Give D’banj His Roses
The breakneck world of African music is not necessarily a young man’s game but it is, without a doubt, one of “newness.” There is a constant inundation of new, “fresh” artists fighting to break onto the scene in an ever-evolving digital space, while fans are constantly listening out for a new hit. Artists from just a few years ago can become forgotten as quickly as they rise up (if not quicker). Like pop music listeners globally, fans of afrobeats are typically viewed as both fickle and forgetful.
This climate is emphasized when discussing an artist like Dbanj, who was once viewed as one of the musical kings within the genre of afrobeats. Now when D’banj happena to be brought up in conversations he is typically made out to be a sort of caricature of himself–a looming symbol for his successors of what befalls you if you lose your way chasing the American market. Or even worse, a discarded relic of the past.
D’banj’s debut album No Long Thing is now 12 years old, the same age that I was when I was visiting Nigeria and was formally introduced to afrobeats music. Differing from the African music that I had been introduced to at home through my parents including Sonny Bobo, Oriental Brothers, Fela, etc. this had an entirely different type of energy and excitement that I was immediately drawn to. D’banj brought forth a new era of African music to me, that was as bold and daring as it was innovative.
With all of this being said, I wanted to, in the words of Kanye (in the least way ironic possible), give this man his roses while he can still smell them. Guiding the conversation away, if only for a moment, from D’banj’s missteps and lack of perceived current action to a trip down memory lane, to appreciate a true living legend. So, let’s look back at some of the characteristics and moments that have made D’banj so great.
The fact that his harmonica game has always been infinite flame emojis
That time when he crossed cultural lines, effortlessly merged secular and gospel music and created the hit, “Igwe”
The fact that D’banj always practiced infinite amounts of self-love and could talk and yes, back up, his sh*t
The time when Dapo was ahead of his time and created a Yoruba Demon anthem
The time when he created a craze and broke records for an African song in the U.K., with his Charles Dickens-inspired, “Oliver Twist”
When he diversified and created a reality show where women vied for his love on Koko Mansion
The time when he created a musical empire with his best friend
His quick-witted sense of humor, illustrated by this classic exchange
The time when he featured the queen of Nollywood, Genevieve, in the music video for the wedding song to end all wedding songs, “Fall in Love”
That fact that he literally spoke gibberish on a track and it was still fire
The fact that unlike many of his contemporaries, D’banj has always been a great performer
The time that he surprised us all (today), reunited with Wande Coal and dropped a clip for his upcoming summer banger, “It’s Not A Lie”
If this list has taught you anything, I hope one thing was to not make the mistake of counting D’banj out. Also, while you’re at it, give D’banj some roses of your own and share your favorite D’banj songs/moments with us on social media @OneTribeMag.