Arts & Entertainment

The Street Is Everything And I Came From The Street – D’banj

Renowned musician and CEO of Creative Reality Entertainment Arts and Music (C.R.E.A.M) Platform, Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo, popularly known as D’banj, delves into the essence of the MTN Best of the Street, a musical talent development initiative designed to unearth raw talent from grassroots communities in Nigeria and provide a global platform for these aspiring artists to exhibit their skills, executed in collaboration with CREAM Platform. Reflecting on the project’s second edition, which witnessed an impressive influx of over a thousand entries, and saw the winner walking home with a grand prize worth 50 million naira, D’banj underscores the pivotal role of the streets in shaping talent and opportunity.

QWhat do you see in the street and why do you think this project is important?

Ans: The street is where everything is and even I came from the street. Today, the biggest export we have is crude oil. Crude oil is found in the street, that is, in the ground, it is picked and refined into different products. The same thing with talent, it is natural, God-given. You can pick it up and refine it, that is why MTN Best of the Street is so important. Today the biggest export more than crude oil is the creative industry. It is important to go out there instead of waiting, go out there and amass this talent so that we can nurture them, and make sure they don’t make the same mistakes we made so that they can maximise their opportunity, there is no better time than now.

Q: How important is the partnership with MTN for a talent discovery program like this?

Ans: First of all, MTN has been a supporter of the creative sector and MTN is the biggest telco that we have. The world is digital today, meaning that, MTN is in every household, and they don’t have to wait for anything because they have over 80 – 90 million subscribers. They are already there, that’s why it is so important because MTN and the CREAM platform can now partner together to pick these talents without them leaving their homes, paying transport to come to Lagos, looking for accommodation and all that. The fact that you have MTN and you know the CREAM platform means an opportunity can be presented to you and that is why I think partnering with MTN is very key.. In CREAM platform, we have been doing this, people have been uploading and we’ve found 1 to 2 or 3 people, with great talent but now doing it with MTN makes it bigger for us to reach everybody, and we can see today from the talents we saw that they are already made.

QWhat next after this second season? Do we expect more seasons or other initiatives to follow?

ANS: The future for me, CREAM platform which is an Acronym for Creative Reality Entertainment Arts and Music is a platform that means celebrating my 20 years in the industry. It is my legacy now, I love seeing that I have been a source of visible hope to a lot of these kids, I meet them and they tell me that oh, “you have inspired me” and for most of them, I don’t even know them. Maybe they were in primary school or secondary school when I came but the fact that they saw someone to look at and they were inspired means a great deal. I can tell you that ‘MTN Best of the Street will be so big 2 years, or 3 years from now. MTN is not only in Nigeria, it suggests that it will probably grow from just Nigeria to the rest of Africa. Today, people in Africa want in on Afrobeat, they want to feature with us, they want to try and tap into the sound that we have but how best will they have the context if not through this project? So imagine the MTN Best of the Street where you can enter from anywhere as long as you have MTN, whether you are in South Africa, Ghana it has become a national thing, and there is street everywhere, there is MTN everywhere there is CREAM everywhere and there is Talent everywhere.

D’banj, while contemplating the future trajectory of MTN Best of the Street, sees a vast landscape of opportunity and collaboration. The music star envisions the initiative going beyond borders and becoming a continental beacon for emerging talent. With MTN’s widespread reach and CREAM’s unwavering commitment, the streets are no longer limited to geographical boundaries but emerge as lively hubs of creativity and promise.

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