Koko Master as he is fondly called, Oladapo Oyebanjo with stage name D’banj is one of the top leading entertainers in the Nigerian music scene who has showcased the Nigerian brand effectively both home and abroad. When others thought it was the end for the Tongolo Master, D’banj still waxes stronger with the recent release of Emergency as mixed and Mastered by Indomix. Together with South African Pearl Thusi, the Koko master has been picked to co-host the reality series, Lip Sync Battle Africa, which kicks off April 29, 2016. In this chat with MUTIAT ALLI, D’banj speaks on much talked about Lip Sync battle, working with different talented acts, amongst other sundry issues. Enjoy…
When should we be expecting an album from you?
We’ve done some listening sessions and I think the next stage is to invite the media. I want the media to come listen to some of the songs I have. If all things work out by His grace, I would drop an album this year.
Are you trying to step into LL Cool J’s shoes with Lip Sync Battle Africa?
It is important to note that I am not stepping into anybody’s shoes. Africa is different, which is why it is called Lip Sync Battle Africa. I didn’t really see most of the episodes, but I saw one or two and I love what they are doing. However, there is going to be a twist in this; this is why I said I am not stepping into anybody’s shoes. I am just playing myself D’banj and I have a co-host who has a beautiful personality. She is Pearl Thusi, a South African performing artiste. The show affords me the opportunity to watch my fellow colleagues from various parts of Africa who are expected to do something different from what they are used to. You would see actors, actresses and models trying to become singers. It is the first of its kind in Africa and it covers the whole continent.
What are you bringing to the table?
Anyone who knows me well ought to know that I am an entertainer and that is what I do best. I bring life into whatever I do and it won’t be different on this show. It is the first time I am doing something like this on television. It would be entertaining, energetic and full of creativity. If you’ve had a really long day and you need to relax and get entertained, the show is right for you.
How far have you gone with your Koko Garri brand?
Charity begins at home they say. No matter how big a structure is, if the foundation is not well put in place, the building will crash someday. I used the frst one year to search the market and to make sure that my brand of Garri will be different from others. I am very happy for the success story recorded so far and we are working more on the distribution processes. I have to tell you that we have expanded; we have about 700 hectares of land in Ogbomosho, Oyo State. You will start to see us everywhere soon. We are about to launch out our first TV commercials. I have always had access to finance through the Bank of Industry, but I don’t want to take it until I am ready because it is a loan and I am expected to refund it after a certain period. Once you take money from the bank, it starts counting.
How do you intend to work more with new talents?
The platform that approached me that I am partnering with will make it possible for a producer or an up-and coming musician in any part of the country to reach Davido or myself. All you need to do is to follow descriptions. Some people have money to pay for collaborations but they cannot fnd the artiste; some people have beautiful songs but they don’t have videos and some have nowhere to perform their songs. Immediately I heard about this structure, I was excited about it. There is no point fooling one another; record labels in Nigeria died after Mo’ Hits. I am saying the truth; there is no record label again. Any artiste that buys a laptop, produces a song and manages to get his uncle to pay for the video could as well call himself a record label owner. A record label must have distribution channels in place.
Talking about talents, did you actually drop Tonto Dike from your label?
For me, I have been making plans and I found out certain things. One thing I saw is that the industry has really changed since I came back. Considering the volume of music and talents that are coming in, it would be in our best interest as an industry to protect the future by making sure that the platforms that will distribute these contents are in the right place. I have worked with the Bank of Industry to make sure that the right digital distribution that we have is in place as well as the physical distribution. The music industry pension, which has been the missing link for a long time, must also come on board. Going back to your question, I had a meeting with my team last year and I told all of them from my producer to singers that they must really work hard in 2016. I lead by example. I am not using inside resources; I now work with anybody from anywhere.
For instance, I never met the producer of ‘Emergency’ before he did the song. A Nigerian that I had never met before also produced the next song I plan to drop soon. I featured a South African on it. I want everyone on the label to follow that direction because I have made up my mind that we cannot continue to do the same thing and expect results. Though I believe that all my artistes including Tonto Dike can stand alone, I feel we should do things differently. If you look at the artistes on the label, you would agree with me that there is something special about them.
Also, when a woman is married, it becomes a different ball game. I have not seen Tonto since her marriage and she has a child right now too. She has been out of the country. When we spoke, the last thing she told me was that she wanted to concentrate on her foundation before any other thing. Right now, I just want to continue to work with great talents from different places. If the producer didn’t see Olu Maintain who knows, I might not have the song ‘Emergency.’
Are you still not looking into marriage?
Who says I am not married? I am not married but if I want to I would do it secretly. I am tired of people asking me that question; it is my life. Getting married won’t change my music or anything and I am not trying to get married so as to enter another phase in my life. My wife does not need fame; my fame is enough for the whole family.