Don Jazzy… Unmasking The Magic Fingers Of MAVIN

Don-Jazzy-(Obi-Somto-Photography)

Don Jazzy (middle) with his MAVIN Crew

WHEN the text message for the media briefing came, it wasn’t clear what MAVIN Record and Access Bank had in stock for newsmen. Notwithstanding, showbiz reporters turned up for the conference, which was held at the Intercontinental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Eventually, it turned out that the record label led by Michael Collins Enebeli, popularly known as Don Jazzy, had entered into a partnership with Access Bank for a once in a lifetime concert this Xmas tagged Access MavinConcert. Billed for Wednesday, December 23, at the Eko Boulevard, Eko Atlantic, Lagos, the gig will parade the entire Mavin Records lineup that will treat fans to several hours of live performances.

From Dr. Sid to Tiwa Savage, Korede Bello, Di’ja, Reekado Banks, D’Prince and the Don himself, it’s going to be a loaded night of live performances. Meanwhile, there are indications that some other notable artiste will join the parade, though no confirmation has been given.

For those, who have followed Jazzy’s career from the days of Mo Hits Crew, up to the time he assembled the MAVINS, they will tell you the dude is media shy; he hardly spoke to the press. But on this day, it was a different Don Jazzy, very lively and witty.

One after the other, the Delta State native took his time to field questions from showbiz reporters, who were obviously surprised to see the Don speak on tape; it was a rare opportunity. His humility was very visible.
“By myself, I’m not anybody. I’m trying to sell different product to people, so, if I’m at the forefront taking all the shines, you won’t see the product I’m trying to sell to you. If I’m a baker, you are not coming to the shop to buy the baker; you are coming to buy the bread I’m selling. So, I understand that, if I should come out, the press would like to talk to me and they would leave my product. Then, my artistes will now be feeling they never grew; I’d rather you speak to them. And most times when you speak to them, they really say things about me as well,” he explained.

After his exploits with Mo Hits, which had D’Banj as the main act, alongside other label mates such as, Dr SID, Wande Coal, D’ Prince, K-Switch, it looked like it was going to be difficult replicating the same achievement with Mavin Records. But the result so far is saying otherwise, as the talented music producer has succeeded in assembling a bunch of talented music acts holding their own in the industry.

The MAVINS, as they are fondly called, have made noticeable impact within a short period of time. And with their latest endorsement deal with Globacom as brand ambassadors, you need not ask if the venture is lucrative.
“I just have God by my side, with a beautiful team; I think I have the best team in this industry,” Don Jazzy said. “We are like a family; we are just having the time of our lives. With God by your side and you are working very hard with a beautiful team, there’s nothing you can’t do.”

When it comes to leadership, Don Jazzy does things his own way and breathing down on his talents is never an option.
“I’m obviously a leader that doesn’t just want to dish out orders; I like to let everybody do what he or she thinks is right. I listen to my people; I can listen to anybody, be it the gateman. If you tell me that this is what you want to do, we will all sit down and debate it. At the end, that’s what we will do,” he said.
Any talent manager in the country can easily tell you how difficult it is picking the right brains to work with.
However, it seems Don has the magic wand when it comes to discovering talents. For him, it’s more spiritual then physical.
“Well, I kind of know a good spirit; I know how to read a good spirit. As a producer, I don’t just make music; I make the music that suits you as an artiste. Whenever we sit down in the studio, I can tell the kind of beat you can carry as an artiste. So, if my spirit and yours gel, fine. But if it doesn’t gel, then there’s no point starting something we can’t finish,” he said.

Asked what makes a good song, he said, “it depends on the kind of song; there are some that don’t necessarily need beat. In that case, it is the lyrics or the artiste’s vocals that will make the song. There are some kind of songs that a Timi Dakolo would do and we don’t really care about who produced it or the kind of instrumentation it follows. It’s a good music, but it has to do with the vocals and the lyrics. But if you are talking about turning up in the club, then you talk about the beat.”

Though known for making some of the country’s most popular hip-hop beats, Don Jazzy is a great fan of highlife, which is usually embedded in his productions.
“I like highlife; I infuse it into almost every song that I do,” he quipped.
With the number of collaborations he has done in recent times, many are predicting that a Don Jazzy album could be in the offing, but the award-winning producer thinks otherwise.
“No, I’m not planning such. Everybody keeps seeing it, but I don’t see it at the moment. I would probably do the album, release it and I will not perform it. Everybody knows I don’t like performing; I’m shy on stage. It’s going to be difficult to do an album when I’m not going to perform it, unless I will just do it and dash out to people,” he said, as he went into a prolonged laughter.

Having worked with a couple of successful artistes, Don Jazzy is obviously in the position to advise on how to be successful in the beat business. And for him, it all starts with passion.
“If you want to go into music because of money, it won’t work; you should be able to do it even when you are still drinking garri, even when there’s nothing. Then, you must try as much as possible to be original. You will be tempted to try to be like others; you hear this person has done this beat and you want to follow that style. You have to try as much as possible to create your own style and make a name for yourself; just learn to do things differently.”

As for music producers, it’s time to change the game and embrace the winning formula. “I think when people say I’m a successful producer, it’s because I’ve actually made a lot of money out of it; I’ve built a brand that is enormous. But if you don’t have a team, it’s difficult for a producer to sustain himself in Nigeria. At the moment, we producers don’t receive money from royalty, so, people coming to your studio to make song and pay you N250,000 or N300,00, it won’t fly! I bet you, you will finish that money on house rent or in the club,” he noted.

According to Don Jazzy, any producer, who wishes to succeed in the Nigerian music industry must pick up his own talents and grow them.
“Set up your own production company in which you can make money through the only means available for now. At the moment, the money in the entertainment industry comes from concerts and endorsement deals. If you build a beautiful brand, you will make money when they get endorsements. If you make hit tracks with your artistes, you will make money from the shows; that’s the only way you can make money for a long time,” he charged.

But it seems most music producers are yet to come to terms with the reality?
“I don’t know if they are scared to set up a production company where they can earn good money. Maybe they just think with the N250,000 here and there, they can gather enough money to sustain themselves. But that’s not true; it’s going to finish, I’m telling you. They have to be able to invest in people’s career so that they will be able to break even together,” he said.

THOUGH, he currently plays secular music, Don Jazzy’s Cherubim & Seraphim background has greatly influenced his style of production. “I think it’s very much present in the music I make; tracks like Eminado, Dorobucci and Jantamata, you can hear that C&S vibes in them. Yea, it’s pretty much in my music,” he noted.

Just recently, the Cherubim & Seraphim Church honoured the beat maker with a special award at an event that saw him perform Godwin with Korede Bello. Though months now, Don Jazzy still relishes the gesture from his childhood church.
“I was very happy; I didn’t expect it. The thing is, my branch is in Ajegunle and I stay in Lekki. So, it’s difficult driving from NICCON Town, Lekki to Ajegunle; sometimes, I don’t go. But once in a while, I go to that branch in Ajegunle where I was born and named; I like that one well, well. However, my house is right next to House on The Rock, so, sometimes, if I work from Saturday till Sunday morning, I would just rush to the church, which is nearby,” he explained.

Speaking on the Access Mavin Concert, which he described as the next big thing in the country’s showbiz industry, the music producer said, “We are very excited to be able to put this together this year, after three years of steady progress as individuals and as a label. Despite many odds, we have been able to get to this point and do so many unprecedented things in the Nigerian music industry. I’m particularly pleased that Access Bank wants to share in this success story and contribute to it and I’m sure that the fans will love what we have in store for them on the night,” he said.

Asked what makes the gig special, he explained that, “This is first of its kind in Nigeria; it took us a long time to put this together and we intend to do a show like no other on that day. We’ve all worked very hard over the years to think of something that’s going to be amazing and mind-blowing; it’s not the usual going to Eko Hotel to sit down. I need people to understand that this is not a banquet or a reception dinner. I go on YouTube and I watch concerts all over the world; people come out and they know they came to come dance and listen to music.”

With all the wealth and achievements, why is Don Jazzy not married yet?
“I won’t say I’m scared of marriage, but I don’t want to go into one and then pack out the next day. Maybe next year, it will happen; I keep saying the same thing every year,” he joked.
Having already confirmed that you are open to working with your former partner D’Banj, how soon would that be?
“Na God go tell us when; when our schedule permits, we will do so. By God’s grace, very soon, it will happen. But for now, it’s about Access Mavin concert and my children. Tiwa will be dropping an album soon, so that’s what’s cooking at the moment. Next year, we can talk about other things,” he said.

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