What D’banj and Don Jazzy owe us

Olumide Iyanda

Olumide-IyandaBuzz by Olumide Iyanda

Email: oiyanda@yahoo.com Twitter: @mightyng

Like well-wishers praying for separated couples to get back together, many fans of Don Jazzy and D’banj are dying to see the two work together again. Pop icon, 2face Idibia, recently added his voice to that wish during his 40th birthday concert in Lagos. After watching D’banj put up an energetic performance that evening at the Eko Convention Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, 2face delighted his guests when he told the two former partners “All that one wey una dey do, I no send una, my own be say, make una drop one more hit.” D’banj responded with “it is done” while Don Jazzy moved his head in a manner that gave nothing away.

Word from the camp of both men is that they may be working on something together after all. D’banj was recently quoted as saying “We’re already working on something great that you guys will love; and I guarantee you will hear it very soon.” There have also been reports of the two seen together in the studio.

It will, however, be wishful thinking to expect the two to come back together in the manner they were before their 2012 breakup. But I, like many others, will give away my entire collection of all their post-Mo’Hits songs to see them do a project together. Having built a dynasty with Mavin Records, it will be a tragedy of apocalyptic proportion for Don Jazzy to turn back the hands of time and go back to the way things were. Same for D’banj who is celebrating 10 years on stage. By all means, they should keep their individual structures. What they owe us fans is one Mother of all Collabos. And they know it too.

Don Jazzy would not have been the successful producer he is today if he had not met with the Koko Master in the JJC and 419 Squad back in the UK some 11 years ago. Even back then, their stars aligned to make sure that they were at the right place at the right time.  There is no greater of proof than the 2004 Nigerian Independent Concert in London. The two had been abandoned backstage because of an issue with the 419 squad. With Eedris Abdulkareem who was the advertised star act not moving the crowd that night, two of organisers – Ayo Shonaiya and DJ Abass – were persuaded to give D’banj and Kween Onakala some time on stage.

Don Jazzy stayed back in the DJ booth because he was too shy to go on stage. With his harmonica, infectious lyrics and rhythmic movement, D’banj practically killed the show with songs like ‘Mobolowowon’, ‘Ask me’ and ‘Tongolo’, all produced by Don Jazzy. The two have not looked back since then. Moving to Nigeria, they expanded their coast, adding more members to Mo’Hits and releasing hit after hit. They must have lost count of their numerous honours and award home and abroad.

Success brought fame, money and adoring fans. It also brought a certain Kanye West. After signing a deal with the latter’s G.O.O.D Music, D’banj tweeted on his 31st birthday on June 9, 2011, “Just like yesterday, myself and my brother did Tongolo. 7 years later, Mo’Hits signs with GOOD Music. Best birthday gift ever. God thank you”.

G.O.O.D Music later turned bad. I shall leave it at that. Suffice to say that all that glittered around Kanye West-including regular rendezvous with Kim Kardashian, Jay-Z, Beyonce and a bevy of other bootylicious young women – was not gold. Thankfully, D’banj and Don Jazzy have moved on with their lives even though it cost them Mo’Hits.

If all their years in music have taught them anything, it is that a good producer can make a good artiste just as a good artiste can make a good producer.

In the intro of his 1993, ‘Doggy Dogg World’ track, American rapper, Snoop Dogg made reference to one of the biggest soul and R&B band in music history when he said, “You without me is like Harold Melvin without the blue Notes, you will never go platinum!”

Ask anybody with a fair knowledge of American music of the 70’s to the 80’s and they would probably tell you how Harold Melvin led the band that produced classics like ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’, ‘I Miss You’, ‘The love I Lost’ and ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’. The most popular member of that band was not the leader but a man known as Teddy Pendergrass. With TP on the vocals, the band enjoyed their most glorious years. Creative and business difference later saw Teddy leaving, but the group held on. Others came and left but Harold held on to the group because he knew he would never go platinum without it.

Snoop had someone close to Don Jazzy when he started out early in the 90’s. That person was Dr Dre who featured him in the 1992 ‘Deep Cover’ released as soundtracks to the film of the same title. His stellar performance in that song and on Dre’s ‘Chronic’ album paved the way for Snoop’s ‘Doggystyle’ which was described as the most anticipated rap album of that era. Disagreement between Dre and CEO of Deathrow Records, Suge Knight, saw the former leaving the group. Snoop stayed back but his second album, ‘Doggfather’ did not come anywhere near the first. His sojourn with other producers has not produced the same magic as Dre’s.

It is the same story in Nigeria with producer Laolu Akins and artistes like Shina Peters, Abass Akande Obesere, Mike Okri, Onyeka Onwenu, Christy Essien-Igbokwe, Adewale Ayuba, Funmi Aragbaye and Queen Salawa Abeni. Or with ID Cabasa and 9ice. The artistes may find success with other people but they lose something they have with a certain producer who has a special connection with them.

Don Jazzy had that connection with D’banj. With all of the success of Mavin, the label has not produced an entertainer in the mould of D’banj. On the plus side, the hit maker has managed to step out of the shadow and now shares verses with the artistes he produces. D’banj too has grown in status but he has not been as prolific on the microphone as he was in the Mo’Hits era.

They do need each other after all. If only for “one more hit” like 2face suggested.