As with most of the pieces I do these days, this one is also inspired by the stuff I read on twitter about how D Banj needs to go back to Don Jazzy so that his music can return to the heydays of Mo’Hits records instead of the “rubbish” that he keeps churning out these days. I remember the argument I had with my sister on the same issue a few months ago, She took the position that Bangalee’s music has been declining in quality over the years , while I took the position that Mo’ Hits D’ Banj is not necessarily any better than DB Records D’Banj and she was only taking that position because of nostalgia . Needless to say we argued ourselves hoarse and failed to agree on the issue. I am unflinching in my belief that going back to Don Jazzy will not bring any benefit to D’Banj’s career at this point.
As the maxim goes, “Be careful what you wish for, for you might just get it.” Assuming that there is an alternate, universe where D’Banj and Don Jazzy get back together what exactly would they be doing? making classics such as “Tongolo” or “Why Me” or “Mobolowon”? C’mon people, let’s step back from all the nostalgia and ditch the rose coloured spectacles for a moment. I am not trying to argue that their combination was overrated, but if you examine the number of Mo’Hits songs that became smash hits compared to the ones that have been consigned to the rubbish heap, to say they turned everything they touched into gold would be giving them far too much credit. Don Jazzy himself cannot argue the fact that he is making better music with the Supreme Mavin Dynasty that he ever made with Mo’Hits. Those who are calling for a reunion between the two clearly don’t understood why they separated in the first place. It is obvious that the two have different ideas about music. Don Jazzy clearly wants to make music. That is the reason why when Mo’Hits broke up, he took three (Dr Sid, Wande Coal and D’Prince) of the remaining four artistes with him, leaving D’Banj with only one (K Switch). He then went ahead to start SMD, and signed another artiste (Tiwa Savage). When Wande Coal left, Don Jazzy promptly replaced him with three new names (Reekado Banks, Korede Bello and Di’ja). D’Banj however has been lagging behind on the record label front. Since the breakup, D Banj has only signed Tonto Dikeh (I will not say anything about her; you can draw your own conclusions). If D’Banj has not signed anyone new to his record label, it is not that he cannot afford to, it is because the label is not high on his priority list. If one takes time to research the amount of endorsement deals he has racked up within the same period, one would see that he is clearly more interested in building his Koko brand as a business enterprise rather than DB records as a music label. Music was something the Kokomaster stumbled unto while doing other things, not a way of life, as it is for the likes of Don Baba Jay. The insight this gives us explains why Mo’ Hits broke up precisely around the time Kanye West came into the picture. D’ Banj felt Don Jazzy was trying to stifle the opportunity Kanye West was offering him to go international, Don Jazzy felt D’Banj was abandoning the good music they were making together to pursue his own agenda of empire building. With this difference in philosophy they had no choice but to split. Given that both of them are now living the kind of dream they had wanted, getting back together is neither likely, nor likely to benefit either of them
The question one would then ask is: If D’Banj is really not interested in music, why doesn’t he just disband the record label? Why is he singing rubbish, and shitting over all the remixes of other great songs by other hardworking artistes? The truth is that anybody who thinks whatever comes out of the mouth of a musician these days comes out of said musician’s brain is delusional. A lot of people for instance don’t know that what caused the highly publicized meek Mill versus Drake Beef in the first place was Meek saying that Drizzy no longer writes his own rap lyrics, and that Drake is no longer an individual but has become a business enterprise that Aubrey Graham is just an official face of. A lot of fans (like that stupid one who committed suicide because he learnt that Taylor Swift doesn’t write all those breakup songs that made her famous) don’t just want to believe that that songwriters are a thing these days and that every superstar musician has a group of people hunched over in the studio brainstorming over what hook would best fit what song. How does this concern D’ Banj? one of the best songs that the Kokomaster ever sang, during or post Mo’ Hits era is On Top of the World ( not to judge, but if you think that song is rubbish, then something is wrong with your taste in music), and one thing everybody who has ever listened to the song,( this writer included) agrees on is that there is no way the Kokomaster could have written that song himself. What that proves is that he can afford song writers that can write good songs. So why then is he scraping the bottom of the musical barrel? Because he doesn’t care what you think about his music. D’Banj is at the stage of his music career where even if he sings a song and doesn’t sell a single copy, he can shrug it off and not feel any effects. That brings us back to the question that started this paragraph “why doesn’t he just disband the label and retire from music?” because music fans won’t allow him to. To us music lovers, when a musician “blows” (to use the local term), we think because we bought his songs and made him famous, he has become our personal I-pod, obliged to give us good music when we demand for it. That is the reason why years after Styl Plus broke up; fans (this writer included) are still talking about what might have been. It is not just the fans either, every musician (popular and upcoming alike) dreams of a collabo with Banga Lee because of his popularity, so he cannot stop being a musician. He clearly wants to be a business mogul more than he wants to sing, but we the fans want him to be a musician, before anything else. Thus he is like the child who wants to be an actor, but fans are like his parents who want him to be an engineer, he gets his engineering degree, then turns to acting, but he must keep up his appearance as an engineer , so he turns out low grade engineering work because his mind is not in it. So when the parents complain, he flips them the bird along the lines of “Am I not doing what you want, Will I kill myself to satisfy you?”. So when “Ski’ Banj,” (as his Jamaican friends call him) puts out a song like Bachelor or Omni or shits over the remix of Kukere, or Double Wahala or First of All, he is clearly trolling us to unlook his music, but he knows we can’t because our nostalgia about the time he was with someone who is clearly interested in good music still keeps making us believe that he is something that he is clearly not aspiring to be.
The thing about the Kokomaster is that he is not alone in the empire building boat either; he has got role models in “rappers” like Jay Z, P Diddy and Birdman. I don’t have any talent as a mind reader, but I am sure the reason Jay married Bey is so that he can say to fans “see I love music, I even married a woman that makes music” while devoting his time to making money instead. Okay let me not be cynical here; he is obviously crazy about her too. Diddy doesn’t even try to hide the fact that that he is in the business for the money and music is only secondary. Don’t even get me started about Birdman.
To be clear, this writer is among the throng of people who think it is time we start unlooking some of D’Banj’s music, more so that these days his videos now have more product placement than a Marvel comic adaptation. To be fair to the Kokomaster though, He does turn in great jams from time to time, Feeling the Nigga isn’t that bad, Finally seems okay as well. In truth D’Banj is not worse than any other musician, most of the flak he gets is because we fans feel nostalgic about Mo’Hits and feel He is a traitor for leaving. Perhaps if we stop holding the notion that an entertainer owes us good work because we enjoyed the good work he/she has done in the past that made him/her famous, we will be less susceptible to complaining about D’Banj and other entertainers of his ilk, who are clearly trolling us and can’t care any less what we think about their work. As they say, the sky is wide enough for birds to fly without touching wings. It is only fair that music fans being self-entitled complainers who feel that D’ Banj cannot do anything he wants to do, because he owes them good music. It is the kind of thinking that makes people think he should get back with Don Jazzy. People let us all stop complaining about his music,let us just like and unlook accordingly because he clearly isn’t going to get any better. He is clearly just enjoying our outrage, and trolling us to get even more outrage out of us.
All pictures courtesy of http://www.twitter.com/iamdbanj