Born: 9 June 1980
Nigerian singer-songwriter, harmonica player and businessman
Years Active: 2004 – Present
Born to a military father and businesswoman mother, music sensation Dapo Daniel Oyebanjo, better known as D’Banj was born in Zaria, in the northern part of Nigeria. Instead of joining the military, he diverted to pursue his love for music and relocated to the United Kingdom despite his parents’ disapproval. His earlier connection to his music passion happened after he lost his military pilot-in-training older brother, Femi, to a plane crash and he was given his harmonica. This was the instrument that set his successful music career.
2002 saw him collaborating with Nigerian rap star, Ruggedman, on the track ‘Kiss Me Again’, produced by O.J.B Jezreel. The song generated a lot of publicity and its accompanying video went to number 5 on the Groovoids charts on MBITV. D’Banj became an official artist on Mo’Hits Record Label and set out in 2005 to release his debut album, which included the hit single ‘Tolongo’. In 2006, the second album ‘Rundown Funk U Up’ was released with a remix of ‘Tolongo’ and another hit song ‘Why Me’. This debut success led to further notable musical collaborations including dare Art-Alade’s album track – Escalade Part 2 and Ikechukwu’s 2008-album song ‘Wind Am Well’.
D’Banj has bagged many awards, including Best African Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards 2007, Artist of the Year at the MTV Africa Awards 2009 and BET Awards. A chance meeting with Kanye West on a plane ride lead to a major business relationship in 2011 and what he calls “the best birthday gift” – his signing on to Kanye’s G.O.O.D Music Label in the US and Mercury in the UK. Finding inspiration from the story of Charles Dickens’ orphan ‘Oliver Twist’, the danceable infectious single of same title was release following the signing and it is still receiving a lot of positive response.
So far ‘Oliver Twist’ has sold about over 11 million records worldwide, it also debuted as number 9 on the UK Top 10 National charts just behind the likes of Rihanna and Tulisa. His undeniable sex appeal, various awards in the music industry, continuous relevance in the music market with entertaining live performances and music productions has made D’Banj one of the most celebrated pop stars in Nigeria and on the international front.
D’Banj with international Artists
He has worked with Snoop Dogg, Kanye, Jay Z, Kid Cudi, LA Ried, Tinie Tempah and Rio Ferdnand among others.
D’Banj is the founder of Koko Foundation for Youth and Peace Development. He is also Nigeria’s first United Nations Youth Ambassador for Peace.
By Thina Mthembu