Last month, fans from as far away as Maryland packed into New York City’s Irving Plaza to see D’banj, one of Nigeria’s biggest up and coming stars in concert. The self-proclaimed “Kokomaster” hit the stage to screams and even fainting, as one woman sunk to the floor after D’banj touched her hand. Running through his three albums No Long Thing, Rundown Funk U Up and The Entertainer including his international hit “Oliver Twist,” the MC born Dapo Daniel Oyebanjo commanded the stage with waist wines, glittering outfits and jokes about his “Koko,” also known as his manhood.
EBONY.com: How will you break into America’s entertainment scene?
D’BANJ: I’m bringing my culture, my music and preaching the gospel. We’ve been learning from America’s Hollywood scene and other areas in Africa because our continent is developing. We look up to the way you’ve built your industry and we try to do ours in the best that we know. It’s so good to see that Americans appreciate my music so that’s what I’m bringing, just original Africa.
EBONY.com: How did you join Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label?
D’BANJ: I had a concert in Dubai and when we pulled up to the airport’s first class lounge and a hostess ran up to me with a plaque with Kanye’s face on it, asking me to sign it. I said ‘I’m not Kanye West, I’m D’banj but Kanye West is coming? All eyes open.’ Then my manager spoke to Kanye, came back and told me ‘He’ll give you five minutes.’ I walked over -- as an African man I’m always prepared -- and I played my music ‘Stand Out,’ ‘Fall In Love’ and ‘Scapegoat’ for him on my iPod. Before we knew it, I’d almost missed my flight and he invited me to New York.
Coming from Africa, I’m my own manager, I co-own a label called Mo’ Hits with Don Jazzy and we represent artists Dr. Sid, Wande Coal, D’Prince and K-Switch. I own Mo’ Hits and we’ve won numerous awards by the grace of God. Being with Kanye for the last eight months and me leading a successful label in Africa, I’ve learned a lot and I believe people will see what we’re going to do. I signed with Kanye in June and that same month I won the BET Award for Best International Act. My New York concert isn’t done by G.O.O.D. Music, it’s done by Live Nation, meaning I’m already a moving machine. So who better to introduce me to the global world than Kanye West, a crazy genius?
EBONY.com: What is your chemistry like in the studio with West?
D’BANJ: Kanye doesn’t try to change you. He has great ears and great people working with him. I learned the way people do music in America is different, number one, the budget. You don’t have to rush a song, you can take your time. I was glad because I have a studio in my home but I thought I was doing too much. I’ve been working with everyone else on G.O.O.D. Music too and John Legend and I worked together in London recently. It’s been great experience, I just beg people to listen with an open mind.