D’BANJ: The thin line between love and hate
Once upon a time, Dapo 'D'banj' Oyebanjo, was the musical sweetheart of many and poster-boy of the Nigerian hip hop music industry. Youthful and good looking with a finely chiseled body, energetic on and off stage, he gifted Nigerians a string of commercially successful albums that earned him a place among the pantheon of contemporary music stars in a short while.
With the production wizardry of Don Jazzy, he could croak into the microphone and almost so effortlessly sell millions of copies, nick multi-million naira endorsement deals and performance engagements from the east to the west and everywhere around the globe. This is despite that his music thrives on sloganeering and ephemeral lyrics. But like the saying goes, who God has blessed no man can curse. The past five years have been D'banj's and it does not beggar understanding that his musical odyssey is the stuff fantasies are made of.
He started the first quarter of 2011 as a transformational, pioneering figure in the industry when the video of Mr. Endowed remix featuring Snoop Dogg was released. The video put paid to every doubt that D'banj featured the iconic American rapper on his song. Hardly had the euphoria of this international collaboration subsided than it emerged that Grammy awards winning rapper, Kanye West, wanted a piece of the D'banj mojo. West actually tweeted at he and Don Jazzy to hurry over to New York City because there was work to be done.
And they responded immediately. Thus earning the Mo'hits guys widespread reverence. In truth, every musician worth his salt would have given a limb to be in the shoes of the Mo'hits guys even if for just a day. Hitherto, he was the high water mark by which other artistes were measured.
Sadly, D'banj is ending the same quarter of just three months as a punch line. Last Thursday, March 17, the singer crossed the line between appealing and appalling as the choice interviewer of President Goodluck Jonathan in an interview packaged by Silverbird Television. He was seen as the perfect medium through which the president could reach the youth. That never happened. Rather, he wedged a distance between himself and his touch-point. The contention, among many others, is that for an artiste of his repute who has interacted with the media even more than his interview subject perhaps, he posted an abysmal performance. He spent more time fidgeting and nodding in acquiescence to his own questions and ended up disappointing the teeming youths he was to help the president win over in the April polls. Not only was he severely panned for his unintelligible interviewing skills that saw him asking just three questions in an interview of about 30 minutes, he did not ask a single follow up question despite several opportunities to do so.
D'banj was perceived as having frittered away a golden chance to passionately express the disenchantment of Nigerian youths to the president.
The thin line between
love and hate
Indeed, there is a thin line between love and hate while the line between fame and infamy is thinner. D'banj has joined a growing list of celebrities riding the crest of popularity and seeming infallibility until a misdemeanor, a misstep brings them back to reality. In just 30minutes, all the myth around him evaporated and the sad part is that everyone now perceives him as just a shallow and smug artiste.
The youth's anger at D'banj's inept handling of the interview literally set blogosphere on fire even before it ended and thereafter with many virtually calling for his head. Inadvertently, he became the sacrificial lamb of the president's refusal to participate in the presidential debate organised by satellite television channel, NN24. It was so bad that the invectives could make a faint-hearted artiste consider a career detour.
According to a well syndicated, anonymous message, “D'banj speaking for Nigerian youths is the highest form of insult we have received recently. Does he know what it means to go through a Nigerian university for four years plus and come out without getting a job?” The questions over his suitability for the role and conclusions were as scathing as they were hilarious. Funnily, too, his name was caricaturized as D'banjiing, translated as “The dogmatic act of nodding one's head idiotically and stupidly in an attempt to overshadow the disconnection to the topic being discussed.” He was also seen in a photograph labeled 'scapegoat' with the reins in the President's hand. Another photograph also appeared on Facebook where D'banj was dancing with a topless lady while being castigated as a misfit and unworthy role model.
Now, there is a groundswell of threat to boycott everything about brand D'banj with an anonymous group opening a twitter page to make this effective. Incidentally, the interview took place about two days after his Kokomobile phones hit the market. Not a few Nigerians have pilloried the phone saying it is inferior and nothing compared to the cheapest phones in the market. This probably wouldn't have been the case two weeks back.
Apparently, brand D'banj is in trouble. He certainly needs a reboot. However, D'banj did not set out to falter or be demystified. No discerning individual would have rejected the opportunity and honour to confer with the president of his country irrespective of political or religious or ethnic affiliation.
D'banj was just in the right place at the wrong time and he pandered too gullibly to his puppet masters' whims. Perhaps a more intuitive and better informed individual would have fathomed that he was being choreographed to fail, but he was probably too carried away to reason logically. As crushed and battered as his image and ego have become, D'banj should count himself lucky that he is a Nigerian where the people forgive and forget easily. He will bounce back.