Posted by Itty Okim | 2 July 2019 | 3,611 times
What is it that D’banj did wrongly? What steps did he skip or what to-do’s did he leave undone? Did he use a wrong strategy pattern? How did he leave the scene? What has it cost him? Is there hope for his music in the industry? What exactly can he do?
Daniel Oyebanjo Oladapo as at 2008 was the lead face of Nigerian pop and the afrobeat sound.
Everyone was ‘vibing’ to his tracks and almost every release was a hit.
D’banj started off in 2004 with his single ‘Tongolo’ which became an instant hit on release. As at that time, he had just met Don Jazzy (Michael Ajereh) who himself was struggling as a songwriter and saw talent in D’banj.
The official video for ‘Tongolo’ was sponsored by D’banj’s mother.
In 2005, he dropped his debut album ‘No Long Thing’ with ‘Tongolo’ as its lead single. The song also gave him the Kokomaster branding.
Annunciating his sonorous voice with his resplendent mastery of the harmonica, D’banj stole the hearts of Nigerians; male and female. I wonder how he used to swing his magic wand, but D’banj was known for hit songs.
Every track of his Afrobeat and R&B sounds saturated the airwaves and topped almost every chart. It was not long before he started gaining international recognitions and profitable relationships.
Oladapo’s name continued to be one heard in every household. His songs were award winning and himself and Don Jazzy’s Mo’ Hits Records were doing exceptionally well.
They had A-list artistes like Wande Coal, Da Prince, Dr. SID and Kayswith (brother to D’banj) signed under the label and they were doing well for themselves until 2011 when he (D’banj) got signed to Kanye West’s GOOD Music Label.
D’banj signing that deal, I believe, was the beginning of the end for the Kokomaster.
While recalling the entire process some years ago, Don Jazzy stated:
“He (D'banj) had the courage to go and meet him (Kanye) and introduce himself and that he wanted to break into America and that he had done a song with Snoop Dogg and should please listen to the song and tell him if it’s good.
“And he understood and he listened to it and he liked it. And he asked us to drop by New York when we were going to LA for the video shoot with Snoop.
“So when we got to New York, we called them and his manager said we should meet up at Wyclef’s studio and the rest is history.”
I hate to say it, but that was exactly how it all played out. Mo’ Hits – alongside D’banj – became history. On his Twitter account on June 9, 2011, D’banj posted:
“Just like yesterday, myself and my brother (Don Jazzy) did Tongolo. 7 years later, Mo'Hits signs with GOOD Music. Best Birthday gift ever. God thank you.”
However, in a case of months, the brotherhood was broken. The “GOOD” deal brought about misunderstandings and Mo’ Hits had to die for the individuals to move on.
Don Jazzy went on to establish Mavin Records with Da Prince, Wande Coal and Dr. SID. D’banj formed DB Records and had his brother, Kayswitch alongside Deevee as its artistes.
At GOOD, we can say Kanye was too busy with other more promising acts than D’banj.
The once vibrant Kokomaster stayed years without dropping any songs and it wasn’t long before Nigerians forgot about his sound and welcomed more intriguing ones into their hearts.
By the time the he tried a comeback with ‘Emergency’ in 2017, the music industry had moved on to deeper waters and more relatable sounds from fresh bloods.
The 39-year-old has since then been doing collabos with wave makers and dropping several songs that have gained very little attention or recognition from the market.
He has since then been trying every possible strategy to come back into the scene as a headline but none of them seems to have worked.
I fear that with every passing minute, the DB dynasty dies and shrinks into the cold reception of nothingness.
This is not the first time an artiste loses fame and relevance in the music industry because of wrongly shifted loyalty.
Going way back in time, at the age of 16, Sir Shina Peters who later became famous for infusing Afrobeat with Juju music and Fuji signed a 10-year record deal with Sony Music. After a year into the contract, SSP as he was fondly referred to had grown into a household name.
Nigerians couldn’t hold back from stamping their feet and moving their bodies to the now highly electrified Juju sound which hitherto used to be slow and majestic until the Shina’s revolution.
Among all his tracks, “Ijo Shina” continues to remain his major hit. But all the grace went into thin air after he got drunk in fame and influence and felt like he needed to go solo.
He wanted it to be on record that he was self-made. But things didn’t exactly turn out the way the young talent expected.
After years of struggle and breaching his contract with Sony Music, he was set free. Almost too free, his music lost its captivating flair.
And 25 years after, the Shina Peters brand still suffers that stab in its Achilles’ heel.
All these should serve as warning to the younger generation of musical artistes. Not every opportunity is to be grabbed. Not every opening will birth progress. There’s always a place for loyalty.
That’s the ‘Koko’ that D’banj didn’t master.
And except that special grace comes down again, the once magical brand called D’banj might just be dying fast.
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