by Wilfred Okiche
D’banj raised a lot of eyebrows earlier in the year when he announced the price tag for the deluxe version of his new compilation album, ’D’Kings Men.’ At 2000 big ones, fans and naysayers alike quickly pounced on it as proof that he had abandoned the Nigerian audience in favour of Kanye West and the American dollar. Thankfully some months after, the regularly priced King’s Men is available in traffic and everywhere near you.
His first major disc since the bitter split from erstwhile soul mate, Don Jazzy and resting of the Mo’hits label, D’banj/Daniel/Banga Lee/Eja nla/whatever he chooses to go by these days sure has a lot to prove. Where Don Jazzy quickly (and maybe prematurely) rebounded with MAVIN records and a now forgotten ‘Solar plexus’ album, D’banj settled for howling strangely at the tail end of Kanye’s singles. Both were floundering it seemed and needed something to show they haven’t been relegated to has-been status.
Banga Lee struggled with some singles post ‘Oliver Twist’ (no surprises there as they were mostly sub par). He re-strategised, floated his own record label and brought along younger brother Kay Switch. He also enticed rave of the moment, Olamide and signed up a newbie J Sol. Together, the trio constitute the kings men although whomever died and made D’banj king of anything remains to be seen.
For a superstar artiste blessed with limited vocal ability, A-team producers are a prerequisite and so with the loss of the Don, D’banj gathers the biggest and brightest his pot load of money can buy and commissions them to make him sound good by all means possible.
They succeed, at least for the first half of the album.
From an intro where he compares himself to the man of steel, DKM opens with his most exciting song since he had the whole of the UK feeding off his palm with ‘Oliver Twist’. ‘Don’t tell me nonsense’ is fun, fast and furious with a fulminating chorus that proves irresistible. He brags generously, I’ve been in the game too long I still dey make sense and perhaps subs Don Jazzy when he dishes the lines; You getting tired/I’m just getting started. If only he had sounded this fun on his previous post-Oliver songs.
He talks a lot of nonsense though on other barn burners like ‘Why you love me’, ‘Finally’ and on ‘Nous les meilleurs (we the best)’, Fally Pupa doesn’t make any sense at all but try resisting that melodious chorus that is a call to Limpopo levels waist rolling. It is almost not possible.
His friends from the abroad, Snoop Lion and Big Sean show solidarity on ‘Blame it on the money’, a cocky anthemic chant that begins with the unapologetic lines; I am not sorry I’m rich/ I’m sorry you’re broke. And even Yeezus himself is kind enough to drop two uneven verses on the indifferent ‘Scapegoat’ remix.
But this is not all about Skibanj as his men feel a generous compulsion to shine as well. Kay switch breaks out beautifully on ‘Obimo’, a shameless attempt at hitting ‘Igwe’ like numbers in the Southeast but he does it so well, it is actually a welcome surprise. It is always a delight to the ears whenever D’banj remembers his harmonica and he employs it generously to add more layers to the mix. Easily one of the disc’s highlights.
J Sol becomes the main revelation as his voice is the star of the dance floor friendly ‘Silver& Gold’ and also elevates an otherwise drab ‘Money on my mind’ inspite of Kay-Switch’s seasoned efforts to tank the song.
Olamide couldn’t really be bothered here and his inclusion is still a puzzle. He allows a remix of his mega hit ‘First of all’ then does his part to brighten up ‘Ibadie’ before catching some fun with the boys on ‘Ka wo soke’ a dumbed down free for all that also includes Ikechukwu. He seems like the afterthought of the posse, added only for some obvious strategic reasons.
There is the hit ‘Top of the world’ a glossy reductive affair that has D’banj struggling to keep up with more talented backup singers and the sugary pop dazzle of ‘Bachelor’. Duds like ‘cash flow’ and ‘Trance’ weigh the disc down and after the first section, staying tuned begins to feel like a chore.
There is really no logic or sequence to D’Kings men, a serviceable but overlong collection of splashy, easily forgettable, over the top pop tunes that prove that with enough cash, connections and willing yes men, anyone can become king of anything.
I am dbanj the only act people love to hate I love him with all passion. ****no homo****
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