EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: DJ Jimmy Jatt Discusses "The Industry" with NotJustOk
DJ Jimmy Jatt is revered for his role in setting the pace for music across Nigeria, dating back from the early 90′s when he jumped on the scene in Lagos up on till this moment. Amazingly, it's been 25 wonderful years - a Silver Jubilee.
His debut album, “The Definition”, is an album featuring over 50 of Nigeria’s best artists. The first single “Stylee” featuring Tuface Idibia, Mode 9, and Elajoe was heavily successful, enjoying heavy airplay and the music video staying on the MTV Africa countdown for weeks, while earning him a Channel O Africa music video award nomination.
His recently released "The Industry", has displaced Tuface’s Ascension from the number one spot on the iTunes chart for Nigerian albums. The NotJustOk team spent some time with the “COOL” Dj Jimmy Jatt at his Lekki mansion, where we discussed the project.
Well, I don't really think the bumpy rides have been memorable. It's like when you have a new girlfriend and you have to visit her, no obstacle will prevent you from getting to your destination. That's how it has really been for me. Getting into dee jaying at the time i got into it you knew the obstacles before getting into it. The first would be that people didn't see a future in the field, people see it as a hobby as against a profession. At some point parents would warn their kids to stay away from us that we are bad influences because of our profession. These obstacles were all there, and i believe that if you have gone through them, you can go through any other minor obstacle with ease.
So, are you saying the profession is now positively accepted?
Yes. That was a major obstacle, but now we have gotten to a stage where people respect you for what you do.
DJ Jimmy Jatt - Glasses Up ft. 2face, Sound Sultan, Burna Boy, Yung GreyC[audio:http://notjustok.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/DJ-Jimmy-Jatt-ft-2face-Burna-Boy-Sound-Sultan-Glasses-Up.mp3]
There's a recurring mindset in Nigeria that music compilations (Albums, Mixtapes etc) don't get enough marketability to make an entertainer depend solely on the profit generated from it... when it comes to a DJ compilation whereas the individual might not be able to perform these songs live, how are you still motivated to make yet another quality music compilation?
Of course, this is one of the challenges. We are in an environment where recording artists depend on their live performances to survive. Not like other structured environments where the means to generate income are numerous, and as such one can be very comfortable without having to perform in an entire calendar year. What actually motivates me is the position I find myself right now, it is required that i set the pace/pave the way for others. I become the sacrificial lamb/scapegoat/guinea pig who tests these new waters and hopefully with time we'll generate income from these recordings, after all Dee Jays in other parts of the world are making money off their albums. It actually does work here in Nigeria, but it could do alot better. But, with consistency we will get there. The last album released by a DJ was released back in 2007, I expected other DJs to pickup, but they didn't. If we let such a medium take another 7years, the idea might die off.
The transition from "The Definition" album, which won several awards and was the most played Nigerian music video on MTVBase as at 2008, What expectations do you have as regards recognition for "The Industry" album?
This new album is broader especially as The Definition album was more Hip Hop inclined. We can't limit The Industry album to one genre of music, it appeals to all forms of music in Nigeria so I expect a wider acceptance and more recognition than the previous album. More so, the media platforms are broader than we once available 7 years ago, social media is more vibrant and without a doubt we are enjoying it's flexibility
The name of the album requires that each genre, sector, brands etc of the music industry are adequately represented and one Volume might not be enough, in short it is largely impossible. In a situation where people ask questions like why Wizkid isn't on the Volume 1, i can always say his label has representation on the album, there's LAX and 2 STARBOY producers on the same album. Volume 2 will be as rich as Volume 1, so everything can't be on Volume 1. Although, lots of songs didn't make it because of a clash in schedules, these songs would make the next volume. I was also very involved in making most of these songs to key into what I would love to be identified with, so it's not like they were 'dashing' me songs.
In a perfect world, who would have made the album that didn't?
A whole lot of people, I recorded Patoranking, Cynthia Morgan and their tracks were heavy but for some reason they didn't make the album. Let's see... Tiwa Savage, Timaya, Davido, Wizkid... they recorded too but the songs are not ready yet. If we afforded time for all the songs to be ready, the album might never get ready on time. And if they're all ready, it would be hard to choose the songs that would be left out of the album without hurting some feelings or bruising some egos. The album has 26 tracks on it, that's 5 bonus tracks on iTunes which is a lot, there's no perfect world that would allow that. Well, i can tell you that Volume 2 is 60% ready, so have no fear.
In other countries, we can have a situation where Calvin Harris and David Guetta (Both DJs) collaborate on a song or a compilation, do you see that working here?
Honestly, that idea came up on how to get other Nigerian DJs involved in this project but that could not be figured out. Except i work with some DJs who are rappers, singers or producers. In Nigeria, the most reputable DJs are actual Disc Jockeys and it would be weird to have all of us on a track screaming our names.
Dj Jimmy Jatt - E To Beh ft. Banky W & Phyno[audio:http://notjustok.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Dj-Jimmy-Jatt-E-To-Beh-ft.-Banky-W-Phyno-_-notjustOk.com_.mp3]
There's a Nigerian cultural factor disregarding female DJs, do you think we have talented female DJs or when we do eventually find them, do they get the necessary respect the other male DJs get?
Maybe some years ago, but right now in 2014 I know a lot of talented female DJs making it out here. The profession is dominated by the guys, not just in Nigeria but the female DJs are on a rise over here, around my neighborhood alone I can point out DJ Nana, Cuppy, Lamborghini, Sugar and a host of others. The unfortunate parts of our profession affects all of us not just the female DJs, the income doesn't always equate our efforts and you know a lady's needs are high, so it might be more hectic for them and they might move on to other businesses. Also, family acceptance is hard. How many Nigerian family would wholeheartedly support their daughter's Disc Jockeying dream? Especially, as it involves playing at night clubs at least 5 times in a week? It would take a very liberal family or a family who's involved in the entertainment business to understand that it isn't as bad as it is being painted. I have personally trained some female DJs so I know the challenges. Some enter into a relationship and the man is not tolerating the regular night outs or a female DJ gets to the peak of her career and all of a sudden she's pregnant and needs a 9 months compulsory leave. All these are factors other profession might face and scale through, but it is hard for female DJs, I respect them. I also believe that this generation will make a change because of the number of quality female DJs on the rise.
Well, as a professional DJ a lot of times we get to work on some of the songs, especially when the song is good but sounds funny on big speakers. For me, I take these songs to my studio and do the balancing myself. But, when i see the Artiste i make sure i let them know that they have to remaster or work on the mix. Then again, alot of young upcoming artists don't have the means or resources to get a better mix. What you hear is the best their money could afford, and i wouldn't discard the music just like that. After all, we can find well mixed whack songs too. A lot of time, the people decide what we play, even if we know the song isn't what we'd have loved to play, and as a DJ you have to satisfy the people's needs.
There was a time when music promotion in the country relied heavily on DJs, but nowadays there are other methods to promote music, how does this affect the DJ profession?
The only constant thing in life is change and when things change, you either adjust or you're left behind. You have to learn how to make the best use of the new platforms available to remain relevant. However, a song doesn't always become a hit until DJs nationwide put it on heavy rotation, no one can take that away from DJs, so that keeps us relevant to an extent. The muisc can get to the people without the DJs, but it's the DJs that tell the people what song is worth grooving to.
DJ Jimmy Jatt ft BOJ & L.A.X - Body[audio:http://notjustok.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Body-ft-BOJ-L.A.X-__-notjustOK.com_.mp3]
What can we expect from The Industry Volume 2?
Isn't that too quick? 🙂 Let us sell this market first na. There are 26 songs on this album with 66 Artists, it will take a while before we release the next volume. The initial idea was to release a bi-annual piece but with the quality this masterpiece, we can't rush anything. We still have to do promotions, shoot videos and a host of other things. I mean, even if we drop a video every month we're still gonna have just 12 songs with a video from the album. Let me brag a bit, if you have listened to this album you'll agree with me that there's no collaborative album bigger than 'The Industry (Vol 1)'. 66 Nigerian talents cannot go wrong. In fairness to the album, one year is not enough before we start talking about the next one.
So what other platforms can we get the album apart from iTunes?
There's the MTN Music Plus Mobile App, iTunes is standard worldwide but by next week the CDs will be out on the streets. If you buy online you get 5 bonus tracks though.
Thanks for you time!