A Needless Break Up: The D'banj/Don Jazzy Story

Dbanj and Don Jazzy

Dbanj and Don Jazzy

After the shocking break-up between Don Jazzy and his erstwhile partner, Dapo Oyebanjo, a.k.a. D’banj, both parties have moved on with their respective music projects, but things seem not to be working out as expected in both camps.

Dbanj and Don Jazzy

Shortly after the break-up, D’banj joined Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music, but his musical efforts so far are yet to convince his fans and pundits that quitting one of the most popular music labels in Nigeria, nay Africa, was the right decision for him. After the good rating he enjoyed both locally and internationally with the song, Oliver Twist (remix), which was produced by Don Jazzy before the split, his follow-up efforts, Oyato and Bachelor, have been relatively below par. That means the last successful song he recorded was under the now defunct Mo’Hits.

Apparently, D’banj looked forward to greater things when he moved away from Mo’Hits. Having already established himself as one of the most sought-after entertainers in Africa, he realised there was a need to penetrate the American music market, a move every artiste dreams of.

D’banj eventually featured in G.O.O.D Music’s album, Cruel Summer, released in 18 October. He features in the track, The Morning, along with Pusha T, Common, Cyhi the Prynce, Kid Cudi, Raekwon and 2Chainz. The cut is produced by Travis Scott.

The song would later spark criticisms among D’banj’s fans, owing to the fact that the Nigerian star was barely visible in the track. Actually, D’banj didn’t sing in the track, he was only humming towards the end of the song.

“You guys don’t understand Kanye West, he doesn’t need or want D’banj to sing in any of his tracks but only gives him the opportunity to make a sound just for him to feel wanted. The last video D’banj did with them he kept jumping all over like a Shaolin monkey,” says a fan, Onatisi.

Another fan identified as Ignatio says of D’banj; “He did the humming from 3:40 to 4:00. Does it mean that he’s not worth doing a verse or chorus on the album? If this is what his contract is like I’ll admit he made a wrong move.”

“After listening to the song, I felt sorry for D’banj. There are strong indications that he is struggling over there. He was not even allowed to say his usual ‘I’m D’banj’ that we know him for. I wish him the best anyway,” a fan posts on Twitter.

Nazy, the manager of award-winning duo, Bracket, posits that the split between D’banj and Don Jazzy is a big disappointment, not only to both of them, but for the Nigerian music industry as a whole.

“You see, at times, people are destined to work together, and that is the case of D’banj and Don Jazzy. As a group, they are a team to beat, but it is very clear now that neither of them can easily survive without the other. They just need to swallow their pride and come together as one again,” Nazy advised.

Popular music producer, Flip Tyce, tells Entertainment Cafe that “it is true that D’banj is not really living up to expectations at the moment, but I believe he will get his groove back in no time. But trust me, musically, he is not doing well without Don Jazzy, and vice versa. I would love to see them come back together in their own interest.”

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K-Solo believes that D’banj and Don Jazzy are still doing well, but opined that they were better as a unit.

“It seems too early to fully judge how well the break-up has affected them. Looking at MAVIN Records and D’banj’s works lately, you would say they are both still doing well without each other.

“For some of us that are used to their combo, it may be seen as a minus that the Don Jazzy flavour is missing in D’banj’s music, but for fans on the outside, they may just be busy enjoying the entertainer without missing anything

“The truth is that I’m sure they both miss each other’s creative combo; no money can buy that overnight. MAVIN Records will need to make their music speak louder than what the Mo’Hits/D’banj era produced, while D’banj’s new producers will also need to cut him constant hits like Don Jazzy did,” says Keni Akitoye of Twin-X fame.

Don Jazzy’s MAVIN Records boasts of some members of the defunct Mo’Hits crew – Wande Coal, D’Prince, Dr. Sid, and the new addition, Tiwa Savage. They released a collective 13-track album, Solar Plexus, but the effort has not been a commercial success.

Aside the low sales recorded by the album, none of the 13 songs in it has become a chart-topper. There are speculations that there are cracks on the MAVIN Records wall. Wande Coal is said to have registered his own record label, Black Diamondz, and may call it quits soon. On his Twitter profile, he simply wrote ‘MAVIN Records/Black Diamondz’.

Obviously, Don Jazzy did not envisage that his new ministry would struggle to make an impact. In an interview shortly after MAVIN Records was unveiled; he said, “If you check the dictionary, it (MAVIN) simply refers to somebody that is a genius or a champion, a sensation, hotshot, superstar, whizkid or whatever. So basically, we decided to call the company that name because we are all geniuses in our different fields coming together in a record company.”

The Don Jazzy/D’banj break-up was a misadventure. While D’banj was keen on relocating to the US to seek greener pastures, Don Jazzy was of the opinion that, being ready-made ‘kings’ here in Nigeria, there was no point relocating to America where they will be underdogs.

“And that’s where the problem started. Don Jazzy was no longer comfortable. You know, we were like fishes out of water, in this new system, starting all over again, like when we returned home in 2004. I got him a place in the US, set up a studio there, just so he’d be comfortable and be able to work without going to hang around the studios. In one year Jazzy did not make a song. I said, ‘maybe you want to go back to Lagos, you’ll get inspiration there?’ I was all about the work, I wanted us to make this happen, so we can bridge that gap and create a path for Africa. But Jazzy wanted us to go back home. And I understand. He’s my friend, my brother.

“But I never expected him to do what he did. He said to me in July last year; ‘Let’s scatter Mo’Hits.’ He told me there are two captains – two captains cannot be in a ship. I was like, ‘That’s not possible, this is a marriage’. He said: ‘Then this marriage is no longer working.’ I said, ‘Then let’s go for counselling,’” D’banj explained.

— Bayo Adetu

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