+talks about the highs and lows of his career
Foremost Nigerian disc jockey (DJ), Jimmy Adewale Amu, famously called DJ Jimmy Jatt is not retiring from djing, the job that has given him money, respect and international recognition, 25 years after he started professionally. He disclosed this in an interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, held on Thursday, May 8, 2014, at Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, where he rolled out plans for his forthcoming 25th anniversary.
To be honest with you, I have been a DJ for more than 25 years. The 25th anniversary we are celebrating is just a celebration of my 25 years of being in the entertainment industry. The years before 1989, when I officially started counting that I decided to be a DJ, are the years that I would count as my learning period.
Just like a lawyer, you can’t count your practicing years from when you got admission. You’ll start counting from when you start practicing.
For me, it was in 1989, when I made up my mind that I won’t do anything else apart from being a DJ. Some people would remember me from those days at Obalende, Lagos. So, it’s 25 years of being a professional DJ, and really I was reluctant to celebrate it. People around me know that I shy away from celebrations. I try not to be a loud person, but the only reason I was convinced to do this is because it’s 25 years relevance of consistency. There’s not been an off day for me in the last 25 years. There’s not been a time in that 25 years that djing was discussed in this country and I was not a subject matter. I hear people celebrate 10 years, 15 years but within that period there were times they were off season, but I have been ever present. I have been constant and I felt for once I should really celebrate it (smiles).
How easy was it for you to decide to be a DJ in 1989?
I’m so exited about this because this is something I got into at a time people felt it wasn’t a profession. It’s something people warned their kids to stay away from, but I took up the challenge to change the mindset of people as much as possible. And right now, DJs are celebrated. And the young generation today can see that there is life as a DJ. If I have done it for 25 years, what more? And mind you, this doesn’t mean I’m retiring. It means I am taking djing to a new level.
What’s the plan for the 25th celebration?
We are kicking off at the end of the month (May) with a tour of six cities across the nation, to touch base with fans across the nation. And thereafter, we’ll move to Europe. All that would run from the end of this month till the end of July. August 3 would be the main event, it’s going to be a strictly by invitation black tie event. There would be the annual Jimmy’s Jump Off but this year’s event would be tied into the 25th anniversary celebrations. So, we might switch the event a bit. It might not take the same direction people are used to. From October till the end of the year, we’ll be getting into some CRS activities to give back, organize a lot of mentorship programmes for young DJs to encourage them and try to bring them up. There’s also a TV reality show coming up, and by the grace of God, I am surrounded by the most effective group of people and we are working tirelessly to make the best of this.
What has kept you going and motivated for the past 25 years?
For me, what motivates me changes. At the beginning, the motivational force was the negativity of people towards what I do. Some people in my neighbourhood warned their kids to stay away from me because I was a
DJ. So, at that time, the motivation was to prove to such people that they were wrong. Then it moved to a level where you get married and you feel you owe it to your family to be responsible. And it gets to a point where you’ve attracted young people into the same profession and they all look up to you. So, you also have to lead them in the right direction. That’s motivation. It gets to a point where people celebrate you, and you just feel like you owe it to this people to make them proud. At this time, my fan base cuts across all generations. I am one of those few people in the entertainment industry that three generations can discuss, I am a brand that cuts across everybody. So, I always have all these at the back of my mind, and it keeps me going.
Have you ever thought of quitting?
Of course. Like every other business in this country, after six months, there are times when frustration would set in. Even if you are into oil and gas. But for me, right from the outset, there has always been that discouraging factor. So, I’ve had to deal with it from the very start and even when I feel like I’m going to give up, I always remember those early times and I always forge ahead. Because if I give up, those people who didn’t give me a chance in the beginning would smile. So, that kept me going even in my lowest moments.
Let’s talk about your forthcoming album, The Industry?
The album would be launched at the black tie event. The album is entitled, The Industry and that pretty much speaks for what to expect from the album. We are still recording, but as at the last count, I’ve recorded with well over 80 artistes and 20 producers in the country. So, it’s easier to count the people that are yet to get on the album than count the people on the album. So the album is basically a reflection of the state of the industry. This album is quite different from my first album, The definition. This new one is more of a reflection of the industry. The album would have a minimum of 20 tracks. We have put out seven singles already, we might put out a couple of videos before then.
The album pretty much covers the industry, and when I say the industry, we can’t put every artiste in the industry on the album, but there is adequate representation from all sectors. You would find emerging artistes on the album, you would find talented artistes on the album, you would find A-list artistes on the album, you would find rappers, singers and even old school and reggae artistes on the album. So it’s a reflection of what I’ve seen in the last 25 years. I think I’m excited about the album because it’s a brilliant work without a doubt.
25 years down the line, would you say you are fulfilled?
I think once you get to that point where you are fulfilled, the next thing is to buy your coffin. I’m not, I’m still hoping to make some impact and take things to the next level.
Going forward, what’s next for you?
I take things one step at a time, it’s a good feeling to be alive in the first place. So I’ve learnt to take things one step at a time, and moreso there are certain things you can’t predict anymore, especially with technology. For instance, 25 years ago, if someone had asked me to perform in Malaysia, I would say it’s not possible with all the speakers and plates and music collection I would have to carry. But these days, your whole music collection could just be on your phone, and if you think this is the height of technology then you could just wake up tomorrow and your wristwatch could work wonders. So I’m quick to embrace change and what the next day would bring.
How have you been able to stay on top for 25 years and still maintain a decent home?
For me, family is everything. My family loves me so much and they even support my career more that I can explain. My wife loves me and she loves what I do. She fell in love with me as a DJ. So, she knows.
How did you meet your wife?
I met her at a party, or where else would someone like me meet a woman (laughs). Forget that Yoruba saying about meeting a woman in a party. It’s a big lie, I am a living testimony (laughs). I know people that met at religious houses and their marriages didn’t last two years.
What attracted you to her?
Initially, it was her physical beauty, because my wife is very pretty. Then we became friends and I found out that she’s even more beautiful inside. We’ve been together for 24 years, and I have two beautiful daughters.
– RASHEED ABUBAKAR