The first time I ever heard about Efe Omorogbe, I was a 19-year-old taking on my first internship at Netng in 2016. They undersold him to me as ‘2Baba’s manager’, but he was so much more.
Efe Omorogbe was born on March 3, 1971, in Warri, Delta State, to Moses Osasogie Omorogbe and Olu Akpoviri and grew up with 24 siblings. He had a ‘fun, tough but mostly beautiful childhood’ growing up in the oil city, and his experiences helped build the man he is today. He attended Ighogbaudu Primary School, Warri, and Ogodo Primary School, Sapele before moving to Okotie-Eboh Grammar School, Sapele, where he developed his rap, dance and beat-boxing skills. But he created the foundation for his brilliant career as a student of the English Language department at the University of Lagos, Akoka.
He is the kind of man that makes things happen from behind the scenes. Interestingly, he started at the front-end of things as a dancer, beatboxer and rapper before deciding that he had lost his mojo by the time he was through with his first semester in university.
He created Now Muzik, a talent management, label and consulting firm, around his second year and began to work with other artistes. He was only starting and would go on to work with some of the biggest names across Africa. But he didn’t know that at the time. As expected, his first set of artistes didn’t become famous, or in the more local parlance, ‘blow’.
After graduating with a BA in English Education from the University of Lagos in 1996, Omorogbe worked in the entertainment media as associate editor, Hip-Hop World magazine, the progenitor of HipTV, and associate producer of Global Sounds (Nigezie) before focussing wholly on Now Muzik.
Since he first made the bold move to start up his talent management company, Omorogbe has worked with some of the biggest Nigerian stars in their prime. Between 2003 to 2008, his company worked with Eedris Abdulkareem, 2Shotz, Nigga Raw, Ruggedman, Paul Play Dairo, Sunny Nneji, Obiwon, Terry G, Ill Bliss, Tunde and Wunmi Obe (TWO), and many others.
They have also managed 2Baba since he struck out as a solo artist from Plantashun Boiz. Omorogbe helped the artiste set up his record label and is the co-founder and CEO, Hypertek Digital/960 Music Group, where he provides A/R and executive producer support.
He discusses managing many stars despite only being known as 2Baba’s manager in an interview with Netng. “Until maybe like 4 or 5 years ago, we’ve always worked with a large number of artistes. I always told people that I’m not 2Baba’s manager. My name is Efe Omorogbe. I work for Now Muzik. It’s a talent management firm. That’s how I introduced myself for more than a decade and a half. There was a time Now Muzik was responsible for a lot of talents. Between 2003 to about 2007/2008, Now Muzik looked after in no particular order – Niyola, Obiwon, Nigga Raw, Mr Cool, Sunny Nneji, 2face Idibia, Ruggedman, Eedris Abdulkareem, Pau Play Dairo, 2Shotz, a lot of talents. Timi Dakolo, Seyi Shay, Toni Tones, and Dammy Krane afterwards. We’ve always worked with a large number of artistes. The question I will ask someone is – if you were J-Martins and I was travelling with you, and someone comes to me and says ‘Hey, Sunny Nneji’s manager or 2baba’s manager’, how would that make you feel?”
But the whole world solely knows him as 2Baba’s manager because he has worked with the star the longest. The multi-award-winning artiste is Now Muzik’s only represented talent. Efe also has writing credits for some of the 45-year-old’s best records. He co-wrote 2Baba’s hits like ‘Spiritual Healing’, ‘Dance in the Rain’, ‘We Must Groove’ ft. Burna Boy, ‘Opo’ ft. Wizkid, and more.
Writing is just one more thing Omorogbe does, and it’s more than helping to write a few songs. He says, “I lost my mojo as a performer, as a front person. But I can sit in a studio and work with you to create a 15-track album. If you put me in the spot and turn on the light, I’m not as efficient as I am in the background. First and foremost, I’m a creative. I am a writer. I’ve always run my other businesses even while writing. My writing has always been broad-based – scripts, copy-writing, business plans. I started writing for a living before anything else. A lot of the stuff that we create and execute starts from paperwork. I’m still a creative. I‘m developing TV shows, I’m working on movie projects, I’m currently producing a documentary, and I’ve always been like that”.
Apart from writing, the creative entrepreneur also runs an artistic solutions company, Buckwyld Media Network. As the founder of the business, he has worked on major live events like Buckwyld ‘n’ Breathless, Star Music: The Trek, Eargasm; product launches such as GAC G8; development programme campaign on Get It Together; tourism promotion on Jos Chillin’; and ‘Power of 1’ film. A man of many interests, he also has his hands in agribusiness, sports and hospitality. He is a director at Innobia Agro-Allied Ltd, Mees Palace Football Academy and Effizie (a company he runs with his wife).
Nigerian rapper, Phenom says Omorogbe believes that failure to grow is death. He tells Netng, “He says if you stop growing, you die. He’s figuring more innovative ways to take his game to the next, and venturing into other sectors outside the creative/ entertainment industry – agriculture and the business sector, being one of them”.
His need to create practical solutions in different aspects of the economy, especially in the Nigerian music industry, led him to join a team of specialists to establish the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON). On May 20, 2010, COSON became known as the only NCC-approved collective management society for the Nigerian music industry. It had the highest involvement of players in that space. The Nigerian artistes, alongside national associations like the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Nigerian Association of Recording Industries (NARI), and Music Label Owners & Recording Industries Association of Nigeria (MORAN) all affiliated with the COSON leadership.
CEO of Lagos-based marketing, media, and technology company – ID Africa, Femi Falodun, believes that all of Omorogbe’s experiences make him stand out. He says, “I’ve worked with Efe Omorogbe as a marketing communications consultant on brand campaigns and projects involving him and his team. He is always professional and reliable. You can take him for his word. And you can always rest; assured that the talent he’s responsible for will do what was agreed and not derail from plans. His wise, calm and easy-going personality set him apart. His exposure, depth of knowledge and wealth of experience make him not just an effective talent and business manager, but also a thought leader within the wider creative and entertainment ecosystem”.
Besides being such a force in the industry, Omorogbe is also a family man. He got married to Bukola Mafoitan-Omorogbe in 2001, and they have a son together – Esosa. He describes his close-knit family as his most significant achievement.
It has not been easy to manage three businesses, a family, and one of Africa’s biggest stars over the years. Omorogbe says he has learned a few lessons. He shares that the highest knowledge he has gotten is – “money is a lot more important than I thought it was. Money is not everything, but it is essential. Up until a few years ago, I didn’t attach as much importance to money as I do now. There’s a lot more than you can change, impact and effect with just the right amount of money in this business.”
Efe Omorogbe has gathered over 25 years of experience in this industry and has learned more than one lesson. Considering this, the legendary talent manager decided to give back to society by hosting a music roundtable to celebrate his 50th birthday on March 3, 2020.
He joined a team of seasoned speakers drawn from different sectors of the entertainment industry to talk about “Talent Management: Perception, Reality & Challenges In A Changing World”. The panellists included Netng founder Ayeni Adekunle, Hip TV’s Ayo Animashaun, talent managers Godwin Tom and Sunday Are, MTN’s Osaze Ebueku, Chocolate City’s Aibee Abidoye, media personality Olisa Adibua, and singer Seyi Shay. Buki Sawyer-Izeogu of Buki HQ moderated the session, while industry powerhouse Edi Lawani delivered the keynote address.
The roundtable matches Omorogbe’s dreams of how he wants to be remembered when he’s old and retired. He says he wants people to remember him as “a guy who strived to make his little space a better place”.
But that will not be happening anytime soon as the creative businessman is not ready to slow down yet. Netng Founder Ayeni Adekunle believes that Omorogbe still has more to do. Talking about the father of one, he says, “there was an Efe Omorogbe before THE Efe Omorogbe that everyone knows and relates with today as Buckwyld and Now Muzik and 2Baba’s manager and everything. That Efe Omorogbe is so many things, and I’m hoping that as he celebrates his 50th birthday, he brings back a lot of his old self because it’s central to the work that needs to be done at this point. Not only for the music industry but actually for the entire country”.