Kenny Ogungbe was at the forefront of revolutionizing the Nigerian music industry in the 90s. He started out as a radio presenter and moved on to start a record label, Kennis Music, which produced 2face Idibia's Face 2 Face, which has African Queen in it.
Aside from 2face, who later changed his name to 2baba, Kennis Music International produced great stars like Tony Tetuila, Eedris Abdulkareem, Essence, Jaywon, and Joel, among others.
Kenny Ogungbe said he can never leave music and is set to discover new generations of afrobeat stars with his new music reality show Naija Star Search.
He spoke with Legit.ng on his conquests in the Nigerian music industry, discipline in artists and creation of new stars, among others.
Kennis music started the revolution in the Nigerian music industry that produced some of the biggest artists, but after a while, there was silence. Kenny Ogungbe now wants to produce new music stars, and many doubt if he still has the touch to make stars,
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"Kennis Music has been there from the beginning, I didn’t change my career. I’m sure as a journalists you won’t change your career when you are getting old. I started when I was very young from OGBC when I was in my early twenties. I later moved to Raypower but I never changed my program from Power Play. I laert went on to start Kennis Music International. I never shifted my focus to Kennis banking or politics.
Those were times there was no money in music. So what time would you rather be in business; when there was no money compared to when there is money? I’ve been in the industry since then, I’ve been selling music till now and I will till I die. My radio station Kennis FM has been on for seven years now."
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Kennis Music has the biggest music catalogue
Ogungbe, while speaking of how big his CV and his impact on the Nigerian music industry, boldly claimed his company has the biggest music catalogue. Ogungbe said in the spate o 12 years, he has produced over 80 albums, with each album having an average of 12 songs. He said:
"You all know the songs on my catalogue. Kennis Music has the highest number of songs in a catalogue, the biggest in Afrobeat till today. If you go from the year 2000 to 2022, if you ask everyone to bring out their catalogue, nobody can do that. Kennis Music has released over 80 albums in the last 20 years and an averagely of 12 songs per album. If you multiply it, how many record companies can come out and say I’ve produced such an amount of songs? That is why we are celebrating music; we remix and rejuvenate them. Songs will never die."
Speaking based on the general saying that artists don't die as their work outlives them. Ogungbe is so proud to point us to the fact that some of the hits he produced over a decade ago, like 2face Idibia's African Queen, will be around forever, and his touch cannot be erased from the success of the music. He said:
"People are still singing and dancing to Lady by Fela Anikulapo Kuti till date and Fela is dead. When I’m dead, they will still sing African Queen, and my hand is in that music, my hand will forever be in that music."
Kenny Ogungbe searches for new stars
Ogungbe, who is out in search of new stars to produce and promote as he did with 2face, Eedris Abdulkareem and others, believe he still has the magic wands to fish out fresh stars to compete in the contemporary Nigerian music industry via his new show Naija Star Search in conjunction with StarTimes. He explained:
"If my experience at that time put up a great song when I was younger, today, I’m mature; don’t you think I’m going to be better like old wine? My biggest credit is identifying what is good.
Ogungbe speaks on the making of 2face Idibia's African Queen
Like every journalist is expected to have a nose for news, Ogungbe prides himself on having an ear for good music. He narrated how he made 2face release African Queen before they were due to do it just because he felt in his heart that the song would be a game changer for the artist and his company. He explained:
"I identified African Queen. We just released Nfana Ibaga, which was the first song done by 2face at that time and then he brought African Queen to me. I said this song is going on air today because I identified it. Usually, you wait for a song to go around a month or two before you release another song, but we released it.
"The song was supposed to be released with the album, but I said, “no this song is now”. That is my talent. I don’t need more than 10 seconds. Prove yourself to me, and in 10 seconds, I will tell you if you are going to blow or not. That is why I’ve been able to invest in over 80 albums singularly. I say that with pride, humbled by saying that."
Kennis Music's greatest songs and stars
"The greatest album produced by Kennis Music is Face to Face by 2face Idibia. The second is Grass to Grace by 2face Idibia. We have Eedris Abdulkareem, he spent a long time in Kennis music, the longest, even till today we are still working together. We also had VIP from Ghana; we brought Ghana music into the mainstream of Nigerian music. Then Tony Tetuila, Essence’s Facebook Love, Jaywon, and Joel. They all made classics and timeless songs under Kennis Music."
My show discovered Timaya and Wande Coal - Asha Gangali
Nigerian singer Asha Gangali said he left singing when the royalties were not coming in for him to become a talent hunter, and he started a show tagged Roc Da Mic.
Asha Gangali, who prided himself on having a noise to smell talents from a distance, was selected as one of the judges of a new talent hunt show Naija Star Search, an Afrobeats competition.