Write-Up: Saving the sinking boat as things fall apart, #BringBackOurGirls, Nyanya Blast and Others

Followers, readers and fans of the blog would be asking themselves ‘What went wrong?’ ‘What happened to SMD, Wallexdinho, Thowbby, Josh and others on the team?’ ‘What is happening at SMD_Nation?’. Some must have developed understandable fears… Well things have not been well at the Nation. But I will spare you the details, we just want to apologise to every one for our absence that spanned up to 3 weeks (22 days precisely). We want to assure you that we are back and we are back better!
The title of this article (our first since our sudden absence) should have been Salvaging The Sinking Boat as Things Fall Apart but to take up everything I want to write about, I expanded it to talk about lingering national issues. Issues that were hot topics while we were absent. During the period of absence I monitored happenings around.

SALVAGING THE SINKING BOAT AS THINGS FALL APART

Things fell apart, I must admit. Some must have said ‘a serious blog can’t afford to be inactive for a week’. I agree on that, but we were inactive for 3weeks!!! OMG! Things really fell apart. So many things have happened to me in particular! Physically, psychologically and all sort. I had to battle through it all because the blog was on the suffering end of it all. Other members of the team also have been down with one thing or the other. And other members have just been non-challant. Yoruba would say ‘ Igba ishoro ni a mo ore gidi‘ (meaning- A good friend is known during the hard times). Well guess something like this had to happen for me to know. But I can’t sit on the floor and let things fall apart! I just have to rise up, and set things straight. You see, every business is like a boat travelling on a sea, you just have to do everything possible for it not to sink. SMD_Nation’s boat was almost sinking, but we have to rise up and save this boat from sinking, make sure this boat is never sinking! During our inactivity, some spited us, some told me and Wallexdinho ‘You people are jokers, just give it up, your boat sunk already’ buh am not giving up without a fight! Am going to salvage this boat and make sure it won’t sink. We are going to take this boat right to its destination, the top!
It all takes hardwork, teamwork, discipline, perseverance, and prayer! And we are ready to give all it takes! Take it from me, this blog’s going all the way to the top!!!

#BringBackOurGirls

During my absence, people rallied round to get back the girls that were kidnapped in Borno state. I followed the issue to an extent, I heard of the UK and the US readiness to help find the girls. Till today nothing is happening! No one knows where these poor souls are. I can recollect vividly when Jonathan’s cousin was kidnapped, it took just something over a week, the man was back with his family. These girls, if am not mistaken, have spent up to a month in an unknown destination!!! Why do we have to do things this way? Why do the rich and affluent always have to get everything? Why do the poor have to suffer everything? For God sake, these girls could be undergoing daily rape in the hand of their captors! Some could have been killed for resisting! Who knows? The parents of these girls have been plunged into daily sorrow! Why?!!! Why, Nigeria why?!!! What is happening to the UK and US resolve to help? Who is blocking them from helping? We need to get this girls back if our government would like to redeem their pledge to humanity.
And I heared of football stars adding their voices to all these! Kenneth Omeruo, Brown Ideye, Shola Ameobi. Thumbs up to you all. I say to the authorities involved, #BringBackOurGirls.

Nyanya Bomb blast and others

Every news in the country has been a sad one. Evil every where, sorrow and sadness everywhere.
The spate of bombing in the country has sky rocketed. Can it ever stop? Our prayer is for it to stop. But nobody’s doing a thing to stop it! Our government are waiting for the next attack before they come out to pick up dead bodies from the streets. What is happening in Nigeria? The Nyanya Blast is a tragic story. Just hours before the blast, a friend was telling me how formidable he thinks the capital’s security was. At hearing the news of the Nyanya blast, he was forced to curse GEJ! Where in Nigeria is safe, please tell me?
I read of a victim who was going for his son’s wedding at Abuja. What a tragic story! This bombings have to stop. If it means GEJ should resign, he should do it pronto, in fact I would launch a campaign of mine, calling for GEJ’s resignation! He should just resign and go!

Posted by @iam_SMD_ for @SMD_Nation

Article: D’banj forget Koko Garri, you are going down fast, you are losing it.

Hey, its been a while since we posted shey? Been kinda busy lately, well I saw this article online that was originally done by Y! Naija and I felt I should share with you all on SMD_Nation. I agree totally with everything said here in… Do you? Drop your comments and let us know! Enjoy the article.

D’banj may still be raking in millions of naira, but the quality of his music is giving fans and pundits cause for concern. YNaija attempts a diagnosis.
Let’s start with a simple question: When was the last time D’banj released a hit?
*crickets*
Exactly.

In the past two years of ‘silence’, the kokomaster has in fact released song after song. The problem? All have been uniformly dreadful.

A music manager who has worked with D’banj in the past, and asks to remain unnamed, puts it succinctly: “You know that there is a big problem when a musician begins to be known more for ‘kpo-kpo garri’
and his relationship with Genevieve or some desperate housewife in Atlanta, than for his music.”

Mr. Endowed
In February 2011, the remix of music superstar D’banj’s hit, Mr. Endowed burst onto the collective consciousness of Nigerians. In the accompanying video was his longtime collaborator, partner and friend, Don Jazzy, gently nodding and swaying, true to his style. Also present was ageless rap veteran and lackadaisical charmer, Snoop Dogg – who was christened OluwaSnoop – and who professed love for “my nephew D’banj from Nigeria”. Eja Nla (Yoruba for ‘big fish’), as the Nigerian would come to be known later, had landed himself a really big fish.

Everyone gushed about the alluring video vixen, the wad of dollar bills used as rolls of toilet paper and how good the trio looked together. It would go on to be the definitive moment for D’banj’s international career which blossomed after the release of Oliver Twist, the single that would go on to become a UK Top Ten hit the next summer.

D’banj eventually became the first home-based superstar. His success was a deviation from the model adopted by artistes such Asa and Nneka who migrated abroad to flourish, having been empowered by the enabling atmosphere of their new base. Here was a made-in-Naija boy who had grown in leaps and bounds, his success fuelled by the tenacity to survive the jungle that is the Nigerian music industry.

In June 2011, after months of speculations and rumours, rapper and agent provocateur Kanye West signed both Don Jazzy & D’banj to G.O.O.D Music. The latter featured in the label’s compilation EP, Cruel Summer, making a cameo appearance even in the video for Mercy, alongside fellow label mates Pusha T, Big Sean and of course West. Furthermore, fans were treated to a surprise appearance from Yeezy at the Koko concert in London. With the unprecedented success of the Oliver Twist single and the announcement of international deals, first with Mercury Island Records and then Sony Music, it seemed like D’banj had finally struck gold. Nothing could possibly go wrong. Or could it?

A G.O.O.D man’s worth
The kokomaster’s success had an expiry date, it seems. The magic that truly captivated everyone – from designer Giuseppe Zanotti who once sent him a custom-built pair of sneakers, to reality TV star Kenya Moore who allegedly paid $40,000 to have D’banj pose as her boyfriend – is withering away. His recent singles have not been as infectious as their predecessors were and since Oliver Twist, not one has been as big a hit as any of those released in the era of the defunct Mo’Hits. Even G.O.O.D Music, it seems, has parted ways with the flamboyant entertainer.

In his two years’ with the label, there was neither a tour with Kanye nor a major collaboration. There was the forgettable track with Big Sean and Pusha T who performed in Nigeria, the sub-par verses from Yeezy himself on the Scapegoat remix and vocal credits of a line or less on the Cruel Summer EP. Save for those and the Yeezy cameos – at the London Koko concert and in the Oliver Twist video – D’banj seemed to be on the label’s roster only in name.

Was the deal worth the hype? Should D’banj have listened to advice from partner Don Jazzy and strengthened his hold on the home front before attempting to break new grounds in the US?
“Looking back, it almost seems like it was a huge publicity stunt because there is really nothing to show for it”, argues Arinze Obikili, US-based blogger and founder of Jaguda.com. “When you compare it with 2face who collaborated with T-Pain, and featured on another song with him and Akon,” explains Arinze who is known in Nigerian social media circles as Aribaba, “and Wizkid who is rumored to be on a song with Young Jeezy and The Game, you see that D’banj pretty much wasted two good years with Kanye, going for something that he could have attempted by himself”.

After all the fanfare that greeted his G.O.O.D signing, what might have informed Kanye’s decision to drop him from the label; so soon and without any recognizable impact? Aribaba theorizes: “I think it was a business decision. Perhaps he thought that the US wasn’t ready for mainstream African music or that he had overestimated D’banj’s value. Seeing as most of the artistes signed to G.O.O.D Music have great singing or rapping skills, and D’banj has neither, he probably thought it wasn’t worth the effort trying to force him down the US audience’s throat or figure out what to do with him. What would’ve been ideal is if Don Jazzy stayed. In that case, Don Jazzy would’ve worked with D’banj, and the G.O.O.D Music brand would have been the package around what they would have done to sell to the US market”.

Foladele Falana, an entertainment journalist with TV Continental, questions the motive for the signing. “Our excitement about the whole deal was in vain,” she muses. “I don’t see that he was noticeably more successful with them than when he wasn’t. It shows that you don’t even need to be signed to an international record label to make it”.
Nothing more for Oliver Twist

His away form has trailed him back home, as the story is no different; a number of mediocre singles have been released under his newly established DB Records since his marriage to Kanye and the end of the defunct Mo’Hits. D’Kings Men, a compilation album on his new label got a mention in the New York Times, but was nevertheless less than stellar. Furthermore, his usually high performance ratings have been inconsistent – there was the lacklustre performance in Zimbabwe where he was booed off stage as he ran out of popular songs to perform.

Raise Your Glasses, the Hennessy Artistry song has not fared well. His single, Bother You, for the soundtrack of the film adaptation of Half of a Yellow Sun is as cheesy as it is unspectacular, with ThisDay writer, Ayodeji Rotinwa commenting: “Were I not judging it per its mesh with the movie, I’d call it a fine piece of sonic rubbish. I daresay it even falls under D’banj’s customarily low standards.” Indeed, save for that octane-level verse on the groovy remix of Naeto C’s Tony Montana, nothing new from the kokomaster has really stuck.
The Koko Music Empire is on the verge of disintegration and its head honcho has turned to his business ventures to save face, launching products as random and diverse as garri and mobile phones. It doesn’t end there, however. According to a reliable industry source, D’banj literally begged to be featured on songs by KCee and up-comer Burna Boy (Emmah and Won Da Mo respectively) to ‘stay relevant’ in the industry. Both acts established themselves as A-list stars in the three years in which Eja Nla bustled back and forth between Nigeria, the UK and the US.

When begging did not work, he resorted to other means, as was the case with Blame It on the Money, a track which was supposedly ‘bought’ from Durella. Both men released their versions successively, confusing the public and causing fans to debate on ownership of the song. Furthermore, he unsuccessfully attempted to sign Durella, Olamide and other artistes, going as far as authorizing misleading press releases. Eventually, he ended up with DeeVee and 2Kriss, who are yet to release official singles on the label, and his brother Kayswitch.
Mo’Hits to No Hits

It stings to think that things were not always like this. Once, D’banj was the undisputed king in an arena where his touch was the major and telling contribution, rather than the minor one. After returning to Nigeria from a sojourn to the UK in the 2000s, he began a joint effort which was named Mo’Hits Records. It was one of the first modern labels around, challenging the monopoly of Kennis Records, with D’banj as the lead act.
Not since Fela Kuti had another performer so wonderfully captivated fans with his energetic performances on stage.

While both men weren’t abundantly blessed in the vocals department, their dexterity with instruments was a common denominator. Fela was a saxophonist who could play other instruments, while D’banj brought fame to the harmonica. And while the one had Tony Allen, the other had Don Jazzy.

He branded himself as the quintessential showman with major input from his partner who was styled in the manner of a Sicilian mafia don; getting credit and loyalty, but speaking only when necessary. They were an instant hit with fans across Nigeria and soon enough, the rest of the African continent.

“They were like 5 and 6,” reminisces Nkem Okafor, another blogger. “It was a partnership like never before and they complemented each other so well, they could almost pass for brothers”. This chemistry was reflected in songs like Tongolo, Why Me and in the Curriculum Vitae and Entertainer albums which showcased them at the peak of their partnership. Among those also signed to the label were their siblings, KaySwitch and D’Prince, who would remain at the periphery for years, as the crew rotated around the two henchmen and another signing, Wande Coal.

Good things don’t last forever however, and so their partnership and by extension, friendship came to a poignant end. As with everyone who gets a whiff of success, D’banj was thirsty for more. After the initial frenzy that greeted the duo’s international signing, the cracks began to appear. Eventually, they split, citing irreconcilable differences and betrayals. That may have signaled the descent of D’banj’s creativity, because while Don Jazzy has since set up Mavin Records and begun lending his beats and those lovable hoarse vocals to various hits, all his estranged partner has is a list of near-misses.

The life and times of Daniel Anderson
What went wrong? “Looking back, one is tempted to say that maybe D’banj should never have rushed to sign with Kanye West,” says Aribaba. “Musically, he hasn’t been the same since he jumped ship to G.O.O.D Music”.

D’banj also fired his longtime manager, Bankuli over an internal disagreement and signed on Mr. Tony Nwakalor, former manager of both Olamide and Tonto Dikeh. With a reputation for being overly arrogant, perhaps it was a perfect alignment.
Arrogance is widely known as one of the former Mo’Hits front man’s traits, and in the period after his G.O.O.D Music deal, his ego grew accordingly. In the grand scheme of things, D’banj’s personal quirks may not count for much, but it disenfranchised the public and was likely one of the factors that caused the change in his music fortunes soon after his G.O.O.D Music deal. First, the name on his social media accounts was changed in May 2012 to Daniel Banjo Anderson, a name he confirmed during an interview at Choice FM, London. It was immediately assumed that he had acquired a superiority complex and the new identity was an attempt to distance himself from his Nigerian roots. The bashing on Twitter only increased when his Nigerian name returned to his bio and he claimed that he had been hacked.

Tempers rose again in December of that year, when he apologized, albeit sarcastically, for making fans walk several kilometers through the sands of Eko Atlantic Beach to attend his Koko Concert (lightheartedly nicknamed the Koko Trek). He was forced to apologize again on Twitter, properly this time, citing overwhelming logistical failures as the reason for the trek.

His lack of a producer has also been advanced as the main reason for his musical misfortunes. Since losing Don Jazzy, the kokomaster’s usual coordination and delivery has been missing. The Jay Sleek-produced Oyato came surprisingly close, but still lacked the production genius the singer has been used to. He employed the services of DeeVee, a young producer signed onto his label, but the formula is still lacking the ‘magic’ element.

An Abuja-based DJ speaking on condition of anonymity expressed his view: “That guy is finished without a producer like Don Baba J. Most of those who call themselves producers today are just beat makers. Don Jazzy tailors the beat to your strength and even he can’t blend with some artistes.”

Falana agrees. “I don’t think D’banj will ever be as great an artist without Don Jazzy or Mo’Hits as he was with them. I’ve never thought he really had much substance as an artist, but being the beast that he is, Don Jazzy was able to make him look good. Plus they had good chemistry so they were a powerful duo. They were made for each other,” she concludes.

Reunion & Rebirth
The general notion is that if they were made for each other, then they can find each other again. Last year, both men were pictured working in the studio, alongside Maybach Music artiste, Wale and Olamide. It prompted speculations that a reunion which would be mutually beneficial for both parties could be underway. Popular OAP and brother-in-law to D’banj, Dotun Orekoya alluded to this in a recent interview, saying “I believe that something might happen. The love is still there, no doubt about it, and they have done music together regardless of whatever they are doing. They are actually good in their own different industries. It is entertainment and there is nothing we can’t see.”

Falana, obviously disappointed with the split, says, “D’banj is just everywhere. Homie should just come back home. Mo’Hits is the answer to whatever he’s looking for up and down. And frankly, I think the Mavins might be missing some D’banj flavour”.

Others flat out disagree.
“People keep speaking of this false equivalence,” says music critic Emmanuel Osanedum. “But it’s nonsense really. This is the truth: in the same period within which D’banj released the ironically titled Don’t tell me nonsense and others, all flops, Don Jazzy has owned the market.”

Indeed, Osanedum may have a point. From Tiwa Savage’s ‘Eminado’ to ‘Surulere’, the single which has become a viral sensation, there is no gainsaying that when it comes to music D’banj is no match for his former producer.

Getting back together?

Critics have argued that it might be hard for the ‘ailing’ superstar to survive for the next decade in the music business without descending into the dredges of obscurity. An A&R for a popular Nigerian music label posits that this may not be the case. “Even though I’ve questioned his relevance as an artiste a lot lately, I realize that we Nigerian listeners love ‘unserious’ music and D’banj is just that. He is no conscious artiste trying to save the world through music, so for that reason, he’ll probably last – if he has the right team behind him”.

“What keeps a musician famous and relevant is not all these celebrity moves – it is the hit songs that keep the engine of fame running. Ask 2face, ask Psquare,” said John Okonedo, a self-confessed audiophile and student at the University of Lagos. “Unfortunately, D’banj’s head is so far up his arse that he might not even see how fast he has gone into darkness”.

That, we think, is the real tragedy, because the kokomaster’s talent, well managed, is truly in a class of its own.
First published on Y! Naija

Posted by @iam_SMD_ for @SMD_Nation

Aside

BORNO AND THE DYNAMICS OF BOKO HARAM

Borno And The
Changing Dynamics Of
Boko Haram
News of the surging violence by
the shadowy sect, Boko Haram,
has continued to inundate us
even if some no longer shudder at
screaming headlines of dozens
whose throats have been slit; the
extremists have sustained the
ongoing brutal campaign against
civilian and security targets.
The vicious group has showed no
sign of slowing down in 2014
with a string of coordinated
attacks from Borno to Adamawa
and Yobe states. It is
inconceivable and
incomprehensible in a state under
emergency, that terrorist attacks
in villages and towns last for
hours without any kind of security
intervention. The escalation of
violence between January and
February alone has claimed over
650 lives between Borno and
Adamawa. For now, Gwoza, Bama,
Konduga and Damboa towns and
all the villages around them are
facing extinction! The insurgents
have left on its trail: lives lost,
properties destroyed and terrified
residents fleeing their homes.
Guerilla tactics in rural areas have
made the people vulnerable
where Christians and Muslims
alike have been on the receiving
end of the morally reprehensible
sect’s abhorrent violence.
Borno, to Boko Haram, is their
spiritual home where the
‘struggle’ began. Losing the battle
on this turf to the federal forces
will effectively signal the end of
their insurrection. In this state,
their attacks have been more
vicious, somewhat sporadic but
with a high level of coordination
unexpected in a state under
emergency. Their resolve is
strengthened by the scores they
slaughter in the wee hours of the
night. The Nigerian military still
has a lot to prove that it is capable
of putting down the insurrection.
Guerilla wars (better known as
asymmetric combat) are the most
difficult to prosecute because the
enemies live within the civilian
population. Security operatives
become vulnerable because they
are identifiable but the terrorists
are almost invincible. It might be
asking for too much from the ill
equipped and trained Nigerian
military to wage a successful war
against them. Such an operation is
quite complicated and requires
cerebral personnel. It is doubtful if
the Nigerian military give
adequate training to its men to
fight guerilla wars – a 21st
century security challenge. The
unimpressive way the
counterterrorism campaign has
been waged by the combined
team of security agencies have
laid bare their conventional and
stereotype inbuilt structure of
warfare where there is a clearly
defined enemy in a well-defined
geographical location. The Nigeria
military’s symmetric approach to
an asymmetric counterterrorism
battle in states under emergency,
clearly, has failed. The spate of
almost daily attacks on hapless
civilians in Borno underscores this
point. Their modus operandi is
similar to all known terrorist
groups in the world. The
trademark of the organization is
blood, tears and sorrow with both
covert and overt violent assault
against police officers, military,
churches and civilian targets.
These persistent and mindless
killings from highly networked,
richly financed groups waging
insurgent war often from within
civilian population, use a
combination of traditional and
modern weapons. There tactics
can best be mitigated and/or
quelled by military operations
backed by the most sophisticated
and technologically advanced
security gadgets. It is a known
fact that the structure and design
of Nigeria’s national security is too
outdated to meet present day
security challenges. It has also
been reported that the morale of
the military and police is ebbing.
In contrast, Boko Haram is better
armed and motivated. Years of
corruption in the military and
police have robbed us of the best.
Consequently, the cruel marauders
pose a serious threat to the
nation’s sovereignty and the
continual harmonious co-
existence of the various tribes and
religions. The possibility of
overrunning the country is real.
However, Nigeria’s security
challenges are not
insurmountable. With
commitment and a dogged
political will from the government,
the nefarious activities of the
blood thirsty fundamentalists can
be effectively contained.
Furthermore, government should
tighten what many now regard as
the most porous border in the
world! We would easily win any
award in that category. There is
still an ongoing war in Mali; it’s
only been months since the Arab
Spring ended. All these have put
arms and ammunition in the
wrong hands. Those who
proliferate these weapons move
them across our borders to a mix
grill ready market of terrorists,
pirates, hoodlums, unrepentant
and backsliding ex-militants, 2015
election tugs and other criminal
mind
@tayo_taiwo