MULTIPLE award winning entertainer, Dapo Oyebanjo, popularly known as D’Banj is the headliner of the 2013 edition of Hennessy Artistry. Having visited the brand headquarters in Cognac, France and performed in various cities across Nigeria alongside notable acts such as Olamide, Chidinma and Sheyi Shay, among others. The G.O.O.D music signing opened up to journalists in a media parley held at the Black House Media premises, off Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos, on Wednesday, October 9, 2013, on his experience with Hennessy Artistry 2013.
The Oliver Twist crooner, who was in a cheerful mood as he fielded questions from journalists from several media outfits, revisited his love story with the country’s finest Nollywood actress, Genevieve Nnaji where he confessed that he would love to have her as his wife.
D’Banj also made mention of his relationship with former label co-owner, Don Jazzy, where he admits missing being around his former label mates even though he has moved on. He also spoke about other interesting issues…
For me, a lot has happened in the last one and a half years. Next year (2014) will make it 10 years I released my first song, Tongolo. So, it’s 10 years on stage for D’Banj. And for me to have been in the industry for a decade, dishing out singles after singles, it’s a great joy.
Therefore, I can only say I was humbled when they called me to headline the 2013 edition of Hennessy Artistry. I have been watching what they’ve been doing in the industry for six years. Hennessy is among few brands that have understood that aligning with the industry is of great importance for the brand to reach out to their customers and the growth of the industry as well. When they called me, I told them this year’s edition is going to be different and unique. And I want to tell you that my presence had tremendous effect, because my fans told me they now drink Hennessy because of me. Some even said they’ve not heard of Hennessy before, that my presence made it pronounced, and I told them it’s God’s grace. Besides, you dress the way you want to be addressed. I always put my work in everything I do. I feel very honoured and I believe a lot of people love it.
You’ve visited cities within Nigeria, as well as Hennessy headquarters in France, can you relate your experience?
I have not travelled in a while across Nigerian cities because I have been away, on the move. Hennessy gave me the opportunity to meet my fans again. It was real fun, visiting Port Harcourt and other cities, including Lagos. Some of my fans said they’ve not seen me since 2007! 2007 was when I released Why Me? That means they’ve missed most of my songs, not to talk of Oliver Twist which is now a global hit song.
The fan base of D’Banj is so huge that we limit ourselves sometimes. We don’t even know how big God has made us. Hennessy Artistry has opened my eyes and I am grateful for the opportunity.
Visiting Hennessy headquarters in Cognac, France was a different experience. I met the ambassador of the brand who gave me the name, Olivier Twist, because of how big Oliver Twist is globally. Many people have told me Oliver Twist was number one in Romania.
From Tongolo to my new single, Finally, how has life treated me? I think I have been very grateful to God. I am not perfect but I am happy and satisfied to the extent that I have always seen myself as a vessel, because just before I dropped Tongolo, I had to force myself on the people that I had worked with, to believe in me. Don Jazzy never believed in me in the first place, everybody didn’t believe in me, which is different from when I saw Wande Coal in 2006 at University of Lagos. I was about to go for a show when he came and sang for me. I developed interest in him, told Don Jazzy we must sign him and he asked why? Everybody that was signed into Mo’Hits was brought in by me, but no one ever brought me in to any record label. I started from the bottom, I was the least. I was the only one they told to play mouth organ, because we already had a singer, rapper and I held onto my mouth organ and played it with passion. But today, I am on top of the world. So, I will say life has treated me very well and I am on top of the world.
Will you say you’ve achieved all you wanted when you sang Oliver Twist or are you still an Oliver Twist?
I can never stop being an Oliver Twist, that’s why I sang Oliver Twist. I’ve just started. This is a song that even got to the top in the United Kingdom and Europe. I want to continue the momentum, do two, three to six singles that’ll top chart in Europe. I want to drop an album that will tackle the ones released over there. I will not rest until they see all of us as one, not as a Nigerian or African musician. Nobody ask Jennifer Lopez or Shakira where they came from, even Wyclef too. Until that’s done in my industry, I will not stop yearning for more.
As big as D’Banj is, do you see yourself accepting any movie script?
First, D’Banj has never said he’s a musician. He is an entertainer. When I do videos, everybody knows I spend a lot of money and time to let them know it’s beyond just standing in front of a microphone.
Top of the world is the only video I performed, every other ones are like a movie. From Fall in love, where I featured Genevieve because I wanted a movie to Suddenly, where I was kidnapped. So, no one should ask me if I want to go into acting because they already know I am an actor, but the question is when and how?
Achieving this now, breaking new grounds in the music industry, by the time I enter Hollywood or Nollywood, I believe it’s going to be replicated the same way. Dress the way you want to be addressed. Who knows whether the first movie I will feature in will bring me to the limelight as an actor, like what 50 Cent did? You’ll see D’Banj as the main actor, starring Genevieve (smiles).
Because she’s a friend of mine, a strong actress. There is no way you’ll talk about D’Banj’s success story without mentioning her. One of my biggest songs, Fall in Love, featured her.
Would you have loved to have her as your woman?
Yes, as my woman because she’s great!
I mean, as your real woman?
Oh yes! But we never really know what God has planned for us in the future. But as a friend, I have got to study her, see her and know who she is. Anybody that has her as a woman would have found himself a treasure, just like the Bible says, anybody that finds a woman finds a great thing.
If I say I don’t miss Don Jazzy, I will be lying because I am 10 years next year (as an artiste) and I spent eight and a half years with him. So, I was once married to him in a way (smiles). I really miss him, the family. I miss the vibes of being in a studio with him, the jokes, the arguments with him. I miss him but it’s like you missing your ex-girlfriend when you’re already married. It’s like missing your old Benz when you are already inside a Ferrari. Nevertheless, we can still do music together, maybe during my tenth anniversary album. I don’t mind.
Last, tell us about the concept behind Finally video, you emerging from the jungle to California?
It’s just like transcending from where we are from. I see us as coming from Africa, where we’ve been ruling and now to international scenes, not just in entertainment but in oil and gas too, everyone has seen it. That’s the truth.
– RASHEED ABUBAKAR and DANIEL FAYEMI