In May 2012 after a year of terrible feuding between Don Jazzy and D’Banj which led to the dissolution of the Mo Hits crew and D’Banj staying at Kanye West’s Good Music while Don Jazzy left, he started Supreme Mavin Dynasty. SMD, or Mavin Records for short was Don Jazzy’s phoenix move, his play to show Nigerians he was the real juice behind the success of Mo Hits, not D’Banj outsize personality and undeniable charm. To do this, he assembled his ‘Avengers’, Dr. Sid, Wande Coal and D’Prince from Mo Hits, new blood Afrodija, Korede Bello and Reekado Banks and a surprise steal with Tiwa Savage, who by this time had not released an official album, but had firmly entrenched herself as something akin to Nigeria’s reigning pop queen.
The team Don Jazzy assembled had to make impact and fast, and the group came out the hatch with a Solar Plexus, a fully realized group project that was supposed to showcase the new roster and introduce every single artist to Don Jazzy’s old guard of fans. The album spawned a number of hits, but none as big as Dorobucci, a largely nonsensical ditty that would spawn a now dated cultural slang. Riding of the wave of interest Don Jazzy would release an album D’Prince, the group’s wild card and then Once Upon A Time, Tiwa Savage’s debut album which had an original 2011 release date but had been pushed by for three years. The album was such a departure from the signature sound and the polished lyrics she had won audiences with that she lost her core audience. But in return, thanks to Don Jazzy’s ability to write money spinning beats, Tiwa finally crossed out of the playlist of niche alternative crowds and into the sets of the country’s biggest Dj’s. Heavy rotation meant visibility and visibility meant performance revenue. Before long, Tiwa Savage was the only female artist headlining many of major concerts within and outside the country.
Tiwa Savage revealed via Instagram that her surprise pregnancy in 2014 slowed her rise to the top of the Naija pop hierarchy. She and Don Jazzy tried to mitigate this by releasing R.E.D, her sophomore album that kept her top of mind but also created an opening for Yemi Alade to ascend to the top of the pop charts. In that time, Don Jazzy would deal with the acrimonious exit of Wande Coal from the SMD, the stagnation of golden boy Korede Bello’s career after his smash success Godwin and Afrodija taking a break from her career to focus on family life. Tiwa Savage proved herself Don Jazzy’s ace, clawing her way back to the top of the charts with features with Wizkid and an aggressive comeback campaign that saw her rise back to the top of the charts in 2016 and score herself a publishing and management deal with Roc Nation.
The Tiwa Savage Sugarcane Ep, the first of her career, seemed a sonic shift for Tiwa, sure she was still making Afrobeat heavy pop music, but there was a level of refinement in the music that simply hadn’t been successfully achieved with her previous albums. A strategic partnership with Wizkid would also help Tiwa catapult into international audiences, as she toured with him and teased a torrid relationship. Insiders could tell that it was only a matter of time before Tiwa officially left Super Mavin Dynasty and reshuffled the Mavin line up.
In tearful Instagram exchanges Tiwa Savage and Don Jazzy said their goodbyes and marked the end of Nigeria’s most enduring female pop star, male producer duo. With Tiwa’s exit, Don Jazzy only has D’Prince who hasn’t released a project since 2012, Dr. Sid whose last album was in 2013, and a roster of upstarts (Reekado Banks has also left) and Rema, the label’s new sharp shooter.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out.