By Prince Etim
When Reekado Banks got signed to Mavin Records in 2013 along with Korede Bello and Di’Ja, it was a dream come true for him- among the thousands of upcoming singers that entered for the label’s talent search, he was the only one who got the attention of the mercurial Don Jazzy. His life changed almost overnight. From his mother’s house, he joined the hottest musical family on the Nigerian scene at the time. Even if he didn’t have the Bieber-esque appeal of Korede Bello, it was clear that he was the most vocally gifted individual of the Mavin 2.0 group.
Five years later, he has lived dreams that even he didn’t know he had. As he sang in Oluwa Ni, “Don Jazzy sign small boy, small boy buy him mama house…” The Mavin platform afforded him the opportunity to do all that he wanted to, and then some. Being under the tutelage of Don Jazzy helped him mature as a man and a performer. He even took Olamide‘s hit when the YBNL boss took offence that Reeky won the Headies Next Rated Award instead of his Lil Kesh. Who can forget the immortal line “Egbon Olamide, if na the car you want, come and collect it?”
Like they say, all good things eventually come to an end. On Friday, Reekado Banks announced on his Instagram page that he was leaving Mavin Records.
“Today I write in tears, not from a place of pain, but of joy and gratitude. A place of bliss and satisfaction because I am more than contented with how far this opportunity has brought me. The last five years have been the most blissful years of my career. The journey has been extremely wonderful and filled with the best experiences. I’ve learnt that family is not just about blood ties but about the love, sacrifices and friendship that exist amongst its members. The relationships I have fostered has proved to me that love is thicker than blood. Joining the Mavin Records family was the best thing to have happened to me in the last decade. Don Jazzy took me in and treated me like his own son. I’ll be eternally grateful to him for sacrifices he made towards the growth of my career,” he wrote.
It is a bold step indeed, leaving Mavin and moving on to his own imprint, TOT Empire which he had started while his contract with Mavin winded down. Since the record label started from the ashes of the Mohits ensemble which Don Jazzy and D’Banj burned down in 2012, only one person has actually left the label- Wande Coal. It begs the question, what would happen to Reeky now that he has exited the relatively stable company to do his own thing?
Unlike Reekado, Wande left in very acrimonious circumstances, having been reportedly frustrated at being overlooked and held back from releasing his album. He and Don Jazzy pulled no punches when they traded barbs on Twitter, with the former claiming to have been serving Don Jazzy for ten years.
At the time, Reekado’s signature was still wet at Mavin and he must have learnt from the meltdown. Although the terms of his engagement have never been explicitly made available, the industry standard is usually two album releases in five years or thereabouts. His only album Spotlight was released in 2016, three years after he joined. But that is not to say he hasn’t enjoyed the ride. Between then and now, he has won four Headies Awards, released chart-topping singles such as Katapot, Oluwa Ni, Sugar Baby and featured in the monster hit his label dropped in 2014, Dorobucci.
It has taken Wande Coal quite a long while to recover from his own difficult Mavin years. His route has been tedious, having signed a dodgy management with Dbanj’s former manager Bankuli (who unceremoniously terminated his contract after a year) before long periods of radio silence.
On his part, Reekado Banks seems to have planned it out better. 2017-2018 hasn’t necessarily been a great time for Mavin. As most businesses do, it appears to be going through a phase of recalibration and re-evolution. Don Jazzy recruited Mavin 3.0, a third group of artistes who except for DNA Twins, do not totally fit the typical Mavin mould: rapper Poe and alternative singer Johnny Drille. In that time, Reekado has quietly set his own label, along with his brother who has managed him all this while and waited till the time was right. It also seems as though he had Don Jazzy’s blessings to carry on- in March, he posted a video of Marv, an upcoming singer Reekado was pushing and implored people to support. “Guys we need all your love and support… He’s signed to Reekado Banks and Temi’s record label”.
As Reekado makes this bold move, he has a slight advantage over Wande Coal: he leaves with no bad blood and more importantly, he has set things in motion for himself by assembling a group of talent that he can work with, without Don Jazzy’s input- similar to how Wizkid started Starboy while he was still signed to EME.
At 25, Reekado Banks is still young and has a long career ahead of him. It is safe to guess that in the last five years, he has garnered a vault of experience to avoid pitfalls that the only other person who has quit Mavin fell into. If that is the case, then he has nothing to worry about.
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