If you go by the reception that has trailed D’banj’s music since 2013, you would have said to yourself “Why didn’t he just retire as a musician, and focus on other aspects of his brand?”
But D’banj didn’t and he still continues to play the role of Nigeria’s entertainer, far past his prime and into the future. D’banj is still releasing records and hopes to still generate hits. He is not alone in this.
The Nigerian music industry is not structured for retirements. There is hardly a structure that guarantees you making money from your catalogue long after you drop the mic. And the cautionary tales of countless musicians who slipped into penury after they left the game is still a horror that every star wants to avoid.
But you know what they really should avoid? Crashing down from the heights of their power via poor music, and eroding the legacy that they have created by lingering on the scene long after the applause has begun to dwindle.
D’banj once had a good thing with Don Jazzy and Mo’Hits. But after the split in 2011, he hit the jackpot with Oliver Twist in 2012, and signed a deal with Kanye West’s GOOD Music. ‘Oliver Twist’ gave D’banj his last highest applause on the scene. From the forests of Congo, to the skyscrapers of New York, he was celebrated and placed on a pedestal.
That was the highest height at that point, and everyone sang his name. He was a great performer, an uber entertainer, and the man who could do no wrong. But deep down he knew this was fleeting. It was heaven beckoning at him to leave on a high. He had lost his support system, Don Jazzy and moved houses, and no matter how much he enjoyed the highs of ‘Oliver Twist’, there was no plan to get the music going.
Like all good things end, ‘Oliver Twist’ began to succumb to time and the laws of diminishing marginal utility, and D’banj went with it. The exit of ‘Oliver Twist’ from the charts should have been the big announcement of D’banj’s retirement.
D’banj isn’t just an entertainer. He had everything required to make it in other fields. Fashion, tech, Agriculture, anything and everything made sense to D’banj. But he didn’t. He chose to forge ahead with a contract with Kanye that contributed to his demise, and rake in new stars into his DKM record label. That project is in tatters.
Over the years, the essence of D’banj has left him. While he maintained his brand and continued to push new music, true fans could tell that this was the shadow of the man they loved. The entertainer that released one of the most classic pop albums of Nigeria.
Once in a while there’s a reminder of his once lofty powers. Those reminders gave us ‘Don’t tell me nonsense’, ‘Top of the world’, and ‘Emergency’. But it has been a struggle. For each of those three records, he released a truckload of mediocre music. And his legend died.
It’s 2017, and D’banj has expanded his reach. He is into Agriculture, has set up a tech platform, and taken up activism with the ONE campaign. He began to chase these from 2015, after three years of flogging a dead horse.
But we all know the truth. After ‘Oliver Twist’, D’banj was musically done. He should have left and pivoted his brand when the applause from the industry was at its loudest.
Source: PulseNG Music Buzz / Joey Akan