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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

D'Banj Talks Music, Fela, "Kokolets," "Mamalets," and the 2nd Annual ThisDay Music Festival


America's hip-hop and music mega-stars gathered this past weekend, in Nigeria, for the 2nd Annual ThisDay Music Festival. The event featured UB40, P.Diddy, Rihanna, Kelly Rowland, Ne-Yo, John Legend and more. The event also featured some of Nigeria's "local" artists including TuFace, D'Banj, Sasha, Mode Nine, Asa and P-Square. Unfortunately, Ms. Kelly Rowland fainted during her performance from what her representatives attribute to dehydration and working on an empty stomach. Thankfully she is okay. Kelly's fainting in Nigeria, however, made more headlines in American news than even the actual event. "Kelly Rowland Collapses on African Stage," reported one major publication. I am irritated with the use of "African stage." It's one country not the entire continent! Plus, an "African stage" is NOT the cause of Kelly fainting! Whatever with that oshi [nonsense!].Moving on.

My excitement about American celebrities visiting Nigeria, or any other part of Africa for that matter, rubbed off after Jay-Z, Beyonce, Snoop and other American artists visited the country last year. My lack of enthusiasm is fueled by the fact that I fail to see why African mega-celebrities or so called "local" artists are given the back of the bus treatment when they perform on the same stage in their own country next to their American counterparts? I posed some of these questions in an interview with D'Banj, one of Nigeria/Africa's highly sought celebrity. D'Banj performed last week in Dallas at the NRC Reunion event. It was his first time in the States. Read on. . .

LADYBRILLE.com:D’Banj, welcome. You just got off the stage how do you feel?
D’Banj:It was good! Good.

LADYBRILLE.com:Yeah. You were very well received.
D’Banj:
[In an energetic, joking and loud voice] Hallelujah!

LADYBRILLE.com:[Chuckles] I got a chance to see some of your videos, your fashion style and now see you on stage. You've got sex appeal and strong stage presence. [Laughing] What is the whole “Kokolets” talk that you [frequently use]?
D’Banj:
Kokolet is a woman with good back[with emphasis], and intellectual properties that she can use. So, that is a Kokolet. So if you know that you are not with all these attributes, you are a Xanga!

LADYBRILLE.com:[Amused] What is a Xanga?
D’Banj:
Opposite of Kokolet.

Ladybrille:Hmm! Now where do you come up with all these “Kokolets” talk? [In a joking sarcastic tone] Do you have a “Dictionary of Kokolets?”
D’Banj:
Yes. [Adding jokingly] God is [good]!

LADYBRILLE.com: [Smiling and shaking head in a "you are a lost cause" kind of way] Okay. Right on. Now, let’s talk about your style sense. I love your shoes. [Where] did you get those shoes from?
D’Banj:
They call it [mutters some gibberish] in America.

LADYBRILLE.com: In Nigeria, what do they call it?
D’Banj:
In Nigeria, it is just simply called Kokowear. Kokowear is a mixture of lace and linen and you can catch me like that but because it is my first time in the States, I decided to give the Americans some. But when you see me, I am under Kokowear.

LADYBRILLE.com: Are you going to branch into a Kokowear line?
D’Banj:
Oh yeah! Actually it is coming up. It is a mixture of lace [African lace] and linen.

LADYBRILLE.com: Where are you getting the lace from?
D’Banj:
My mama sells lace, for a long time. [Adds in a relaxed drawn out tone] She has been costuming me already.

LADYBRILLE.com: Cool. It is nice that you wear lace often.
D’Banj:
Oh, everytime. [Switching to a pseudo Pidgin-English]. Ah! It is bcos I tink say it will be cold hia that’s why me sef I just carry wear suit. I jus decided to give Americans sumtin. Otherwise I wear lace in Lagos. I am unda Kokowear so watch out!

LADYBRILLE.com: So, let’s get a bit more into your work. You’ve been wining awards left and right. You just won one in Ghana, correct?
D’Banj:
Yes.

LADYBRILLE.com:What was that about?
D’Banj:
It was Ghana Music Awards. I won the African Artist of the Year in May. [Sounding more sober in voice and demeanor] I felt privileged to win that kind of an award; not even in your own [country] but in [another] country. The kokolets, mamalets, biglets, all of them were showing us a lot of love. I was very happy and I was very excited.

LADYBRILLE.com: Now [your] signature on stage is your use of the harmonica during your performances. You have also been compared to Fela. Do you think that is a fair comparison?
D’Banj:
[Chuckles] Fela, it is very hard to fill [his] shoes. It’s very hard o! I don’t know what people say but I like to play the harmonica because it is very real and it is very passionate. Also, apart from that, the music to me is very real. So, if they are comparing me to Fela, I don’t know.

LADYBRILLE.com: Fela did a lot more of politically charged music. How do you respond to your critics that say [distinct from Fela] your lyrical content is not strong and is more sexually charged.
D’Banj:
I don’t know. I just do the music that God tells me to do. All these politics, me I am different from Fela. There is more in the world than politics. There is kokolets, babylets, mamalets, there is [breaks into a song & uses his hands to show some moves] “tan yan, tan yan, tan yan, tan yan!” Forget politics!

LADYBRILLE.com: Okay. Let’s play with the "tan yan, tan yan, tan yan, tan yan!" and sway into a different rhythm of hip-hop music, African hip-hop.
D’Banj:
Yes O!

LADYBRILLE.com: Is there anything like African hip-hop?
D’Banj:
[Abruptly answering and in a loud voice breaking into English-Yoruba rap] Of course, Africa has hip-hop! “Mo wa talented, Mo wa gifted.”[Speaking in an even more excited tone] You see that is my own kind of English. What is the Koko? The Koko is anything you derive sexual pleasure. [He yells one of the lines out of his hit, "Why Me?"] FILE! [pronounced fee-leh] That means leave it in your own English dictionary. So, yes. There is afro/African hip-hop.

LADYBRILLE.com: Alright. Let’s take it a step further since you say there is African hip-hop. Russell Simmons and the hip-hop community are dealing with changing the direction of hip-hop. Your "Kokolets," "Mamalets" and some of your music videos show thumping, pumping, and shaking of booties. Do you think you have an obligation to Nigerian women or African women in how you present them? D’Banj: What do you mean? I present them well. Like I said, the Kokolet is a well endowed woman with intellectual properties. If you are not fine with good sense, you are not a Kokolet. But, if you know you are fine with good sense, then you are a Kokolet. [Raising his voice]Who is going to show our women? They could stand in my video and I will show them to the whole world. [Raising his voice] The finest girls are from Africa O! [With crazy excitement and bursting into his own moves and remix of hit single, "This is Why I'm Hot" by rapper Shawn Mims, D'Banj raps] “Dis is why, Dis is why I'm black. I'm black cus the sun. Da sun make me black!” We have great skin. We don’t need those sunscreens. [Sobering up] The truth is I love my Nigerian women. I love my kokolets,mamalets. They show me love.

LADYBRILLE.com: Are you planning to expand into the USA?
D’Banj:
Insha'Allah. In Jesus name. We’ve started already. I am in Dallas, Texas. Africa music is very sweet and it is the time for Africa. Timberland has sampled African music. Everyone has sampled African music.

LADYBRILLE.com:Akon . . .
D’Banj:
[interrupting] I don’t know if Akon is African. [Looking to his crew and inquiring, he declares] He is AMERIKAN! [Joking, and emphatically touching his chest with his right hand] Me, I am African! I just reached here, for the first time. So I am African. [More serious tone] What I am trying to say is, it is our first time. Everyone has accepted us. Africans have accepted us. Back home in Nigeria, I am going to be performing with international/American acts [he refers to the recent 2nd Annual This Day concert]. I have performed on stage next to and from Beyonce to Jay-Z, LL Cool J. . .

LADYBRILLE.com: [interrupting] Let’s talk about that. The first time ThisDay did its music festival, they didn’t really give much presence to “local” talents. Were you upset about that?
D’Banj:
I was upset about that on behalf of other [artists] but me I performed. I was privileged to perform. Even though they did not pay us as much as . . . [stooping his head low, shaking his head from left to right and back; and breaking into pidgin English, he says] Ah! Beyonce collect big money O! Ah! Beyonce collect big money. You know it was [ThisDay's] first time. There is actually another one next week with Rihanna, Shakira, John Legend, Ne-Yo; and that is why I am going back.

LADYBRILLE.com:[Are] the Nigerian artists receiving increased [wages]?
D’Banj:
They are working on it. It’s better money than last year. I mean I played last year and I am playing this year and it is better money.

LADYBRILLE.com:The bling you are wearing can I touch it?
D’Banj
:[Yells, playfully] Don’t touch it!

LADYBRILLE.com:[Laughing but touching his "bling bling"]
D’Banj:
[Laughs]

LADYBRILLE.com: [Now inspecting his bling] Do you have a special jeweler that makes your blings? Where did you get this from?
D’Banj:
Yeah. I got it in London and Don jazzy [D’Banj’s producer with Mo’hit records] actually shopped for it.

LADYBRILLE.com: Any last comments to our readers and your fans?
D’Banj:
I want to say a BIG thank you to those that have accepted us. I want to say a BIG thank you to other acts and those that even what to do a collabo with us. Thank you to Unique Promotions for bringing me to Amerika!

[Having problem with the publishing tool. Update: Problem resolved]

Photo credits: Wireimage/B.Raglin] Interview by Uduak Oduok

8 comments:

Emilia Asim - Ita said...

Great work!

Will mail you ALL the inside gist now...

Regards,
Emilia

Koki said...

Dont worry about all that other stuff lady The technical stuff i mean. I enjoy your blog. Been meaning to tell you. Keep it up

Toni Payne said...

I guess I am an Xanga then :( thot that was a blog butoh well. Xanga and proud jor

Toni Payne said...

gosh I had to read that twice.. the guy is hyper even in his interviews. wow!.. FILEEEE

Don Thieme said...

ladybrille is definitely a kokolet!

Ladybrille said...

@don lol! I am a Xanga!!!!

Chi said...

Ladybrille, I'm loving the interview with D. He seems like a cool Afro artist.

I too agree---what's up with a Naija festival with big name Western performers?!? Where was 2Face and Omotola?!?

tobs said...

yeah i'm nigerian and i can speak in broken african english languae

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