This might be unbelievable today, but do you know that once upon a time, Olamide almost signed to D’banj’s DB Records?
It was 2013 when Olamide who is regarded as one of Nigeria’s greatest rappers had just dished out his second studio album, YBNL (Yahoo Boy No Laptop). The album had Kay Switch, Tiwa Savage, Dammy Krane, Davido, Kidakudz, Reminisce, Base 1, Buckwyla and Minus 2 as featured artists. He already had singles ‘Illefo Illuminati’, ‘First of all’ and ‘Stupid love’ going viral on the streets, in the clubs and all over dance floors.
The Olamide you know now wasn’t the one you know then. He was a younger version of himself, who was winning at high level but not at D’banj’s level.
D’banj was a boss to everyone in the industry. He was that elder in the music industry who had done it all. His deal with Mo’Hits had ended in 2012, but D’banj’s musical career was hot. He had scored one of the biggest Nigerian records to cross over, ‘Oliver Twist’, signed a deal with Kanye West’s GOOD Music, and collaborated with Snoop Dog and Big Sean. He was the Nigerian artistic dream, a superstar who was killing it at home and had a promising chance of breaking out.
He was working with Kanye West! You heard it right, Kanye West!
At this point, D’banj was setting up his DB Records, and also putting together his D’Kings Men collective, who were working on the album “D’Kings Men.”
Olamide and D’banj met up and struck up conversations about Olamide signing up to his record label. YBNL was in its infancy, and Olamide considered it. D’banj and Olamide went into talks and began work together. A verbal agreement was reached, and Olamide worked on the DKM album. He contributed vocals and writing on three records off the project.
The affiliation was so strong that both stars were spotted all across the country, from Lagos to Atlanta, attending events together, and hanging out. The rumours began to make the rounds. According to the stories that flooded the industry and filtered to the press, Olamide had signed a deal with DB Records. It felt like a match made in heaven. D’banj had nicknamed himself Bangalee, and in the spirit of bromance, gave Olamide his cute one too; Baddo Lee.
And then what appeared to be confirmation came through D’banj’s brother Kayswitch. On August 9, 2013, the singer tweeted “Welcome to the family! Baddo.”
A day earlier, Ovie Ofugara of NotjustOk put his credibility on the line when he broke the news that Olamide had been signed. “While there is no official confirmation yet, I can pretty much say, with confidence, that D’Banj has signed Olamide to DB Records,” he wrote.
Fans were polarized in their reactions. Many applauded the union, while others pushed against it, saying that Olamide deserved better. “After all this grindin you wan go become hand bag for someone,” a fan reacted to the news on NJO.
But a deal was never reached.
Industry sources say Olamide didn’t go through with it. While everything was done, and the singer was offered a contract, he delayed in signing, and had a change of heart, which made him pull out of the deal.
“Olamide had a feeling about it, so he didn’t follow through.” An industry insider who spoke to me said.
Olamide also denied the story on Twitter, explaining that he was never signed. The YBNL boss addressed his fans saying “I own my own record label uon even know it.” He also confirmed things were good with him and D’banj in another tweet to a fan.
A story by Kemi Filani of Tribune quoted a source who said Olamide pulled out due to the specifics of the contract.
According to the report, Olamide, had issues with some terms in the deal, especially his booking management. According to the story, the deal would have transferred his booking to D’Banj’s management outfit. But he rejected it, saying he wanted to keep his team.
“In the future, I will consider his offer. If anybody wants me, he should have unfettered access to me. I am just starting out in the profession,” he allegedly told close friends.
A close source who spoke to Tribune also corroborated the story.
“Apparently, he would have been blocked from having direct access to his clients and that will reduce his share from his appearance fees,” the source said. “He does not like the bottle necks and some terms that will make it difficult for him to be reached all because D’Banj wants his value to rise. That may happen, but what eventually gets to Olamide will be peanuts.”
The source further added that Olamide’s considerable success at the time also influenced his decision to reject the deal. The rapper had allegedly scanned the offer and discovered that apart from a management deal, there was no actual value.
“Olamide can be easily reached by anybody and his fees are still okay. The moment he signs the deal, he will be getting fewer shows, though huge fees, but will lose many of his grassroots fans to the elitist crowd D’Banj belongs” he added.
Just imagine if Olamide had taken that deal? What would have happened? Would his career have taken this trajectory? Would Lil Kesh and Adekunle Gold have found another outlet to break out?
No one knows.