by Ore Fakorede
It’s been a while since I gave an individual track the same treatment I usually reserve for albums and mixtapes.
Coincidentally, the last single I ran an all-out musical litmus test on is D’banj’s ‘Mr Endowed Remix’, that much-hyped collaboration with Snoop Dogg which was one of the finest moments of the Mo’Hits, dare I say, experiment. *pauses to reminisce* I guess only another notable D’banj song could make me break convention again.
Saddled with a title pregnant with as much meaning as a caustic Yoruba proverb, ‘Oyato’ is the first D’banj single released in the post-“It’s Don Jazzy again” phase of the, er, singer’s career (please, if you just said “What about that leak?”, you should stop reading this right now!). And coming right on the heels of the record-breaking success of the very much overplayed ‘Oliver Twist’, the odds were stacked high against D’banj’s latest from the day it was conceived.
The new single however had one thing going for it from the studio – it was engineered by Tuface Idibia’s favourite producer, the infinitely talented Jay Sleek. By the way, Jay Sleek is rumoured to be D’banj’s latest signing to his ‘whatever-it’s-called’ record label, joining Davido (of O.B.O. infamy) on an imprint that is undoubtedly being primed to square-off against Don Jazzy’s galactic Mavin Records. Statement made: no kidding.
I was looking, with almost devilish glee really, for ‘Oyato’ to be an epic lyrical fail like the better part of D’banj’s discography, but I was slightly disappointed. The truth is, while the G.O.O.D. man’s lack of any real songwriting skill is still a daunting handicap, he seems to have acquired one prosthetic limb upon which his hitherto legless lyricism now assumes the semblance of uprightness. Or perhaps he hired a songwriter. Whichever way you dice it, ‘Oyato’ actually means something, and until he decides to recruit Rugged Man for an hour-long rap critique of the Nigerian music industry, this is as close as D’banj will ever get to releasing a proper diss track directed at you know who.
Sadly though, the forced rhymes still linger – ‘And at the end of the day there’s no contest, there’s no reason talking out of context, dem know me, dem know what I’ve accomplished, so why you copycat with no conscience?’ Hmmmm… ‘deep’. *falls off seat*
Never one to take sides in any battle, war, contest or argument whose outcome has no direct bearing upon my life, I stood on the sidelines during the dramatic mudslinging fest that was the Mo’Hits split while many unconcerned persons rushed to pledge allegiance to D’banj or Don Jazzy, as the case may be, swearing on their mother’s graves to follow one or the other till the end. *rolls eyes in slow motion*
Frankly, I don’t care what part of the metaphorical ocean you like to swim in. So, for those who derive a sadistic joy from revisiting the irrelevant past, I won’t indulge you. I will however bring up one point of import – the (paraphrased) mantra of Camp Don Jazzy, “D’banj can’t succeed without Don Jazzy.” Sorry, but ‘Oyato’ debunks that already dubious claim with one melodious loop of its brilliant instrumental. I mean, the song literally has one verse that lasts for all of 35 seconds! The rest of it is essentially an audible exhibition of Jay Sleek’s incredible finger work punctuated exquisitely by D’banj’s trademark ad libs and a catchy, self-aggrandizing chorus.
Methinks that Africa’s hottest artiste is still very much on fire without Africa’s most acclaimed producer fanning the flames, and ‘Oyato’ is all the smoke you need. This track is the final nail in the coffin of the dead and putrefying Don Jazzy-D’banj partnership. From here on out, there’s no going back and no hope of a resurrection. Say what you will about his musicianship, the only thing that can stop D’banj’s next album from being his biggest hit yet is a failure to record said album.