Nigeria’s 1da Banton: The artist behind the TikTok hit ‘No Wahala’

By Eva Sauphie
Posted on Friday, 15 July 2022 16:50

Godson Epelle, alias 1da Banton © DR
Godson Epelle, alias 1da Banton © DR

Thanks to a song included in a dance challenge on the video-sharing platform, 1da Banton has been catapulted to the top of the charts. And he seems a bit overwhelmed by the machine.

“No problem,” 1da Banton sings in Pidjin on his hit “No Wahala”. A mantra perfect for this 28-year-old Nigerian artist, who doesn’t seem to want to worry too much. After a first Paris rendezvous missed due to poor planning while on his European tour, Banton gave us a second appointment the following day, this time by videoconference. “No problem”, then.

It’s the first time the singer, whose real name is Godson Epelle, has been to the French capital, and he’s “delighted to meet the French press and [his] fans”, many of whom have heard the track that started the TikTok challenge, “No Wahala Dance” (more than 2 million hits on the platform).

“Since I arrived in Paris, I’ve been hearing my song everywhere, in the taxi, in the shops, on the radio… It’s crazy,” he says. The figures for this dance challenge are staggering. In total, more than 400,000 videos showing young people from all over the world repeating the same Afrobeats choreography ending with a kick have been posted on TikTok to date. And the phenomenon continues.

@koolkidnelly

SOOO who want a Tutorial for this one? 🔥😁 DC: MEE !!⚡️

♬ No Wahala – 1da Banton

A remix with Tiwa Savage

However, the Nigerian from Port-Harcourt was initially overwhelmed by the machine. His track was being picked up everywhere on the video-sharing platform without his name being mentioned. There are still unfortunate remixes on the social network that don’t credit “No Wahala” and versions where the singer’s voice is strangely accelerated and barely recognisable.

What about copyright and the artist’s remuneration model on TikTok? 1da Banton doesn’t seem to care or be too interested. “I trust my teams,” he says, unconcerned. However, the new generation’s favourite social network owes most of its buzz to tracks signed by Afro artists, without the latter always benefiting from visibility or recognition.

We used to compose our own songs, we used to write… All this influences my music. But today, we have to classify our sound under the Afrobeats banner to take off, because this genre is a real phenomenon.

“I’m not much of a social networker, but I had to get into it and open an account to post a version with Tiwa Savage,” admits the singer, who was probably pushed into it by his entourage. “The titles are often bigger than the artists, especially those who are up and coming like me,” he says.

“I wanted people to know who was behind the track, and now they do. And there are three official remixes”. One featuring Kizz Daniel and Tiwa Savage, a French version with DJ Leska and Naza, as well as a Ghanaian version, in the Amapiano vein (Taliixo & Wiils). Enough to prolong the fever.

@djfeezy

1da banton – No wahala (remix) ft Tiwa savage #tiwasavage #nowahala #1dabanton #music #afrobeats #viral #fypシ #foryou #tiktoknigeria

♬ original sound – Dj feezy

Released in July 2021, two months before the creation of the challenge, at the time of the release of Original Machine Vibe – 1da Banton’s first album, which went almost unnoticed – the track has since climbed into the top 100 on Apple Music in 26 countries, is the second-most Shazamed single in the world and made the top 10 in Nigeria. A boost for Godson Epelle, who must now break away from the phenomenon in order to exist as an artist.

In the footsteps of Burna Boy

Still unknown internationally less than a year ago, 1da Banton is not exactly a debutant. Back in 2018, his track “Way up”, taken from his EP Banton, was featured in the credits of the show Big Brother Naija. Three years later, the artist collaborated with Ghana’s Stonebwoy on another version.

1da Banton is working on new tracks with the dancehall star. He hopes to incorporate them into the tracks on his second album, Good Vibes, which he says will be released by the end of the year.

1da Banton began his career as a drummer at a local church, before starting a soca band with friends. “We used to compose our own songs, we used to write… All this influences my music. But today, we have to classify our sound under the Afrobeats banner to take off, because this genre is a real phenomenon,” says the young man who remains very inspired by Wizkid.

“He [Wizkid] is really the prince of Afrobeats. Looking at his career, I told myself that if he can do it, then so can I. Besides, I was born where Burna Boy got his start!”

It remains to be seen whether 1da Banton will have the chops to follow in his predecessors’ footsteps and move beyond the buzz.

Understand Africa's tomorrow... today

We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.

View subscription options