Well, who else could he be? The ‘Oliver Twist’ crooner has become a living legend of sorts. With a repertoire of hit songs, performances with music superstars the world over, awards and endorsement deals, D-Banj, AKA SkiBanj, AKA KokoMaster has gone to great lengths to maintain his brand and appeal.
Born Dapo Daniel Oyebanjo –Yeah, you finally know where his moniker originated from- on June 9, 1980 in Zaria, Nigeria, D-Banj attended the Nigerian Military School and later, the Nigerian Navy Secondary School, Ogun State. Wondering what the deal is with the military schools? Wonder not; D-Banj’s Father was a pure-bred military man, and his children were expected to follow in his steps. However, D-Banj chose to be an Oliver Twist and seek for much more that he had been offered.
Whilst a reluctant student of the military, D-Banj explored his musical leanings by playing in the elite drum corps of the Nigerian Army. His late elder brother Femi Oyebanjo also stirred a love for music in D-Banj who inadvertently inherited his brother’s harmonica; now his trademark musical instrument. He subsequently moved to Lagos, and went on to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Lagos. Despite pressure from his family, D-Banj relocated to the United Kingdom, fully intent on pursuing a career in music. Such was the weight of his convictions.
In 2002, D-Banj made his way onto the Nigerian music scene; inch by inch he gained popularity and covered grounds. He collaborated with the Nigerian rapper Ruggedman on the track “Kiss Me Again”, and its accompanying video went up to number 5 on the Groovoids charts on MBITV’. A few *‘collabos’ later, he was ready to drop his debut album in 2005 under the Mo’ Hits Record Label. In 2006, riding the wave of his debut success, he released another album, and the rest they say, is history.
D’Banj has opened and performed with international acts like Kanye West, Jay Z, Kid Cudi, LA Reid, Tinie Tempah, Kelly Rowland, Rio Ferdinand among others and the best of Africa’s chart-busters. Of course his ‘Mr. Endowed’ remix with Snoop Lion-formerly Snoop Dogg,*rolls eyes* was an added feather to his already full mane.
In 2011, he signed on to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music Label in the United States, a move that enabled him validate his expertise in his chosen sphere of influence. As if to give the world a taste of his improved flavour, he released the hit single, ‘Oliver Twist,’ which reportedly sold over 11million, records worldwide –more than the population of some countries-. It also debuted as number 9 on the UK Top 10 National charts. That D-Banj is an African superstar has long ceased to be in doubt, but just in case anybody still has doubts, his performance of ‘Top of the World,’ at the AFCON 2013 closing ceremony in South Africa serves as sufficient proof.
The Kokomaster is a multiple award winning artiste on local and international fronts. From the year he released his debut album; the awards tap was turned on, and has since continued to run. From the Most Promising Male Artiste at the KORA All African Awards in 2005, to the Artiste of the year at the Nigerian Music Awards (NMA) in 2006; D-Banj won the Best African Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2007, the Artiste of the Year and the Best Male Artiste at the MTV Africa Music Awards in 2008, the Artiste of the Year at the MTV Africa Music Awards in 2009, the highly coveted Best International Act – Africa at the BET Awards in 2011, and the Best African Act at the MOBO Awards in 2012. Nominations abound.
D-Banj is Nigeria’s first United Nations Youth Ambassador for Peace. He also has a foundation; the Koko Foundation for Youth and Peace Development.
Dapo Oyebanjo has made a huge imprint on Africa’s music industry, and is obviously geared towards greater things; we do hope the tolls of wedding bells are one of those things.