*Sigh* Where do I begin with this one? Personally and professionally, I like dealing with people who are direct i.e to the point. Where they can’t be, I like people who show a little bit of respect to those they talk to. A big turn off are persons who can look at a blue chair yet try to convince the rest of us it is red. It’s like really?
Last year, Publicist Vanessa Amadi got on the blog radar and in so doing caught my attention.Although little was known about her and her PR agency, at least in the Western media at the time, she had managed to gain access for her client, A-list actress Genevieve Nnaji, at a few events in the UK. Most importantly, she captured images of her client, Nnaji, hobnobbing with a few American/UK celebs. Her efforts paid off, a few Nigerian owned blogs published Nnaji at these events and I believe one UK/American tabloid picked up the story. A week or two later, she also shared images of new client Darey Art Alade “out and about” shopping. Like Nnaji,that got Darey some buzz on a couple of Nigerian owned blogs.Since then, I have not heard of Amadi until now. To me, she obviously knew the basic insider tricks of the trade and it was great to finally see someone who could use simple tactics to help give our celebrities the attention they deserved here in the West.
Okay. She’s on first base or in soccer terms for some of you soccer heads, she showed she could get on a soccer field and kick the ball, and that she understood the basic rules of the game. Now, she had to show she could play the game. This is where the problem lies.
If you are just joining me, a series of major events have happened in Nigeria’s music industry that you should know. As it stands, while South Africa is more advanced both with its legal system and the business of music, it nevertheless takes a back seat, at least in the past decade, to the significant strides and reach Nigeria and Nigerian musicians have accomplished across Africa and globally with music. Nigeria’s music industry is to Africa what South Korea’s music industry is to Asia. Leading this new generation of musicians and a relatively young industry has been a few young artists. They fall within the range of 25-35 and include P-Square, TuFace, Asa, Nneka, D’Banj and Don Jazzy. The last two are business partners of a label called Mo’Hits. The label manages at least four artists signed to it.
In 2011, something remarkable happened in Nigeria’s music industry. D’Banj and Don Jazzy were signed to America’s Kanye West G.O.O.D music. Kanye West’s label further entered into a distribution deal with Island Def Jam and things looked even better for the duo. While an entire nation (Nigeria) and continent (Africa) rejoiced over the significant strides of its artists and a chance to finally blur the lines between Africa and the West through music, unbeknown to the public, the relationship between was hemorrhaging post Kanye West deal. It is alleged from many credible sources and also news reports that the two had not spoken since on or about late 2011.
The aforementioned two hold executive roles in Mo’Hits. Don Jazzy in fact started Mo’Hits and is the President while D’Banj is the Vice President, per the duo’s representation to the public and the media. Some news media also cite Mo’Hits actual registration with the business office regulating corporations; which allegedly lists them in their executive roles.
Now, we get to the Amadi introduction i.e. the part where Amadi comes into the picture. Actually wait. Not quite yet. A chronicle of significant events leading up to the need for Amadi and why Amadi’s press release and statement in behalf of her client is simply unacceptable is necessary.
- January 2012, Nigeria experienced a historic moment in the nation’s history that resulted in strikes across the country. D’Banj, a designated Youth Ambassador for Nigeria, chose to stay silent as to the economic issue that triggered the strikes in the first place. It would have been no big deal but for D’Banj’s solicitation and lobby of Nigerian youths to vote for the current President of Nigeria; whose current administration was inflicting the distress on citizens due to a sudden hike in prices of gas/petrol implemented Janaury 2nd, 2012 with NO notice. There was no word from D’Banj on his social media sites, press interviews etc. There was also no accusations of “hacking” in any of his accounts. He simply went undercover while his music video director, at the time, tweeted he was shooting a video for D’Banj and Don Jazzy’s hit song ‘Oliver Twist.’
- February 2012, D’Banj and the Mo’Hits crew had a scheduled concert in New York for February 19th, 2012. According to many news sources and insiders, the relationship between D’Banj and Don Jazzy was now completely deteriorated, they were no longer on speaking terms. Don Jazzy was allegedly not fully informed on the planning and execution of the concert, among other allegations. It was alleged that the duo barely spoke even while on stage and Don Jazzy’s performance was at best 2mins.
- Further, prior to his performance date of February 19th, 2012 in New York, D’Banj granted an interview to Sahara Reporters TV. He appeared exasperated in having to address the issue of his absence during the nation’s strike. Post the interview with Sahara Reporters TV, it is alleged there was a physical altercation between D’Banj and his Publicist (male, at the time) over allegedly being sidelined by the interviewer’s questions. He was under the impression he was on for a basic entertainment interview but it turned into questions on his stance on socio-political and socio-economic issues affecting youths in his role as UN Ambassador for youths. At that time, there remained minimal activity from D’banj on his social media sites, at best. He only tweeted a few things about his event.
- Now we enter March 2012 and we begin seeing news coverage of his seemingly erratic statements about ownership of Mo’Hits Records. Ebony Magazine, a magazine that rarely features Africans but instead focuses primarily on African-Americans, featured D’Banj. The public reads his interview and learns that he identifies himself as the founder of Mo’Hits Record and identifies the actual founder Don Jazzy as an artist on his label. There is an attempt to clean up the statement after it sets the internet and news media blazing. However, an Okay Web TV news clipping which emerged later further confirms he meant what he was saying that he founded Mo’Hits.
- Shortly after, news media go wild. The word is out. D’Banj and Don Jazzy split. The analysis and commentary, including my own AML commentary, poured in across shores, televisions screens, print and online newspapers, magazines and blogs. Throughout, there is no word from D’Banj on the split. There is no statement of anyone hacking into his account. He remains silent as had become his pattern and practice when these controversial issues hit.
- Instead, D’Banj debuted his Oliver Twist video which excluded his always included business partner. Kanye West is the new Don Jazzy that replaces Don Jazzy in the Oliver Twist video. Life goes on until this past weekend. This past weekend, consistent with news reports and his interview statements mentioned above, D’banj changes his name from Dapo Oyebanjo to Daniel Banjo. Fans, media and the public noticed. A fan also writes him an open letter. A few days later, D’Banj emerges with Genevieve Nnaji’s Publicist Vanessa Amadi as his new Publicist.
- First I am unsure hiring Genevieve Nnaji’s Publicist is a good move since both have been rumored to date and they both keep denying it. Keep things clean. Get your own Publicist independent of Nnaji. In any event, to each his own. D’Banj smartly and finally realizes he needs a good Publicist and he hires one. What she does is the reason for this discussion. Given the facts above, how does Amadi approach this, what does she do?
VANESSA AMADI’S APPROACH WORSENS THE MATTER
Amadi sends the following incredulous and ridiculous statement in behalf of her client to the press:
“Over the past few weeks Dapo Daniel Oyebanjo aka D’Banj has experienced a series of vicious hacks on several of his social networking sites including his Facebook page and more recently, his Twitter of which his account name was wrongfully changed.
Unfortunately the hackers managed to carry out a number of hurtful, damaging activities directly aimed to deceive D’Banj’s fans with false information.
With the help of the security teams at both Twitter and Facebook, we have managed to regain full control of the said sites which are currently being operated personally by D’Banj.
Fans can continue to interact with D’Banj at his official Twitter handle @IamDbanj and his official Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/
D’Banj apologies for any inconvenience caused by the hacking and thanks his beloved fans for their continued support.
HMMM . . . LET’S SEE THE SCREEN SHOTS, SHALL WE?
From February 24th, 2012 to April 4th, 2012, there is no communication between D’Banj and the public, consistent with what he had been doing since the strikes mentioned above. On April 4th, 2012, he acknowledges and retweets BET’s April Woodard’s statement of a nomination. On April 7th, 2012 he has some sweet words to say to his fans, he jokes with industry personality Liz Yemoja, talks with April Wooodard again and life goes on till he makes a slight change to his twitter name with a new name change.
It is after the public realizes an issue exists on his twitter page that now all of a sudden, he claims it has been a “few weeks” of “vicious attacks to deceive” his fans on twitter. This brings me to the very question in my headline I began with. Can we really trust the credibility of Genevieve Nnaji’s Publicist Vanessa Amadi and ultimately the credibility of her newest client D’Banj? “Where is the false information” meant to “deceive his fans” and the public?” Where is the hacking and what did the hacker do? Ms. Amadi, it has got to make sense. Publicists are there to make things better not worsen it. How does this make sense? Connect the dots.
The statement released is, in my view, a poor attempt at a press release, at best, and has opened and subjected an already vulnerable client to a position where many across the web space now call him “liar.” I don’t like. His twitter page and activities is inconsistent with your release. Was that a consideration in your release? Nigerians are not Americans. There is a big issue here, that of an alleged dissolution of the corporation Mo’Hits. To date, no one has said anything. What is D’Banj’s intention regarding that key issue?
Did they hack into the Ebony Magazine news reports? The Okay TV report? I could go on . . . Clearly Amadi’s client realizes he needs some expertise to help with his fast diminishing credibility and respect in the eye of public and among his fan base. In my opinion, she delivered nothing short of lazy PR services. Her job is to fix the mess or at least make a meaningful attempt at fixing it. Nothing in the release sent demonstrates she understood the gravity of the task she was entrusted with or cared. This, to me, has further undermined her client’s credibility and indeed consistently across the internet since the release, the sentiments by fans and the public at large is that of disappointment over a perceived dishonesty by D’Banj.
I am not sure where she is headed and what exactly she is trying to do but AML Artists I have said this over and over again, you have to take an active role in your personal brand management. You as artists have to be competent and have a basic working knowledge of how you want your brand represented. Further, you should know enough to hire the right professionals to assist you. Lazily passing off the job will not cut it. It is great if a Publicist has been exposed or even worked with “celebrity” clients BUT THAT IS NOT ENOUGH! Ask the tough questions.
Publicists, there are legal liabilities that flow with the way you represent talent(s). Due diligence is required of you as industry professionals. Your services are so significant in making our industry and Africa look good. Take it seriously, even if you hang with celebrities on a first name basis. This Ms. Amadi, with all due respect, is unacceptable, especially given your statement of thirteen years in the PR/Entertainment business on your website.
On a lighter note and in another news, it is a small world. It is good to see D’Banj with Fashion model turned musician Zander Bleck. Bleck is now signed to Interscope Records and is someone I “scouted,” to use term loosely, into the modeling world almost eleven years ago. I am very proud of Zander, as I have told him all these years, and it is good to see the two connect.