2Baba, M.I Abaga and other Nigerian artists that grew up in Jos
Located in the middle belt region of Nigeria and the capital of Plateau State, Jos or J-Town as its known has produced some of the best artists the Nigerian Industry has been blessed with.
Jos is one of the multi-ethnic capitals in Nigeria that have a thriving music scene with ambitious Nigerian artists growing up from there, some starting their career there and then moving to Lagos, the entertainment capital of Nigeria.
Here are some of the top Nigerian artists who have their roots in Jos.
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Innocent Ujah Idibia, better known by his stage name 2Face Idibia or 2Baba (born in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria), is a Nigerian singer-songwriter, record producer, and entrepreneur.
Although he hails from the Idoma tribe in the southern part of Benue State, 2baba was born and grew up in Jos.
2Baba first started his music career as a member of the popular music group, Plantashun Boiz alongside Blackface and Faze.
After the group released two successful albums, they disbanded in 2004 giving the singer a chance to be signed with Kennis Music under which he released his debut solo album Face 2 Face.
With over two decades in the Industry, 2baba has earned a legendary status and is also one of Africa’s most bankable artists.
In 2015, he officially dropped the name 2face and switched to 2baba as his stage name. 2Baba is also the first winner of MTV Europe, Best African Act Award in 2015.
Jude Abaga, better known as M.I, was born in Jos, Plateau State. He attended Baptist High School, Jos where his mother purchased basic music notations and later, a 7-key mini piano which launched him into the music world.
Jude’s venture into the hip hop world started with the sampling of musical works from DMX and Lauryn Hill as early as 1998.
After returning to Nigeria from the US where he had gone to pursue a course in Business and Economics, M.I partnered with his friend Djinee to commence the production of mixtapes.
The two collaborated on the song “Safe” which received a certain level of popularity.
However, He rose to prominence in 2006 when his song “Crowd Mentality” became popular in Jos, Nigeria. He released his debut studio album Talk About It in 2008.
While in Jos, Nigeria, he teamed up with his brother, Jesse Jagz, Ice Prince, Ruby, Threadstone, Lindsay, Moses (Elbulk), E kelly to form Loopy Music.
M.I was later signed to the Chocolate City company, a renowned music label in Nigeria, which made him move from Jos city to the nation’s capital Abuja and also influenced the beginning of his successful career in the Nigerian music industry.
Abaga was CEO of Chocolate City from 2015 to 2019. In March 2020, he announced his exit from the label and launched his own record label Incredible Music.
In the course of his career, M.I has released 11 projects which include 4 studio albums, 1 compilation albums, 4 Mixtapes, 2 Eps.
He won Best Hip Hop and Best New Act at the 2009 MTV Africa Music Awards, and was nominated in the Best International Act category at the BET Awards 2010.
Peter and Paul Okoye are twin brothers who were born in Jos, Plateau’s capital.
P-Square got its start at St. Murumba secondary school in Jos, Nigeria, a modest Catholic school.
Twins Peter and Paul began singing, dancing, and imitating songs by MC Hammer, Bobby Brown, and Michael Jackson when they joined their school’s music and acting club.
In 2001, P-Square” won the “Grab Da Mic” competition, and hence Benson & Hedges sponsored their debut album, titled Last Nite, which was released under Timbuk2 music label.
P-Square was also nominated as “Most Promising African Group” in the Kora Awards three months after the release of their debut album. They eventually won the 2003 Amen Award for “Best R&B Group”.
In 2005, they released their second album, Get Squared under their own label, Square Records. Four albums later, the group disbanded in 2017 due to irreconcilable differences.
The twin brothers decided to pursue solo careers going under the stage names, Rudeboy and Mr. P. while as a group, they dominated the African continent with their hit songs.
Bez, real name Emmanuel Bez Idakula, was born in the central Nigerian city of Jos in 1983. He was raised in a musical family, listening to gospel and country music.
He grew up in a musically inclined family, listening to gospel and country. As a child, he sang in choirs and began playing his father’s guitar at the age of nine.
Bez’s father, a politician and Gubernatorial Candidate for Nasarawa State in Nigeria died when he was twelve years old.
As a result, his family’s finances collapsed, and he was unable to pay the remainder of his high school tuition. His high school education was funded by an anonymous donor. He was also given assistance in paying his college costs.
Bez earned his bachelor’s degree from Covenant University, a prestigious institution.
In 2012, Bez released his album, “Super Sun” and the project includes the single “That Stupid Song” which features Praiz. In 206, he released his second album, Gbagyi Child.
He was the first African artist to world premiere his music video on BET after the music video of “That Stupid Song“, premiered on the renowned BET’s 106 & Park and the first Nigerian artist to do a solo show at the iTunes store in Soho, New York.
Ice Prince was born Panshak Henri Zamani in the city of Minna, Niger State, Nigeria.
He relocated to Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria, with his family when he was two years old. He attended St. Murumba College in Jos while living there. He also went to Jos’ Science Tutorial College.
He began writing rap songs and started performing them while in school. In 2002, he and some friends formed the “ECOMOG Squad” but split after a year.
In 2004, he connected with M.I, Jesse Jagz, Ruby, Lindsey, Eve, Taz, and together they became what is now known today as the “Loopy Crew”
After he was signed to Chocolate City, He rose to fame after releasing “Oleku“, one of Nigeria’s most remixed songs of all time.
In 2011, he released his first studio album, Everybody Loves Ice Prince, then released his sophomore album, “Fire of Zamani“, then his third studio album, Jos To The World in 2016 after leaving Chocolate City.
Jesse Jagz was born in the chilly city of Jos to Chris and Lydia Abaga in 1984. His father is a pastor and his mother is a gospel artist and counsellor. He joined his church’s choir at the age of seven and later learned to play the drums on his parents’ drum kit.
He started his career with the Gospel Insanity band. Unfortunately, due to a squabble among the band members, the record was never released.
After that, Jesse began professionally producing beats and founded another group, Eleven Thirty; they enjoyed local success in Jos before disbanding in 2006.
He teamed up with his brother Jude Abaga, a.k.a. M.I, in 2004 to form Inner Hub Studios.
Jesse Jagz released his debut studio album Jag of All Tradez on 21 April 2010. It included the singles “Wetin Dey”, “Pump It Up”, “Jesse Swag”, “Sugar Cane Baby” and “Bend Down Low“. The album was produced entirely by Jesse Jagz.
In March 2013, Jesse Jagz announced his voluntary exit from Chocolate City and the launch of his own independent outfit Jagz Nation.
Apart from being a great artist, Jesse Jagz has produced songs for several artists, including Majek Fashek, M.I Abaga, Banky W, Ice Prince, Mode 9, Proverb and Dekunle Fuji.
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- Jeremiah Gyang