by Umar Hassan
Of all major Nigerian artistes, D’banj has thrived more out of the viability he has engrained into his brand than the quality of his music. As a matter of fact, Dapo Oyebanjo alongside erstwhile producer and business partner, Micheal ‘Don Jazzy’ Enebeli taught the Nigerian music industry the full art of musical branding. They rocked the first platinum chains, made friends in the highest places, bought the flyest cars, set the 7 figure A-list minimum wage and basically introduced the rockstar element to our music industry.
Building a wall around themselves and keeping interaction and working relationship with other artistes at the barest minimum didn’t get them hated, it deified them. Even P-Square who had more hits than their entire label combined couldn’t boast being so much a force.
They both got signed onto Kanye’s GOOD Music before breaking up and after that for D’banj came endorsement deals with Beats by Dre and Ciroc,rumours he was dating billionaire daughter, Adama Indimi ,being received by a bevy of sexy ladies at London’s Heathrow airport ahead of his UK tour and more recently, a secret marriage and child birth. He has managed to keep us talking about everything except the music which hasn’t been quite impressive to say the least. Yet he signed a global distrubution deal with Priority Records and had an interview with Ebro on beats1 before this album dropped. That is how potent the D’banj brand is. It does the talking more than the music ever does.
The biggest question King Don Come had to answer was whether we were going back to talking about the man’s music or stay talking the man without the music.
1. IT’S NOT A LIE FEAT WANDE COAL AND HARRYSONG
This was released as a single a couple of months ago and it gave the impression that he had been working really hard on his craft.It was an out-of-the-box effort that ticked all the right boxes.The man once said he was not a singer or rapper but an entertainer.What way to prove that than talking magnificiently through the whole first verse.Harrysong blended the highlife element into this song perfectly and having him on the song was a nice touch.
2. BE WITH YOU
Another single we heard just before. Its no secret; D’banj can’t ACTUALLY sing. Having him base content on his chord-pulling abilities wasn’t a wise decision.It’s a very weak effort. One that leaves you feeling you deserve to be rewarded for listening to the end.
3. TE NECESITO
Banga Lee was onto something with the concept for this song and it’s really sad it doesn’t get properly breathed life into. The Latin and French on the chorus have a great pull that he fails to sustain afterwards and leaves you feeling dropped from a skyscrapper high.
Take out that part and it’s a numb walk through what had the potential to be a much better song with a little more focus on depth.
4. EL CHAPO FEAT GUCCI MANE AND WANDE COAL
A truly stand out song. D’banj solicits the artistry of top American rapper, Gucci Mane and it pleases to see he doesn’t disappoint. You get absorbed by the guitar strings at the onset in time for eja nla to drop the very infectious- “Picture me flossing, Big fish rolling am frosty/Wo ni mo bossy, just because they cannot touch me/Feeling like El Chapo, Holy Grail El Chapo/PATRON PATRON PATRON!!!”. Gucci couches a tight verse in a boss frame in line with the subject but did Wande Coal really
have to rap? Sounded very distasteful. But not enough to rub on the quality of the song though.
5. AS I DEY GO
Bangalee whips up a very commanding rhythm to create this feel-good song. And that’s basically what this song has going for it. D’banj’s seamless waltz through rhythms in a style reminiscent of the old kokomaster. It’s also remarkable how the afro-beat element was harmonized in perfectly. A good song that misses Don Jazzy’s adlibs.
6. TURN DOWN FOR WHAT (FOCUS REFIX)
Technically an afro-beat freestyle.The lady singing at the background and D’banj’s strong vocals are what make this a mixtape material at best.It would take a whole lot more to score a hit out of a 100% afro-beat song.
7. EGWEJI FEAT PHYNO
Nothing works here. Not the beat, not the lyrics, not even Phyno. A ridiculously pale effort.
8. THAT’S WHAT I MEAN
A jam for the dance floor.The ‘Thats what I mean’ chants don’t sit too well and its really sad because that forms an essential part of the song. Other than that, eja nla does well.Plus it has a very groovy chorus and Kayswitch’s impressive verse to help make you overlook that.
9. NTSWEMPU FEAT BUCIE AND BUSISWA
This has to go down as the best D’banj song in a long while.The South African connection was magic- Oskido with the mad beat and songstresses Bucie and Busiswa with their scintillating singing. The man said it all- “D’banj okpe meji (No 2 D’banjs)”. This isn’t just flawless, its Classic.
This song is about 2 years old.The instrumentation is stunning and D’banj opens well with the first few lines and things start to get less sticky from there on. It’s an average effort.
What was D’banj thinking? Oliver Twist was first released 5 years ago. Only logical reason would be he wanted it released in the States after signing a distribution deal recently. It was never released by GOOD Music there when he was on the label. Anyways, Oliver Twist is a great song that had everyone optimistic about D’banj and Don Jazzy’s chances of conquering the world. Felt good to hear the ‘lebete’,the ‘labata’ and the ‘zebede’. How time flies.
Shoulda is a great piece of work. Does some fabulous singing on the verses before switching the tempo in heart-stopping fashion to render a very arresting chorus. He also plays his harmonica to marvellous effect. We already know on any day, D’banj can make a really good love song. He was in that zone.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Umar Sa’ad Hassan is based in Kano. He tweets @alaye26