The ongoing feud between co-owners of Mo’Hits Record, Don Jazzy and D’banj has dominated the media in the recent past. In what appears to be the latest between these two was the interview D’banj granted the publisher of the Nigerian Entertainment Today, Adekunle Ayeni, in London, where he accused of betrayal despite all efforts by him (D’banj) to make it work. DANIEL UDECHUKWU in this piece presents salient information from the interview.
What was once referred to as a blossoming relationship with a world-class empire to show for it suddenly a ‘turned sour’ between the two great Nigerian entertainment icons, who had built and managed the conglomerate for over nine years.
The build-up to the shocking separation between the duo has dominated the media since the day the news of their breakup got to public domain.
The 31-year-old entertainer claimed he has spent nearly two years building structures he hopes will help take his music to new markets in Europe, and especially America. This move, he believes, cost him his friendship and business relationship with his long-time partner.
“I’m a risk taker,” he says. “Life is all about risks. But you must never endanger yourself. I don’t endanger myself, which is why, even though I’m here, I’m still in Nigeria all the time, performing.” He added.
He talked about how he 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 of Mohits USA), and bringing the Universal/Def Jam imprint to Africa; rather than the traditional recording contract.
“I’ve always thought of how I can be a useful vessel to the industry. A friend and colleague always say to me: ‘D’banj, you’re the Jesus Christ of the industry.’ So having ran Mo’Hits for nine years, I already had plans of how we could blow Mo’Hits 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,” he said.
Being a major player in Nigeria and Africa with over 850 million people, he wanted to play big globally, with 7 billion people to grab from, and that was the genesis of his problem.
“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, so he could 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,” he said.
Lamenting his disappointments he said: “I never expected him to do what he did. He said to me in July last year, ‘Let’s scatter Mo'hits.’ He told me there are two captains – two captains cannot be in a ship. I said ‘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?’”
“Don Jazzy wanted Mohits,” D’banj says. And that happened on April 16, 2012 – after months of a bitter feud, characterised by accusations and counter accusations, widespread speculation, leaked emails and failed reconciliation attempts.
“You can see he has signed already,” he said, showing the agreement with Don Jazzy’s signature. “I have full rights to my catalogue and full ownership of my Koko Holdings, while he has full ownership of Mo’Hits, including the artistes and liabilities.”
Already judged guilty in the court of public opinion, and publicly disowned by his own boys: Wande Coal and Dr SID, D’banj says he is sad, but not bitter. Does he feel kind of lonely, alone in the cold? And this is what he said: “Asking me if I’m lonely because Wande or Jazzy has left me is like asking my first sister if she’s lonely now – she has two kids now, lives in Canada.
Don Jazzy is still my brother – we just had to move on. We will still work together in future, same with my boys.
On whether the leaked emails were forged, he said: “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.”
Whatever twist the feud between these two is taking, we want to say that there is no virtue greater than peace; let peace reign supreme again.