You have to give D’Banj a lot of credit for knowing just how to stay in the news. In the last year or so, we’ve gone through the Presidential interview, through the election campaign concerts, to the ‘Oliver Twist’ single going viral, him signing on for G.O.O.D. Music, the Sahara Reporters Interview, his alleged breakup with producer Don Jazzy and now the Ebony Magazine interview that has got everyone wondering how Don Jazzy was under his payroll all along and we never knew.
I still remember sitting in my friend’s house back in 2005 in Enugu, being a fresh lawyer working at a chamber at Independence Layout when this video came up on TV with this strangely energetic guy screaming an even stranger word ‘Tongolo’. I paid attention. Everyone I knew paid attention. The other guy who just sat with a walking stick and two girls vying for his attention, while belting out a hook in a sleepy yet catchy voice, almost became the breakout star from that video. Probably only second to the harmonica that was definitely a new sound in mainstream Nigerian music. You could tell just by watching that video that these guys were on to something.
Over the years, most young-ish Nigerians have grown to love (and hate) the D’Banj and Don Jazzy partnership. Tens of hits have been churned out, millions of Naira made, tons of endorsement deals signed, Koko spinoffs (reality show, phone set and err garri) and more than a few fashion disasters committed (yes, we are glad D’Banj has dropped that sleeveless ‘up and down’ aso oke thing he tried to make his signature attire).
It seemed like the perfect working relationship; two friends who were not interested in getting in each other’s way. One loved to be heard while consciously chasing fame, and the other just wanted to be left alone while making people famous. They were so close in fact that talk about D’Banj being Don Jazzy’s mouthpiece at interviews and press conferences, were never played out. Comedians milked the scenario. Don Jazzy gets asked a question, he whispers his answer in D’Banj’s ears and D’Banj answers the question. There was that much trust between them.
But these days, things seem quite different. While Don Jazzy is saying he regrets voting for President Jonathan and supports the protests against fuel subsidy, D’Banj is saying he had no idea about the protests and can’t have an opinion about it. In the past, what one said was automatically the other’s opinion. How could one suddenly be so passionate about an issue while the other claimed to have no idea what that issue was? It seemed strange! But stranger things have happened, so we all moved on. But the rumours have refused to stop.
These days, we keep hearing messy stories about Don Jazzy moving out of the house he shares with D’Banj. Why that is even our business is what I’m not sure of. As much as we now have celebrities in Nigeria, it isn’t news that we still don’t have that paparazzi or phone tapping culture, where people go all out to look for stories that don’t bother them. Thus, it’s almost safe to conclude that the story broke only because some insider consciously wanted it to. Whether it’s a publicity stunt or it’s meant to actually let us know subtly that change is about to come, is yet to be seen.
The recent D’Banj interview in ‘Ebony Magazine’, has added a new twist to the whole saga. D’Banj claims; “I have my own record label called Mo’ Hits with my artistes Dr. Sid, Wande Coal, Don Jazzy…” Pause. What?!? Don Jazzy is D’Banj’s artiste? Who woulda thunk it? I ran to twitter and Don Jazzy still hadn’t tweeted a rebuttal to any of the rumours/stories. But his twitter bio still says “C.E.O Mo’ Hits Records”. What does that mean? That D’banj founded the label and signed him on as C.E.O? Does that make any sense? Probably, if you realize that ‘C.E.O.’ doesn’t automatically mean ‘Owner’.
Truth is, all of these could be worked to great effect by whoever the PR person of both parties and the record label is. If this is all a conscious effort to get our attention, it has definitely worked as even those who claim not to care, definitely know all the details. It all makes for interesting drama and it would be even more interesting if it all turns out to be a hoax. But one thing’s for sure; a lot of their true fans don’t want to believe that this obviously successful friendship is at its twilight.
Speaking of Twilight, just like Jacob and Edward in that popular vampire series, hashtags of #TeamDbanj and #TeamDonJazzy have appeared on Twitter. Have you picked a side too?
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