Critics fail to see that D'banj's foray into the US market had an impact on Wizkid's current work.
When Wizkid scored a win with Drake on ‘Come closer’, there were pockets of fans that had to become trolls on social media. First they brought in Skales and how he continues to fail in his promise to bring back a Grammy. That’s pretty normal troll material on Twitter. Nothing to see there.
But the trolls didn’t stop there. They had to take a shot at D’banj, painting him as a failure for not having ‘tangible personal achievements’ during his time with Kanye West and G.O.O.D Music. As it’s normal with Twitter, once a troll makes a classless half argument, devoid of knowledge, like flies to a open sore, it attracts vultures who begin a candid debate.
D’banj was dragged into Wizkid’s achievement, and ridiculed as a failed ‘international artist’, who ran a campaign that backfired and gave him nothing to show for it.
Music broadcast house, MTV Base, joined in on it, looking to appropriate all of that baseless and denigrating social media conversation into an engagement post for their platforms. But Wizkid was quick to react.
“So disappointed in y’all for bringing this up. After everything D’banj done in the game? Please show some respect.” Wizkid tweeted. The offending MTV Base tweet was later deleted.
Subsequently, D’banj slid into the discourse but chose to congratulate Wizkid and appreciate the efforts of the original Starboy.
“I’m so proud of you @wizkidayo ! Africa to the World!!! This is why we took the Leap,” he wrote, drawing a response which Wizkid which read; “you started it all king. God bless you Eja Nla! Elder!”
This should never have happened in the first place. Fans have no basis for comparing one of Nigeria’s pop legends with Wizkid. D’banj did it for another era and time.
D’banj was a visionary who saw the future of Nigerian music, and the possibility that collaboration will be the open up the space. His actions opened broke the glass ceiling and granted mental access to the wider market for the younger folks.
2011 was a crucial year for Nigerian music. It was the year when the rulers of pop music made a decision that was to cost them their dominance. D’banj and Don Jazzy, co-owners of Mo’Hits Records had found a way to meet up with Kanye West, where they sold him the Nigerian dream and sound. Kanye did buy it.
Although the deal led to the split of Mo’Hits records, and the decline of D’banj’s powers, what it did was convince a younger generation that our music has the potential to achieve international collaboration. D’banj, in his prime, collaborated with Snoop Dogg and Kanye West – and both artistes featured in his videos.
In 2016 at the MTV Music Africa Awards, I had a conversation with Ghanaian rap legend, Sarkodie, and all he had to say was that D’banj was instrumental in letting the continent know that they had a product that was in demand.
“I think it’s about that time. I think it’s our time.” Sarkodie said. “There was always gonna be a time when Africa was gonna take over, so it’s our time, it’s the right timing now, and we are proud to be part of the whole movement. I always give props to D’banj who made us believe that certain things can happen.
“And now you have the likes of them Wizkid, Davido, myself, Ice Prince, R2bees, Stonebwoy…we pushing it. I think it’s just the time for Africa to take over, everybody I going to be a part of it, and Afrobeat is the new sound.”
Critics fail to see it in this light, judging from the bitter and unproductive end of the D’banj deal. But for a young Wizkid, Davido, Ayo Jay and many others, he was inspirational. He took the leap when others cowered. And as a result, he lost a lot.
But the culture gained. Africa and Nigeria gained from that move. And that’s what Wizkid is enjoying now.