Stepping away from the shadows of elder brother Don Jazzy, Mavin Records artiste D’Prince has proven that he isn’t a flash in the pan. The ‘Take Banana’ crooner has released massive hit songs and has stamped his musical aptitude on the Nigerian entertainment scene. In this interview, D’Prince reveals why he has been out of circulation, the re-branding he has gone through, what it is like working with Don Jazzy, and how he intends to make his music evergreen, among other issues
What song will you regard as your biggest song so far?
I can’t really say. It depends on what you mean. Do you mean biggest song commercially?
Not just commercially, but a song that changed the course of your career
The song that gave me the big break should still be Omoba. That was the song that I actually took me on the road when I first came out.
What really inspired the song?
When I composed the song, I was a new artiste. I was in the studio with Don Jazzy and we said what’s the best way to gain entrance into the industry and so the song came about. Since then, people stopped calling me D’Prince and started calling me Omoba. I think it actually served its purpose at the end of the day. It gave me another industry name.
What have you been working on?
Basically,we have different projects we are working on. I have been recording. I will be dropping another album this year. I am trying to put some structures in place that is just it basically.
How would you describe the Mavins crew hit song Dorobucci?
Dorobucci is actually one of the biggest songs we have released, even from the Mohit days. When we were in the studio, recording the song, It felt like when we were in Mohits ,the energy in the studio was crazy .We were certain the song was going to be a massive hit and it became that.
Who started calling you Omoba?
It depends on where I am. If I am in Delta state, people call me Omoba, if I go to the north they call me Omoba but in Lagos, some people call me D’Prince while others call me Omoba. It just started spontaneously.
How many tracks should we expect from your new album?
We haven’t decided yet, but we will eventually pick the songs that will make the album. It’s Don Jazzy that actually decides.
Don Jazzy once said on the social media that there was a time he sold stuffs on the street, how true is that?
It’s true. I don’t actually come from a rich home. We were referred to as poor when we were growing up. Don Jazzy and my elder brother James sold different things like palp or eko or agidi.That was in Ajegunle. My mum had a little kiosk so my sister and I used to stay back to assist her. We helped her out one way or the other. You know how it is when children come back from school and your mum says:”Go and give them change”. Things like that. I came from that kind of family.
What role did church play in your music?
Church is close to our home, so we had the opportunity to always be in the church. Don Jazzy played music instruments in church, while I was a chorister.
What church was that?
It’s a ‘white garment’ church, Cherubim and Seraphim. Music was around us. My dad also encouraged it. He bought us keyboard and some little drums and bells. It just became part of us. After my secondary school, everybody left for the U.K. One way or the other Don Jazzy met JJC and D’Banj. When he was leaving London to start Mohits with D’Banj, he asked me: “Guy, will you stay here to continue your music or join us?”.I joined them. That was how we left in 2005. Since then it’s been a struggle
Do you still attend the church that groomed you musically?
Most times when we go back to that church it’s like a stampede. Whenever we go, people gather from various parts of Ajegunle to come to that church. It was becoming more like a show every Sunday. Whenever we have the time, we attend. It is not every time we go there. We attend a church that is close to where we live, we only attend our former church whenever they have a special programme.
What lessons have you learnt from your small beginning?
So far in my career, from the Mohits to Mavins era, I have learnt a lot, not just about music, but about life. It’s a delicate career, so we try to live extra careful, which is not something that it is easy to do. But we still try to live our own lives.
Can you share one of the lessons?
When we came back to the country, the first show we did was about 50,000 naira. That was in 2006.It was huge money then and coupled with the fact that we were new in the country. It is amazing how things have turned out for us. It just shows that if you put your mind at something, you can achieve that thing you set out to do. In life, it’s the little belief you have that will take you far.
Did you ever imagine you will get to this level?
Anybody that is doing something must obviously hope to excel. I actually knew that with God and our music talents, we would go far. We give thanks to God.
The songs you do these days are different from the ones you started out doing. What is responsible for the change in your music?
Sometime last year, I had this re-orientation. It’s easier to make songs that are not sensible and it will be a hit overnight. We have done it before. I was with Don Jazzy in the studio and he said I have to start recording new songs. I had told him before then that I wanted to start doing socially conscious songs.
It took us weeks to deliberate if we should go that route or stick to our normal party music. We tried it out and I have started getting positive feedbacks. I am yet to visit any blog that writes negative comments about the songs. When you actually sing something reasonable, people will reason and understand you.
I have realised that you just have to put out music that people can get something out of. Even it’s a party music; it should still have a message in it. Fela did it. He had great songs and they had a message.
How do you intend to make your music evergreen?
I thank God for the Mavin family- Don Jazzy, Tiwa, Dr Sid and others. I don’t believe that when it comes to music I am going to lack .I can’t tell you that I am going to be buying Bugatti’s every other day. Music is the only thing that a musician owes to his fans. If you have music, you will always be relevant, unless you deviate. Most of the old artistes are not relevant anymore because they didn’t keep up with releasing good music.
A lot of people had issues with the song Take Banana, what message were you trying to pass across?
You are taking me back to the Old Testament. Those days, our orientation was just to make a nice tune and also make it a party jam. I did Take Banana, I did Give it to me, they were big songs, but people felt the lyrics were bad. That is what the people want though. Most times, people buy these songs because that is want they want.
The fans blame the artiste for the bad lyrics and the artiste also says that is what the fans want. What do you think?
I think most A-list artistes know how to put a blend in the music. They make it playful and also still pass a message. You can always blend it.
Recently, your label mate Korede Bello performed Godwin in a church. A lot of people felt he shouldn’t have done that because he is a secular artiste. What do you think?
They have their point. It is one thing for a gospel artiste to perform in a church and another thing for secular artiste to perform gospel song in a church. Korede is saying that he can also go to the church and praise God. He has a right to praise God as a Christian, not as an artiste. You know how it is, some people didn’t see it that way.
Fela has inspired a lot of artistes. How has he inspired you?
When you mention Fela, freedom of speech comes to your mind. He made people understand that you can actually speak out and be heard. That is what Fela did. Most of Fela’s songs were about the government, people and suffering. He was actually somebody that wanted to speak for the people. I admire that about him.
Artistes flaunt their wealth on social media and it gets misinterpreted by people. You were recently criticized for doing that. What was your intention?
Most of the time, we do it to get attention. I know that if I do something like that, it will be all over the news. That’s all I can say. Go and check Jayz , Beyonce, Davido, Wizkid, DJ Khaleed, nobody ever post stuffs without that intention. If you are doing it, you know it will end up in the news.
Are you saying it’s intentional?
For example, if I am eating cassava, I can just choose to put it on the internet so that people will talk about it. Why is he eating cassava, why not Eba? It’s just still part of entertainment.
How do you balance Don Jazzy as your brother and boss?
Like I said before, our family is just different. We have a very strong bond. We all still live together regardless of our business relationship. We all stay in one big house. That’s how we have been even when we were in the UK. I was living in some other parts of London and my Don Jazzy was living in another part. We discovered that if the money he pays for his rent and the one I pay for mine is combined, it can be used to rent a bigger apartment. It’s actually a privilege having my brother as my producer.
Has there been a time when you had disagreements?
It’s a normal thing. Siblings have disagreements.
What happens when it comes to making business decisions?
To be frank, I trust him enough with most of the decisions. Sometimes, I don’t even have to read the contract and he will sign it on my behalf. That is how much I trust him.
Do you miss D’Banj ?
I have been asked this question like one million times. I don’t know the answer you want to get, Yes or no? I don’t know. It is yes and no.