D’Banj is a new father, the Koko Master now has a young apprentice, his name is Daniel Oyebanjo III. Up until this weekend, details around the legendary pop singer’s reported marriage have been treated with as much secrecy as a military strike in a war zone but now that the cat is out of the bag, D’Banj has the opportunity to share his evolution with the world, through the music.
You can, however, understand the Koko Master’s unwillingness to share this part of his life. In March last year he explained that in the music business, marriage is seen as retirement plan and he didn’t want to be seen as a has-been.
I intend to get married and not telling anybody I’m married. So in case you hear, just say it’s possible. Let’s just keep it private. All my colleagues way don marry, I no dey like the way people dey always do like say they don retire… It’s always not right
But he needn’t be worried, the audience has been with D’Banj as he matured through the years and just might appreciate the growth. On his debut album No Long Thing, D’Banj, then in his mid-20’s, was at his most honest. He talked about his struggle coming up, about how doubts and discouragement came from everywhere, including his own family, and how all he had to keep him going in those times was a harmonica and a dream.
Young Dapo embraced his iconic harmonica at the age of 15, the one item retrieved from the plane crash that tragically killed his elder brother. On No Long Thing, D’Banj narrated how he begged the choirmaster in his church to allow him join and play his beloved instrument. Unfortunately, he got told off in the most belittling way – there was no space for a choir member whose only talent was playing an instrument for ‘small children’. Success as a musician, therefore, was the ultimate revenge. On the album, D’Banj also told a story about how years after the incident with the pastor, he met up with Don Jazzy – a meeting that changed his style of music and eventually, his destiny.
Don Jazzy became the Jazzy Jeff to D’Banj’s Fresh Prince as the Mo’ Hits era began. However, the secular music and messaging of Mo’ Hits couldn’t be more diametrically opposed to the upbringing of its leaders. Don Jazzy was raised a devout member of the Cherubim and Seraphim church and even played in his church’s choir in the UK, while D’Banj’s parents are elders in Winner’s Chapel. But D’Banj put all that to the side as he marketed sex appeal like no other Nigerian singer before him. He built an empire off of 4 things – Don Jazzy’s production wizardry, the novelty of the sounds of his iconic harmonica, his raw energy and the public’s fascination with the Koko.
Having made a 180 from the church boy to a sexy, pop star, the Run Down Funk U Up album was D’Banj coming into his own. The singer once said that he lost his virginity relatively late, at the age of 21, so the transition was really and truly from one extreme to the other extreme. D’Banj embraced his status as a sex symbol with an open chest, spread legs and with a microphone where his crotch was supposed to be. However, on “Which Way 2 Go?” (off Run Down Funk U Up) , D’Banj didn’t sound like an artist who was entirely convinced of the decisions he was making at the time:
I’ve been doing this music
Mama told me not to do it,
Now I don’t know which way to go
There was a tussle in D’Banj’s early music, gospel-inspired songs like “Serve the Lord” and “Olorun maje” felt like a compromise, like he and Don Jazzy allowed their inner church boys speak or in this case, to sing. But those records felt like squeezed up N5 notes in an offering plate that also had space for N1,000 notes. It seemed like deep down, they had already made up their mind on what kind of music D’Banj was going to do.
D’Banj basked in the female attention his music was getting and allowed many Nigerian men live their fantasies vicariously through him. He took things a notch higher on 2007’s compilation album, Curriculum Vitae. This time, he had disciples to help and preach the deboucherous, playboy lifestyle and get the attention of even more Kokolettes. Dr. Sid played the role of an impatient chyker on “No Long Thing”, D’Prince and K-Switch shared a verse and a love for big booties on “Booty Call”, even Wande Coal boasted about anacondas running through his family, a claim that an unfortunate picture of him sleeping nude would later disprove.
Interestingly, on his next solo album, The Entertainer, D’banj entered a phase of his music where he started to sing about monogamy for the first time. 2009’s “Fall In Love” was pivotal not only because the music video for the song starred Genevieve Nnaji – his rumored girlfriend – but also because it was the singer’s first proper love song and it opened him up to an older, more mature audience.
But the Koko Master’s 12 year catalog has had far more “Mr. Endowed” and “Bachelor” than “Fall In Love” and “Scapegoat”, and that’s what makes fatherhood a particularly intriguing prospect for the Koko Master. For a singer who built a career around his availability and sex appeal, what kind of changes will he make to the music?
D’Banj has already opened an IG account for his baby, so you can guess that his initial reluctance to share his private life with the world could change. We could have our very own Baby Asahd and why not? He and DJ Khaled always act like they have been fed the same dose of Red Bull intravenously, so if he follows the DJ’s footsteps, D’Banj could awaken interest in his music through interest in his personal life, just like Khaled did.
D’Banj’s next few songs are therefore important, his next solo album will be even more important, as it will be his first since 2008. If there was ever a time to allow the music mature along with the man, this is it. D’Banj has the chance to either share his new journey as a father and a Mister or keep the legend of the Koko Master alive.