Word on the street this week is that the professional relationship between one of Nigeria’s biggest stars, Dbanj and American Star Hip-Hop act, Kanye West is all but over. The rumors had started late last year with word leaking out that Kanye had dropped Dbanj, and yesterday Dbanj removed “G.O.O.D Music” from his social network bios, ultimately giving us the final sign that the 3 year stint was all over.
Now we look back after 3 years and ask the question, Was the move a success? Was it all worth it? In attempt to tackle the question we’ll have to walk through a bit of a timeline of how it all happened.
In all started so brightly in 2011, shortly after Dbanj and Don Jazzy had just wrapped up the video for Mr Endowed Remix with Snoop Dogg. In the next couple of months following, there were strong rumors linking the then Mo-Hits bosses to Kanye West, Jay-Z, Babyface and some more A-listers. There were also links with the making of Jay-Z and Kanye’s Watch The Throne album. It all became official in June 2011, when Kanye West signed both Don Jazzy & Dbanj to G.O.O.D Music as a production/artist combo. The months that followed saw Kanye make a surprise appearance at Koko Koncert in London, Dbanj feature in G.O.O.D Music videos, and Don Jazzy get production credits for a track on Watch The Throne. The single Oliver Twist was just taking off internationally, and it looked like there was no stopping Dbanj from going mainstream global. I mean with a blazing hot single, and the backing of Kanye West, what could possibly go wrong?
But then sweeping away all the hype and excitement, a lot of what happened after the deal was not great for Dbanj from a musical stand point. After close to a decade of working together, he split up with his long time partner, Don Jazzy (Mo-hits) amidst rumors of “differences of opinions” about the G.O.O.D music deal, he parted ways with his long time manager (Bankulli), he had an embarrassing feature on the Cruel Summer album, a less than stellar Scapegoat Remix, a string of mediocre singles, an album that didn’t move the meter and quite frankly he has not been able to replicate the musical success of his earlier days. The highlight of his association with GOOD Music might have been the Oliver Twist video which featured cameo appearances from some of his then-label mates and Kanye West. It seems that the only good that came out of the deal was some great branding (really great) and PR for Dbanj, but nothing substantial musically. No US tours with Kanye West. No major features. No real recognition as a legitimate African artist with a different vibe.
When you consider that in those 3 years, WizKid, P-Square, 2face, Davido and a few others have had more successful Nigerian hits than Dbanj has had, and a few others (Olamide, Phyno, Burna Boy, etc) have risen to major prominence you can’t help but ask, was it all worth? In making this move, did Dbanj actually lose ground in Nigeria? When we look back at this move 3-4 years from now, what would we remember it for? Would we consider it a successful move? In attempting to force himself into the international market did he lose his core following in Africa? Did we get too excited too quickly?
Dbanj is a major brand, and will probably remain so for a very long time, but musically Dbanj hasn’t been the same since he jumped ship to be with G.O.O.D Music. Hindsight is 20/20, and looking back one is tempted to say that maybe Dbanj should’ve never rushed to sign with Kanye West, and maybe Mo-Hits will still be running things like they did prior.
My 2 cents, but yours is more important so let’s hear it.