Earlier this year, Nigeria’s longest serving record label boss, Don Jazzy, unveiled new signees, Poe, Johnny Drille and DNA Twins as new additions to his Superme Mavins Dynasty (SMD). Expansion has always been the greatest mark of success for Nigerian record labels, post-signing discussions however often range around potential and first industry impressions.
For Poe and Drille, theirs is a re-introduction. Despite the lack of a major project, Poe has been touted for years as one of the best wordsmiths and lyricists to ever come out of Nigeria. Johnny Drille likewise, is a producer, singer, songwriter, and an alumni of MTN’s Project Fame West Africa who has carved a small niche for himself off a small catalogue of releases and covers. This leaves the relatively under-achieved DNA Twins, who are mostly famous for their stints on Glo X-Factor and Airtel’s The Voice. While Poe is set to be the SMD’s first official hip-hop act and Johnny Drille’s first single as a signed artist, “Wait For Me”, already maps an alternative sound, the game plan for the DNA twins still seems largely undefined.
The sibling duo released their first single, “How Can”, a highlife Afropop fusion, earlier this year to very little effect. Don’t get it twisted, “How Can” is not a bad song by Nigerian jollof standards, but for newly signed acts by Don Jazzy (aka Nigeria’s most successful A&R man), there was no knock-on effect.
The DNA as a group has already drawn comparisons with similarly packaged sibling duo, P-Square. And admittedly, with the DNA twins, Don Jazzy is under a new kind of pressure to make the brothers everything we haven’t seen before and something we’re quite familiar with. However, with debut high-life inspired single that failed to go viral or crease playlists and charts, one begins to wonder if Don Jazzy has a grander plan for the brothers. Don Jazzy’s draconian control over the kind of music his signeees release has been subject to criticisms, but this is still the same man that gave us Wande Coal, D’Banj, Korede Bello, Reekado Banks to name but a few. It’s hard to imagine him struggling to conceptualise how he wants the public to approach DNA.
Currently, the DNA are being packaged as shirtless heart breakers, styled like American trap music duo, Rea Sremmurd but make music like Flavour N’Abania from three years ago. There is no doubt whoever is handling their brand is either seriously confused or hasn’t quite figured how to handle the twin effect.