By BENJAMIN NJOKU
What is happening to D’banj’s music career? Is he still belting out energetic performances that kept the audience screaming and yearning for more during his heydays on stage? These are some of the disturbing questions on the lips of the superstar’s teeming fans. And at this point, it’s anyone’s guess.
In as much as it would be difficult to forget the great moments D’banj had back in the days, one cannot as well, undermine the fact that the Koko master in recent times has failed to live up the expectations of his fans.
While he has adorned the highest stages across the world, and has moved the cultures of the black man in ways that many of his contemporaries became envious of him, if the truth be told, the superstar has rarely ignited the true passion and following that greeted his once flourishing music career. D’banj then was known for many things. He was an entertainer, sex symbol and a businessman.
Before he parted ways with his former business partner, Don Jazzy with whom they established the now defunct Mo’Hits in 2011, D’banj laid claims to some of the hit titles in African music, straddling the culture like a colossus following his emergence in the country’s music scene.
He was a show stopper and one that hardly could be ignored in the Nigerian music scene. His fans described him as the African Michael Jackson, just as the superstar saw himself as an entertainer, with confidence that continued to power him through doors.
Among his contemporaries, he was the fans’ favourite, as his stagecraft was second to none. His songs reverberated at nightclubs and parties as they enjoyed massive airplay. It was indeed D’banj on the move then. His fans would still remember the resonating waves made by his single, “ Tongolo” which got him, his first endorsement with Power Fist, an energy drink. Just as his other hit single “ Koko” in his debut album, “ No Long Things”, released in 2005, earned him the nickname , Koko Master.”
We all witnessed how his 2010 song, “Fall in Love” featuring Genevieve Nnaji and produced by Don Jazzy was a commercial success. So also was his first studio album, “Entertainer.” But unfortunately, D’banj went to sleep after he broke up with Don Jazzy. Learning to make music without Don Jazzy was reportedly hard for D’banj. He had to build a whole new enterprise, while also dealing with adapting to Kanye West’s demands for the American market. It was new and rigorous frontier for him.
Apart from his smash hit “Oliver Twist”, which sold over 11 million copies and “Top of the World”, his first single to be released through Sony Music’s RCA Africa label, D’banj’s post-Mo’Hits assessment aptly falls short of the expectations of those that have followed his career from the outset. It’s nothing to be cheerful about. But that’s not to say that the superstar cannot get his groove back while pushing other aspects of his business such as his CREAM content platform and advocacy commitments.
D’banj would take on anyone that dares to underrate his performance after breaking up with Don Jazzy. Recall how he lashed out at a fan last year who advised him to quit music. The superstar took to his IG page to celebrate having one million views on one of his videos in just four days. While receiving a lot of praises from his fans, one of them suggested he should get a new act and quit music!.
D’banj didn’t take it lightly as he took to his Twitter handle to fire back. “You clearly have NO idea what I am about, what and my movement are about, yet you feel the need to air an unsolicited opinion. So keep quiet son.”
He continued, “Educate yourself with facts before you stray to my page and exhibit your pile ineptitude. I am not as thirsty as you to impose my thoughts on others. Maybe one day when you finally become that ‘great king’ you hope to be, I would pay for your counsel if it comes with wisdom and well sought knowledge. But till then my brother take several seats back and crawl into your whole. You are saying trash!!!”.
That’s the opinion of some of his fans, but D’banj would not agree with them as he believes that his career is not yet over. He continues to rack up popularity, radio play and streams. His latest releases show that he still makes good music. Recently he dropped a new banger, “Action”, his second track of the year which was premiered after the massive success of “Issa Banger.”
Meanwhile, D’banj’s last year’s album, “King Don Come”, is still receiving rave reviews. Against the predictions of some pundits’ that the album would mark the end of the superstar’s music career, it has, however, elongated it. Songs such as ‘El Chapo’ contain the singer’s ability to leave his comfort zone and push for more.
The arguments among fans and critics have swung both ways. Many believe it’s the best version of D’banj that has been on display since his Mo’Hits days. Others hold the view that the song’s lyrical composition is weak. Either way, the victory here is that he dropped something capable of stirring a conversation. For him, it’s good news.
Other songs such as ‘Turn down for what’, (Which is a reworked version of ‘Focus’) show the singer has an Afro beat layer that works. When D’banj dropped ‘Focus’ in 2016, it was dead on arrival. The song which was a knock off of his hit single ‘Emergency’, received poor acceptance and failed to fly against all odds.
But D’banj has got something up his sleeve. The singer took it back into the studio to recreate the record. This time, the interacting Afro beat rhythms are impressive and captivating, with a background chanting that makes him the dawn of a new era.
Nonetheless, whatever you think of him, D’banj has got a long lasting career, and the longer he keeps it up, the bigger his overall legacy will be. He will always come up with something innovative and when , it seems he has nothing to offer again, he comes back even bigger. Like he said in an interview with this writer, “ I have no regrets parting ways with Don Jazzy.” And that’s D’banj for you.