D'banj Did you know that Banga Lee is the Arsene Wenger of Nigerian Music?

Who would have thought that it was a thing? D’banj and Arsene Wenger on the surface, don’t look like they share much together. But they are alike in many ways.

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D'banj and Wenger are more alike than you can imagine. play

D'banj and Wenger are more alike than you can imagine.

(DKM/Getty)
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These days you could find parallels in everything.

One dude once found the relationship between Okra soup and fertility. Another guy drew one long line that starts at Agbero and ends at angels in heaven. Everything and anything are connected. It’s simply a case of research before you can cook up a plausible correlation or connectivity story.

Like, take D’banj and Arsene Wenger. Who would have thought that it was a thing? D’banj and Arsene Wenger on the surface, don’t look like they share much together. One is old and washed up, the other is still young and washed….er, never mind.

D’banj and Wenger both have enjoyed comparatively lengthy careers at the top of their industries. Wenger has thrown in almost two decades at Arsenal, while D’banj has pushed past the decade mark in the music industry which is as chaotic, and entertaining as the English Premier League. Not that I’m comparing the quality of British football to the music that we make here in Nigeria, but trust me, as all fans of football know, the English Premier League is trash too. You see, they both work in trash industries. One serves poor but riveting football. The other serves riveting music but has a trash structure.

God! These connections are just popping out of me. They’re everywhere!

D'banj and Kanye West play

D'banj and Kanye West

 

But away from that, the comparisons between D’banj and Arsene Wenger run through a whole lot. These are professionals who had seen better days in their careers. Wenger once dragged a team to the Champions League Final and had a squad that was unbeaten. D’banj once snagged a deal with Kanye West, and literally had a time that he was undefeated in the music industry. He was Africa’s Michael Jackson, a sweeping force of art and celebrity which blew away the hearts and minds of millions of fans across the world.

But the most important comparisons between them both lies in the players they tried and failed to recruit into their clubs or record labels. Or the players that they had, that left them.

Wenger once had Dutch striker Robin Van Persie leave his club to go win the league with Manchester United. D’banj lost a talent as rare as Wande Coal during the split with Mo’hits. Wande chose Don Jazzy, and just like Van Persie, he pulled off some moves for the record label, before departing and chasing independence.

Player recruitment which has been a very loud reason to loathe Wenger cuts through D’banj too. One of the longest running football jokes is the amount of top talent that Wenger identified, tried to sign and lost out. They make an impressive, world-beating squad which contain the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Roberto Carlos, Cristiano Ronaldo, Yaya Toure, Xabi Alonso, Angel Di Maria, Lionel Messi, and more.

Arsene Wenger play

Arsene Wenger

(AFP/Getty Images)

 

D’banj either never reached such legendary heights of personnel failure, or perhaps we just don’t have access to the full list yet. But we do know he has had his fair share of recruitment problems. In recent memory, D’banj has signed acts from the unmarketable 2kriss, to the outrageous Tonto Dikeh, and a Kayswitch who has refused to run a consistent campaign of music.

2Kriss are the equivalent of having Denilson and Armand Traore, Tonto Dikeh is Philipe Senderos in disguise, and Kayswitch, that’s a Naija-fied version of Abou Diaby; insanely talented, but unable to go on a consistent playing streak.

 

D’banj’s misses are legendary, too. Do you know he missed out on a chance to sign Olamide in 2013 and Davido in 2014?

Surprised? I thought so. Here’s the story.

For Olamide, D’banj tried to snag him up to a deal in 2013. The duo agreed a deal and contracts were drawn. From Lagos to Atlanta, they travelled together, gave themselves nicknames, and flirted openly on social media. But somehow, that deal fell through.

According to reports, Olamide could not handle a weird clause in the contract, and so, he had to bounce. It’s the same way Wenger missed out on Zlatan Ibrahimovic after he told him to go play a trial game before signing. Zlatan never played. He walked right away from the club and had a great career. Olamide and Zlatan have had great careers after flirting with Wenger and D’banj. You can read the full Olamide story here.

D'banj and Olamide play

D'banj and Olamide

(Press)

 

For Davido, things were more interesting. D’banj made his move in 2014, long before Sony Music had flown in with wads of cash and an interesting contract for OBO. D’banj showed up, invited young David for talks about joining his empire. David was excited, and a gentleman agreement was reached. To seal the deal with a gift, D’banj gave Davido a Rolex watch.

“I remember in 2014 when I went back to Nigeria, some young boy who used to work for me brought an artist to me and said he wanted me to sign the artist. I remember we gave the artists a Rolex as a signing-on fee.

"I signed the artist and then I got a call later on and they said the parents of the artist wanted to meet with me, so I went and they said ‘please I want my boy to go to school’.

“And to look at today that the boy I’m talking about is one of the biggest artists out of this generation, which is Davido”, he disclosed in a recent chat.

The deal didn’t work out. Turns out Davido’s father, the real Baba Olowo himself, didn’t want his son to sign for D’banj without a University education. The next year, Davido would graduate from Babcock on a 2:1 degree from the Department of Music. But the deal would never be revisited. He had moved far away from Arsene D’banj and found life with Sony and DMW.

D'banj tried to sign Davido in 2014. play D'banj tried to sign Davido in 2014. (Pulse)

 

So you see? Wenger lost some, D’banj lost some. Same story, different circumstances. Just imagine if D’banj had Wande Coal, Olamide, and Davido signed to his record label? That would be the equivalent of having Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Arsenal.

And one more. D'banj hasn't exactly created the biggest hits in recent memory, but he got his company D'Cream Records valued at $100 million. That means he is making enough money, despite not being at the peak of his powers, and satisfying fans. Wenger does the same too, prioritizing cash over trophies at Arsenal.

Like I said. You could draw this line from A-Z and find stops along the way to join both D’banj and Wenger. Sometimes you just have to close your eyes, drink enough alcohol in a bar, and watch Arsenal lose their next game heavily,  as D’banj’s ‘Emergency’ plays in the background. That’s how I got this inspiration.

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