In the last few years, D’Banj was arguably the most celebrated Nigerian artiste alive. Over seven years, he kept churning out hits and bestrode the music scene like a colossus. But few months after his break up with his producer and partner of the defunct Mo’Hits Records- Don Jazzy, things began to nosedive and his relevance began to wane.
Since the breakup in 2012, he has worked with four different managers and management companies ranging from Seun Abisagboola popularly known as Bankulli, Tonye Merrit, Tony Nwakalor and Sunday Are of List Entertainment, his manager in the Mo’Hits era. What we can’t however comprehend is whether these managers could no longer wave the magic wand effectively enough to yield the very badly needed effect to catapult D’Banj’s career to a most enviable height.
However, it might not be far from the truth to say that D’Banj is the architect of his own misfortune. This week, Seun Apara attempts to examine the dwindling fortunes and career of the pop star and his many struggles to regain reckoning in the spotlight.
1. Capacity– It is an obvious secret that D’Banj lacks the capacity to single handedly write a good song but he is no doubt a great entertainer. His performances are always full of great energy and exude lots of confidence. He is unarguably a superb performer. Beyond that, what is the essence of sweating it out on stage when the fans are obviously not connecting with the music?
It has been observed that D’Banj doesn’t have the ability to write to the maximum capacity of an ideal song. He only writes catch phrases that match his somewhat mediocre vocal strength so that he can confidently express it. And with a voice that is limited, the song also becomes limited. Aside the fact that his songs now sound monotonous, they are written and performed within the same style, similar dynamics and similar expression. A common feature in his music of recent is that he sings the entire song at a similar pitch and similar emotional intensity unlike the good old Mo’Hits days. While his relationship with Don Jazzy subsists, Jazzy reportedly composed over 90% of the songs they recorded. To however cover up for his lapses, one would have expected him to immediately enlist the services of a good songwriter or develop his own capacity. His last major hit still remains Oliver Twist, his last song produced by Don Jazzy.
2. Phony Hype- Most entertainment practitioners’ lifestyles do not actually reflect their true personalities. Immediately after the Mo’Hits break up, Mr. Dapo Oyebanjo dwelled so much on the hypes of his international breakthrough record deals like; Good Music, Def Jam, Mercury, the license to bring DefJam to Africa (the African arm of Island Def Jam which is under the parent company Universal Music Group and home to some of the biggest superstars on the planet) and later Sony Music, RCA. In an industry where water is made to look like wine and stone is polished to resemble bread, he was so concerned about the money, the fame and the respect. The Universal deal was a good development but he was oblivious of the imminent danger ahead. And now, the power notes don’t become loud. It is not because he can’t sing them without screaming, but because of emotional artistic expression.
3. Short Term Plan- Immediately after the break up, D’Banj and his then team were majorly concerned about the immediate effect of the break up and tried hard to dissuade the obvious reality that Don Jazzy was behind most of his hits. While Don Jazzy took his time to work on the Mavin Brand, struck deals with the artistes and went on silently to record songs that later became hits, D’Banj hurriedly released some songs too and basked in the euphoria of the momentary hype of his international deals. Seven months after, there was nothing else to talk about as all the gists had been exhausted.
4. Right Team- As part of his short term plan, Mr. Oyebanjo failed to put together the right team in terms of making good music such as song writing and production. One would have expected his team to immediately bring on board a producer/production team or songwriter to immediately understudy Don Jazzy’s effect on D’Banj’s music and see how it could be improved upon. This might have helped in the type of music churned out by him. Being a musician involves composing, writing, singing, playing, arranging, recording, producing, mixing, mastering, promoting, performing and lots more.
5. STYLE- There is no doubt that D’Banj has lost the steam in his career. According to a reporter, Samuel Abulude, he wrote that “It is worthy of note that D’Banj’s current music is different and of less quality since his former music producer, Don Jazzy stopped producing his music. Djs and observers of the Kokomaster have seen a detour in D’Banj’s style of music and this is perhaps why he is seen as missing his former boss and business partner. Comedians have joked that anything Don Jazzy touches turns to gold (a hit) and that D’Banj needs him again for this”.
6. Direction- His fans at some point were lost as regards the direction of his music. Before then, especially in the Mo’Hits days, fans and critics alike knew exactly what to expect from D’Banj. As earlier observed, a voice that is limited will automatically produce a song that is limited. A common feature in his music of recent is that he sings the entire song at a similar pitch and similar emotional intensity unlike before. Right now, some critics in the industry feel that he needs to develop greater strength and it’ll be remarkable how much more interesting his song and expression will become. Creativity prevails for the songwriter, when he or she possesses adequate vocal strength and dexterity to express with. If he can develop his range, his song writing skills becomes bolder and more interesting.
7. The Harmonica- D’Banj sure knows how to play one instrument very well with lots of dexterity, the mouth organ otherwise known as the Harmonica. He has made use of it on few occasions but has not been consistent with it. The instrument might have given some form of solace to most of his hitherto disappointed fans.