May 2012 saw the end of arguably the greatest producer-singer combination in the history of Nigerian music: Don Jazzy and D’banj.
In the weeks leading to the split, both had signed deals of sorts with Kanye West‘s G.O.O.D Music, and plenty reports had claimed Don Jazzy was unhappy with D’banj’s over-eager ambition to be an international star.
It was suggested that Don Jazzy wasn’t at ease with the G.O.O.D Music deal, and was content with being – for lack of a better phrase – “a local champion”. (Oddly, it was Jazzy who got to work with Kanye West first, after producing Lift Off).
Following their last song together, Oliver Twist, D’banj took his business overseas, while Don Jazzy took what was left of the Mo-Hits crew, and created his Mavin Records label, signing on Tiwa Savage.
The first few months after the breakup were tough on the both of them, music-wise. D’banj struggled to blend into the majorly rap G.O.O.D music, making a 3 second cameo in the video of Mercy, and was left out of the label’s Cruel Summer album.
Don Jazzy and his new Mavins team didn’t have it so easy at first either, releasing a compilation which, while not totally terrible, was way below what one would expect from the legendary Don Jazzy and veteran acts like Wande Coal (who later left to start on his own), and Dr. Sid.
But teething problems aside, both sides began to bloom in what they were actually best at: D’banj at money-making, and Don Jazzy at music-making.
Though D’banj’s music career has not been a total dud (songs like Finally & Bother You made little waves), he’s been more of a business man over the past 2 years, affiliating himself with brands like the World Bank and signing endorsements everywhere from Cocacola to Sony to most recently, Apple/Beats.
Don Jazzy has also not been sleeping endorsements-wise (he’s signed to Loya Milk & MTN, amongst others), but he’s played a significant part in developing Nigeria’s music, constantly raising the bar for other producers, while bringing up young artistes and still producing street anthems from The Kick to Dorobucci.
So who really got off better from the split of the iconic Mo-Hits? Who really won?
My verdict? They both won. Big.