Joe El’s debut album, ‘Timeless’, was released on the July 31. As I picked up the album from my roadside vendor, what hit me wasn’t even the fact that the 2face look-alike had finally succeeded in putting together a decent body of work, but the label that churned out albums on a regular now had only one notable act left on its label. Even Essence who has been on the label’s rooster since 2004 and seemed like a permanent feature at some point has since left.
Call it the cabal. Call it the industry’s empire. Keke Ogungbe made Kennis Music a behemoth, hate or like the label, everybody wanted to be associated with the guys behind that twin yellow hummer jeep, who locked down primetime hours on radio and TV every week many years back.
After their sojourn from the U.S, Kenny and D1 returned to the country and found a gap yearning to be filled and this led to the launch of Primetime Entertainment and Kennis Music in the early 2000s with flagship artists like Remedies, Azadus, Slam, Kenny St Brown and the likes. Remedies went on to become Nigeria’s foremost successful hiphop group selling millions of album and changed the face of hip-hop and music in general along the way.
Upcoming acts lined up at the label’s office with their demo tapes everyday and worshipped the ground the henchos stepped on, even the known artistes then needed their support to boost their career, like 2face boasted ‘Cos Kennis music got my back day and night’, their contribution to the industry was appreciated even my their most known adversary back in the days, on Big bros, Ruggedman noted ‘I agree you helped hiphop with your music outfit’.
Many of the other artists who came through the label are household names like Kingsley Ike, Sound Sultan, Kelly Hansome, Baba Dee, Capital FEMI, the late Goldie Harvey and plenty more.
But a lot has since changed in the industry with record labels no longer glamorous as artistes now choose to run their own imprint with distribution support form Alaba Marketers. Kennis music has enjoyed a fairly extended run as one of the most influential labels in history though the owners seem to have focused on other careers like politics. The label has had it successes, biggest of which will be the groundbreaking Face to Face album after they took the bold decision of signing 2face when he went solo but also a fair deal of controversies with a number of artistes leaving on stormy notes with the Kelly Hansome situation still fresh in our memories. Some exits have hurt the label like co- owner Dayo Adeneye once admitted ‘Well, it can be a bit painful at times. Sometimes, it’s discouraging, I can’t lie to you’….. But we try to play it down.
A label that at one point boasted over 10 artistes on its rooster and could independently throw an Easter fiesta without support now has only one name in its ranks and struggling to compete with the likes of Mavins, YBNL, EME amongst others.
Here are 10 artists who have left the label over the years.
- KC Presh
- OJB Jezreel
- Mike Aremu
- Baba Dee
- Marvelous Benjy
- Eddy Montana
- Capital FEMI
Ehis Combs Ohunyon is a music lover who writes when in doubt, follow on twitter @ehiscombs