We take a look into the inspiration and meaning behind nicknames given to some popular Nigerian Artists.
Music artists tend to be strategic about their stage names as its represent their brand in its entirety, along the way, they gain Nicknames either self-bestowed or given to them by fans.
Names and album titles, cover arts, press photos, and musical range are all examples of finer components of the music craft that contribute to a musician’s artistry and help them connect with the people who eventually become their fans and, as a result, their stardom.
Despite the fact that the Nigerian music industry is brimming with talent, the nicknames and epithets given to the stars who grace it are completely unique.
In actuality, having nicknames, epithets, or descriptions for Nigerian singers has established a significant subculture in the music industry, with up-and-coming stars arriving on the market with ready-made nicknames that quickly expand on their growing fanbase.
It’s also a long-standing culture that can be traced back to the heydays of Fuji music, Fela afrobeat, and highlife in Nigeria.
To pay homage to the subculture of nicknames in the music industry, we’ve broken down the meaning and inspiration behind the nicknames of some of our favourite Nigerian artists in this list:
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Over the years, Wizkid has earned so many nicknames with some of them gotten from his songs. However, only two have stuck to date, “Starboy” and “Machala.”
The nickname, “Starboy” became popular in 2013 after Wizkid launched his Starboy Records after his exit from Banky W’s EME Records.
His Youtube channel and every other thing associated was branded under the name “Starboy“. Although in 2016, American singer, The Weeknd used the name for his album which sparked outrage among Wizkid’s fans.
On the other hand, “Machala” is a nickname that has been so well received by Wizkid’s fans— members of the Wizkid FC— that you can find various variants as either their usernames or identification in their self-written biography in several corridors of the internet that house members of this fanbase.
The meaning of the word is unclear and Internet search doesn’t seem to provide a conclusive meaning but it is reported to denote greatness.
Burna Boy- African Giant/Odogwu
In 2019, Burna Boy sent social media into a frenzy after he dragged Coachella for printing his name in small fonts.
This, he felt, was an act unworthy of his standing as an “African Giant,” as he called himself. That experience inspired the title of his second album, which garnered him his first Grammy nomination, and the title has stuck with him ever since.
Burna Boy then had yet another self-branding moment with the release of his first song of the year 2020, ‘Odogwu,’ which he was dubbed in the Eastern portion of the country according to the lyric lines.
In March of that year, the process was artistically sealed with a video that featured Igbo culture and represented Burna Boy being sworn in as the leader of an Igbo clan, which is essentially what the title, Odogwu, means.
This is an acronym for the words “Omo Baba Olowo,” which means “child of a wealthy man.” It is not exclusively linked with Davido, but it was popularized by him after the success of his breakout hit Dami Duro.
This pseudonym is a cocky, confident declaration of Davido’s luxurious heritage as the last son of a billionaire and business leader. While it is a nickname that has led to him receiving hateful remarks, he has gone on to develop a reputation and an identity that reads “OBO Baddest” in its entirety.
While Olamide goes by the nickname “Young Erikina,” which many believe means “young beast,” no other moniker has struck a chord with the rapper’s fans and friends like “Baddoo.”
It was immediately accepted by the streets and his supporters as his hard-hitting bars and blazing flows demonstrated that he was genuinely bad, and his street hop leanings verified his fulfilment of the name by being termed “Baddoo.”
Tiwa Savage- African Bad Gyal/Mama Jam Jam
There were even fewer women in the male-dominated music scene when Tiwa Savage got big in 2013. Furthermore, there was no female artiste with her seductive brand and style, which led to her being dubbed the African Bad Gyal.
Afterwards in 2015, the beautiful singer gave birth to a boy, Jamil Balogun, who, like his mother, became a household celebrity after a Pampers commercial brought mother and child closer to Nigerians.
Since then, Jamil has been dubbed ‘Jam Jam‘ and Tiwa Savage has been dubbed ‘Mama Jam Jam‘ by his mother and her fans.
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Ezege, Phyno’s single produced by Del B, rocked the airways in 2016. Since then, he’s been referred to as “Ezege” by himself, fans, and contemporaries.
While the title Ezege is derived from the Igbo word for “King,” with alternative translations such as “King of Kings” or “Master of Kings,” it is not an actually Igbo word but rather a street slang.
Its connotation changes depending on the context in which Phyno used it in the song, ranging from a superlative phrase for king to symbolizing superiority as a boss.