D’banj is a Nigerian musician who has achieved critical acclaim with his success in music-making. Even though he is considered a rapper, he is mainly known as a singer and songwriter. He is also a TV personality and show host. In this complete and updated biography on D’banj, you will get to know a whole lot more about the superstar.
The award-winning superstar is considered one of the pioneers of Afrobeats and is one of the most influential celebrities in Africa, and the rest of the world. This biography will offer in-depth details of some unclear facts about D’banj. We have provided a summary of the most important facts about the entertainer in the next section.
Top 10 important facts about D’banj
- D’banj was born as Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo on 9th June 1980 in Zaria, a major city in Kaduna State. While he was born in the northern, Hausa-dominant part of Nigeria, D’banj is actually Yoruba. His father is an indigene of Sagamu, Ogun State.
- His late elder brother, Femi, had introduced him to a wind instrument – the harmonica. After Femi died, D’banj inherited the harmonica and decided that he would play it to remember him.
- D’banj dropped out of university twice, once from Lagos State University and a second time from a university in London.
- He met Don Jazzy while working as a night guard in London in the early 2000s. He, Don Jazzy and JJC Skillz formed a group called 419 Squad.
- D’banj and Don Jazzy returned to Lagos, Nigeria, in 2004. They formed their joint-owned record label Mo’ Hits Records that year. They also released the evergreen single “Tongolo”, which D’Banj’s mom allegedly paid for.
- He released three studio albums under Mo’ Hits record label and one compilation album as well.
- In 2012, he and Don Jazzy went their separate ways in a highly publicised controversial manner. D’banj went ahead to found DB Records, signing his younger brother, K-Switch (or KaySwitch as an artist).
- During the course of his music career, Dbanj has won at least 29 major awards from reputable award events.
- In June 2016, D’banj and Lineo Didi Kilgrow got married and welcomed their first son, Daniel Oyebanjo III, in May 2017. Sadly, D’banj’s child died in a drowning accident in June 2018. In 2019, the couple welcomed another son.
- In June 2020, D’banj became involved in a rape controversy after a Twitter user, Seyitan Babatayo, accused him of raping her in 2018. The case was eventually settled privately.
D’banj Biography: Early life and education
D’banj real name is Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo and he was born on 9th June 1980 in Zaria, a major city in Kaduna State. While he was born in the northern, Hausa-dominant part of Nigeria, D’banj is actually Yoruba. His father is an indigene of Sagamu, Ogun State.
Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo or D’banj as he is now popularly called was born into an elite family in Nigeria. His father was a high ranking military officer in charge of an artillery regiment. His mother, on the other hand, was a successful businesswoman and a devout Christian.
Because of his father’s military duties, D’banj did not stay too long in one city while growing up. His family was constantly moving. D’banj has twin siblings, Kehinde Oyebanjo (K-Switch or KaySwitch) (brother) and Taiwo Oyenbanjo (sister). D’banj had an elder brother, Femi Oyebanjo, who died at the age of 17 in a plane crash.
When he turned 11, D’banj was enrolled in the Nigeria Military School, likely to pursue a career in the armed forces. However, he allegedly rebelled against his father’s wish and left the school. He would later complete his secondary school education at another institution owned by the Nigerian Navy in Abeokuta.
After completing his secondary education, D’banj got admission into the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Lagos State University. He later withdrew from the university because the system was plagued by frequent strikes and other issues. His parents sent him to London to obtain a degree in mechanical engineering. D’banj never saw that through, instead, he took a different path.
D’banj Biography: Music career
Early music career
Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo had gotten into music during his days as a student of a Nigerian Military School when he was a member of the institution’s drum corps. Later, during his time at the Nigerian Navy-owned secondary school in Abeokuta, D’banj had been a church worker and had been in the music department.
His late elder brother, Femi, had introduced him to a wind instrument – the harmonica. After Femi died, D’banj inherited the harmonica and decided that he would play it to remember him. It soon became a habit that he enjoyed and he started to improve at playing different tunes with the instrument.
During his short stint at the Lagos State University, D’Banj claimed that he learned to play Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” after the Titanic film was released. Playing the love tune made him popular among the University’s female students.
As already mentioned earlier, he left Nigeria to complete his education in London, UK. However, he met Michael Collins Ajereh, popularly called Don Jazzy. At the time, Don Jazzy was working as a security guard at McDonald’s. D’Banj quit school to take up a job as a security guard as well so that he could focus on music.
In the early 2000s, D’banj, Don Jazzy and JJC formed a group called 419 Squad. JJC now goes by JJC Skillz although his real name is Abdulrasheed Bello. He is married to popular Nigerian actress Funke Akindele-Bello. The group also had Solek and Kas, Nigerian singers who were also outside the country at the time, as members.
Mo’ Hits Records and Tongolo (2004)
According to an article in The Guardian, Don Jazzy had encouraged D’Banj not to give up on his aspiration to become a musician. In his words, he had told him that he was “a star in the making“. He also assured him that he thought they could come up with something great if they worked together. Thus, D’banj and Don Jazzy returned to Lagos, Nigeria, in 2004.
They formed their joint-owned record label, Mo’ Hits Records, that year and they also released the evergreen single “Tongolo”, which D’Banj’s mom allegedly paid for.
“Tongolo” was a big success for the duo who were just starting. D’banj had managed to fuse the naughtiness of his music idol Fela into a 21st century sound. He sang Tongolo in Yoruba, English and Pidgin English. This gave listeners of all tribes in Nigeria, some parts that they can at the very least understand.
No Long Thing (2005)
The next year, after tasting success, the duo went on to produce D’Banj’s first studio album, “No Long Thing” in 2005. “Tongolo” was its lead single and it was what gave the singer his moniker – Koko Master. The song was so big that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which was ruling Nigeria at the time, used the song as the theme of the 2007 general elections. Another track “Mobolowowon” also proved to be a trendsetter.
The album “No Long Thing” contains 12 tracks.
Rundown Funk You Up (2006)
In 2006, D’banj dropped his second studio album, “Rundown Funk You Up”. It was again produced by Don Jazzy and released under Mo’ Hits Records record label.
The 17-track album contained singles like “Do You Like The Koko? (Tongolo remix)”, “Rundown Funk You Up” and “Why Me”.
“Why Me” won Song of the Year award at the 2007 Hip Hop Awards, Hottest Single of the Year award at the 2007 Nigeria Entertainment Awards, and so on. (You can see a full list of all D’banj’s awards at the end of this biography).
Curriculum Vitae (2007)
Mo’ Hits Records dropped a compilation album in 2007 titled “Curriculum Vitae”. The album was produced by Don Jazzy and features singles such as “Why Me (Remix)”, “Pere”, “Ololufe”, “Booty Call” and “Move Your Body”.
Curriculum Vitae contains 15 tracks contributed by Mo’ Hits All Stars – a coalition of artists under the record label. D’banj, Wande Coal, Dr SID, D’Prince, Don Jazzy and K-Switch all lent their vocals to its success.
It is a widely acclaimed album with many music authorities placing it among the best pop albums released in Nigeria.
The Entertainer (2008)
D’banj returned with his own album in 2008 titled “The Entertainer”. It was his official third album and Don Jazzy did most of the heavy lifting in the production department. It is regarded as the best D’banj album and critics claim that the Afrobeats pioneer has not been able to match this album in dexterity and quality.
The Entertainer had seven singles such as “Fall in Love”, “Gbono Feli Feli”, “Suddenly”, “Kimon”, “Igwe”, “Olorun Maje”, and “Entertainer”. It was a smash hit across Africa but it did especially well in Nigeria and neighbouring Ghana.
In all, “The Entertainer” contains 10 tracks and D’banj featured Wande Coal, Special Kid, and K-Switch (KaySwitch) on some of the tracks.
Scapegoat and Mr Endowed (2009 – 2011)
There were rumours that D’banj was working on another album titled “Mr Endowed” around 2010. Earlier, D’banj and Don Jazzy had released a single titled “Mr Endowed” on 23rd May 2010. It was to be the lead single of the rumoured album but the album never got released.
The single “Mr Endowed” was nominated for Hottest Single of the Year at the 2011 Nigeria Entertainment Awards and its video was nominated in two categories at the 2010 Nigeria Music Video Awards (NMVA).
On 16th September 2010, D’banj dropped a single titled “Scapegoat”, produced by Don Jazzy under Mo’ Hits. The song was a hit that appealed to people of all ages. It was heavily influenced by highlife and became a regular tune at bars and parties.
In 2011, D’banj collaborated with American rapper Snoop Dogg on the remix of “Mr Endowed”. During this time, there were reports that Mo’ Hits, D’banj and Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music record label were in talks for a deal.
G.O.O.D Music deal
In 2011, Kanye West signed Don Jazzy and D’Banj to G.O.O.D Music. The duo confirmed the deal to quell rumours that there was a problem within the Mo’ Hits camp. We could not find many details about the deal and Forbes reported at the time that the sketchy details and silence of Kanye West raised suspicions.
However, the union yielded some works. In 2013, D’banj and Kanye West worked together on the remix of his hit single “Scapegoat”. The song was officially called “Scapegoat (The Fix)”. Furthermore, Don Jazzy lent his vocals to Kanye West’s song “Lift Off” off of the “Watch The Throne” album. Don Jazzy also has production credits for “Lift Off”.
Why did Mo’ Hits Records break up?
In March 2012, Mo’ Hits Records ceased to exist. There were many speculations as to the reasons Mo’ Hits Record broke up but the most widely discussed reason was that the co-founders, Don Jazzy and D’Banj, could not get past their artistic differences and also had different ideas on what they believed was the best direction going forward.
The problems allegedly broke out when the Nigerian duo got the deal with Kanye West. This deal put them in a position to become as big in America as they were in Nigeria. In fact, they had already met rapper Jay Z and Beyonce through the deal.
However, Legit claims in an article that Don Jazzy had not been happy with the situation. The position seemed to have been supported during an interview D’Banj granted to Tim Westwood TV where he explains what led to the duo’s decision to breakup:
“Our vision got different. My vision was different and his vision was different. I wanted extra, global, he wanted that as well but it was different. I wanted us to have that bridge. It was so hard and we spent so much money. Don Jazzy said it is better to go back to where we were coming from. I asked for six months… and at the end of the six months, he asked that we split up. Me and Mo’ Hits had to break up so that African music would blow.”
You can watch the full interview here:
Thus, there you have it. Mo’ Hits Records broke up because the co-founders, Don Jazzy and D’Banj, were at a point in their career and partnership where their goals no longer aligned. D’Banj wanted world dominance and Don Jazzy was content with ruling the African airwaves with a more gradual transition to global dominance – a bit like making the world come to him. If that was his aim, he got what he wanted.
In any case, in March 2012, Don Jazzy announced that he and D’Banj had parted ways and that Mo’ Hits Records was no more.
DB Records (2012)
After Mo’ Hits split up, Don Jazzy, D’Prince, Dr SID, Wande Coal started a new record label called Mavin Records. D’banj went on his way and founded DB Records and signed his younger brother Kayswitch (K-Switch) to the label along with two producers, Jaysleek and Deevee.
In December 2012, D’banj signed a big-money multi-album deal with Sony Music Entertainment.
D’Kings Men (2012 – 2013)
On 11th May 2012, D’banj dropped “Oliver Twist”, even though Mo’ Hits had split some months before its release, Don Jazzy produced the song for his long-time friend. “Oliver Twist” was the first song D’banj released under DB Records. It debuted at number nine on the UK Singles Chart; this was the first time D’banj would appear on the chart.
He also dropped other singles such as “Bachelor”, “Cashflow”, “Don’t Tell Me Nonsense” and “Top of the World” between 2012 and 2013.
In June 2013, he and KaySwitch (K-Switch) released a compilation album titled “D’Kings Men” under DB Records and Sony Music record labels.
The album contains 11 tracks and features big stars like Kanye West, Snoop Lion, Big Sean, Fally Ipupa, Olamide, Ikechukwu, Naeto C and Durella. It received massive positive reviews from critics. Most of the singles from the album were jointly released by DB Records and Sony as well. For example, “Top of The World” was released by both DB Records and Sony Music’s RCA Africa label. The song was used as the SuperSport anthem for the 2013 African Nations Cup.
D’banj Biography: Music career (2014 – 2016)
In December 2014, D’banj released a new single titled “Feeling the Nigga”, a track produced by Deevee. He released a remix of the song the following year with Senegalese-American singer, Akon. The remix was re-worded as Feeling the “Nikka”. He and Akon also worked together on another song titled “Frosh” in 2015.
In January 2016, D’banj released a fresh new single titled “Emergency”. It became a mainstream song and is one of the singer’s many evergreen songs. ‘
King Don Come (2017-2020)
As of when this article was published, D’banj’s most recent major project is the “King Don Come” album that came in August 2017. The album featured Wande Coal, Harrysong, Phyno, Gucci Mane, KaySwitch, Bucie and Busiswa. It contains 11 songs with “Oliver Twist” from 2012 reappearing on it.
Since the release of “King Don Come”, D’banj has been releasing singles. In 2018, amidst some obscure songs, D’banj managed to steal headlines for months with his song “Issa Banger”. He had featured Slimcase and Mr Real on the track that leaned heavily on the ‘Shaku Shaku dance’ trend during the period.
D’banj Biography: Fame and recognition
“The Afrobeats would not be where it is today without D’banj,” a music critic once said and it is difficult to argue with this. While the industry may be different in 2020 and appears to have no spot for 40-year-old D’banj, he had a long run and many fulfilling years.
He performed at the Black President Concert in memory of Fela’s art and legacy at the Barbican in London. In 2008, he and many Nigerian artists performed alongside international artists like Kelly Rowland at the 1st Edition of the MTV Africa Music Awards that was held in Abuja, Nigeria. D’banj is also a regular performer at the annual ThisDay Africa Rising Music Festival.
His yearly event, Koko Concert, used to be the biggest event in Nigeria with people coming to attend it from different parts of the world. He is an energetic performer and his style has seen him compared to music icon Fela, on more than one occasion. He performed at the Hackney Weekend to celebrate the 2012 Summer Olympics, which was headlined by Jay-Z and Rihanna.
D’banj also performed at the AFCON 2013 closing ceremony held in South Africa. On 18 April 2015, D’banj performed at the Global Citizen Earth Day Concert on Capitol Hill. He is also well connected and has been pictured with African leaders and many politically powerful people around the world.
D’banj Biography: Personal life
In June 2016, D’banj and Lineo Didi Kilgrow tied the nuptial knot in what was seen as a ‘quiet affair’.
The couple welcomed their first son, Daniel Oyebanjo III, in May 2017. Sadly, D’banj’s child died in a drowning accident in June 2018. In 2019, the couple welcomed another son.
D’banj Biography: Controversy
In June 2020, D’banj became involved in a rape controversy that started from a social media post. The Afrobeats star had posted an image on social media showing his support for the ‘Say No To Rape’ movement. Then, a Twitter user, Seyitan Babatayo accused him of raping her in 2018, calling him a hypocrite.
After about two days, Seyitan went missing and posts began appearing on her Twitter page promoting a D’banj song that the public had not heard before. Also, some post claimed that the rape accusation had been a stunt. Later, an NGO, Stand to End Rape (STER) claimed to have found her using satellite technology.
Seyitan came out to accuse the Nigeria Police Force of forcefully taking her away and handing her over to D’banj’s management team. They had allegedly taken control of her phone by forcing her to give up her password and then began posting on her social media page.
D’banj denied having any involvement in her predicaments and threatened to sue her. The issue led to people writing petitions to brands to cancel their brand endorsements with the singer.
D’banj later dropped his NGN1.5 billion lawsuit against Seyitan after the alleged victim opted for an out of court settlement, following the public nature of the matter. Later, it was reported that Seyitan and D’banj had reached a settlement and both had dropped their charges against each other.
D’banj Biography: Net worth
As of 2020, D’Banj’s true net worth is yet to be confirmed. However, Forbes once listed him as the fourth richest artist in Africa in 2013. The artist has evolved, signed new endorsement deals and acquired properties since Forbe’s last valuation. However there several successful artists have risen since then as well.
There are reports that he charges around NGN5 million to NGN10 million to perform at shows. Besides this, D’banj is one of the most marketable artists in Nigeria with big brands who are ready to work with him. He had begun his brand endorsement journey back in 2005 with the Power Fist energy drink.
By 2013, he had a deal with Bank of Industry (BOI) as its brand ambassador. That same year, he signed a big-money deal with Globacom. In 2014, the singer held an ambassadorial position with Heritage Bank and Beats by Dre. Ciroc signed him in 2015 and SLOT, a phone and electronic gadget outlet, inked a deal with D’banj.
Also, he owns MCOMM Ltd (Median Mobile Communications Limited – a value-added service content provider) and D’ Kings Men Media Limited (a 360 media company).
D’banj Biography: philanthropy
The singer, who is also popularly called Eja Nla (Big Fish), founded Koko Foundation for Youth and Peace Development. This is an NGO that sponsors young people providing them with business funding and other forms of assistance.
Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo, or D’banj as his stage name goes, is one of the artists that revolutionalised the Nigerian music space, making it more receptive of the new Afrobeats musicians. He has had an incredible journey so far from his debut track down to his most recent offering.
Despite all the passive and aggressive innuendos that he passed in his songs, D’banj has not been actively involved in baby mama dramas. He is a married father of one. Additionally, his philanthropy is one of his most endearing qualities.
Additional D’banj information
List of Albums
No Long Thing
- Pastor (Skit)
- All Da Way
- Iya Mi
- Wiches (Skit)
- Ika O Da
- Ask Me (ft. Kween)
- Na Lie (ft. Nova & Raga Remi)
RunDown Dunk U Up
- Do You Like the Koko? (Tongolo Remix)
- Why Me
- Run Down (Funk U Up)
- Tono Sibe
- Which Way 2 Go?
- Serve The Lord (Bonus Track)
- Run Down F**K U Up
- All the Way
- Mr Olopa
- Iya Mi
- Don’t Ask Me
- Mo Bo Lowo Won
- Ika O Da
- Na Lie
- Gbono Feli Feli
- Celebrate (ft. Wande Coal)
- Olorun Maje
- Fall in Love
- Gbelo Gbelo (ft. Special Kid)
- If U Dey Crase (ft. Kayswitch ‘D Produkt’)
King Don Come
- It’s Not A Lie (ft. Wande Coal & Harrysong)
- Be With You
- Te Nesecito (I Need You)
- El Chapo (ft. Gucci Mane & Wande Coal)
- As I Dey Go
- Turn Down For What (Focus Refix)
- Egweji (ft. Phyno)
- That’s What I Mean (ft. KaySwitch)
- Ntswempu (ft. Busie & Busiswa)
- Oliver Twist
- Top of The World
Curriculum Vitae (with Mo’ Hits Allstars)
- Move Your Body (ft. D’banj and Wande Coal)
- Be Close to You (ft. D’banj, Wande Coal, Dr SID, and D’Prince)
- What You Want Do To Me (ft. D’banj, Wande Coal, Don Jazzy)
- Why Me (Remix) (ft. D’banj, Wande Coal, Don Jazzy)
- Ololufe (ft. Wande Coal)
- Igbe Mi (My S***t) (ft. D’Prince and D’banj)
- Masquerade (ft. D’banj, Wande Coal, and Don Jazzy)
- Hey Girl (ft. Wande Coal, Don Jazzy, Dr SID, and D’Prince)
- Pere (ft. D’banj and Wande Coal)
- Jasi (ft. D’banj, Wande Coal, and Don Jazzy)
- No Long thing (ft. Dr SID and D’banj)
- Oh No (ft. Wande Coal, Dr SID, K-Switch, D’Prince, and D’banj)
- Anaconda (ft. D’banj and Wande Coal)
- Booty Call (ft. D’banj, Wande Coal, Dr SID, D’Prince, and K-Switch)
- Stop the Violence (ft. D’banj, Wande Coal, Dr SID, and D’Prince)
- My Grind (ft. Wande Coal, D’Prince, Dr SID, and K-Switch)
- Ten Ten (ft. Wande Coal, Dr SID, K-Switch, and D’Prince)
D’Kings Men (with DB Records artists)
- DKM Intro (Do U Feel) (ft. D’banj)
- Cashflow (ft. D’banj & Kayswitch)
- Blame It On the Money (ft. D’banj, Big Sean & Snoop Lion)
- For Example (ft. Kayswitch)
- Ibadie (Bounce) (ft. D’banj, Jason Jermaine Lopez, Kayswitch, Durella, and Olamide)
- Don’t Tell Me Nonsense (ft. D’banj)
- Nous Les Meilleurs (We the Best) (ft. D’banj and Fally Ipupa)
- Oliver Twist (ft. D’banj)
- Obimo (My Heart) (ft. Kayswitch)
- Top of the World (ft. D’banj)
- Money On My Mind (ft. D’banj, and J.Sol)
- Scape Goat (The Fix) (ft. Dapo Daniel Oyebanjo, and Kanye West)
- Why You Love Me (ft. D’banj)
- Bachelor (ft. D’banj)
- Finally (featuring D’banj)
- Trance (ft. D’banj and Naeto C)
- Ka Wo Soke (Hands Up) (ft. D’banj, Ikechuckwu, and Olamide)
- Sister Caro (ft. Kayswitch and D’banj)
- First of All (Remix) (ft. Olamide and D’banj)
- Show My Logo (ft. Kayswitch)
iTunes Bonus tracks
- Cashflow (Remix) (ft. D’banj and Kayswitch)
- Oliver Twist (Remix) (ft. D’banj and Pitbull)
- Oliver Twist (Remix) (ft. D’banj)
- Issa Banger (ft. Slimcase & Mr Real)
- Shake It (ft. Tiwa Savage)
- Most Promising Male Artist at Kora Awarda (2005)
- Revelation of the Year at The Headies (2006)
- Best Newcomer at the Fizz Awards (2006)
- Best Newcomer at the Channel O Music Video Awards (2006)
- Best Special Effects Video at the Channel O Music Video Awards (2007)
- African Artiste of the Year at the Ghana Music Awards (2007)
- Song of the Year at The Headies (2007)
- Best African Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards (2007)
- Hottest Single of the Year at the Nigeria Entertainment Awards (2007)
- Best Afro Pop Act of the Year at the Nigeria Entertainment Awards (2007)
- Artiste of the Year at The Headies (2008)
- Best Male Artist at the MTV Africa Music Awards (2008)
- Best Artist of the Year at the MTV Africa Music Awards (2008)
- Listener’s Choice Award at the MTV Africa Music Awards (2008)
- Soundcity Fresh Video at the Sound City Music Video Awards (2008)
- African Artiste of the Year at the Ghana Music Awards (2009)
- Best Artist of the Year at the MTV Africa Music Awards (2009)
- Best Album of the Year at the Nigeria Entertainment Awards (2009)
- Best Afro Pop Video at the Nigeria Music Video Awards (NMVA) (2009)
- Most Gifted Afro Pop at the Channel O Music Video Awards (2010)
- Best International Act (Africa) at the BET Awards (2011)
- Most Gifted Male Video at the Channel O Music Video Awards (2011)
- Best African Act Video at the 4Syte TV Music Video Awards (2011)
- Most Gifted Male Video at the Channel O Music Video Awards (2012)
- Most Gifted Video of the Year at the Channel O Music Video Awards (2012)
- Song of the Year at The Headies (2012)
- Best African Act at the MOBO Awards (2012)
- Best African Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards (2012)
- Best-selling African Artist at the World Music Awards (2014)