The official press release we received to inform us of a forthcoming concert at New York City’s Irving Plaza on Sunday, February 19 presented by Live Nation described the headline artist as “Kanye West’s Newest Protégée” and while much of that statement may be more PR jargon than truth [I mean this “protégée” is one of the biggest artists in modern Africa music albeit a “newcomer” in Pop music circles], it signals how far Nigerian Afrobeats singer, songwriter and musician D’banj – real name Dapo Daniel Oyebanjo – has come.
Recently signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music label – after a chance meeting at an airport in Dubai – D’banj is as far from a “new record label signee” as they come. Already one of the biggest stars on the African continent with BET Awards, MOBO Awards and MTV Awards and three hugely successful albums already under his belt, D’banj is at the helm of one of the biggest record labels in Africa, Mo’Hits Records.
Home to the likes of Wande Coal and Dr. Sid (African stars in their own right) , the label alongside long-time collaborator and producer Don Jazzy (who co-produced Jay Z and Kanye’s “No Church in the Wild”) have that African market figured out, cornered off and eating out of the palm of their hands.
D’banj and his Mo’Hits Records crew even sold out the HMV Hammersmith Apollo in London last Summer for the annual UK Koko Koncert showing that their tentacles already spread beyond the African continent and into Europe.
D’banj is now at the forefront of pushing the musical sounds and stylings of Nigerian and African music or rather Afrobeats as you may commonly know it into a larger mainstream and secular landscape.
The Guardian, MOBO Awards and several music tastemakers are calling Afrobeats the new sound of UK underground music and alongside one significant other (Wizkid), D’banj is at the top of the list of names to champion this sound in the UK and also across the pond in the US. No questions about it, D’banj – by signing to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music – has firmly positioned him as the face of Afrobeats music in 2012, at least from the outside looking in.
His latest single “Oliver Twist” is receiving massive airplay on the likes of BBC Radio 1, BBC 1Xtra and Choice FM so far this year after being featured in the 10-minute sequenced playlist for London New Year’s Eve Fireworks Party last December and D’banj has just been announced to be performing at one of the UK’s biggest festivals, BBC Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend in June as the only Afrobeats artist on the bill.
D’Banj – “Oliver Twist”:
It remains to be seen whether or not Afrobeats will firmly make that transition from UK underground to mainstream music but what is definitely certain is the impact one Dapo Daniel Oyebanjo will have in 2012… What with the backing of Mr. West and his G.O.O.D Music label, D’banj is nicely poised for that world domination – he already has the second largest continent in his pockets, six more to go.