At this point, we all have to agree with D’banj’s opening declaration on “Emergency”, that no one ever sees him coming through. There is no denying that his best years of back to back hits are far behind him but this does not reflect in his ability to retain relevance to say the least. Since his split from business partner, friend and label manager, Don Jazzy in 2012, D’banj has bumbled through a solo career with several attempts at retaining some latency from his former glory with a string mid to averagely successful singles. What the Kokomaster excels at the most however is the ability to reinvent himself as many times as possible to fit into the mainstream, without straying too far from everything that makes him D’banj.
After his biggest success last year came via embodying Fela in “Emergency” (FYI the first time D’banj actually tapped into Fela’s memorabilia despite career-long allusions to the abami-eda), he first indented a mark of return on 2017 with a high-life “It’s Not A Lie” featuring Harry Songs and one of his most successful collaborators till date, Wande Coal. The Entertainer promised an album release in the coming months and thus began the roll out of what was released today as his first full solo LP in over eight years (considering 2012’s D’Kings Men was a compilation project).
“EL Chapo” is the purposeful first track off D’banj’s latest album King Don Come. The oomph of “El Chapo” is sold on a Maleek Berry produced trap beat, D’banj builds casing melodies that almost takes the presence of Gucci Mane and Wande Coal out of mind. But they both get their airtime on the track, each delivering commentaries on what is presumably a nod to the drug dealer life in tribute to legendary Mexican drug lord, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. However while the likelihood of D’banj dealing drugs in his real life is subject to consideration of further improbabilities, it doesn’t seem so much as a surprise that D’banj would go from being Fela to claiming to be a El Chapo, the drug lord. After all, this is a man with countless monikers for himself, each identifying with a different character archetype, but over and above all, he has remained the same D’banj.
Long Live the Koko Master, Long Live El Chapo!