D’banj & Don Jazzy: Made, Perfected and Brutally Broken
D’banj & Don Jazzy – Someone once asked if the 1963 words of Oxford University’s Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper, “Africans Had No History,” are true. But does it really matter if Aristotle truly studied at the Sankore University/University of Timbuktu in Timbuktu, Mali or if Alexander the Great took the Egyptians’ tons of that Gold which supposedly brought power to the Europeans?
Then without doubts and beyond those scientific jargons of man’s evolution from apes some 89 million years ago, every man and even dogs has a more believable history, so does Mo’ Hits Records, which is now very dead. But how did it all get wasted? So goes that twenty trillion naira question, since their glory days made the Mo’Hits crew the much-talked about in all of Nigeria, if not Africa. The record label, Mo’ Hits Records, according to so many, sold more albums than the nation’s government created jobs for the thousands of graduates produced each year.
Then again, what went wrong between the two Mo’Hits giants; Monday, June 9, 1980 born Dapo “Dbanj” Daniel Oyebanjo and his Friday, November 26, 1982 born Michael “Don Jazzy” Collins Ajereh old partner? That will be awesome to know, but the web has it all, speculations and the truth, so we are not here to rewrite those many stories the amazing journalists and the wannabes have written, we are writing to celebrate the awesomeness of the entire Mo’Hits All Stars before being torn apart.
According to a Nigerian adage “twenty children cannot play together for twenty years, each has to find his/her own path in life,” but the D’banj and Don Jazzy strong brotherhood force which ruled the Nigerian entertainment industry lasted for just 7years, and ended on a rather saddening note. Take it or leave it, the Nigeria entertainment industry has not entirely seen a record label co-owned by the hits-making artiste and his hyper-skilled producer before. But though they came, saw, they were only allowed to conquer for a little while. However, during their short existence as one, Mo’Hits Records made more hits than most artistes did in a decade.
Just as the many conflicts in the unified states scattered the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) back in the days, and like the Almighty stomped Sodom & Gomorrah in the Holy book, Mo’Hits Records was brutally broken with its flag-bearers exchanging shameful parting jabs to the reading pleasure of the general public in that annoying email believed to have been leaked. Twitter did so much damage, supported by so many Nigerians carrying the news both on and off the internet, then yet again, the once glorious unification of another set of amazing brains in the Nigerian entertainment industry was squashed like they did the “Remedies,” “The Trybes” and the “Plantashun Boiz” in the yester years.
D’banj Before “No Long Thing”
One may have expected that primary and secondary schools at the Nigerian Military School and Nigerian Navy Secondary School, Ibara Abeokuta respectively, coupled with a blunt father that was a soldier in the Nigerian Army, would have encouraged him to become a Sergeant Dapo Oyebanjo, but somehow he was destined for more. Tossing hand grenades with the army detail sounded nice, but instead he spent his time banging drums with the Nigerian Army’s Elite Drum Corp. He was one of those many Nigerian children who wanted more than just what their parents treasured them to become.
Many today still wonder what future is there for that harmonica he often loves to play in his music, the beautiful musical instrument he learnt from his late big brother, Femi Oyebanjo. An instrument he spends so much energy playing while rolling with the likes of JJC, the 419 squad, Solek and that If U Wine 4 Me chef, Kas back in London, United Kingdom, before meeting his later partner, Don Jazzy.
Don Jazzy Before the Music
Perhaps his growing up really should be endowed with an album titled, “AJCity 2 Mohits,” (AJ City is an appellation given to Ajegunle, a popular underdeveloped area of Lagos State, Nigeria, along Ikorodu Road) the place where he reportedly grew up after his parents moved from Umuahia in Abia State where he was born. Was Jazzy another Nigeria’s ghetto kid who boldly found his way to stardom-ville? Who knows?
Skipping past his primary education, the secondary school days at the Lagos State Government College as well as his bachelor’s degree days at the Ambrose Alli University in Ekpoma, Edo State, Nigeria, Don Jazzy moved to London in search of what we love to call, “the quest for a greener pasture.” But of course, since the Queen of England doesn’t grow trees of money on the street, he had to work and work for it. Have you ever pictured a Don Jazzy sweating behind a McDonalds’ apron in the crazily busy city of London or as a semi-hefty security guard trying to make that ends meet, the actual reason why he was invited there by his uncle in 2000.
The Birth of Mo’Hits Records and the Struggle
Of course, the act of wanting more than serving hamburgers or French fries at McDonalds or dreaming beyond just been stashed in harm’s way by your bosses is never a crime, so Don Jazzy dreamt for more. Like they love to say, “Nobody said it’s going to be easy,” so against all odds, he took that gigantic bold step.
In 2004, Don Jazzy partnered with D’banj to start the Mo’Hits Records and then the epical journey of good entertaining music began from the United Kingdom with Don Jazzy as the President/C.E.O and D’banj as the only artiste and co-boss. The energy which they thought would be best to sell at the home front, on that very motherland, Nigeria, and so the impeccable duo brought their musical crusade to Nigeria where they believed it will be better appreciated.
Hitting the industry in 2005 with that breath-takingly well-cooked debut album, “No Long Thing,” it was an instant success, even though there were claims that D’banj still had to perform free at some shows as at that time. With hit songs like, “Tongolo” and “Mobolowowon,” the Nigerian community was beginning to like this artiste who they really didn’t know would come to rule the entertainment industry in later years, and like Oliver Twist, they wanted more.
Years to follow marked a bigger success with “Why Me?” and “Tongolo (Remix)” on the 2006 album, “Rundown Funk U Up,” but it wasn’t really that type of success that comes with money, so they were going to sell the label until fortune smiled on them before the release of “Curriculum Vitae” in 2007.
The Glory Days
Mo’Hits Records in its days of existence created more hits than any label in the country, even though many may seriously oppose. Taking our time to walk through these hits like walking through the classical hall of hits from Nigeria’s evergreen highlife masters, Xclusive Magazine analyses some of those great artistic efforts of the entire Mo’Hits crew.
Although Tongolo got so many bewitched, “Why Me?” was crazier with that dance that got us all, yahoozeying. Mamas and papas danced like okotos while their children rocked their classrooms with hands in the skies. The people wanted an impressive piece, so the combo of Don Jazzy and D’banj gave it to them, and undisputedly, they loved it.
In case you do not remember these lines, “I love that overloaddddd, he dey make me catch cold ooo,” that rocked the waves from Wande Coal’s sonorous voice, maybe the title, “Booty Call,” will ring a bigger bell. An energetic piece by the Mo’Hits All Stars which topped the Nigerian charts for a long while, just as Wande Coal’s “Ololufe” did from that awesome album, Mushin 2 Mohits.
Mentioning just two of Wande Coal’s songs from his Mushin 2 Mohits album could easily be considered as an understatement because that album rocked the Nigerian airwaves more than the Tsunami rocked the Caribbean. “Bumper 2 Bumper” was like a voodoo incantation over the radio, for it got so many zombified and served the Nigerian community the album like a cocktail mixed with; “Taboo,” “Gbono Feli,” “Entertainer,” “Igwe,” “Fall In Love,” “Mr. Endowed,” “Scapegoat,” “Socour,” “Suddenly,” “Omoba,” “Mobolowon,” “Run Down,” “Over the Moon,” “Jehovah,” “You Bad,” “Se Na Like This,” “Se Ope” and the sizzling others.
“Ten Ten” of the Mo’Hits All Stars was indeed another great hit spreading its tentacles all over like “Close To You,” “Olorun Maje,” “Ki Mon,” “Something About You,” “Winchi Winchi,” “Ooze,” “Give It To Me,” “Suddenly” and a whole bunch of others did the musical side of us all. The people were entertained without doubts, Mo’Hits Records birthed songs that ensured we were entertained. Nobody goes, “Ose,” more energetically better than D’banj and even though you are not familiar with his many hits, you are certain it’s the same man that brought, “File – Don’t Touch It,” while his brother proudly chips in, “It’s Don Jazzy Again – IDJA.”
Without injecting sentiments on this very page, Mo’Hits crew entertained us more than any musical crew did in their glory days, and if we were to create an entertainment dictionary for the Nigerian entertainment industry, Mo’Hits can easily pass as another word for Excellence. They were great at what they did, but it was a shame it came to an end at the peak of their many awards and loud ovations.
Mo’Hits Records’ Hall of Fame
Taking that final walk through the wrecked Mo’Hits Records’ ship, Xclusive Magazine is taking some time to list some of the many awards the label had to its name:
- 2006 Nigerian Music Awards (NMA) – Producer of the Year
- 2007 Nigerian Entertainment Awards (NEA) – Music Producer of the Year
- 2011 The HEADIES – Producer of the Year
- 2005 Most Promising Male Artist (KORA All African Awards)
- 2006 Hip Hop World Revelation (HIP HOP WORLD AWARDS)
- 2006 Artist of the year (Nigerian Music Awards [NMA])
- 2006 Best Newcomer – Tongolo (fizz Awards)
- 2007 Best African Act (MTV Europe Music Awards)
- 2007 Hottest Single of the year “Why Me?”’ (NEA Awards)
- 2007 Channel O Music Video Awards – Best Special Effects (“’Why Me?”’)
- 2008 Artist of the Year (MTV Africa Music Awards)
- 2008 Best Male (MTV Africa Music Awards)
- 2008 Listeners’ Choice (MTV Africa Music Awards)
- 2009 Artist of the Year (MTV Africa Music Awards)
- 2011 Best International Act: Africa (BET Awards)
- 2008 Next Rated Hip Hop World Awards
- 2008 Naija’s Fastest Rising Superstar – UNIPORT Awards
- 2009 Dynamix Youth Awards – Song of the Year
- 2009 BEST AFRO HIP HOP VIDEO – Nigerian Music Video Awards (NMVA)
- 2010 African Artiste of the Year – Ghana Music Awards.
- 2010 Artiste of the Year – Hip Hop World Awards.
- 2010 Best R&B/Pop Single – Hip Hop World Awards.
- 2010 Album of the year – Hip Hop World Awards.
- 2010 Song of the Year – Hip Hop World Awards.
- 2010 Hip Hop Revelation of the Year – Hip Hop World Awards.
- 2009 Best Rhythm & Blues Singer of the Year – City People
- 2010 Album of the year – City People
- 2010 Outstanding Performance in the music industry – City People
- 2010 Artist of year – City People
- 2008 Soundcity Music Video Awards: Fresh Video (Mo’Hits All Stars)
- 2009 Nigerian Music Video Awards: Best Afro Hip hop video (Mo’Hits All Star)
- 2011 Hip Hop World Awards – Hip Hop World Revelation of the Year
- 2011 Hip Hop World Awards – Best Pop Single
It Was Mo’Hits Records, Not Wande Coal
From the first quarter of 2011, so many assumptions were made that Wande Coal was planning on leaving Mo’Hits Records for another label due to his album issues. Most journalists concluded that he was having misunderstanding with Don Jazzy, which was why he didn’t release any album since his last, Mushin 2 Mohits of 1998, not knowing there was more brewing in the Mo’Hits empire. There was more to the late release of his last album, Mohits 2 Mavin in 2011, many never thought of a possible conflict between the two brother-like partners, D’banj and Don Jazzy. So while many go about focusing on the possible decampment of one of its hitmakers, Mo’Hits Records was heading down the alley of no return.
Wande never left Mo’Hits Records, the record label left everybody with a shocker that was too vague to have been noticed by any of us. Then the assumptions rose again that perhaps Wande Coal already was aware Mo’Hits Records is going down and he patiently waited for his new record label, Mavin Records to take the glory of his hit tracks: “Go Low,” “Private Trips” and “Been Long You Saw Me,” the one that got most confused, “they say I want to leave Mohits…don’t mind them o, iro ni (they said I am leaving Mo’Hits…don’t mind them, it’s a lie),” even when he’s aware that the album would carry Mavin Records’ (Don Jazzy’s new label) logo and not Mo’Hits’.
And then, the Brutal Break
Possibly starting with the delay of D’banj’s fourth album, Mr. Endowed, and the partnership of Mo’Hits Records with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music, buttered by the supposed Ebony Magazine interview where D’banj was quoted, “I OWN MO’HITS AND DON JAZZY IS MY ARTISTE,” and as expected, the media sunk-in its claws. Lost like a ship with shattered reef, the tales told by the many media journalists and citizens on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter seem to heightened the supposed brewing matters between D’banj and Don Jazzy and then the situation worsen in a very little while.
Soon, the many jabs literally splattering vocal blood all over twitter began with Mo’Hits Records heavyweight champions, D’banj and Don Jazzy tossing them just as they had all taken sides. K-Switch as expected went with his brother, D’banj while D’Prince also reasonably enlisted in his own brother’s camp, Don Jazzy as well as the rest of the crew, to form Mavin Records with singer Tiwa Savage as their First Lady.