Two men, Ayodele Olalekan and Babangida Nwunyi, were on Tuesday arraigned before a Masaka Upper Area Court in Nasarawa State for alleged criminal conspiracy. The accused persons of Jankawa Village, Masaka, are standing trial on a five-count charge of conspiracy, defamation of character, impersonation, criminal intimidation and attempt to “commit an offence to wit cheating”….
–Danku, Oritsefemi’s manager
By Tony Ogaga
Artiste manager and entrepreneur, Yusuf Adebola Adepitan aka Danku, is one man who has contributed immensely from behind the scenes towards the growth of Nigerian music.
He has worked with the likes of Oritsefemi, Terry G and Konga among a host of others. In this chat with TS Weekend, the Lagos-born graduate of Accounting opens up on the journey so far.
Tell us about yourself
I am somebody that likes sound; I love music. I am talking about any sound that comes with rhythm. I have always loved to use music to console myself. I come from a very wealthy home; my father is late now. He was a billionaire. He was the former Lagos State Chairman of Saw Millers Association of Nigeria.
What did you learn from your late father?
I learnt a lot because my father was a great leader. I learnt to be hard working and a good listener. He told me that if you want to be a good leader, you must first be a good listener. That is why I am able to manage artistes.
What did you study in school?
After I finished SSS 3, my parents discovered that if care was not taken, I was going to be irresponsible. Probably, I would end up a street urchin, so my mother decided to take me away from Oyingbo where I was born to Oyo State where I finished secondary school and got admission to The Polytechnic, Ibadan. There, I studied Accounting and graduated in 2003.
Has it always been your dream to be an artiste manager?
I started my career as an entertainer in secondary school in Oyo State. I remember vividly DK Sexy and how we both competed as dancers. He was one of the best dancers in Ibadan and back then he was my rival. At dancing competitions, if I didn’t come first, DJ Sexy would come first. So, I started as a dancer but I stepped up my game. When I was doing my internship, I picked up another career as a printer. I am a graphic artist. I was doing creative work, designing CD jackets. I was the one that designed the cover of Duncan Mighty’s first album. From there, I was doing jackets and posters, and then I picked interest in artistes. It was in 2004 and the first artiste I picked interest in was Konga. We started working together and brought out the album, Baby Konga.
Baby Konga was a huge success. Could we say you’re the brain behind the success?
Yes, but it was not only me. There was DJ Midas; may his soul rest in peace. He was our godfather, brother and uncle for all of us at Ebutte Metta back then.
Aside Konga, which other artistes have you groomed?
My primary objective has always been to pick up unknown artistes from the streets and turn them into icons. I am talking about taking artistes from grass to grace. I don’t give a damn about established acts. That was how I found Konga. After Konga, I worked with Slim Joe, Lace and now we have Oluwaseun. I have worked with Klever Jay and Terry G as well.
How did you make the MSN brand?
You mean how I built the brand? The story is everywhere and I am tired of talking about it. I am not the one that gave Oritsefemi the idea for Double Wahala, but it was my money that pushed the song to where it is today. Oritsefemi was not my artiste. I was Terry G’s manager back then and I only gave Oritsefemi shows from the outside. But at some point, another management came for Terry G and I decided to move on. The reason was I did not want to complicate things for myself, so when the new management came, I did not want my reputation to be soiled, I had to move on. But Terry G and I are back together. He is working with Ijobanadanku. It is a team of seasoned professionals.
You recently launched your own label, Ijobanadanku, what inspired it because we also know that you are part of MSN Gang?
I cannot deny MSN gang because MSN Gang is my handwork, my platform. With my artiste, Oritsefemi, we built it together. Like I said earlier, I was Terry G’s manager but a new management came for Terry G so I had to take my leave. When I left, I picked up Oritsefemi. I have worked with both foreign and local artistes and I discovered that the Nigerian music industry is not well structured. Record labels don’t really know the business and a lot of artistes don’t know their duties as artistes. The major problem I have discovered in Nigerian entertainment is that a lot of entertainers in Nigeria only understand the show but fail to understand the business. So, they misbehave and destroy their brands. Sometimes, they don’t see themselves as role models. Some don’t even know that there are millions of people out there looking up to them as role models and that is why they always misbehave, and before you know it, they lose everything.
Why did you choose to work with Oritsefemi?
I called him personally because I discovered him from afar. Oritsefemi is a bundle of talent. His singing and the texture of his voice is wow! I will give that to him any day. When I called him, I only told him one thing, I said ‘Oritsefemi, you are the next star’ and I cut the call. He had not even recorded Double Wahala then. Later on, we booked appointment and he came to meet me and I started taking him around and introducing him to my clients and agencies I worked with. Some of the agencies refused to work with me because they preferred Terry G, and I saw that as a big challenge. That was the reason I spent all my money on Double Wahala. I pushed the song from coast to coast, online and everywhere I could. I projected it with all my connections and Double Wahala clicked, and before I knew it, all my clients were calling me for Oritsefemi. This happened in three months. I dropped Double Wahala in October 2013. Oritsefemi was in Moscow when I was promoting Double Wahala. When he came back to Nigeria, right from the airport he started hearing his music and he was blown away. I took Double Wahala from the grassroots to the mainstream.
You have worked with so many artistes, what is the secret to your success?
The secret is nothing but God, and my father’s training, because I come from a very big family, the Adepitan family. I must make sure the family name is not soiled by me.
Why did you pick the name Ijobanadanku for your record label?
I don’t want to mention names but most of the artistes I have worked with see me from the angle of a show promoter; they don’t know me from my background. They don’t know I am a man of many parts, an entrepreneur.
Where would we see the label in the next five years?
First of all, I don’t do physical business any longer. Let me take people back. People knew me from day one but they didn’t know I was behind Double Wahala until some controversy came up and put my face out there. I am very sorry for the people that undermined me. I am now back to that old Danku, whose name they’ve all heard.