D’Banj’s Name Change: Red Flag or G.O.O.D. Business Move? Reverses Immigrant Trend of Keeping Surname, Changes Name from Dapo Oyebanjo to Daniel Banjo

Mo’Hits & Kanye West Artist D’Banj recently changed his name on twitter from Dapo Oyebanjo to Daniel Banjo. D’banj’s legal name is, according to wikipedia bio about him, Dapo Daniel Oyebanjo. Accordingly, using the name Daniel is not doing anything different, per se. However, shortening his last name to “Banjo” has raised some eyebrows.

The age long practice of changing one’s name as an immigrant to fit into American culture or to advance in American business culture has, according to a news story in the New York Times in 2010, become almost obsolete. So, it is a bit intriguing that Nigeria’s mega star who signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music Label bucks this trend and goes in reverse direction, albeit not on his official birth certificate, at least that we know of.

In response to D’Banj changing his name, a writer at 1976 A.D. wrote the letter below to him. Read it and also read the New York Times Article and let me know your thoughts. Is this a red flag for deeper issues that could blow up in America’s public forum if not addressed soon; or is just a plain old business move and nothing more to it? Numerous articles have been written by Western media on D’Banj and they have no issue spelling out his official legal name. Why the change?The stage name is very easy to say, why the change? 

“New Life in U.S. No Longer Means New Name
Published: August 25, 2010

For many 19th- and 20th-century immigrants or their children, it was a rite of passage: Arriving in America, they adopted a new identity.

Charles Steinweg, the German-born piano maker, changed his name to Steinway (in part because English instruments were deemed to be superior). Tom Lee, a Tong leader who would become the unofficial mayor of Chinatown in Manhattan, was originally Wong Ah Ling. Anne Bancroft, who was born in the Bronx, was Anna Maria Louisa Italiano.

The rationale was straightforward: adopting names that sounded more American might help immigrants speed assimilation, avoid detection, deter discrimination or just be better for the businesses they hoped to start in their new homeland.

Today, most experts agree, that traditional immigrant gambit has all but disappeared.

“For the most part, nobody changes to American names any more at all,” said Cheryl R. David, former chairwoman of the New York chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Precise comparative statistics are hard to come by, and experts say there was most likely no one precise moment when the practice fell off. It began to decline within the last few decades, they say, and the evidence of its rarity, if not formally quantified, can be found in almost any American courthouse.

The New York Times examined the more than 500 applications for name changes in June at the Civil Court in New York, which has a greater foreign-born population than any other city in the United States. Only a half dozen or so of those applications appeared to be obviously intended to Anglicize or abbreviate the surnames that immigrants or their families arrived with from Latin America or Asia. (A few Russians and Eastern Europeans did, but about as many embraced their family’s original surnames as adopted new ones.) . .  .

New York Times has the full story.


“Dear D’Banj,

I love your work, I really do, I think you’re one of the greatest musicians of your generation, but I must say, your new affiliation with G.O.O.D music seems to be getting to your head.

For years you’ve been known by your official name, Dapo Oyebanjo, even using it as part of your twitter handle. Well all good things come to an end, and your  affiliation with your new label seems to have brought that particular chapter of your life to an untimely conclusion.

D’Banj you’ve now gone from ‘Dapo Oyebanjo’ to ‘Daniel Banjo’.  All I can do is laugh, I mean, Daniel ‘Banjo‘ ? What are you, a country music star from Nashville?

I mean, I get it, Daniel provides the ‘D’ and Banjo provides the ‘Banj’, but negro please, you’re hustlin’ backwards. Why abandon the successful person you are to become a less successful version of what you’re not? You’re a Nigerian, not an American, and no matter how hard you try, you’ll never be one, so be yourself and have faith.

Plus, truth be told, based on a fan base, you’re the BIGGEST artist in the entire G.O.O.D music family other than ‘Ye himself. You don’t need to become an Americanized version of yourself to fit in. Not to knock their hustle, but I promise you, John Legend, Pusha T, Big Sean, Kid Cudi, Common and your other label mates wish they had as many rabid long-time fans as you do, they don’t. You’ve accomplished something most of them will never get to do, they should be insecure around you, not vice versa. .  .” 1976 A.D. has the full story.


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Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at

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1 Comment

  1. This chap seems to be losing it by the day..I am running out of words to describe his antics. All I can say is he needs advisers ASAP, and not just YES men/women. I don tire…

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