Oluwadamilare Okulaja, popularly known as Durella (King of the Zanga) is a Nigerian recording artist, performer, songwriter and businessman. With his notable hit singles like “Enu Ose” “Shayo” “Wizkolo Wiska” “Club Rock” and “GaGa” featuring Wizkid, Durella is no doubt a part of the Nigerian music industry. He’s also featured with prominent stars like Dbanj, Femi Kuti, Duncan Mighty, Terry G, Olamide, and Dammy Krane, and has performed live with Wyclef Jean in South Africa. In 2008 Durella was awarded “MTV Base Advance Warning Artist” of the year. He also is the first Nigerian artiste to own a shoe line: Durellasneakers, named after his popular slogan “2Gbaski”. Durella issued his first debut album King Of The Zanga under TC- Record Label, and the second album, Reconfigurated.
Durella, real name Oluwadamilare, (meaning: The Lord has rewarded me) was born in Zaria, Kaduna State to Mr and Mrs Okulaja, he grew up in Mushin and Ajegunle, finished high school at Eyuba Boys Secondary School Mushin, proceeded to the Lagos State Polytechnic to study insurance before he dropped out of school due to financial challenges his parents faced. In 2013 during an interview held by Compass Online NewsPaper; King of the Zanga crooner said he still plans to go back to school; in his words “I still have plans to go back to complete my course but for now, I am focusing on my music’.[this quote needs a citation]
Casting his mind back to the days in the jungle, he said: “You know when one hears the area Mushin, it elicits fear and notoriety. It was hell growing up there. It wasn’t easy to invite a lady to the house. Once she heard that you lived in Mushin, she would be scared and you would probably forget the relationship. Growing up there as a man, it wasn’t easy but I appreciated it at a point in time. If it wasn’t for that experience, things might not be the way they are today. Living in Mushin helped to shape the kind of man that I am today.”[this quote needs a citation]
When asked how the name Durella came about he said the street gave it to him, the nickname at some point was known as Durel but the street had to change it to Durella. Whilst he was known as Durel, he used to be an R’n’B artiste and he had a single titled “Why” even though he tried to promote it, he got negative feed backs from fans that he wasn’t meant for R’n’B and that it wasn’t his calling.
In February 2006, at a chance meeting in the town of Ibadan, Durella met executives from TcRecords while performing at a fashion show and a deal was signed a week later. Durella wrote his first song at the age of 13 and his first album “The King of The Zanga” hailed as the best debut album that was notable in Nigeria with hits like “In the Zanga”, SHAYO, Gunner’s Anthem, Queen of My Zanga and Wiskolo Wiska all this were released in February 2008.
Still on the interview by CompassOnline news, he was quick to add that his other appellation is reflective of his roots. “The kind of music I play now is the music for the streets and I have termed it commercial universal street music, (if there is anything like that).”[this quote needs a citation]
Before he metamorphosed into Durella, Oluwadamilare tried his hands out on a number of things: from singing to rapping and he strove to become a jack of all trades, master of all. “I believe that a lot of changes have come now that I am Durella because a lot of people that I started with on the streets have moved on with life but I decided to stick to music.”[this quote needs a citation]
Commenting on his musical career, Durella said, “My mother has really been supportive of my career and i remember the early days when she would give me money to go for recording sessions because she knew that I had the talent.”[this quote needs a citation] When asked about his father, he first maintained silence, then said: “My father was never around so I wouldn’t want to talk about him.”[this quote needs a citation]
In continuation with his interview; He describes himself as a privileged human who is gradually climbing the ladder of success. “Nobody knew that I would be this successful because I grew up in the midst of untold hardship. I grew up with a lot of frustration and enemies were everywhere. Like my mother used to say, after darkness, light comes so I think am just one lucky Artiste.”[this quote needs a citation]
Voice resemblance conflict
Critics have argued over time that Durella sounds very much like fellow artiste Dapo Oyebanji popularly known as D’banj. But he disagrees, saying: “The most important element that makes you a musician is the lyrical content on your music. You must also be very versatile and be sure to get returns on investment. These three things make you stand out. If you don’t have them, you can’t even sell ten copies. All I know is that I am me, so there is no basis for comparison with D’banj.”[this quote needs a citation]
An attestation to his musical prowess was his emergence as winner at the Airtel (formerly Zain)/MTV Advance Warning Competition where he won 50,000 dollars with the song, “Life in Zanga”. He said: “Obviously, that exposed me to a whole new world of opportunities. Out of twenty-six artistes that participated, we were shortlisted to thirteen stellar cast of talented musicians including Kel, MI, Soty etc before I emerged the winner. With that, I believe that I’m not just a fluke, I have the talent and I’m harnessing it.”[this quote needs a citation]
With this level of confidence, Durella recorded the song “Enu o se” which literally means that it is better to go all out to get whatever you want than paying lip service. This gave him some level of confidence that he can achieve whatever he sets his mind to.
Since his last major hit, Durella hasn’t been on the limelight for several months due to bad management from his former record label Iconic Music. Durella was signed to Iconic Music who made hits after hits but soon became irrelevant to the music industry based on lavish spending, they both lost contracts. But he says that he is cooking up something new in the studio. “I am on a new record label now – and I must confess that the label has really impacted so much in my life as an artiste. Everything has changed for me, I do not live in the zanga anymore,I live in Lekki. I have an album still at work. My fans will see me in another form. In other words, a different pattern of singing songs.”[this quote needs a citation]
- Enu Ose
- Club Rock
- Life In The Zanga
- My LIfe
- Mari (2015)
- Kack It Up (2015)
Collaborations: Durella has collaborated with various stars like:
- D’banj Ibadi E Featuring Olamide, Durella and Kay Switch
- Nkiruka featuring Duncan Mighty
- Buddy Hanging featuring Olamide
- My Life featuring Terry G
- Gaga Featuring Wizkid (2011)
- Jahbless – Joor Oh Remix Featuring Ice Prince, Reminisce, Durella, Ruggedman & Eldee (2011)
- Don’t Go Funny Featuring Timaya (2011)
- 2 Casket – Quest Featuring Durella (2013)
- HCode – Monster (Remix) Featuring Olamide, Durella, Dammy Krane & Shobzy.
- South Africa – Live performance with Wyclef Jean https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rtr-eB9N3WM
- MTV Advance Warning Winner Durella releases ‘Life In The Zanga’ – http://www.bellanaija.com/2009/07/10/new-video-mtv-advance-warning-winner-durella-releases-life-in-the-zanga/
- Durella set to move to D’banj’s DB Records – http://lindaikeji.blogspot.com/2013/06/durella-set-to-move-to-dbanjs-db-records.html
- D’Banj Cons Durella: Stole His Song And Remixed It With Snoop Dog & Big Sean – http://pulse.ng/featured/d-banj-cons-durella-stole-his-song-and-remixed-it-with-snoop-dog-big-sean-id2513630.html
- Durella – Blame It On The Money – http://tooxclusive.com/downloadmp3/durella-blame-it-on-the-money/
- Durella ft Olamide – Buddy Hanging (Prod by ID Cabasa) – http://notjustok.com/2013/05/11/durella-ft-olamide-buddy-hanging-prod-by-id-cabasa/
- DURELLA STORMS THE BIG FRIDAY SHOW ON MTVBASE WITH BASKET MOUTH – http://hotsecretz.blogspot.com/2012/07/durella-storms-big-friday-show-on.html
- New Video by Durella – Sex Tonight – http://www.360nobs.com/2014/04/video-durella-sex-tonight/
- Durella Featured on Reverbnation – http://www.reverbnation.com/durella
- Durella’s latest single in 2015 – http://naijabasemp3.com/2015/04/music-premiere-durella-kack-it-up-prodz-by-don-adah/