featuring Duncan Mighty 809K views). Mr. Raw (real name Okechukwu Edwards Ukeje), a veteran Nigerian rapper is the pioneer of Igbo rap. He was born and brought up in Enugu. One of his hit songs, “O! Chukwu” won Best Afro Hip Hop Video at the 2007 NMVA Awards. Highly revered by his peers for his mentorship and the pioneer promotion of Igbo rap, he has naturally collaborated with other great Enugu exports including Flavour, Phyno, 2Baba and Illblisss. Combined YouTube Views 4.2Million.

Most popular online song:

7. Stormrex

She is the only lady that made it to the top 10. Princess Stormrex (real name Theresa Chinonso Igwilo), is a Nigerian singer and songwriter from Enugu State. It is safe to say that Phyno is her greatest motivator and mentor. Through him, she has done collaborations with MI Abaga, Uplifted, Dekumzy and many more with Phyno. Her most popular song is Walk with me, featuring Olamide (309 views). She is known for her soulful voice and has collaborated with artists like Flavour and Phyno. Combined YouTube video views: 497K Here is her most popular solo song:

8. Slowdog

Born 27 November 1978 as Nnanna Emmanuel Okechukwu, Slowdog is a rapper songwriter, recording artiste, and stage performer. He is one artist that stayed behind to ply his trade in the Southeast. Slowdog enrolled at the IMT to study marketing, graduating in 2003 with a higher diploma in marketing. He began rapping in Igbo at 16 while still in high school. It was the song, Who grab that tin (ft. Dekumzy) that shot him to fame in the Southeast in 2006.

His smash hit, Testimony (ft. Phyno and TJ) was released as a remix in 2017:

9. Runtown

Although Runtown’s music flowered outside Enugu, he was nevertheless born in Coal City on 19 August 1989. He moved with his parents to Lagos and thereafter to Abuja with his mom after his father passed. His hit song, Gallardo won “Best Collaboration of the Year ” at the 2014 edition of the Nigeria Entertainment Awards. Davido rendered vocals in the song. His debut album, Ghetto University was sponsored by MTN Music Plus throughEric Many Entertainment. It reportedly streamed into a mouth-watering N35million online earnings, establishing him as one of the “Top 5 Most Streamed Artists”

Here is his most popular hit:

10. Dekumzy

Dekumzy, the Nigerian record producer, musician, composer, pianist, and songwriter, was born on 27 March 1983 in Enugu. His real name is Derek Osonwa and he burst on the scene with his first major production of the Duo Resonance album titled “Chinweike” in 2006. His hit productions include Flavour’s Baby Oku, Mr. Raw’s Strong and Mighty (ft. Flavour), and Bracket’s No Time (ft. P-Square). He is best remembered as founder of Enugu Girl Band, Desperate Chicks (Stormrex, Ursula Ice and Barbie). When the band disbanded, he married Ursula and Stormrex went solo.

The list above represents a fraction of the people who struggled to make it from the Coal City. The fusion of highlife and afrobeat, as well as Igbo rap, are all patents from the Enugu cultural hub. There are other experimentation, including Zorro’s fusion with ogene music and the Phyno’s avant-garde productions that seized the popular imagination. This is why Enugu will remain an important part of the process to shape the diverse afrobeat sounds coming out of Nigeria.

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