D’banj: 10 years a star…a look at the Koko Master’s career since 2004

Posted on March 19 2014 , at 12:34 am
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By Steve Dede

D'banj, Photo: MTVBase.com
D’banj, Photo: MTVBase.com

D’banj’s 2011 smash hit ‘Oliver Twist’ is arguably his biggest song. The strength of the character behind the song, Oliver Twist, who is famed for ‘wanting more’, is also one of D’banj’s biggest strengths. His thirst for more has propelled him to the top echelon of the Nigerian music industry.

Over the course of his career, his ability to adopt new sounds without deviating from his persona has been nothing short of amazing, and has no doubt become the bedrock of the longevity of his career. It’s undeniable that he has polished his artistry with every project.

It has been ten years since Dapo Daniel Oyebanjo, popularly known as D’banj, first appeared on our TV screens and boomed out of our radios with an impressive swagger and pomp that lit up the young pop scene in the Nigerian music industry.

In this report, we examine his strides in that period.

2004: The birth of the Koko Master

D’banj burst into the scene with his producer Don Jazzy, Photo: Hiphopworld.com
D’banj burst into the scene with his producer Don Jazzy, Photo: Hiphopworld.com

Fresh from London, D’banj and his producer and friend, Don Jazzy, broke into the Nigerian music scene with the single ‘Tongolo‘. It was a surprisingly good piece of work from a new and relatively unknown artiste.

2005: ‘No Long Thing’

The No Long Thing album cover, Photo: Tradebit.com
The No Long Thing album cover, Photo: Tradebit.com

His debut album No Long Thing earned him ‘Best Newcomer’ award at the 2006 Channel O Music Video Awards.

The album featured hit singles like ‘Tongolo’, which was released in 2004, ‘Socor‘, and ‘Mobolowowon‘.

2006: ‘Why me’

D'banj performing at the Hip-hop World Awards in 2006
D’banj performing at the Hip-hop World Awards in 2006

After the release of D’banj sophomore album Run Down: Funk U Up, it became clear that he was not just a flash in the pan.

The Don Jazzy-produced album had massive hits like ‘Why me‘, ‘Tongolo Remix’ ‘Run Down‘ and ‘Loke‘.

D’banj’s performance at the maiden edition of the Hip-hop World Awards in 2006 sealed his A-list status in the Nigerian music industry. Clad in just a towel, his eccentric entrance to the Hip-hop World Awards stage in the Shell Hall of the MUSON Centre, Lagos, marked the beginning of stardom for the singer.

2007:  Birth of Mo’Hits Empire

Mo’Hits crew, Photo: Nairaland.com
Mo’Hits crew, Photo: Nairaland.com

After two great albums, D’banj and Don Jazzy launched what was to become the biggest music group in Africa.

With Dr Sid, Wande Coal, D’Prince and K-Switch signed on, the record label released its debut and only compilation album Curriculum Vitae to commercial success.

Hit singles like ‘Pere‘, ‘Move your body‘, ‘Ten Ten‘, ‘Booty Call‘ and ‘Ololufe‘ all became national hits.

2008: The Entertainer

The Entertainer album cover, Photo: Donuche.blogspot.com
The Entertainer album cover, Photo: Donuche.blogspot.com

D’banj was becoming the face of the Nigerian music industry but he still had his doubters. Like critics and ‘haters’ will rightly point out, he is not the best singer from Nigeria. If you weigh him on a scale of vocal abilities, he is a featherweight. He is definitely not the best songwriter of his generation and even dancing is not his forte. So, what endeared him to us?

With his third and last studio album The Entertainer, D’banj made one thing clear: he is a well-rounded entertainer.

His stage performance is a brilliant combo of artistry and antics. D’banj has his humour, his harmonica and his creative rascality that galvanises audiences into frenzy. To top that, he creates good music.

Yet people argued: ‘There is good music and there is great music,’ they said. And it is true. The former is timely while the latter is timeless. In many years to come, 2face‘s ‘African Queen’ will still be rare and refreshing; Darey’s ‘Not The Girl’ will continue to get listening ears; and Asa‘s ’60’s soul-based ‘Be My Man’ will still be golden.

D’banj’s songs are not in that calibre. One thing however works for him – he steals the moment, then dashes off to catch up with the future.

‘The Entertainer’ contained hit songs like ‘Gbono Feli Feli‘, ‘Suddenly‘, ‘Fall in Love‘ and ‘Igwe‘ and with it, he truly stole the moment.

2009: Business man

D’banj and Genevieve; Photo: Filed
D’banj and Genevieve; Photo: Filed

Although No Long Thing and Run Down Fuck U Up’ set him on this path, The Entertainer  was the album that finally propelled D’banj into the position as Afro Beats’ Fela-figure, a friend to the President, and a businessman.

Musically, it was a quiet year by D’banj’s standards but he still managed to storm the airwaves with another smash single, ‘Scape Goat‘.

2010: Mr Endowed

His influence on the youth was also recognised by then acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, Photo: tjconnects.com
His influence on the youth was also controversially recognised by then acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, Photo: tjconnects.com

Overseeing the album release of his protégée, Wande Coal, and the planning of several business ventures, D’banj was busy on other fronts.

As a trendsetter, his influence on the youth was also recognised by then acting president, Goodluck Jonathan. D’banj campaigned for him and even remixed his 2009 single ‘Scape Goat’ to a Goodluck Jonathan presidential campaign song.

2011: Oliver Twist

D’banj was signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music in 2011 and also released ‘Oliver Twist’ which peaked at number 9 on the UK iTunes chart, Photo: Notjustok.com
D’banj was signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music in 2011 and also released ‘Oliver Twist’ which peaked at number 9 on the UK iTunes chart, Photo: Notjustok.com

He was signed to G.O.O.D Music along with his friend and producer Don Jazzy. What followed was the release of a track that became D’banj’s biggest song, ‘Oliver Twist’. The song peaked at number 9 on the UK iTunes chart and got A-list rotations on UK’s top radio stations.

An international music deal, an international top charting single, and D’banj was on course to become a world star.

2012: The fall of an empire and the rise of another

D’banj and Don Jazzy pictured with here Jay Z separated in 2012 Photo: 36ng.com.ng
D’banj and Don Jazzy pictured here with Jay Z separated in 2012 Photo: 36ng.com.ng

He was already the biggest music act in Nigeria and Africa, but he was ready to abandon all that in his quest for worldwide fame. Many questioned his desire, many were scared that he was going to lose it all while trying to get more, but D’banj didn’t care.

His producer and friend cared and that caused the rift that culminated in the fall of the Mo’Hits Empire. Not to be deterred, D’banj set out alone to his desired destination. He set up his own record label DB Records, signing his brother K Switch.

2013: Lone ranger

D’banj set up his own music label and released a compilation album, his first without Don Jazzy, Photo: BellaNaija.com
D’banj set up his own music label and released a compilation album, his first without Don Jazzy, Photo: BellaNaija.com

Running his music, business and record label alone, D’banj was relentless in his desire to be become a world renowned star.

Under the DB Records/G.O.O.D Music/Sony Music, D’banj released his first music project without Don Jazzy.

The DB Records compilation album, The Kings Men, was nothing extra-ordinary. He was D’banj, he had changed the face of the Nigerian music scene, but he seemed to be becoming a spent force.

2014: Back home?

D’banj, performing at the Glo Evergreen series, Photo: Amournaija.com
D’banj, performing at the Glo Evergreen series, Photo: Amournaija.com

Just few weeks ago, D’banj sparked reports that he had quit G.OO.D Music when he deleted the Kanye West-led record label from his Twitter biography. Though his manager has reportedly come out to dispel those rumours, recent innuendos have suggested that ‘The Koko Master’ has abandoned his quest for worldwide domination and is back home to reclaim the industry which has been taken over by young acts like Wizkid, Davido and Olamide.
So much was expected from him when he signed the deal with Kanye West. Music stars from the UK, Jamiaca, Spain, and the Caribbean have all been able to make a successful cross over into mainstream America. D’banj took it upon himself to champion the course of the Nigerian Music industry on this course but it weighed him down.

He lost his crown and his industry to young acts that were springing up by the day and he seems to have failed in his quest to conquer America. His impact was not felt in America or in G.O.O.D Music.

Apart from a cameo appearance in the video for ‘Mercy‘ and a 12-second stint on ‘The Morning‘, a song off the 2012 G.O.O.D Music compilation album Cruel Summer, D’banj never made any impactful record with the Kanye West-led music group.

With his manager refuting reports that D’banj has left G.O.O.D Music, who knows what the Koko Master has up his sleeve again?

His greatest moments usually come when he has been written off. Many have done that again, and now we wait for another rising.

Albums

No Long thing                                                                           –2005

Curriculum Vitae (Mo’Hits Compilation album)       -2007

RunDown Funk u Up                                                              -2006

The Entertainer                                                                        -2008

D’Kings Men                                                                               -2013

Singles

Tongolo                                                                                        -2005

Socor                                                                                             -2005

Mobolowowon                                                                          -2005

Run Down (Funk u Up)                                                          -2005

Why Me                                                                                        -2006

Tongolo Remix                                                                         -2007

Kimon                                                                                            -2007

Suddenly                                                                                      -2008

Fall in Love                                                                                  -2008

Igwe                                                                                                -2008

Scape Goat                                                                                   -2009

Mr. Endowed Remix                                                                -2010

Oliver Twist                                                                                 -2011

Bachelor                                                                                        -2012

Cashflow                                                                                        -2013

For Example                                                                                 -2013

Top of the World                                                                        -2013

Finally                                                                                              -2013

Bother You                                                                                     -2014

Women he has been linked with

Genevieve Nnaji

Aminu Abubakar

Rukky Sanda

Mercy Johnson

Abiola Bashorun

Jennifer Obayunwa

Ini Edo

Nadir Buhari

Kenya Moore

Awards

Most Promising Male Artist; KORA All African Awards                           -2005

Best Newcomer; Channel O Music Video Awards                                        -2006

Hio Hop World Revelation; Hiphop World Awards                                   -2006

Artiste of the Year; Nigerian Music Awards                                                   -2006

Best African Act; MTV Europe Music Awards                                              -2007

Hottest Single of the Year ‘Why Me’; Nigeria Entertainment Awards-2007

Best Special Effects ‘Why Me’; Channel O Music Video Awards           -2007

Artiste of the Year; MTV Africa Music Awards                                            -2008

Best Male; MTV Africa Music Awards                                                              -2008

Listeners Choice; MTV Africa Music Awards                                                -2008

Artiste of the Year; MTV Africa Music Awards                                            -2009

Best International Act Africa; BET Awards                                                    -2011

Best African Act; MOBO Awards                                                                          -2012

Endorsements

Glo

Power Fist

Chris Aire

Virgin colour soft drinks

UAC Foods

His different names

Koko Master

Skibanj

Mr. Endowed

Eja Nla

Banga Lee

 

International collabos

Snoop Dogg  – Mr. Endowed & Blame it on the Money

Kanye West  – Koko Concert London & Scape Goat Remix

Pusha T          – Koko Concert Lagos

Big Sean         – Koko Concert Lagos & Blame it on the Money

Fally Ipupa   – We the Best & DKM Concert Lagos

2Chainz          -DKM Concert Lagos

 

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