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Teni Biography: Rise to stardom, music, facts, relationship, awards, net worth & more

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Teni is a singer, songwriter and entertainer, who was born as Teniola Apata, in Lagos State on 12th December 1992 to Mr and Mrs Apata. Teni has placed herself at the summit of the Nigerian music industry since her arrival on the music scene. She is nicknamed Oba Orin, meaning King of songs. Some also call her Nigerian Missy Elliot or Naija Missy Elliot.

Among other things, the talented singer is well-loved by both her fans and neutral music enthusiasts.

In this article, we explore the biography of Teni the entertainer but first some key facts that many do not know about her.

10 facts about Teni that everyone should know

  1. Teni’s full name is Teniola Apata and she was born on 12th December 1992.
  2. Her father was assassinated when she was just two years old. Teniola Apata father was Simeon Apata, a retired Brigadier General that was assassinated on 8th January 1995.
  3. Teni is a biological sister of popular Nigerian musician, Niniola Apata, who goes by the stage name Niniola.
  4. Teni is credited with writing Davido’s hit song Like Dat in 2017.
  5. Teni’s music is influenced by the fuji sound and her music seamlessly blends sound from fuji and Afrobeats making it appealing across generations of music lovers.
  6. Teni released only one song each both in 2016 and 2017. Her first song Amen was released under Shizzi Magic Fingers record label before she mover to Dr Dolor Entertainment
  7. She was accused of being a homosexual by Pericoma Mesuo Okoye who goes by stage name Speed Darlington in 2019.
  8. Teni is the first African to be featured on YouTube Trending Artist on the Rise, a feat she achieved in February 2019 
  9. She was nominated for the BET Awards Best New International Act and the MTV Europe Music Awards Best African Act in 2019
  10. Among the several awards that Teni has won, she had won The Headies Best Pop Single Award in 2019 and also the Best Recording of the Year Award in the same year.

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Teni Biography: Early life

Teniola Apata, popularly known by her stage name Teni or Teni the Entertainer, was born on 12th December 1992. The fun-loving celebrity is allegedly the ninth child in a family of 10 children. Teni’s parents were Mr and Mrs Apata and she was born in Lagos State.

However, Teni is from Ekiti State, her late father’s hometown. Teni’s father was Simeon Apata, a retired Brigadier General that was assassinated on 8th January 1995.  Teni was only two years old when her father died. Simeon Apata had married three wives and thus naturally had a large family.

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Teni Apata attended Apata Memorial High School, a military-styled private boarding school in Lagos that her father had founded in 1980.  Apata Memorial High School is renowned to this day as a strict disciplinary school.

Once she completed her secondary school education, Teni went on to the United States of America. While there, she obtained a degree in Business Administration at the American Intercontinental University.

Music influences

Teni had always loved music right from school. During her days at her alma mater, Apata Memorial High School, she had been part of the school band and had played the band’s drum.

Also, while growing up, Teni and her siblings were not allowed outdoors. To create their own fun, they would stay on the corridors and sing at the top of their voices. The singer also revealed that she listened to Wasiu Ayinde‘s songs while she was a child.

The legendary artiste known as K1 De Ultimate is a Nigerian Fuji musician. He popularised a brand of the fuji genre based on the work of the fuji creator Ayinde Barrister known as Talazo Fuji that appeals to all age groups, irrespective of tribe and background.

Related: Download and stream Teni Makanki Billionaire EP

Talazo Fuji’s sound is quite evident in most of Teni’s works. She was able to effortlessly blend the Fuji sound with Afrobets, creating a unique sound in the process. It was this uniqueness that brought her early attention even when she was just starting out.

Ninola and Teni

Niniola and TeniIs Niniola Teni’s elder sister?

That’s a question that has been on the lips of many and the answer is, “Yes”. Popular Nigerian singer Ninola Apata and Teniola Apata her sisters. Niniola is the elder sister of Teni and she started singing first before Teni burst into the limelight as well. It is likely that Niniola had influenced Teni’s choice of career.

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In 2018, Niniola had called people who said negative things about Teni’s look ‘stupid’ and ‘unhappy’. She had said this in a YouTube interview with Hot FM Radio. Both sisters have been rumoured to be working on a song together but they haven’t yet released any song together.

Teni Biography: Early music career

Teni Makanaki started her music career in Nigeria with a single titled Amen, which was released in 2016. When Teni released Amen in 2016, she had been under Shizzi Magic Fingers record label. While Shizzi Magic Fingers needs no introduction, it is important to note that by then the label had produced hit songs for the likes of Wizkid, Davido and Olamide.

Thus, Teni’s first single immediately caught attention. Music enthusiasts were ecstatic over the track and it was getting airplay on so many radio stations.

This early success was likely because the track was able to tap into the modern popular Afrobeats while still retaining the Fuji sounds from the prior generation. The result was simple: a track that both the young and old could vibe to. However, it was only the tip of the iceberg as Teni was just starting although she didn’t release any new song for the rest of the year.

Teni Biography: Later music career

In 2017, Teni left Shizzi Magic Fingers record label and signed with  Dr Dolor Entertainment. She returned with the hit song Fargin. It was seemingly concocted with the same formula that Amen had been created. Fargin became an earworm that many people could literally not get enough of. Just two songs into the Nigerian music industry and Teni was already getting honourable mentions.

Teni biography: the singer is playerful and wears colourful outfits

Still, at that time, Teni was still seen as an alté singer and had still not gained that followership peculiar to mainstream musicians. Then in 2018, Teni dropped Wait. The release of Wait made it three songs and three hits for the then-upcoming singer. She was already being called Oba Orin and some christened her Teni Makanaki.

2018 also saw Teni releasing a string of singles. The song Askamaya drove party-goers to finally acknowledge that Teni was indeed a musical force to reckon with. On the back of the wave that Askamaya had created, Teni released Case and later dropped Uyo Meyo. Case was featured in YouTube Trending Artist on The Rise in February 2019, making Teni the first African artist to be so featured.

Also see: Burna Boy, Teni, Harmonize & others battle for MTV EMA Best African Act

Case and Uyo Meyo brought the well-loved singer many recognitions and awards.  We will go into details about this in the Awards and recognition section of this article.

Late in 2019, by the beginning of October to be precise, Teni released the song Billionaire, which turned out to be one of her most popular songs. While this track is yet to win her an award, it has undisputedly become the top Teni song. It also led to what became her first official Extended Play (EP).

Teni Billionaire EP

On 16th October 2019, Teniola Apata compiled her first official EP and named it after its lead song Billionaire. The Billionaire EP has six songs including Nowo, Billionaire, Complain, Super Woman, Shayo and Online.

Teni released the EP under Dr Dolor Entertainment Records. She works with record producers like Jaysynths Beatz and Pheelz on the project.

Teni as a songwriter

Let us now look at another aspect of her career that many overlook when they talk about Teni, namely as a songwriter.

One of Teni’s biggest achievement as a songwriter was when in 2017, she penned the hit song Like Dat for David Adeleke, popularly called Davido. Teni herself counts it as a privilege to have done something as big as that while still relatively unpopular.

She had tweeted about the song a day before it dropped and received mixed reactions. In an interview with NotJuskOk back in 2018, she explains:

” In the first place, I wasn’t even doing it for praise. I was just excited that in my lifetime, I have been able to do something that has challenged me and that has made me grow which is writing for one of the greatest artistes in Africa.

It was a big deal for me and it was something I was very proud of myself for, so I tweeted it and some people took it badly and some people took it wrong but nevertheless.”

Teni controversial moments

Homophobic attack

While Teni is all fun and jovial, she also has been involved in her share of controversies. One example was in March 2019, when she uploaded a video of herself in California abusing foreigners in Yoruba. The video had gotten some fans to laugh but others had quickly pointed out the fact that if the scenario was flipped, it would have indeed been considered racism.

Closet homosexual?

Another time Teni was involved in controversy was when Pericoma Mesuo Okoye known by stage name Speed Darlington had suggested that she was gay in June 2019. This was because Teni had worn rainbow coloured socks while performing at The Ends Festival in the UK. Speed Darlington had said:

“Nigeria is she gay? Is she trying to tell us something? I hope not because if she’s openly gay that music no go pop again I know this for sure Nigeria is a very religious country nobody is booking gay musician. She going to need to move to [a] white country for that’.”

She had not humoured him with a response back then.

However, by August 2019, both Teni and Darlington were pictured together at the One African Music Festival in New York and seemed to have reconciled their differences.

On Nigerian feminists

In February 2020, Teni again found herself in a twist for a tweet that seemed to have targeted Nigerian feminists. She had tweeted:

“Y’all are feminists till it’s time to bend on one knee to ask a man to marry you! Aren’t we equal?

“Btw it’s not wrong for a woman to propose to her man!”

This had led to many coming after her with arguments and some even resorted to insulting her about her size as well.

Teni Biography: Private life & relationships

Many fans have always wanted to know what Teni’s relationship status is. Some have asked questions like, “Who is Teni dating?” ANd some have searched for “Teni Boyfriend” on Google.

The truth is that it is not clear at this time if Teni is in a relationship or not. Before now, there used to be rumours about Teni and Wizkid were dating.

The rumours appeared to be true after Wizkid allegedly claimed to be responsible for Teni’s pregnancy. Teni was not pregnant. However, it turns out that both stars were just having fun and tweeting without being serious.

To further confirm this, Teni in her usual jovial manner had told Falz that she was indeed in a relationship with Wizkid. She said this while Falz hosted Flytime Promotions’ The Journey.

However, later, she jokingly added that Wizkid was unaware of the relationship at the time.

The thing is that Teni and Wizkid are good friends and were even at one rumoured to be working on a song together. We have not seen that collaboration yet between Wizkid and Teni.

On another occasion when it called for a serious reply, Teni had admitted wanting to start a family of her own. But had said:

“For now, music is my primary focus. Of course, at some point in the future, I will like to have a family of my own but for now, I am in a relationship with my music.”

Teni’s net worth and endorsements

It is not verifiable how much Teniola Apata, known by her stage name Teni, is worth.  Some blogs out there tout figures with no evidence and so cannot be trusted.

One outlet claims that Teni is worth $350,000 while another mentions that Teni has a net worth of $300,000.

While we cannot give an accurate figure for Teni’s net worth, we will outline deals and endorsements she currently has. This should give an insight into what she is likely worth.

As of 2020, Teniola Apata popularly called Teni has the following endorsement deals:

  1. On the 12th of July 2019, Wema Bank Nigeria endorsed Teniola as the brand ambassador of its alat_ng scheme.
  2. Budweiser beer endorsed Teniola as one of its numerous celebrity ambassadors.
  3. Teniola signed an endorsement deal with TomTom on the 26th of March 2019.
  4. Pepsi Naija signed an endorsement deal with Teniola on the 30th of June 2019.
  5. Tecno Mobile signed an endorsement deal with Teniola in 2019.

That plus the fact that Teni’s music enjoys wide acceptance is an indication that she is not doing badly. She also regularly performs at events and local and international concerts.

Teni also earns money from her YouTube views. According to the statistical website Social Blade, the singer likely makes $73 – $1.2K monthly or $876 – $14K yearly in revenue. Her actual figure will fall somewhere between these two extremes but earning north and south of the projections are also possible.

So, to conclude this section, we don’t know Teni’s net worth but all the facts point that she is doing well financially.

Teni awards and recognitions

In her relatively short career so far, Teni has won quite a number of awards as well as get nominated in a few as shown below:

  • Winner of The Headies Rookie of the Year Award (2018)
  • Winner of the SoundCity MVP Awards Festival Best New Artist Award (2018)
  • Winner of the Nigeria Entertainment Awards Most Promising Act to Watch Award (2018)
  • Nominated for the BET Awards Best New International Act (2019)
  • Winner of The Headies Best Pop Single Award  (2019) for Case
  • Nominated for the SoundCity MVP Song of the Year Award (2019) for Case
  • Nominated for the SoundCity MVP Best Pop Single (2019)
  • Winner of Headies Best Recording of the Year Award (2019) for Uyo Meyo
  • Nominated for the Headies Best R&B Single Award (2019)
  • Winner of Headies Viewer’s Choice Award (2019)
  • Winner of Headies Best Vocal Performance (Female) Award (2019) for Uyo Meyo
  • Nominated for the MTV Europe Music Awards Best African Act (2019)

 

Final thoughts …

Teni in one of her signature colourul outfits and bandanna

Teni’s talent cannot be questioned as she has masterfully blended the old sounds of Fuji with the modern Afrobeats. Furthermore, she has mostly ignored negative comments about her physical appearance choosing to answer them with silence most of the time.

Her hard work also tells on both the quantity and the preserved quality of each of her tracks. This has given her deserved recognition and awards. While she focuses on her art, Teniola Apata still finds time to have fun.

Teni list of songs

Selected Teni songs

  1. Amen (2016)
  2. Fargin (2017)
  3. Wait (2018)
  4. Pareke (2018)
  5. Lagos (2018)
  6. Askamaya (2018)
  7. Fake Jersey (2018)
  8. Shake Am (2018)
  9. Case (2018)
  10. Pray (2018)
  11. Uyo Meyo (2018)
  12. Party Next Door (2019)
  13. Sugar Mummy (2019)
  14. Power Rangers (2019)
  15. Billionaire (2019)
  16. Marry (2020)

Teni’s EP

Billionaire (tracklist)

  1.  Nowo
  2.  Billionaire
  3.  Complain
  4.  Super Woman
  5.  Shayo
  6.  Online

Teni features

  1. Rambo (Dr Dolor featuring Teni) – 2018
  2. Pray (Dr Dolor featuring Teni and Phyno) – 2018
  3. Aye Kan (Shizzi featuring Teni and Mayorkun) – 2018
  4. Murder (King Perry featuring Teni) – 2018

We hope you enjoyed reading the article. Share with us your favourite Teni’s music and don’t forget to share the article with your networks. Check out our past Celebrity Biographs Section to read about your favourite celebrities and stars.

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