D’banj is on a mission to preserve his legacy while simultaneously maintaining that of Fela, his musical father. Reports of the singer being taken to court over his inability to service sizable debts continue to trail his business dealings and further soured a month when he was forced to cancel a well-publicized tour of the UK.
The tour was supposed to be D’banj’s first time performing in the UK in 4 years but between then and now, reports of his troubled financial state have made the rounds in the media at least once before. The Koko master shut them down with great vigor this time around to, hopefully, put those rumors to bed.
You can understand his frustration, with his involvement in numerous business ventures, the last thing D’banj wants is for his investors to get jittery about his finances. The singer has taken more to entrepreneurship in recent years, using his name to open doors in business but without the music to keep him constantly in the face of the public, D’banj’s long term future as a branding and marketing force is uncertain. The sad truth is that the longer it’s taking for him to sort his feet out musically, the more other artists are able to shunt him at the queue in front of doors of opportunities. Kudos to him, however, for continually looking for opportunities that are well outside the world of music.
Before I go any further, and before you mistake what I’m about to say next for blasphemy, the parallels I’m about to draw between D’banj and Dremo are not parallel at all because D’banj is NO WAY in any danger of falling so far behind that the DMW rapper will become one of those artists in front of him. The only thing joining them together is their love for Fela, otherwise Dremo and D’banj are not in the same class, in the same school, in the same country. Dremo calls himself ‘Young Fela’ but as long as D’banj is still alive and kicking, no one embodies that title better than he does.
On his new release “Focus”, D’banj gets back to the Afrobeat sound that served him so well on “Emergency”. There is more chanting, the production is sparser and the tempo was brought down to a walking pace but the similarities are unmistakable. And why not? “Emergency” was a top 10 record earlier in the year and it became his most popular single in recent months by far. D’banj’s relationship with P Loops the producer of “Emergency” might have broken down but he uses Killer Tunes this time around.
On the song, you get the sense that D’banj is also ready to challenge anyone who doubts that he opened the door for Davido and co to get record deals with the majors and for One Africa Music Festival to take place (without him) and for the world to get to know about Nigerian music.
Everybody know my name in LA
When I move na only me in my lane
Dem see me when I been dey rule for New York
Na we be the people who start New York
Oooh ah, GOOD music! If I no clear road, na who for dey New York?
D’banj isn’t waiting for anyone to give him his props, he’s ready to take it! The song isn’t all fact-checking and chest-thumping though, there is a lighter side. There are multiple references to the weak double entendre – focus, f**k us – that I’d rather not dwell on because it does nothing for the song. And the song is special.
D’banj has released a couple of records between “Emergency” and “Focus” but those have come and gone. “Focus” might have landed too late in November to truly made an impact in the festive season but if the record does take off eventually, D’banj just might have found his new sound. It’s no news then that the singer has been searching for his musical sweet spot since Mo-Hits disintegrated in 2011, trying out various sounds and different producers gave him mixed results, but it is possible that thing he was looking for in Sokoto has always been in his Abami Eda-styled, straight-cut sokoto.