The Shuffle: Revisit D’banj’s “Oliver Twist”, a viral campaign that put Afropop on British Soil

That time D'Banj took over the European Summer

The days will be counting until D’banj and Don Jazzy hit the studio again (if ever), but their recorded wins as a team remains testament to their unique chemistry as one half producer and other half entertainer. Particularly with the success of “Oliver Twist”, one of last singles D’banj and Don Jazzy recorded as MoHits.

Oddly enough, “Oliver Twist” marked the beginning of great things for D’banj and Don Jazzy. After the release of “Endowed (Remix) featuring Snoop Dogg the previous year, D’banj returned with the EDM-tinged “Oliver Twist”, in 2011. This was the same year photos of D’banj, Don Jazzy and The Throne (Kanye West and Jay Z) circulated the internet, with speculators hinting the affiliation as the biggest landmark leap for Afropop at the time.

However, despite the new co-sign, the single didn’t immediately take-off. This was partly due to a leaked version of “Oliver Twist” that surfaced online earlier in the year. But the low initial reception didn’t deter Don Jazzy or D’banj from attempting to snag a hit anyway. This set in motion a neat marketing strategy that accompanied the official release in August of 2011, via a social media dance video competition, following an entry by Don Jazzy, D’banj themselves. Soon fans from all over the world started uploading videos of their own doing the “Oliver Twist” challenge/dance. And by March of 2012 when an official video featuring cameos from Kanye West and Big Sean hit the screens, D’banj had become the first Nigerian artist to leverage social media for promotions.

Fast forward to May of 2012 and “Oliver Twist” is already one of the biggest songs on the planet (other contenders being, Stromae’s “Alors On Danse” and Psy’s “Gangnam Style”). “Oliver Twist” debuted at number nine on UK singles chart and number two on the UK R&B Chart. Though this early years of D’banj’s international campaign also marked the internal collapse of MoHits, the single would go on to spend 17 weeks on the UK’s Top 75 charts.

These days, “Oliver Twist” is relegated to the place of forgotten number #1s. But there is no denying the success of the single gave modern Afropop its biggest main-stage since 2face’s “African Queen” happened nearly half a decade earlier.

Stream “Oliver Twist” via Apple Music below

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