This article was written by Azuka Ogujiuba of ThisDay.
Do I even say that everything happened by sheer providence? I met D’banj and Don Jazzy about nine years ago through Dumebi Kachikwu who introduced me to these two burgeoning artistes then. When Kachukwu called me,l told him l was on a three-month maternity leave and that l would give him my colleague’s number to call so he could assist him with whatever they wanted to do. He insisted he wanted me on board; that D’banj and Don Jazzy would meet me at home or where ever l wanted. Bewildered but I braved the odd somehow. I told him l couldn’t leave my house because my baby was pretty young and was still breastfeeding.
However, l probed a little further why Kachikwu wanted me to do an interview with them at all cost which in my modest submission, anyone in my office could as well prosecute. And I still have a strong presence of mind, don’t mind me, I just don’t forget certain things. These were his exact words: “These guys are stars, they are going to be big mark my words” and l asked: “Which star? Nobody knows these your emergency stars o.” l remarked jocularly. Kachukwu insisted that they were stars and would be big soon in the Nigerian entertainment industry.
Well, as a Christian, I know what the Bible says of our humble beginnings. Kachikwu continued: “Azuka, l believe in these guys. They are talented, we must support them, l really need you to come on board. You have to do this for me, please.” He pleaded tenaciously.
Words almost failed me. My curiosity swelled almost to a crescendo as l pondered what was the might of these men who was making Kachikwu plead this way. Now, this wasn’t about playing hard to get; l just had a baby l wanted to spend time with her. It was my maternity leave but Kachikwu’s constant calls and pleas to interview these guy took my resolve out of the equation. I found myself shifting grounds against my will. Even Israel Edjeren who was part of the project then was also harassing me with calls on the other side to the extent he had to visit me at home apparently to know if I was playing hard to get but they found out the truth anyway. The truth was my baby was ‘shacking’ me as they say and she was all that mattered at that moment of my solitude.
Kachikwu had a valentine show coming up then tagged ‘History of Love 101’ which had American stars like Chante Moore, Kenny Latimore, Donell Jones and 112 all performing on that day.
Kachukwu wanted to give Dbanj and Don Jazzy a bigger platform to perform with these artistes. D’banj and Don Jazzy finally came to my house the next day. I was even breastfeeding my baby when they came, they waited patiently amid some very exciting hobnobs. They were so cool, impressively affable and felt so relaxed in my house that was inside one bush corner like that at Akoka. I noticed D’banj was the talkative like me and the extrovert while Don Jazzy had this sweet smile. He seldom talked. He just listened to me and D’banj. They even gave my baby some monetary gift, saying that in African culture they don’t see a new baby without giving him or her a gift.
In no time, we became not just friends, but like family members. We exchanged numbers and called one another whether it mattered or not and our ‘gists’ would drag on forever.
Their first major interview in Nigeria was done by me. It was a three-page interview spread, no newspaper in Nigeria will ever do that for an upcoming music group. But l guess God and luck were on my side when l convinced my editor to give them that spread and he obliged. He was not into entertainment like me, but he trusted my judgment on the industry. I didn’t attend the concert but heard it was a success.
After that Kachukwu called again insisting he wanted stories on them in the papers every passing week. Of course, l told him it was not possible except they were doing any show or something special. So, l monitored their progress even when my leave was over l visited them at home in Maryland, Lagos a number of times.
On the other side, Kachukwu was investing heavily on them financially. He spent money buying them exotic cars like the BMW Dbanj and Jazzy rode to my house, can’t remember what year but it was so low to the ground and looks like a racing car, pardon me, l am not into cars. He loved this duo that later metamorphosed to Mo’hits. Authoritatively, I can tell that he financed their first trip to America.
He made sure he introduced them to all his rich friends who invited them for gigs and paid them heavily to perform, as the Mo’hits grew in fortune and fan base, they gradually started manifesting their ‘true colours’. Now, permit me to rest the innuendos. I could help people grow without desecrating the fine ethos of journalism. I discern the lines whenever I inch towards them. Finally, we fell out when l did a critic on Koko Mansion which l felt was a debasement to womanhood. And D’banj was billed to perform at Genevive Pink ball but did not. l was there and wrote about it. When it was published, understandably, hell was let loose. Immediately, Dbanj and Don Jazzy stopped taking my calls. By the way, it still beats me that anything under the sun would be powerful enough to tear Don Jazzy and D’banj apart. They operated like twins, if you hurt Don Jazzy, you also hurt D’banj, if you hurt D’banj just be ready to face Don Jazzy with a shield. Literally speaking, theirs was like a bond completed in heaven. So strong was it that Don Jazzy had a greater influence on D’banj than anybody, let alone anyone else.
Anyway, back to my story, Toyin Subair, who was the brain behind the show and a very good friend was peeved beyond description about my article but l honestly didn’t understand their anger. Did they expect me to say that D’banj performed at the Genevive Pink ball when he did not? When I got the hint that they felt terrible about my report, I tried to reach out to them to explain. Remember, I still supposed we were friends but all efforts proved abortive and that consequently soured the once chummy relationship.
I am naturally not a bitter person. So l moved on until l met Dbanj again at an event in Kenya. We were all supposed to stay in the same hotel, but immediately he sighted me, he told the promoters of the event that he would not perform unless I was sent back to Nigeria and that l was his number one enemy. In fact, his former P.A. Chuchu and manager, Bankulli, kept threatening me. I ignored them and for the first time, l insulted D’banj. l was tired of his petty and childish behaviours, so l gave it to him fire for fire, while the D Prince, Jazzy’s younger brother and Ramsey Noah where on that trip watched the drama closely . And I dared them to advance with their threats.
The promoters of the show tried to intervene and they ended up taking me to another location where I passed the night. When l got back to Nigeria, l did my report and wrote about how D’banj shut down Kenya, which was the truth and l never mentioned the fight and harassment from Chuchu and Bankulli. That same day my phone rang, it was D’banj. He loved the article and he apologized to me and he even said we should hook up at some point. He told me to save his phone number and call him anytime, but l never did till date. I later ran into him and Don Jazzy at events and we exchanged pleasantries. I follow both of them on instagram at least to keep tab on their works.
Celebrating 10 years of fame and infamy
If you ask me, I’d say that D’banj’s 10th anniversary could have been more glorious if he’d invited people who supported his career through the years when nobody knew him, especially Don Jazzy. Well, let’s set off the chronicle. The show was supposed to start by 7pm, but l got there by 8pm. l had a flat tire and l was hungry too. When l got there, l called Dayo Showemimo of the Netng. l wanted to quickly eat the ‘mama put’ rice l bought in his car knowing well that l might not get anything to eat since my ticket was a regular one. But l got tickets for drinks. I had my ‘Baba dudu’ candies too in case l feel like chewing anything inside the hall. Even by 10 pm, nobody was allowed into the hall as people hunged around, no popular face or a big celebrity had arrived either.
At the red carpet, TV presenters were passing time by merely chatting away the night as they waited patiently for the colorful guests they could interview. When l was approached, l politely refused because l don’t do red carpet interviews. I’d only had to maybe once or twice in the past, but l will pose for pictures if l have to because l am so obsessed with that. l don’t waste time uploading them on instagram and Facebook.
By 11.50 pm, the hall was finally opened. Kemi Adetiba was the first face l recognized. l loved her sequins skirt as it shimmered noticeably in the hall. Adetiba is a fun loving woman. She danced while she also waited patiently like everyone else. By this time the hall was still empty, l mean practically empty, l saw Toolz Oniru in a light brown knee length dress as usual displaying her volumncious curves, l like her because she carries herself well and l also like her body. I stood directly opposite the stage where l thought Amber Rose would twerk and give us an experience to last a lifetime. l made sure l took a vantage position where nothing would obstruct my access to every bit of the soiree.
Later l recognised Mubarak, the photographer, and we exchanged pleasantries. l saw Aremo Segun Oniru and Tee Billz, they sat next to each other. Tiwa Savage was also in the building, l guess she probably wanted to seat in a corner where people will not harass her for photo-up, l didn’t see her though but l was told. Aremu Oniru and Teeblizz sat under a VVIP cabana directly opposite the stage l suspect that was where Amber Rose would sit before she would go on stage. At this point, my feet were aching l could have gone to meet Jojo and Akin at their VVIP corner, but l knew l might miss out some enchanting scenes, so l endured.
By 12pm, nothing was still happening; just a few guests that you could count on your finger tips. At this point, my mind started racing with many rhetorical questions. One of them was ‘where are the stars from Nollywood, the comedians and the music industry?’ l only saw Seyi Law. Didn’t they know it was Bangalee’s special day? Kemi Adetiba was still dancing and enjoying herself. That’s the spirit: make yourself happy and have fun at every point in time with or without an Amber Rose.
Jimmie of Beat FM: A Saving Grace
Jimmie Akinsola, He anchors sports extra on Beat FM. It probably won’t suffice for D’banj to just hand the MC his fee, he should appreciate him specially. The first time l saw Jimmie on stage was at the 2014 Headies Award. l had asked about him. He was so good, and when he introduced the hosts of the event, it was seamless and natural. He is a good host and a good hype man. He saved Dbanj’s party, to be frank. l still don’t know how to classify the event. He kept making the very boring and dull atmosphere come alive, supported by music supplied by Dj Exclusive and Dj Spinall. Jimmie kept screaming Dbanj’s new nickname ‘Eja Nla’ so much to the anger of a guest by my table where l stood, who malliciously asked: “Which yeye Eja Nla (big fish)? Dbanj is now a Titus or abi na shawa fish” We couldn’t help but laugh at that.
By 12.25am, Uzoma Dozie, the managing director of Diamond Bank and his wife, Adesuwa, after waiting almost endlessly for Dbanj and his special guest, Amber Rose, left. Shortly after, l saw Ayona, and her husband, Philip Trimmell, strolling out at 1.02am. l guess they were home bound too.
The hall was still empty. I sighted Praiz in his all round black bespoke outfit designed by Jasonporshe. He was so dapper. He was my best dressed male that night. Timaya strolled in too, Shaydee, Teckno and Banky W who carried himself in a noble demeanor. Lynxx was so casually dressed like who is taking a walk in the park with his bae.
I saw Chris Obosi and his wife walking around and I could easily sense that they were also tired of waiting and were probably thinking of leaving when Jimmie started announcing that Eja Nla and madam Amber Rose were about to step in.
Excited and Happy ‘Eja Nla’
When Dbanj walked in with Amber Rose hand in hand like a couple walking down the aisle, Eja Nla was so happy and you could tell that he had a butterfly in him while feeling he’d achieved a great feat by standing side by side with Amber Rose. Lo and behold, they both walked into a practically empty hall. I am sure Amber Rose would be wondering why the hall was that empty. Didn’t Dbanj tell Nigerians she was storming their entertainment hub? Dbanj, Koko Master, Bangerlee or is it Eja Nla was just shaking like a jelly all over Amber and you would think he stood by one decent super star, well l think she is one in her own world and they walked straight to where Aremu Oniru sat. I stood directly opposite them and watched as Dbanj faked a chatty friendship with Amber Rose who pretended to be flowing with him because of the cool cash breathing in her account back in the United States. At this point, l asked myself: what did Amber Rose come to do in Nigeria? What would her presence do to Dbanj’s sinking image and career? Who advised Dbanj to go on such a project?
How the Anniversary Party Should Have Been Held
Dbanj, no doubt is one of the big names in the entertainment industry, not only in Nigeria but in Africa. He is loved and adored by many. Fame took a rush on his career and Dbanj probably saw himself on the same pedestal with big American acts like Kanye West. Of course, he did everything to be with Kanye West which ended up in sham with all the noise about being signed on to G.O.O.D Music after wasting so many months in America. At the end of the day, he was relegated to playing a ‘waka pass’ role in one of Kanye’s videos.
l remember when l ran into him and Bankulli on a British Airways flight to the Cannes in south of France, he wouldn’t even talk to me. He was so cold that Bankuli was so embarrassed and immediately became his mouth piece; answering every question on his behalf. I just thought this dude needs to grow up, l just laughed at his behavior, l was not upset because l already know how he operates. When it comes to fighting and keeping malice, he is worst than a woman. l was going to attend the Cannes Film Festival and he was catching a flight to attend the premiere of Kanye West’s movie.
Anyway, l think Dbanj should have celebrated his 10th anniversary on stage by giving back to the music community and to the country whose fans made him. He should have had a black tie event. Where family, close friends and not ass lickers (that is if he still has close friends),the big wigs in their Nigeria entertainment industry, his contemporaries, young and old will come on stage and tell the world how he has inspired their career, sing any of his hit songs or sing a tribute song specially composed for him. D’banj loves everything America, so by now he should have seen how BET organizes such events for their big stars or legends and not spend hard earned money bringing Amber Rose, who is no nowhere near a role model but a glorified stripper who felt too big to twerk but ordered her ‘assistant’ like Dominic to twerk for sponsors like Diamond Bank and made his guests look stupid because everybody who came wanted to see Amber Rose twerk.
Two lies D’banj told was that Amber will host his show, she never did, for the host of the show was Jimmie of Beats FM, and she also did not twerk like the impression D’banj gave.
Dbanj should have played the role of a god-father by inviting budding artistes like Runtown, Kiss Daniel, Korede Bello, Reekado Banks, Dija (l call them the Mavin babies that is if Don Jazzy will release them though) Brain, Skales, B-Red, Lil Kesh and Teckno. The list goes on. These chaps would come and rivet all on how D’banj has inspired their careers. And if he wants a big star to host his event, we have Genevieve Nnaji, Rita Dominic, Funke Akindele, Kate Henshaw or Omotola Jolade-Ekeinde who are people’s delight any day. They will be supported by my new favorite anchor man, Jimmie, he will soon be my “man crush” after phyno, we would have had a beautiful and memorable night; biko.
He would have promised an unknown artist a record label deal in his newly formed Bangalee family; though we are yet to hear any singles from the ones on board.
Does D’banj have an inferiority complex problem even as big as he is in Africa? Why does he think being in American will put him a better and a bigger platform? Why doesn’t he think of ruling Africa and let the likes of Kanye West, that he was one time chasing around, Jay Z, John Legend and Common search for him? Why does he think these American stars are better than him? Now he has brought in Amber Rose, only God knows how much she got paid just for seven minutes on stage, to do what now? This is exactly what Darey Art Alade did too with Kim Kadashian. What is wrong with all these dudes?
Meanwhile, ex- presidents like Bill Clinton will visit and give lectures. They will stay till the end of the events and the shallow and empty ones just spend three to seven minutes on stage doing nothing yet they are heavily paid.
D’banj and co please give back to your society who made you and stop wasting money on these American stars who don’t give a hoot about you. Now when Kim Kadarshian was getting married to Kanye in Paris, did she remember that Darey Art-Alade paid her so much money to be at his show? Did she send him an invite? And what about Kanye West did he remember to send D’banj an invite for his wedding? Nigerian artistes should please stop worshipping these guys and build their brands.
Nigerian artistes are so big and talented, maybe the best after American artistes in the world. And that’s why l like P-Square. Can’t D’banj take a simple cue from his contemporaries like P-Square and 2baba, Flavor and Jay Martins who are making cool millions all over Africa? I heard with all the money he has made all through his career he is still living in a rented property like me, while P-Square, 2face even the Dr Sid (whom he kept accusing broke Mo’hits up) is happily settled in his career, marriage and has moved to his personal house. I am still not married so l have no moral ground to question why he is still single.
When Dbanj is sober he should ask himself what was the significance of bringing Amber Rose to Nigeria? l think among all the celebrated women he dated, he lost a good woman in Jennifer Obayuwana, a kind hearted hardworking and supportive woman. I am sure he secretly regrets losing the newly engaged Jennifer, a smart guy called Peter has taken over that jewel. Who knows? Jennifer may be secretly thanking God the affair ended.
And What of his List of Debts
Reported by ‘Dayo Showemimo of the online magazine, The Netng.
As things stand, D’banj may be dragged to court by a top oil and gas industry player, Henry Ojogho, Vice Chairman of Broron Group. Ojogho, who is also the Vice Chairman of MindHub Technologies, an integrated rice farming and milling production company, alleges that D’banj, through his company, DKM Media Limited, obtained a loan of over N60m from him in January 2013 and has not paid back the said sum despite signing an undertaking to do so.
WALTER WAGBATSOMA (200,000Pounds)
Mr Walter is a billionaire with investments in major areas, ranging from oil and gas to real estate, banking, equities and even insurance. He is the founder and executive Vice Chairman of Ontario Oil and he’s one of the first men who were said to have handed money to D’banj, with a whopping sum of 200,000 Pounds said to be involved.
PRINCE D. OKONKWO ($200,000)
He’s the chairman, Board of Directors of Tetrazini Group of Companies and he is said to have given about $200,000 to D’banj in the name of investing in entertainment. When the issue with Prince Okonkwo got out of hand, D’banj was said to have sought help from Dapo Abiodun, boss of Heyden Oil and Gas, who helped him take care of the debt through a repayment plan.
The Koko Concert Drama
Still fresh in the memory of Nigerians is the controversial 2012 edition of Koko Concert in which people had to trek for miles before getting to the venue and back. That concert, to me, was called suffering and smiling with the unforgettable inhuman treatment meted out to those with regular tickets. The former Don Jazzy partner reportedly made close to N87m from tickets sales alone at that event and reports allege he collected a whopping $500,000 from GTBank and other title sponsors of the show. There is no doubt that Dbanj is yet to recover from the 2012 Koko concert though, which is believed to have led him not just into debts but made him part ways with several of his closest allies. He also had been alleged to be owing his ever first financier, Dumebi Kachukwu and other wealthy friends that he met through him. But if Dbanj was in such messy financial state, why would he spend one kobo bringing Amber Rose here?
Back to the show or abi na party
By 1:06am, Don Jazzy produced songs ‘Shake your body’, ‘Why me’ and ‘Olorun maje’ were played as DNMT dance crew took over the stage, obviously the tiresome and disorganized boring party had started
And Amber Rose hit the stage
By 1:39am, Amber finally came on stage, asking for someone to teach her how to dance an African dance, nobody even obliged, the crowd ignored her as she flashed her camera smile, she was ignored until she pointed at one young girl, who came on stage to dance shoki with her. It was even Jimmie who tactically reminded her to unveil D’banj’s new video with Akon. She was so disconnected with the event, almost blabbing as she announced, the video was not shown for more than three seconds. Everything looked so haphazard and disorganised. D’banj looked confused and lost but excitedly just standing by Amber Rose that you would think he is standing next to Michelle Obama or Beyonce. He kept whispering sweet nothing in her ears trying to make the crowd feel they were buddies or they have a connection everything was mapped out to make the bored crowd feel they were going to have a good time.
D’banj kept giggling into Amber’s ears l can bet she didn’t hear a word of what he was saying but she kept this professionally prepared smile on her face but l can tell you Amber is thinking about her cash chilling in her bank account. D’banj was just shaking, jittering beside Amber Rose to the extent of when she was about leaving the stage, D’banj was yet to find the man in him. Pitiably, he even played the bride’s maid or as he picked the tail of her evening dress and continued the long walk behind her. That was such a hilarious sight. Will D’banj even treat Genevieve Nnaji or any Nigerian female celebrity this way? All this for who? Amber was on stage for seven minutes. Anyway, we were all told that she was going to be back to twerk, instead Dominic twerked.
By 1:49am, Olamide, Phyno and Wizkid all strolled in like they came to mark register at the event and not like they came to celebrate with him. Like many others, l actually thought they would perform to support their ‘big brother’s’ boring celebration. D’banj was on stage, confused, acting to be happy and smiling sheepishly. My very good friend, Ayo Shonaiya, was on stage with him too. l guess to support him, even Sunday Areh was the only old face l recognised with Dbanj.
2:10am: He brought all the artistes like Olamide, Phyno, Seyi Shay and Wizkid on stage, they sang one of Don Jazzy’s produced songs again. I can’t remember the title again though. He introduced them and immediately they left the stage, one by one they sneaked out of the hall like Amber Rose. Before l could say Jack Robinson, all the artists were gone.
2:22am: Thank God Oritsefemi was still around to render the remix of Double Wahala. When Dbanj was truly the koko master, he would never do a remix with Oritsefemi, like he has done with some artistes who had hit songs.
By 2:22am: The next people l saw with him were Sesan and Fade Ogunro. Dbanj knows the event was a big failure; a big crap but he was still acting his koko movie. Now random guests and fans were going on stage to do a photo up with him and Dbanj could not tell the crowd that Amber Rose has sneaked out through the back door.
2:29am: Dbanj was still announcing Turn Up to a practically empty hall so who is going to turn up when all the stars had disappeared including Uzoma Dozie of Diamond Bank. Maybe the stars have gone to Quilox or maybe MVP, the rave pubs, l suppose and that is where D’banj should have held his celebration. Club venue best suits an Amber Rose and not such a marquee.Even though the marquee had a club setting. The marquee was beautiful with lovely ambience though, kudos to the Balmora team for a such a lovely amsphere.
2.30am: Everybody had left, the party was over with long drawn disappointed faces but Dayo Showemimo of the NET, Osagie Alonge of The Pulse and l decided to stay until the celebrant goes home.
2:45am: Davido, his cousins, B-Red, Shina Rambo and other members of the HKN gang trooped in making so much noise as they went on stage. They were behaving like kids who attended a birthday party of another at a school playing ground. l thought if it was Dbanj of those days, they would have been there on time. After a while, l had to prevail on Dayo that we leave because l needed to attend church that same morning. We left by 3.30am.
Another puzzle which l don’t quite understand about Dbanj’s personality is how he is quick to make enemies and forget those who genuinely supported his career. Later, l found out that Dumebi Kachikwu, one of Dbanj’s biggest financiers, was in Lagos that day for his elder brother, Dr Ibe Kachukwu, the publisher of Complete Fashion’s daughter’s wedding after the wedding. He could have still popped in if all was well. Don Jazzy his former business partner and bossom friend was absent. Gbenga Adeyinka the first. Dele Momodu of Ovation magazine was not invited, his first show in Ghana was arranged by him. Seye Keyinde of City People. Kunle Bakare of Encomium. Abisoye Fagade of Sodium Solution, Adekunle Ayeni of Black House Media. Ayo Animashaun of Headies Award/Hip TV, although his presenters were on the red carpet. Cecil Hammond (Dbanj was the bestman at his wedding, later they started Koko lounge) Kelvin Orifa of MTN. Mayor Akinpelu of Global Execllence. Afolabi Oyekoya, Biodun Kupoluyi of E247, Justin Esade-Akpovi, entertainment editors like Victor Akande, Nsebong of Thisday newspapers who pushed Dbanj’s career to where it is today were deliberately not invited.
Where are all the bigwigs in the Nigerian Entertainment industry, from Nollywood, comedy and the fashion industry like Okunoren twins and Alvince, I remember these guys have kitted him with their designs when he started, why didn’t he invite them or was his 10th anniversary event a money making venture? Just asking though. Those days of the koko master, he cannot cough without a big crowd all rushing and queuing to be at his show, but now the crowd I saw of his heavily publicized Amber Rose coming to host his show got me sad and thinking is the D’banj brand disappearing slowly or is it even dead?
Now this not about beef or hating as some people might want to misunderstand my article, but it is the fact that D’banj needs our prayers and support. Something is wrong, no doubt. l miss the old Dbanj. If we all truly care and love him, we should pray that his career is revived again. l think Dbanj is acting as if all is well, but truth is that the opposite is the case. I noticed that it was all the hit songs produced by Don Jazzy that he played throughout and that means a lot. It just signifies that Don Jazzy’s production put him on the world map.
Someone made this comment recently on social media “The guy aint don jack since he left the Great Don, meanwhile Don is churning out hits like he’s frying akara” For the first time, l am lending Dbanj my two pennies: he should make up with Don Jazzy before this star finally dims into oblivion. There is no pride in this anymore, he should come off his high horse. Nigerians like me can’t wait to see them reconcile and make us happy again musically. It is not late; family and genuine friends should let by gone be by gone and intervene. Bring these men together. An agreement can be reached. After Oliver Twist, l have tried to love and dance to the songs he has released but my dancing steps can’t simply find a place.
Understandably, many might read a very wrong meaning to my innocent article, please don’t bother starting any social media war because l will never respond. I have said my bit, dusted my butt, strolled into my house like Omoba, the cartoon character in Punch Newspaper and locked my gates with heavy padlocks. So whatever is being said forthwith, l am not interested and l pray God will not allow sycophants destroy his beautiful career. C’est finis!
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