In an in-depth and revealing interview with NetNG’s Ayeni the Great in London, D’Banj finally broke his silence on all the Mo Hits, Don Jazzy drama. No subject was off limits…the koko master did no hold back revealing insights in to the split saying Don Jazzy INITIATED the split not him because he was scared, how the Kanye deal REALLY happened, how HE ran Mo Hits for 9 years and set up all of their endorsement and business deals, not Don Jazzy as widely believed.
He doesn’t stop there he also accuses Don Jazzy of betraying him and tweeting from Wande Coal’s account. After emails between the two were leaked a few weeks ago, in which he claimed he bought Don Jazzy a bentley, WC responded to those claims by tweeting “saying that he bought a car for Don Jazzy is wrong and untrue. Come onnnnnn. I can’t take it any longer”. Wande has since deleted that tweet and D’Banj is accusing Don Jazzy of sending it out not Wande.
Grab some plantain chips and coke cos it’s an interesting read. You may find yourself switching teams when you are done
D’Banj speaks on how things began to unravel for Don Jazzy after they signed with Kanye
Don Jazzy was no longer comfortable. You know, we were like fishes out of water, in this new system, starting all over again, like when we returned home in 2004. I got him a place in the US, set up a studio there, just so he’d be comfortable and be able to work without going to hang around the studios. In one year Jazzy did not make a song. I said, maybe you want to go back to Lagos, you’ll get inspiration there?’ I was all about the work, I wanted us to make this happen, so we can bridge that gap and create a path for Africa. But Jazzy wanted us to go back home. And I understand. He’s my friend, my brother’.
‘But I never expected him to do what he did.’ He said to me in July last year (2011) ‘Let’s scatter Mohits. He told me there are two captains – two captains cannot be in a ship. I was like ‘that’s not possible, this is a marriage’. He said ‘then this marriage is no longer working’. I said then let’s go for counseling; I asked, so what happens to our children?’
How he feels about the Wande Coal & Dr Sid taking sides with Don Jazzy
I won’t be too quick to judge Wande Coal. I hear it was Jazzy that tweeted those Wande tweets. I don’t know how true that is, but I know he had our social media accounts. As at a month ago, I couldn’t access any of my accounts. My password was changed on Twitter and Facebook.
Then Universal intervened. I’m about to be verified on Twitter now. I’m not really a social media person, so it was Don Jazzy and some of our other guys that were running it. Wande himself knows the truth. He cannot talk to me like that. The whole Mohits knew who ran the label businesswise. They knew who to come to when they needed to get money out, after we recorded the album. Who knows the factory where Dansa was made? But you will know the marketing manager. The car he’s driving, I bought him a brand new Prado from Phyllis and Moss after he crashed the car he won from Hiphop World awards. I bought six Range Rovers last year. I bought D’Prince an LR 3 last year, he crashed it, then I bought him a Range, and it’s true that I bought two Bentleys. Because of Jazzy. But after July last year, after the issue with Jazzy, I bought myself the Aston Martin.
He also insists Jazzy wasn’t at the Dubai Airport when they met Kanye, it was him, Bankulli, his business manager and his personal assistant. After impressing Kanye with his swag and music they arranged to meet in NY, this time with Don Jazzy. Three months after the meeting in Dubai, D’Banj and Don Jazzy were on a plane to New York to meet with Kanye, but getting hold of Kanye was an almost impossible task.
It was only an email address he gave us at the airport. So when we got to NY, we sent several emails but got no response. Not a single one. Then we met someone that knew someone that knew another someone and we got another email address. We sent several messages again, no response. Then Bankuli sent a final one saying, ‘we have been in New York for some time and sent several emails. We have waited long enough and are now on our way to do the Snoop Dogg video’
And then the reply came. ‘Sorry to have overlooked your earlier emails. Mr. Kanye would like to meet with you tomorrow.’
We didn’t believe it. Don Jazzy, who had been reluctant all along, still did not believe it. Even when we got there (Wyclef’s studio) the next day, he stood outside. When Kanye came I went to call him ‘Oya come now, come play am the music now’. It was difficult to believe it was real and it was happening. Then when Kanye came in, with the GOOD music acts, I was like, ‘wow’. From there everything happened fast. we were meeting Jay Z, making a presentation to LA Reid (At Electric studios), and discussing contracts.
But while the label offered him a traditional recording contract, D’banj opted for a joint venture agreement structured to guarantee three things: retaining full control of his materials in Africa, signing Don Jazzy on board (on behalf on MoHits USA), and, he says, bringing the Universal/Def Jam imprint to Africa.
The Aim of the G.O.O.D Music deal
I’ve always thought of how I can be a useful vessel to the industry. A friend and colleague always says to me: ‘D’banj, you’re the Jesus Christ of the industry.’ So having ran Mohits for nine years, I already had plans of how we could blow Mohits up. I had plans of expanding, and most especially, bringing hope to that 11 year-old kid somewhere in Africa who may never have had the opportunity to get signed to major labels’.
‘So it was not really just about me. There’s a big market in Africa. I said to them, ‘I’ve sold millions of records in Africa, we’ve done millions of hits with CRBT, and I’ve run the most successful label on the continent. You take care of the US, but let me take you to Africa.‘ And I’m happy to tell you that we’re doing that. D’banj’s album will be the first under Universal/Def Jam Africa, and we’re already putting all the structures in place’.
‘I’m a businessman.’ I learnt from my mom, who’s a very successful businesswoman. So having run and funded Mohits for nine years, I knew we had to move to the next level. And everything we wanted was happening. Finally we could take African music to the world.’
ON HIS ROLE AT MO HITS, D’BANJ SAYS:
It was clear when we met that Jazzy wanted to be the biggest producer, I wanted to be the biggest African entertainer, not the biggest singer. I had my mind on money. In order to say I’m the biggest, I had to be the richest. So for a very long time, he was on the back end. He respected my act, I respected his music judgment. Every meeting that brought us money I went for. I’d say I need to confirm from Don Jazzy because that was the agreement, even though I knew it was my decision. First Glo deal was $500,000. That Landcruiser jeep was because of my demands. It was because of the skill and exposure that I used to bargain. I’m a businessman’
‘People say I’m less talented, I was known as a jester in the JJC squad. I’d make everyone happy and play the mouth organ, but I knew what I wanted. I decided to give Don Jazzy power in 2007 when we realized that after four years, they did not recognize us as a record label. We had signed artistes and done all this work. So we restructured, and restrategized. So I told him to chill, so he can be more respected and be the don. I’m older than him by one year, yet I respected him like a don. I remember when he came out at Ali Baba show, I knelt down for him, so people would say he’s the baba. All the talking in my ears and all, it was an arrangement. All the Soundcity advert and all, he did not tell me anything. It was all an arrangement.’
On the perception by fans, colleagues and label mates that he has become arrogant and difficult to work with, he says
Obviously people will say stuff – but this is me. I can’t keep up with everyone, no matter how much I try. But I understand where I’m coming from. I can’t forget my roots – all the interviews I had yesterday, I was ‘bigging up’ DJ Abass, he gave me my first show in London. You saw me giving Jazzy props in my interview earlier. That’s me. If I was arrogant I wouldn’t have been the one even chasing Jazzy around since he told me last July that he wanted to scatter Mohits. Last time I saw him was on February 19 at Irving Plaza. He didn’t support the show, and he only came on stage when SID and Wande were performing. I wanted peace.
And even my mom, who had supported us from beginning, who gave us the house we stayed in (in Michael Otedola estate, Lagos), the Previa bus we used and paid for Tongolo video, spoke to his parents last December; ‘this is what your son said o’. I remember my mom saying to me, ‘if you guys have been together all these years, and no wahala, then if you need to part, I hope there’ll be no wahala.’ She was very particular about that. I had enough proof to have come out and speak; this thing has been on for a long time, and we’re in April now. But I don’t want to cause any wahala. I don’t want to spoil anything. I don’t want trouble. Right now, I just want to be able to move on and do my business.’
Where the leaked emails came from
The signing (away of my shares in Mohits) was already being discussed before April 16. If I kept quiet from January till now, what would it benefit me to leak anything? Remember all the stuff about my password and all? We know where that was from, I really wouldn’t want to think it was from him, my brother, but it could be from anywhere, but I don’t want to call anyone’s name. Everything in those emails were facts. And I don’t even think the mails favoured me in any way. It’s not the exact mails that were sent and signed, but there were elements of truth in the mails that were published.’
Why He told Ebony Magazine he OWNED Mo Hits [READ D’BANJ TELLS EBONY MAGAZINE HE OWNS MO HITS & DON JAZZY IS HIS ARTISTE]
My mom advised me not to speak. And the interviewer took it out of context. I co-owned Mohits. We registered the business in 2004, and we owned it 50:50. So I spoke about that, but the interviewer took it wrong and the fans put pressure on them and they corrected it.
His current label situation [READ D’BANJ SIGNS NEW RECORD DEAL WITH MERCURY MUSIC/ISLAND DEF JAM]
My album comes out under my label/GOOD Music/Island Def Jam. I’m funding the D’banj album, in America, through GOOD Music/Island Def Jam. GOOD Music is Kanye West who is co-executive producing with me. The deal comprises of Island Def Jam, in US. But in UK, it is under Mercury. My first single will be released in Europe on May 14. My work will be released in Africa through Universal/Def Jam. We don’t have these structures in Africa, and they’ve seen how much money they’ve lost. They’ve seen what I’ve done with Mohits. I made my pitch to them; I’ve made them realize how much they were losing in the African region. Over 150m Nigerians, over 800m Africans. 2% of that is 8.5m. They were not making anything except from S.A, which has been the US of Africa. So we will be launching this label in Ghana, in partnership with Vodafone, launching in Nigeria in partnership with MTN. Def Jam Africa will be up soon; Kenya, SA, and North Africa will follow.
Phew! This s**t is MESSY! It’s like a really bad divorce…they need serious counselling! So as we all know the label that we came to know and love Mo Hits no longer exists, D’Banj appears to have moved on to bigger and better things.