When D’banj and partner in crime, Don Jazzy decided to return to Nigeria to set up a music empire, many thought them mad. It was the early 2000s, Nigeria just came out of many years of colonial rule that had drained the nation and its citizens. Parents were pushing their children to pursue professional careers and many Nigerians flocked out of the country in search of greener pastures. Besides, music was not really paying anybody at the time. But these guys were far from mad, they were revolutionaries.
Fast forward a decade of international recognition, countless awards and endorsements later. Don Jazzy and D’banj have found fame and success unmatched by many. Though their individual careers after the Mo’Hits split have not been entirely dazzling with excellence, their impact on Nigerian music and pop culture as a group still shines through.
The mid-2000s: What is the koko?
D’banj’s 2004 hit, Tongolo was an unusual song. By content and relevant subject matter of what made up Nigerian music at the time, the song made no sense. But the simple vocal presence of D’banj and the crispiness of the production made it a huge hit. The mystical texture and controversial nature of the song’s lightweight sexually suggestive lyricism garnered the song a lot of talkability by the conservative Nigerian public. The lyrics were vague and ambiguous but they were applicable in everyday conversations.
In pop culture terms, D’banj and Don Jazzy simply made a radio-friendly song about sex and the male penis. Though there were criticisms made about this kind of music, by the release of his debut album No Long Thing D’banj had not only reminded Nigerians of the vocal heyday of Fela, he had also sealed his place in Nigerian entertainment as a sex icon.
The late 2000s: The rise of the entertainers.
By the release of D’banj’s sophomore album Funk You Up, the self-dubbed Entertainer had risen to unprecedented fame, by amassing tabloid-worthy controversies. His sexually charged concerts and infamous towel-clad performance at the Headies in 2006 are a few of such. The man was barring no holds and outside of Mo’Hits, some young artistes found his expressive brand inspiring. The success of D’banj proved that anything can sell as long as it is original. This marked the emergence of artists like Durella, Terry G amongst others who created similarly ambiguous but suggestive concepts that gained wide acceptance.
Mo’Hits further increased their dominance by releasing Curriculum Vitae in 2007, D’banj’s Entertainer in 2008, and Wande Coal’s M2M in 2009. Each album featured talents from the entire MoHits crew and influenced a new wave of pop-culture colloquial, fads and social media quotes.
The early 2010s: Endowed to the world and beyond.
The 2010s saw the emergence of more artistes who were stylized by the vocal influence of MoHits. The poppy sound of artistes like Wande Coal influenced the Wizkid- Davido renaissance. The unlimited powers of Don Jazzy sparked emphasis on good production. D’banj successfully pulled off Endowed, another suggestive song about his penis. Similarly, the Oliver Twist dance competition saw the emergence of another pop culture fad. A notable impact of the Oliver Twist era was how it marked the begining of artistes orgnaising social media based competitions for promotional purposes.
The demise of Mo’Hits in 2012 may have tainted a legacy that ought to be unimpeachable but the pure influence cannot be questioned. Mo’Hits took a veil off the hypocrisy of Nigerian society by talking boldly about sex, the female form and vanity in mainstream music. This was a musical characteristic that was formerly associated with the alienated ghetto music. They also evolved viral music promotion by strategically creating music that can generate conversation. The group was essentially a cohesive unit that inspired a new generation of artistes entirely.
We don’t know how much it takes to have a timeless legacy, but this should suffice for now.