The African music industry is a dynamic and thriving landscape that has produced some of the world’s most celebrated artists and music genres.
Behind the scenes, record labels play a pivotal role in nurturing and promoting this talent.
Glamsquad Magazine takes a look into the top 10 most popular record labels in Africa.
1. Marvin Records
Mavin Records stands as one of Africa’s most influential record labels. It was established in 2012 by recording artist and producer Don Jazzy, following the closure of Mo’ Hits Records owned by Don Jazzy and D’banj. Two decades since its inception, Mavin Records has now reached a valuation of $45 million and employs a large workforce. The company’s remarkable success is primarily attributed to Don Jazzy’s exceptional talent for discovering and nurturing gifted artists, transforming them into industry superstars.
Mavin Records has evolved into a significant business entity with financial support from international investors. It operates as an imprint label with “Jonzing World” and also has a holding company called “Mavins Holding.” Renowned artists such as Tiwa Savage, Wande Coal, and Reekado Banks credit their success to this label.
Presently, Mavin Records houses a roster of talented artists, including Rema, Ayra Starr, Crayon, Ladipoe, Johnny Drille, and many others.
2. Gallo Records
Gallo Records is a South African record label that emerged through the merger of two independent record labels, Gallo Africa and G.R.C (Gramophone Record Company).
Following the merger, the company operated under the name Gallo-GRC for five years before ultimately adopting the name Gallo Record Company.
It is worth noting that Gallo Records – originally established in 1926 by Eric Gallo, holds the distinction of being the oldest and largest South African independent record label.
3. DMW Record Label
Davido Music Worldwide (DMW) stands as one of the record labels at the forefront of promoting Afrobeats globally.
The record label was established in 2016 by sensational superstar, David Adedeji Adeleke better known as Davido.
DMW has rapidly solidified its position as a major force in the Nigerian music scene. The label’s journey began with the signings of two artists, singer Mayorkun and rapper Dremo. However, the former’s contract has expired.
It has earned numerous accolades such as the “Record Label of the Year” at the City People Music Awards and the Beatz Awards.
The label boasts an impressive roster of artists, including Davido, Dremo, Peruzzi, Liya, Idowest, B-Red, and many others.
4. Wasafi Classic Baby Record Label
Wasafi Classic Baby, also known and called WCB, is East Africa’s most successful record label.
It was created in 2016 by one of Tanzania’s talented artists, Naseeb Abdul Juma Issack better known as Diamond Platnumz.
The label made a bold entry into the African music scene by signing four artists simultaneously: Harmonize, Raycanny, Queen Darlene, and Rich Mavoko. Currently, the record label operates from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
After achieving success in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda, the label’s CEO attributed the label’s growth to their diligent work and commitment to creating exceptional songs and music videos.
5. YBNL Record Label
Yahoo Boy No Laptop Nation, better known as YBNL Nation or simply YBNL, is an independent record label founded by one of Nigeria’s indigenous talented singer, rapper and songwriter, Olamide Gbenga Adedeji in 2012.
On the other hand, Olamide’s second studio album was named YBNL”. It served as the successor to his debut studio album, “Rapsodi,” and was released on November 12, 2012.
Currently, the label has seven artists Here is a list of current artists in YBNL: Olamide, DJ Enimoney, Fireboy DML, B.Banks, Whizhablbaby, PRECIOUS (PREDIQUI), Asake and Jayboi.
6. Chocolate City
Chocolate City stands as a prominent record label with more than 17 years of experience in the African music industry.
The label was established in Nigeria in 2005 by Audu Maikori, Yahaya Maikori, and Paul Okeugo. Chocolate City operates under the umbrella of Chocolate Music Group, one of the largest entertainment conglomerates in Africa.
It is worth noting that Chocolate City was originally established as a nightclub. The label has boasted renowned artists in its roster, including M.I., Ice Prince, Victoria Kimani, Jesse Jagz, Brymo, and others.
In 2019, the globally acclaimed Warner Music Group joined forces with Chocolate City, catapulting the record label to new heights and solidifying its status as a dominant force in the African entertainment scene.
Currently, the label is headed by Abuchi Peter Ugwu, who took over from M.I Abaga. It also proudly represents talented artists like Femi Kuti, CKay, Dice Ailes, Ruby Gyang, and Blaqbonez.
7. 5Star Music
Emeka Okonkwo, better known as E-Money, is the visionary behind 5Star Music. He is the younger brother of music sensation, KCEE.
The label has thrived since its inception in 2009. Harrysong, Soso Soberekon, and Skibii used to be under 5Star Music.
Harrison to fame under 5Star record label after his tribute song to Nelson Mandela won the “Most Downloaded Callertune Award” at The Headies 2013.
8. Lilac Jeans Records
Lilac Jeans is another big record label established in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was formed by Linda Sikhosana (Menu) & Floyd Nkonyane in 2014.
In its early days, the label’s initial releases featured the label heads themselves, serving as a prime showcase for their distinct musical style. Lilac Jeans, primarily influenced by a fusion of jazz, soul, dance/club, and soulful house, used the label as a platform to share their unique brand of music.
As time progressed, the label expanded its horizons to spotlight other talented artists. In 2016, a notable transformation occurred when the label underwent a rebranding and relaunched itself as Lilac Jeans Records. Within their catalog, two outstanding projects shine brightly: Mr KG’s “Music In My Head” and Tahir Jones’s “Side-Step EP.”
9. SarkCess Music
SarkCess Music record label established in 2014 is owned by Ghanaian rapper, Michael Owusu Addo better known as Sarkodie.
Having been in the music industry for about two decades, the CEO upholding respect for musicians and ensuring they are justly rewarded for their unwavering commitment and effort. He underscored how his early experiences as an aspiring artist, devoid of record label support, profoundly influenced his principles and methods in aiding emerging talents.
10. Capital Hill Records
Capital Hill Records, was established through the collaborative efforts of music video director, Clarence Abiodun Peters and his friend Tha Suspect.
The label’s journey began as a conversation between these two individuals, with Tha Suspect eventually becoming an artist under its banner.
The label used to house artists such has Kel, Chidinma Ekile admist its several controversies.
Read Also: Top 10 most popular record label in Nigeria