Lessons from Dbanj and his GOOD Music fiasco

As Nigerian music continues to break grounds around the world; with Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, Seyi Shay, Ayo Jay and the rest running things, we take a few steps back as we run through the musicians whose efforts seemingly put us in the forefront in terms of global recognition and the acceptance of mordern day African music around the world.

When we talk about this global recognition, two names easily come to mind as far as 21st century Nigerian music is concerned – Dbanj and 2baba.

They are both stars in their rights and their journeys remain a source of inspiration for thousands of youngsters currently involved in the strive for greatness in music and all-round entertainment.

But as much as 2baba has remained a titan in Nigerian music with several classic albums and a pervasive influence in the entertainment industry, we can’t say so much for Dbanj.

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Several insiders say the Koko Master is perhaps his own biggest problem and largely the cause of his downfall.

We don’t know much but from indications, these allegations aren’t so far from the truth.

It is okay for celebrities to be arrogant, conceited and everything in between every now and then; but while they are at it there is the need to stay on top of one’s game otherwise it all comes back crashing like a pack of cards.

Over the years, we have seen several moves from local musicians whose efforts to break into the American music industry were greeted by mixed reactions both from the unreceptive American consumers and the machinations of the industry up there, among other things.

As a result, the best bet is to remain at home and conquer the local terrain while travelling to play at gigs and tours from time to time in these ‘advanced’ entertainment industries, with the hope of someday breaking fully into the mix and conquering their terrains.

This looks like the perfect solution to tackling the questions and issues of relocating to America to chase a career in music as we speak.

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Experience has shown that it is better for American investors to come looking for you as a Nigerian star, a situation that puts you in a better position to negotiate, than you going out there and forcing yourself on them.

It almost never ends well when local musicians go ahead and try to initiate these moves themselves.

And so with this train of thought, we discuss the sad case of former MoHits star Dbanj who recently was officially delisted from GOOD Music under Kanye West going by a tweet almost going viral within the twitter community in Nigeria. 

And following several years of speculations, occasioned by a dwindling catalogue, it is as painful as it is ridiculous that one of Africa’s most promising music stars is back to nothing as he lingered with the American music label for five whole years without a single album.

It is unsure if he even made any major contribution to the label in terms of a joint project like a mixtape, album or a tour to mention a few.

We recall the interview Dbanj had with NET publisher Ayeni Adekunle in London in 2012 following the heated issues between the Oliver Twist singer and erstwhile partner Don Jazzy leading to the dissolution of MoHits Records.

In that famous exclusive, Dbanj made several statements that alluded to the fact that he ‘threw himself at’ Kanye West and GOOD Music.

Don Jazzy on the other hand, though refusing to comment on the actual reasons behind the split, refused to blend with that trend. This is what some believed crashed their once happy and thriving partnership.

In several other interviews afterwards, the prolific producer mentioned that he was uncomfortable with the setting and felt that if the American stars had come to them (him and Dbanj), they would have stood a better chance.

He also talked about sending Kanye West and Jay Z several beats which were unused, save for his contributions on the 2011 hit Lift Off off the collaborative album Watch The Throne by Jay Z and Kanye West, a song which featured Beyonce.

We might never know the actual situation between Dbanj and Don Jazzy, what led to the former’s downfall musically and his eventual exit from GOOD Music, a deal many doubted all along owing to its seeming unusualness.

I mean, with the likes of Tiwa Savage, Davido and Ayo Jay we have seen what it actually feels like to sign and unveil an artiste be it for management deals or more.

So yea, we continue this with eight key lessons to learn from Dbanj’s last five years with GOOD Music (that’s if he was ever signed to the music company in the first place anyway):

1. More haste, less speed – This goes without saying and Nigeria artistes must never forget the need to proceed with caution as they strive for more in their careers.

2. Look before you leap – Ask questions, get key aspects of your contractual involvements sorted or better still remain where you are and grow naturally. No use rushing into something and coming out just as fast.

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3. Never let excitement make you announce things prematurely. Be silent until you are sure, and even when you are sure don’t give away too much

4. Let your talent speak for itself at all times – This is pretty much self-explanatory and harps on the need for artistes to shut their mouths and make actual music. Leave the talking for hype men, industry critics and editors, among others.

5. Never be conceited – Many insiders say Dbanj’s first problem is arrogance. While we can’t substantiate this, a close look at the man shows he has all the elements of a Mercedes G-Class despite being a Volkswagen Bora in the real sense of things. At one point, he is reported to have turned down several media heavyweights who tried to book him for interviews and whatnot because he thought he was already out of the local league.

6. Be true to yourself – Even if you fail to listen to others, which in itself is a recipe for failure, never fail to tell yourself the truth at all times. It’s okay to dream and aspire for greatness, but then it’s also very important to never deceive oneself and lose everything while chasing inordinate dreams.

7. Rid yourself of the wrong guys. Hire a proper team that tells you the naked truth and nothing else.

8. Admit when you are wrong and be open to changes – Every young entertainer looking to make a name for himself must never forget these words. Nothing will take you to the top other than accepting when you are wrong and making corrective steps instantly.

So here we go, we love Dbanj and we love how he has found solace in other entrepreneurial activities like farming and other forms of brand marketing.

He is a success today, despite unconfirmed rumours of his indebtedness to several benefactors, and we love his drive nonetheless. But just to be clear, he could have been way bigger than he currently is.

In fact, Don Jazzy with all his successes in the new Mavin empire has admitted that he and Dbanj could easily have made a lot more money were their former movement still active.

That says it all, really. The lessons are clear for all. 

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