Gradually, the aftershock of former collaborators, D’banj and Don Jazzy’s bitter and unexpected split is wearing off. The acrimony has thawed or so. Fans have taken sides. And their protégées like Wande Coal, Dr. Sid, D’Prince, Special Ed, Ikechukwu and Kay Switch have also pitched their tents where they believe the pasture is greener. Agreed, it is still early in the day to start taking an inventory of what they have done or conjecture how their careers would pan out eventually. But, in the last three months since their separation, both have been on a stealthy but concerted competition to outdo each other, especially as opinions are divided on who would attain more success quicker, and without the other’s usual backing. The consensus has been that D’banj, who has never laid any claim to being a talented singer, is a beneficiary of his estranged partner’s production wizardry and that his career would suffer without those beats. Another school of thought hypothesizes that despite all Don Jazzy’s genius, he still needs D’banj, more than any other artiste, to illuminate his works. Either way, there has been a separation, and the competition is now on a steamroller. We examines how far they have come in their post Mo’Hits odyssey, surmising that none of the parties, for now, is having a whale of a time.
The acclaimed producer was the first to hit the ground running, literally. Immediately after Mo’Hits was pronounced dead, Don Jazzy unveiled his new record label, Mavin Records, with a formidable line up of artistes including Dr Sid, Wande Coal, D’Prince and surprisingly, Tiwa Savage. Subsequently, he released the Mavin Records’ collaborative album, Solar Plexus.
If he thought the album would typically send music fans dancing a storm, Don Jazzy must be rethinking its timing, which has been panned and pilloried by critics as a hurriedly put together job. Not even Wande Coal and Tiwa Savage’s combined talents could rejuvenate the album’s stillbirth.
In view of the lukewarm reception Solar Plexus received, the producer has been reaching out to fans by, on one occasion, doling out money on twitter and visiting media houses in a sustained publicity drive.
For a producer who has built a lot of myth and reverence around his persona by evading the media, his visits to media houses and clamour for interviews these days smack of desperation.
In the intervening period, he has implied that his deal with Kanye West’s GOOD Music might no longer work out because he can not give his 100 per cent to his contract.
“Kanye has over 100 per cent lined up at his beck and call and it is not like I am priority. So, I will be spending a lot of money staying in the United States when I can return home and be making money as well as grooming more artistes. And it’s very easy these days, I can work here and once I’m done, and feel it’s something that would suit Kanye West, I’ll just email it to them.”
Things might be a bit bumpy now, but without undermining Don Jazzy’s genius and mastery of street hop, there is no doubt that he will still have his time in the sun. Whether he would still be as revered and financially buoyant is what is now subject to conjectures. But, it is just a matter of time.
ne of the causes of the duo’s split in D’banj’s reckoning was that his partner edged when there was an opening for them to break into the international market. Now that the encumbrance of the other guy has been cleared, the Kokomaster is solely committed to realising his dreams of going international alone. And he has rapper, Ikechukwu, who has subjugated his own career to help push D’banj’s, seemingly; bulky hype man, Special ED and his younger brother, Kay Switch, to open up the frontiers of his music. With a home in Atlanta and London, D’banj now shuttles between Nigeria and these cities as he hopes to achieve what no Nigerian-bred artiste has – fostering a flourishing international career.
He has been lucky. His single, Oliver twist, has been such a cross-continental hit that its acceptance must have humbled the successful entertainer. As an artiste on Kanye West’s Good Music label, he has also been quite visible in the international showbiz circuit and has covered a couple of international magazines.
However, history is not so much in D’banj’s favour as even more talented acts like Majek Fashek (well, he did himself in with drugs), Ras Kimono and Mike Okri, who all scampered abroad at the height of their fame, are back home now with no breakthrough abroad and a loss of homeground.
But the circumstances are indeed different because D’banj has a deep pocket and he is still very much loved at home. He has performed at several concerts and shows where Don Jazzy’s artistes didn’t have a look-in; and even where they did, they were subsumed under D’banj’s halo.
In order not to lose his fan base at home perhaps, and with Don Jazzy gone, he recently signed producer, Jay Sleek, who has worked with Tuface Idibia, Sound Sultan, Wizkid and Timaya among other artistes, to his DB Records as in-house producer.
In just over five years, Jay Sleek has gained considerable popularity for producing great music for these artistes and many more. “This has been a long time coming so, we are really happy to see Jay Sleek join the D’banj family. It’s exciting to be working with one of the best in the game. Jay Sleek is a fantastic producer, hardworking, humble and immensely creative. I’m so certain that he will carve a niche for himself here and inspire us to even greater music,” D’banj says in a statement during the week.
This has resulted in the release of the single, O yato (The difference is clear). Unlike his last single, Oliver Twist, O yato got mixed reviews. That the song trended worldwide on twitter on the day of release was a pointer to people’s views about it. Many fans urged him to return to Don Jazzy, lampooning what they perceived as the wateriness of the lyrics.
In the midst of the conflicting and critical reviews of O yato, D’banj sneaked in with a sterling feature on the remix of Naeto C’s Tony Montana. And that swayed arguments again in his favour once again. With Let’s Get the Party Started, a Tuface Idibia song, featuring him, MI, Wizkid and Tiwa Savage, the entertainer rose to the challenge. He is not leaving his flanks open for potshots. But the ultimate barometer to gauge his post-Don Jazzy era would be the release of his album which had been in the works before the split. If it tanked, woe betide his career; but if it became a chartbuster, it would be a pointer to the fact that he knows what he is doing after all.
As he trudges on, D’banj is especially trying to launch KaySwitch’s career. The latter released a single, Sister Caro featuring D’banj recently. It is not doing badly. It is indeed a good start for the Covenant University dropout who never had a single to his name during his years in Mo’Hits.