MUST READ: A critical Analysis on D’banj and his Foreign Dreams

Music is a tool for change. Music is
everything. Music is a panacea, and
above all can buffer the pressures from
the many bustling of our daily pursuits.
To ignore the power of music would be
akin to unmasking an ancestral spirit.
Since the D’banj-Jazzy imbroglio, I have
tried hard to detach myself from
subjective stands. I have watched and
observed both parties keenly and I think
it’s safe to write on my analyses thus far.
The summary of my discourse is that
D’banj is waning.
Now, let’s get down to brass tacks, for it
appears the Koko master isn’t (or has
found it impossible) recording anymore
great songs, without his erstwhile team
mate- Don Jazzy, and anyone who saw
their matchless combination before now
would be as worried as I am. Banga Lee
isn’t recording anymore major pop/
street anthems, as he used to, yet he
continues to feed on his past glory; by
still managing to sell out shows and
cover magazines. Can we safely say then,
that his musical career is loitering on the
brink of a collapse? As much as I am
amongst the pro Mo’hits vanguards,
having faulted the D’banj-Jazzy break up
forcefully and objectively, especially in
respect to their dwindled musical
representations subsequently, let me
make two things clear: First, Don Jazzy
has quite succeeded in delivering major,
attention-grabbing materials; even
without D’banj, and I can count from top
of my head 7-8 major hits he has scored,
to substantiate.
Secondly, my criticisms are borne out of
my concerns for good music and
formidable entertainment empires –
empires that can quake the nation and
go on to stun the world. Nothing more. I
have nothing whatsoever against D’banj
personally, but the fact that ‘Oliver Twist’
is still his biggest single since he parted
ways with Jazzy is thought-provoking.
How can an old Jazzy-produced single
be bigger than the entire D’banj post
Mo’hits album? I am worried. You should
be. It should disturb real D’banj fans and
music pundits in general. He is not
hoisting his flag (on same musical high
as before), he stays playing into the
hands of Don Jazzy faithfuls, who believe
strongly that Jazzy is the muse behind
his music.
In the light of this, I implore D’banj to
please wake up and clear rife doubts.
There is no better time than the present,
considering his track record, and I
suppose; his understanding of the
yearnings of teeming fans, supporters
and critics.
D’banj is NOT Denrele, Uti Nwachukwu
or Saka. Stage performances are only a
sequel to good songs. Performances
should feed off and complement
wonderful studio projects. He is a self-
acclaimed entertainer, and I have not a
drop of doubt about that; but what is
his entire ‘acting’ and ‘theatrics’ and
shirt-pulling-bragadaccio without some
heavy club/pop anthems for the people
to nod to? If, like an Obi Asika for
instance, I don’t fancy being outdoors
much, does it imply I’d never get to
connect with a talent in D’banj’s mould,
because I would have to wait for him to
make up; on stage, for lapses on his
tape? This illustration is an aside, by the
way.
I don’t know the terms of the G.O.O.D
Music deal with D’banj but I know that it
will never serve to position his career
fully, if he doesn’t deliver to his patrons;
his home-based patrons. The fans and
listeners at home are his major patrons.
International recognition and
acceptability only flow from hits –
multiple hits- that must have been
endorsed by the industry pundits, fans
and critics at home; at least to a large
extent if not in its entirety.
Another option before us is hoping
D’banj switches styles and goes
completely international in his pattern of
music. But there are pitfalls. He can’t
switch styles today and get around with
the American genres tomorrow. D’banj
is not the best singer or rapper or
dancer. He would hardly scratch any
surface there, with or without G.O.O.D
Music. Even a Banky W, Bez, Dare or an
MI Abaga, with their much seemingly up-
to-foreign-standards deliveries wouldn’t
dare go that route; that would be the
musical equivalence of taking coals to
Newcastle.
Godwon won Eminem’s freestyle battle,
he hasn’t achieved anything in the
American Industry afterwards. Matter of
fact, he is struggling to find balance in
our industry, and until his recent
annihilation of Sauce Kid, was going on
with a just-about-average name in
Nigeria. Well, except in Hip-hop circles,
which is a relatively small chunk of our
‘listenership’ base. Craig David -in his
heyday- tried it, he left Southampton and
went ahead to test new waters in
America. He is still licking his wounds.
The home turf is any artiste’s bedrock,
he mustn’t screw with it. It is his best
bet and must be served right. If he loses
at home, he will never win away, this is
not Premiership or Champions League.
See, prolific and seasoned entertainment
writer, Jon Caramanica, struggled to
write a piece on ‘D Kings Men’. He wrote
a paltry work on NY Times, like he was
lost for words or he was paying for each
alphabet with his blood. I was tired.
D’banj is our own, they don’t know him
like we do. They never will.
Amidst all these though, Banga Lee has a
strongpoint, and we must admit. He
commands respect and captivates a
titanic audience. He is still killing it, I
must also add. Only thing is he can only
go so far if he doesn’t begin to coal the
fire. Whilst I’m not saying Don Jazzy is
the beginning and the end of his career,
I’m saying he is giving critics plenty
reasons to posit thus.
‘Oyato’ -obviously hastily done, in a bid
to announce that he was still in charge-
was a terribly weak song. The ridicule in
its wake was just as sick. I got it online
the day it was released, I had been
chilling for a post Mo’hits material from
the Koko master. I played it a couple of
times on that cold evening. I was
outdoors, my headphones on. At some
point, I flung my head back and laughed
aloud. It was a bitter laugh, the type that
could make a passer-by stop and stare.
My expectations were dashed.
Some one year plus after, nothing has
changed, save for ‘Top of The World’,
and perhaps ‘Cash Flow’ and ‘Bachelor’.
The Koko master stays releasing music
that leaves much to be desired. And
gradually, his arsenal is depleting, his
monster hits thinning out, his fire
smothering and our musical cravings
ebbing. My outlook of his career, at
present, is positively dispirited.
On ‘Scape Goat’ Remix, his GOOD Music
benefactor, Kanye West, spat some of his
most insipid lines ever. I was nearly
teary-eyed upon hearing those. I
wonder if that says anything about what
value Mr. West places on his huge
Nigerian signing. I truly wonder. Fally
Ipupa lends further credence to my
suspicions of D’banj’s nosedive on the ‘D
Kings Men’ Project. ‘Nous Les Meilleurs
(We The Best)’ was one helluva fiasco, it
reeked of nothing but rambling sounds.
I am also thinking something is wrong
on the parts of his A&R team, otherwise
that song had no business on the album.
I might have been opinionated all article
long. Let me share with you what
Ayomide Tayo, a music critic, wrote in
his review of ‘D Kings Men’: “…Fans
wouldn’t give D’banj’s new songs half a
chance because they lack Don Baba Jay’s
magic touch. D’banj is aware of this and
fights back on several tracks on DKM.”
My question now is, have these fight
backs delivered the goods? Are there
major hits as a result of the fight backs?
Ayomide writes further: “…On DKM there
are no huge pop anthems like the ones
crafted by Don Jazzy in the Mo’hits
period. What we have on this
compilation are strong pop songs
hinged on D’banj’s personality and
amazing instrumentals.”
At this point, I’d implore us all to
minutely dissect Ayomide Tayo’s
postulations vis-a-vis my
aforementioned analyses, then figure if
the Koko Master is still breaking grounds
(musically). As we digest these words in
silence, can we also ask that the real
Koko master stands up? By ‘stand up’ I
mean rise up and take the lead, as it
was.
I understand and respect that D’banj has
great fortunes (possibly than he knows
what to do with them). It is musically
that he is (almost becoming) destitute,
and any true supporter would be
pained. This is what necessitates my
writing. I want some carefully done and
structured songs, I need him to
orchestrate hits upon hits like we used
to have, monster hits like Wizkid,
Olamide and Ice Prince have done in the
last 10-12 months. I want no more of
his forceful, hasty attempts at foisting
his music upon us.
In any case, I don’t expect Banga Lee to
read this and bite his thumb nail (I know
that he does bite his nails and stuff) and
lose sleep, with his mind hovering over
problems of how to conduct his music
so as to establish proof of his genius
(with or without Jazzy).
I also do not intend to excoriate his
brand and person, in the least. Candidly.
But I believe that this piece will have
served its end, should it succeed in the
minimal task of rousing the Koko master
from his pseudo-American dream, into a
reality where he takes on the mantle, as
one of Nigeria’s biggest music exports
of the 21st century, and churn out
works that should have oppositions
bowing in awe.
I challenge D’banj to blaze the trail once
more, and have me re-editing my already
typed works. I need him to clear my
doubts so I can probably beg a few of
my closest, kindest friends; to help me
into a state of temporary oblivion, by
shutting my door, whilst I sedate myself
with a measured doze of Gin and Juice,
as I fade slowly with R. Kelly’s ‘Turn Back
The Hands of Time’ playing quietly in my
background. I am waiting. I know a
million people who also are.

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