He chooses to be called The ‘Kokomaster’, ‘Eja Nla’, ‘Banga Lee’, ‘Kiniun FunFun’, ‘Skibanj’ and you’ll be absolutely spot on. This worldwide phenomenon that’s known today as D’banj, hit the scene 10 years ago, October 4, 2004 to be precise.
From the very beginning, he had all the markings, attitude, charisma, aura and energy that define a true superstar and entertainer. Today, it’s not all that surprising that he has risen to the very top of the game with little or nothing more to prove to anyone.
With 3 studio albums and two compilation albums to his name, D’banj begins his much hyped and anticipated 10th year anniversary as an entertainer with a massive bang from this week.
The man called D’banj
Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo was born June 9, 1980 in Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria to a military officer who commanded an artillery regiment and a church dignitary mother who both hail from Sagamu in Ogun State. He’s the second child from a family of four kids and attended the Nigerian Military School in Zaria before proceeding to the Nigerian Navy Secondary School in Ibara, Abeokuta where he completed his secondary school education.
He later got admission into the Lagos State University (LASU) to study Mechanical Engineering but incessant strikes led his parents to transfer him to the United Kingdom (UK) to continue his education.
How his career began
Like his father, D’banj was expected to become a military man hence his enrolment into military school at the age of 11, but D’banj wasn’t built for the military. As fate would have it, three years later he lost his elder brother, Olufemi Oyebanjo who died in a ghastly plane crash and the ‘Harmonica’ was one of his belongings that D’banj inherited. Thus, his career in music silently began. While in the university in Lagos, he was part of a singing group before he left for the UK.
On getting to the UK, with no parent in sight to make his choices for him, D’banj began doing menial jobs and soon took up a job as a security guard at a construction site in Stratford, UK where he met someone who introduced him to the JJC and 419 Squad.
Meeting with the already established JJC and 419 squad in London was the genesis of the music career he desired and there he met Don Jazzy with whom he formed one of the strongest music marriages in the history of African music.
From the UK, D’banj and Don Jazzy bonded in the early 2000s and with reports of the fast growing music industry back home in Nigeria, the duo decided to relocate to Lagos, Africa’s most populous city. In 2004, they walked the talk and set up Mo’Hits Records.
10 years in the game
To celebrate his 10th anniversary, D’banj is rolling out the drums and going all out to celebrate with his fans around the world with live ‘unplugged’ concerts across the globe.
He kicked off the celebration on Saturday January 31, 2015 in Lagos with a star studded celebrity party hosted by American diva Amber Rose tagged ‘Feeling The Nigga Weekend’.
He will be celebrating with his fans, from Lagos to UK, USA, Europe and several Africans countries. In the middle of all these, he’ll also be releasing his 10th anniversary album as well as officially releasing his own line of ‘Beats by Dre’ headphones for Africa.
The Adventures of D’banj, a must-watch reality movie where he plays the lead role, will also be released and the 2nd season of the highly anticipated reality show ‘Koko Mansion’ will make its return this year.
The Mo’Hits Era
In the eight years it existed, the label was a pride of the Nigerian music industry. It became the biggest music empire in the country. They churned out hits and mega hits as often as possible and headlined the big budget concerts in the country and beyond, week in, week out while big brands competed to write out cheques in D’banj, Don Jazzy or Wande Coal’s names. In a short time, the boys became men; the banks were more than happy to keep their millions for them every week. Their Maryland mansion was eye-catching and their garage had no more space as their fleet of cars, befitting of super stars, could no longer be contained in the property.
Then in April 2012, it happened. Everything fell apart. One of the best music marriages ever in the Nigerian music industry broke up irreconcilably.
The end of Mo’Hits was announced when D’banj and Don Jazzy decided to call it quits after 8 great years. During the Mo’Hits era, the duo recorded several hit singles, albums and built an empire by signing on acts like Dr Sid, Wande Coal, Kay Switch and D’Prince.
A true super star by all standards, with an amazing fan base and followership all over the world, D’banj began enjoying mouth-watering endorsement deals from the very beginning of his career.
His first endorsement was in the year 2005 with an energy drink called ‘Power Fist’. In 2008, he signed a bigger deal with Nigerian telecoms giant, Globacom estimated to be worth over N70m.
The deals didn’t stop there. In December 2012, D’banj signed a ground breaking mega deal with Sony Music. In May 2013, D’banj was named the Bank of Industry (BOI) Ambassador. In November 2013, D’banj re-signed a multi-million Naira deal with Globacom for the 2nd time after the company had parted ways with him in 2010.
In October 2014, D’banj was named the official African Ambassador for ‘Beats by Dre’ headphones. More abound.
The women in his life
In May 2010, D’banj had Nollywood screen goddess Genevieve Nnaji play the lead role in the video of his highly successful hit single, ‘Fall In Love’
Fondly referred to as the ‘Kokomaster’, D’banj is no doubt one of the most eligible bachelors on the African entertainment setting.
Come June 9, 2015, the pop star will clock 35 years and in the last 10 years, D’banj has been romantically linked with very pretty, powerful, and equally successful women. Most times, his camp has denied dating rumours surrounding some of these women but here’s a quick rundown of some of the women he’s been romantically linked with in the last decade.
One of D’banj’s earlier romances that seemed altar bound is his affair with Jennifer Obayuwana, the daughter of billionaire Polo boss, John Obayuwana. The relationship was however short lived amidst claims of infidelity.
In May 2010, D’banj had Nollywood screen goddess, Genevieve Nnaji play the lead role in the video of his highly successful hit single, ‘Fall In Love.’ Immediately, reports that the two stars are dating began and soon went viral. Overtime, they were spotted together at several events and were said to be on the brink of getting married before they both went their separate ways in 2013.
In 2012, news broke of D’banj’s relationship with daughter of billionaire business mogul, Adama Indimi, after they both acknowledged each other on social media. Adama became a major part of D’banj’s life and was often in his house or family house until the relationship died off sometime after.
In 2012, D’banj reportedly had a brief stint with Yaris Sanchez, a Dominican Republic model who was flown into Nigeria in a private jet in 2012 shortly after D’banj signed with G.O.O.D Music. Yaris spent sometime with D’banj and even posted photos from some of her visits to exotics places around Nigeria. She also acknowledged her flirtations with D’banj on social media.
The relationship between D’banj and Roc Nation diva, Rita Ora seemed professional until reports started making the rounds that Rita and D’banj were reportedly spotted snuggling back stage at the BB1Xtra Hackney weekend show in June 2012.
Before D’banj signed Tonto Dikeh to DB Records in 2014, multiple media reports had it that the two stars were dating. The dating gist grew stronger when pictures of Tonto Dikeh’s visits to D’banj’s residence leaked online but they’ve both said their relationship is strictly professional.
The news of Real Housewives of Atlanta’s star, Kenya Moore’s supposed relationship with African prince, D’banj was broken by UK’s Daily Mail. The site had claimed Kenya hired D’banj to act as her ‘African Prince’ after boasting about having an African prince on the reality show. Prior to this, D’banj once invited Kenya to host his DKM concert in Nigeria in 2013.
D’banj’s relationship with Natasha Georgette (rapper, Flo Rida’s baby mama) seems relatively professional, as the pretty diva was flown into Nigeria in December 2014 to be the lead vixen in one of D’banj’s new music videos. However, when D’banj shared a photo of Natasha on social media with the caption: ‘She’s #FeelingTheNigga and the Nigga is Feeling The Hmmm lol’, it fuelled dating rumours about them.
The appearance of South African OAP, DJ and model, Bonang Matheba sent the Nigerian media space into a frenzy in January 2015 when multiple pictures of her and D’banj all loved up went viral online. It was also reported that she spent Christmas period at D’banj’s residence in Lagos. The South African model has however played down the rumours, saying she and D’banj are just friends and nothing more.
Celebrities speak on the entertainer, D’banj
Dotun, Cool FM:
Dotun Ojuolape, otherwise known as Do2Dtun is D’banj’s in-law having married D’banj’s kid sister, Taiwo Oyebanjo in August 2013. Describing D’banj and his career in the last 10 years, Dotun, a popular On-Air personality at Cool FM, says: ‘D’banj doesn’t wait for him to be understood in the midst of tons and array of a number of wrong judgements and misguided information because he is absolutely working extra hard while you are at it. Secondly, it’s 10 out of 10 for him; he’s in a class of its own and I acknowledge that.’
D’banj once said veteran rappe,r Micheal Stephens a.k.a Ruggedman was one of the wave making acts back then before he relocated to Nigeria in 2004. And Ruggedman was one of the very few people who encouraged him to come back home.
Describing D’banj, Ruggedman said: ‘It feels good to be part of his success story. I’ve known D’banj now for about 14 years, and I can never forget one of the street shows he went to with me. It was D’banj, Durella and I. It was a place called Alagba in Orile and it turned out to be quite an adventure. The place was so rough we had to abandon our cars and ran away on foot (laughs). Then we sent money through a mediator before our cars were released.
I also featured on and directed his first ever song titled ‘Kiss Me Again.’
In the last 12 months, self-styled ‘Musical Taliban’ has been very close to D’banj and has spent more time with him than any other musician in the country. Speaking on him and his 10th anniversary, Oritsefemi said: ‘D’banj is a massive act in Nigeria that we can’t afford to lose because he’s one of the artistes that actually projected Nigeria to the international audience.
‘Now he’s bringing another international star to the country despite the security challenges and all simply shows he’s a great guy. I give kudos to him. I respect his achievements and I am very happy for him.’
Veteran disc jockey and OAP, Sodimu Oluwafemi otherwise called DJ Boombastic, is one of the pioneer DJs in the industry that witnessed D’banj’s arrival into the music industry from UK in 2004.
Speaking about D’banj and his 10-year journey in the game, DJ Boombastic said: ‘I was there when D’banj came from the UK with JJC and 419 squad. I remember Kween Onakala was there, Smokey was there; JJC himself and Don Jazzy were there, and I recall that we pre-listened to ‘Mobo Lowonwon’ and ‘Tongolo’ together.
Back then, he used to pray for me that my fame and name will take me farther than I can imagine. So today I really thank God for his life and career because he has done a great job of being consistent for 10 years and still relevant. He’s gifted and talented; he’s done a great job and I hope this will be the beginning of great things to come for him.’
D’banj wins 2014 World Music Awards as ‘Best-Selling African Artist’
D’banj is a multiple award-winning pop star. In his 10-year career so far, he has won over 40 major awards which include 4 Headies, 1 Kora Award in 2005, 2012 ‘Best African Act’ at the MOBO Awards, 4 MTV Awards, 2 MTV Europe Awards, 3 NEA Awards, 1 NMVA Award, 1 SMVA Award, the 2014 World Music Awards as ‘Best-Selling African Artist’, 2007 and 2009 ‘African Artiste of the Year’ at the Ghana Music Awards, 6 Channel O Awards, 2011 Best International Act at the BET Awards, and several others.
No Long Thing – Mo’Hits Records (2005)
Run Down – Mo’Hits Records (2006)
Entertainer – Mo’Hits Records (2008)
Curriculum Vitae – Mo’Hits Records (2007)
D’Kings Men – DB Records (2013)
‘Why Me’ (2006)
‘Gbono Feli Feli’ (2008)
‘Fall In Love’ (2008)
‘Mr Endowed’ (2010)
‘Oliver Twist’ (2012)
‘Don’t Tell Me Nonsense’ (2012)
‘Top Of The World’ (2013)
‘Bother You’ (2014)
‘Feeling The Nigga’ (2014)