YOU CAN BANK ON A DJ
YOU CAN BANK ON A DJ – Naija Deejays Like Xclusive, Spinall and Co Are Building An Industry You Can Bet Your Money On.
The art of Deejaying may have had one of the most undignified beginnings but what it has grown to become today is something that is beyond even the craziest fantasies of its greatest icons and what’s more, the art has turned into one of most respected and lucrative professions in the entertainment sector. There is no gain saying that Deejaying as a profession has become a shining beacon against the lacklustre beginning 25 years ago. Perhaps we should try and conjure a picture of a typical Dj, a scraggly looking youth wearing a face cap reversed, baggy jeans and loose top, confined in the most obscure corners in a gig, oblivious to anyone else, busy with his turntable and not exactly aware of his impact on the audience.
It’s the most they could expect from their art back in the day and truthfully they do not ask for more than the appreciation and adoration of the fans. At the end of the show, they pack their equipment and head home, expecting the next gig where they get their kicks and life goes on. The most they ask for or aspire to be is the chance to constantly showcase their art and be content with the respect that comes after. Remuneration was little or non-existent but fulfilment was bountiful and the art continued to witness a steady growth which experienced a turn in the 90s. The rather pathetic picture in the foregoing best described the fortunes of a deejay back in the day. It was a seemingly unending struggle to confer respect to the art. Unwittingly the struggle endured without the players having any inkling about the multi-billion industry in the making.
Without any fear of contradiction whatsoever, no one best epitomizes, embodies and personifies this struggle than Dj. Jimmy Jatt. The Jatt factor in the explosion of the art in Nigeria and indeed Africa cannot be over-emphasized. This is so for the simple reason that a whopping 25 years after he laid the largely unsure foundation in the early nineties, he is still number one all over Africa, he is highly sought after and the best paid in the business. By the time he started to congregate a large youth demographic who had been affected by the rampaging hip-hop music and culture alongside a few of his contemporaries in early 90s, it all seemed like a joke against the backdrop of a respectable and viable profession. All it represented for them then was a past time that afforded them a vent for self expression and for them that was more than enough to ask for.
The notable names then in the game were Howie T, Greg Fiberesima (GMG), Dj T, Dj Bola of the Freshwave fame, Master Lee aka GML and a paltry few others who were bold enough to tow that line in the face of other more encouraging and lucrative areas of entertainment. But before long, some of these youngsters started becoming agitated and buckled under the pressure heaped on them by an unfriendly society; about the poor remuneration in the business as they started to ask for more. Ultimately passion began to wane and the urge for a better life and the need to seek greener pastures in order to meet growing responsibilities from all kinds of fronts took precedence, thereby compelling most of them to seek better paying jobs and consequently reducing their attention to the art to just a pastime; something to indulge in at leisure. But someone among them kept the faith and found more dynamic ways to stay true and keep the game alive. Sometimes it can be really sobering to think what the industry would have been today without the Jimmy Jatt factor.
For as long as most industry heads would care to remember, Jimmy’s profile continued to rise over the years, continued to feature one interesting element and that is the struggle to confer respect to the art of deejaying in the league of other conventional professions like law, engineering, teaching, banking and the rest. For years Jimmy went around as a lone model, an embodiment of the art, recounting his fight as a one man army in the quest to find a place for a DJ in the comity of professionals. According to him it was a harrowing and life testing experience. He is like a general in the army who has risked his very life in securing the sovereignty of his country and it’s a wonder he is not a relic already but someone who still controls the trend and wielding immense power and presence in the industry. Suddenly the ‘’game don changed’’ and the only thing that has changed is the influx of aspiring DJs 25 years after Jimmy started the first block party in his Obalende neighbourhood.
25 has recorded an astronomical influx of Deejays who probably know little or nothing of the beginning of the struggle or even care. But the industry has suddenly emerged to become arguably the most thriving perhaps more so than music itself. Today almost every artiste especially the hip-hop acts can boast of a personal DJ and that comes at a price as a major part of the artiste’s band and of course sometimes a status symbol. This new wave of DJs can be described as the highflying and trendy lot which includes some returnees from mostly the US and the UK, and there is one unifying factor among them and that is class. The profession has since been elevated to a new pedestal where the power of branding has come to play, something that was hitherto alien. A DJ has always cut the image of the rugged man on the turntable that keeps the party jumping and can get into a fight at the drop of a hat. These days however the tide has turned and they are the trendiest and perhaps more trendy than the average artiste and even more respectable and classy. They now command incomes in more figures than the singers and without them an event is not complete. Many might not have noticed but the DJ in recent times have been shining like diamonds and stealing the show everywhere. And like Jimmy Jatt, they seem to possess, unlike the average pop artistes, the good fortune of longevity and relevance which has kept most of them fresh after many years in the game. This is why Jimmy is still number one after 25 years and remains so until he decides to quit and that from all indications is not likely to be any time soon. Even though he sometimes turn down inquiries or pass on to the younger ones, he still endeavours to honour some important bookings and this is like a cycle that is unending and keeps him tightly booked year in year out. They are like the barracks which remains after the soldier vacates it for another to occupy.
Enter the new wave turntable merchants! They are the highflying, suit wearing and briefcase-carrying, good looking guys and babes who cover the lush and glossy magazines and dominate the tabloids with their conquests in the industry which has no place for ‘’dullers’’. It’s about perception and packaging and how much noise one can make these days. The average Deejay has risen from the not too inspiring background to the glistening foreground; seizing the spotlight in an unprecedented fashion never before imagined. There is presently a mad rush for the practitioners to take centre stage as the strongest brand in the industry. These days branding is the name of the game and no one is sparing anything in a bid to outdo the other. Slowly but steadily they continue to paint an overwhelming picture that is no doubt swallowing up the pop artistes. It has always been the pop artiste before the Deejays; a DJ is like an appendage of the pop artiste but the story today is not quite the same anymore. Somehow the art has enjoyed generous attention in recent years which has attracted a legion of trendy, educated youths from all walks of life jumping into the game and making decent living and still keep the respect of a once upon a time scornful society.
The 21st century Deejay is that one who is churning out singles/albums almost frequently than the pop artistes and giving them a run for their money in terms of quality and commercial edge. Most of them are super producers who wield tremendous influence on the average pop artistes and still keep their lead role as a DJ. This trend was pioneered by none other than DJ Jimmy Jatt and it has become the norm for any DJ worth his/her salt. In recent times also the corporate world has started to look the Deejays’ way as a potent vehicle to better position their brands. By this token mouth watering deals have been coming their way in terms of huge budget endorsements as their counterparts in other sectors. In essence this is a proof that the Deejays have started to get the due recognition and respect they deserve after 25 years of struggle and uncommon achievement. Jimmy Jatt is still the first to pull an endorsement deal from Diageo for Harp Beer a while back and this seems to have opened the floodgates for others like Dj Spinall who only recently signed his first endorsement deal with Smirnoff and from all indications, this might just be the beginning for even bigger things to come for the Nigerian Deejays.
Today’s Deejay parades some exciting names who have been putting the art in the front burner in the entertainment scheme of things. They are taking no prisoners, determined to take the game to unimagined heights and in the process, raking in millions and living the life of superstars just like their pop counterparts. Some of these turntable millionaires apart from Jimmy Jatt are Dj Spinall, Dj Xclusive, Dj Sose, Dj Caise, Dj Cuppy, Snoop Da Damaja, Dj Neptune, Dj Lambo, Dj Humilty, Dj Boombastic among others. The fortunes of the art have witnessed a mindboggling transformation in recent years and the body language of most of the major players presently sends a strong, undeniable signal to the industry and to whoever may be concerned especially the largely naïve society who would never hear of their child even contemplate it as a career choice that Deejaying is serious business. You can definitely bank on a Dj!
One of the most hardworking DJs presently on the scene, dubbed ‘’Mr No Day Off’’ by his peers and fans alike, Rotimi Alakija was born in the UK. He moved to the West African country of Togo where he lived briefly before finally relocating to Naija for his high school education at the prestigious King’s College. He is arguably the only DJ with a corporate outlook which has endeared him to a motley blend of fans who has dubbed him as the ‘’Corporate DJ’’. One of the best and good looking DJs, Xclusive started his Deejaying in 2003 in different clubs while taking a course in music production and well as sharpening his skills in the art.
He was unanimously voted ‘’The World Best DJ’’ in 2010 by Nigerian Entertainment Awards held in the US. He repeated the feat in 2011, this time as a nominee in the same category. He has performed with various international acts like Neyo, Rihanna, Mario Winans, Brick and Lace and Fat Joe. He’s resident DJ with Cool FM. He joined Banky W’s EME as Wizkid’s official DJ. He released his very first single ‘’I’m Xclusive’’ featuring Mo Eazy, a UK based Nigerian hip-hop act. He has dropped a number of singles which has seen spin time on the airwaves including ‘’Pangolo’’ feat. Timaya, ‘’Ibebedi’’ featuring Olamide and ‘’Gal Bad’’ featuring Ice Prince and Wizkid. After a prolific run of hit songs which have seen him take a stranglehold on airwaves and dance floor playlist, DJ Xclusive capped off several months of hard work with the release of his debut album titled ‘According to X’ on the 27th of June 2015.
These days the first thing you probably notice about the artiste is the cap which comes as something that constitutes the Dj Spinall brand. The cap comes in different colours and design and is made with local fabrics that have bearing to the Yoruba traditional print. This is the spectacle that hits one before discovering the turntable wizardry of the man.
Born Sodamola Oluseye Desmond aka The Cap, he first made an impression on his listeners as a result of his disposition and ability to play all kinds of music and still keep the tempo and his people on the dance floor. His uncommon inclination and accommodation of different music genres has broadened his audience which cut across age and class and this has won for him different accolades and awards. Like most of his contemporaries, he had his tutelage under the great Jimmy Jatt and Dj Hortega and was also a resident DJ with Raypower 100 fm. With over a decade in the business, the Electric/Electronic engineering graduate has worked with the crème-de-la-crème of Naija music including Dammy Krane, 2face Idibia, Sound Sultan, Jaywon and others. He is presently the official DJ for Wande Coal and his single ‘’Gba Gbe E’’ featuring Burna Boy is still an item on the charts.
Being born to a musically gifted father and Hungarian mother gave him a background better than most and the attendant availability of music which surrounded him as a child provided a rock solid foundation which nudged him on the path of music and eventually sharpened his passion for Deejaying. His full name is Thomas Amar Aigbe and he is from Edo State. His famous tattooed face and the moniker, Sose which has not ceased to fascinate his fans is actually gotten from ‘’Soseneyayi’’ which is an Esan word given to him by his father.
Sose holds a first degree in Business Information Systems and a diploma in film and video production from the UK. Living 12 years of his life in the UK has further broadened his music scope which was shaped by an eclectic music influence which he acquired in his formative years. Outlandish and flamboyant, Dj Sose is entertainment personified and his turntable skills have taken him to different countries of the world and grace choice events, winning accolades including 3 consecutive nominations as World Best DJ at the Nigeria Entertainment Awards. His single, ‘’Natasha’’ featuring General Pype and Mr. Raw was a hit and has also pitched him as one of the trendsetting DJs calling the shots in Naija entertainment scene.
One of the power brands in the Deejaying circuit, Neptune has covered more ground than most and his adventures transcend Deejaying. He is regarded as the kingpin of mix-tapes in Nigeria. He has devoted more of his life to churning out quite an impressive repertoire in mix-tape production which is attributed to his popular demand by his fans who are diverse and very devoted. Arguably the most respected and visible perhaps after Jimmy Jatt, Neptune has somehow built a fan base who consume his products and wait on him to provide direction on trending music and this has made him a leading light in the field of Deejaying in Nigeria.
Born Imohiosen Patrick, the Edo state indigene was once a resident DJ at Raypower where he mentored a small army of upcoming young DJs. His mix-tape catalogue is said to be intimidating and his latest single ‘’My 1’’ featuring K-Switch and May D has been blazing the charts for a while now making Neptune one the most hardworking and committed DJs around.
One of the most innovative, versatile and exciting, Dj Caise was trained in one of the world’s finest schools, the renowned Pointblank London Music College. With a vast knowledge in not just the art but as well the business, Caise found it somewhat easy to catch the attention and patronage of a large chunk of the A-list acts in the Nigerian entertainment industry.
A multi-award winning act, Caise has performed with the likes of D’Banj, The Mo’ Hits All Stars, P-Square, Styl Plus, Olu Maintain, Ikechukwu, Sasha P, Sinzu and others. He was able to work himself into a cult figure of sorts among his legion of fans and is highly respected at Beat 99.9 FM where he still plies his trade as an in-house DJ.
With a combined skill set as a presenter and a certified DJ, Boom happens to be one of the very few artistes who possess these uncommon qualities. He had a flourishing career as a DJ before venturing into presenting at star fm. His love for our local artistes has been widely commended in the entertainment circle as he`s responsible for giving a whole lot of upcoming acts encouragement by generously including their joints in skilful mixing sessions, thus elevating such jams to new, unimagined heights. He runs over some of the most innovative music based programmes at Star FM and is also a voice over artiste of note.
One of the early DJs to drop singles and mixtapes, Dj Boombastic has since established himself as a veteran in turntable business whose name is easily recognizable in the entertainment world.
Christened Benedict Afagwu, his profile recorded a fast rise in a short spell as soon as he won the Benson & Hedges DJ Championship in 2000, and his exploit has been compared to that of the legendary Jimmy Jatt. He is regarded as one of the most dynamic and innovation DJs around. Apart from being a sedentary DJ as in-house DJ at Rhythm 93.7 Fm, Humility still finds time to rock different high profile parties and events in Africa and beyond. His crowd pleasing ability is unmatched and has made him the favourite of the young Hip-hoppers.
In the adventurous peddling of his skills all around the world, he has inspired all sorts of awards in Nigeria and beyond. Recently, he won an award for the category of best World DJ (Africa) in far away U.S.A. adding to his string of awards. Presently, he keeps a job as one of the revered and highly respected DJs not only in Rhythm but in Nigeria as a whole. His uncanny ability to decipher hit songs has endeared him to artistes and fans, which has established him as one of the finest DJs in the country whose future is signed, sealed and delivered.
SNOOP DA DAMAJA
One of the veteran A-list DJs who can be described as one of the underrated players in the media but who has contributed a whole lot to the growth and the respect the profession has garnered in recent times. With over twenty years experience working for him, Snoop Da Damaja has quietly played pretty much all the choice gigs worth talking about in the industry and is still in hot demand. Silently he has influenced like his contemporaries like Jimmy Jatt and the rest, a whole generation of sound DJs in the land. They are responsible for the good fortune in the sector presently. And the good thing is the fact that they are still holding their own among the sea of young players that can be found in game today
Apart from being a long time serving in-house DJ at Rhythm 93.7 Fm, Snoop also finds time to continually honour a tight schedule for his services. The most recent being his collaboration with four time American Grammy award winning DJ Black Chiney whom together they both shut down the Heineken Green Party held in Lagos. The show was described as an amazing experience where Snoop gave an earth shattering performance and properly represented Naija at the event. He has also written his name as a recording artiste with the much talked about collabo with PepeNazi on the song ‘’In Da Mix’’ which gained a lot of shine time on radio and as well as in the clubs.
She has been described as a breath of fresh air in the growing DJ industry. Her innocent and I-can’t –hurt- a –fly look would ordinarily contradict her choice of the rugged turn- table business, however her delicate looks seriously bellies a great love and passion for the art. Her turntable wizardry is not in doubt but her sweet disposition in recent times has sent her ratings to the top among other DJs, especially among her female folk and her silver spoon background has absolutely nothing to do with her success in the business thus far. She is reputed to have found a way to cleverly deploy her resources into good use through good packaging and consistency which has since been paying dividends and catapulting her career to the top in a relatively short time.
Born in Lagos in 1992, Cuppy began playing the piano after which she ventured into producing and thereafter Deejaying. At 17, whilst attaining her A-Levels, she had already become a household name playing at London’s top nightclubs and fashion week events. Cuppy has been privileged to DJ for an elite international set of crowd; she entertained global diplomats and international representatives with her turntable skills at the Financial Times Luxury Summit 2014, which was held in Mexico City. She was also the DJ at the Tatler Magazine and Christie’s Inc. Arts Ball, which was held in London followed by a number of corporate events in Dubai. The announcement for Cuppy being the resident DJ at the 2014 MTV Africa Music Awards in Durban was a proud moment for Cuppy fans around the world. Last year in July 2014, following her graduation from King’s College London, Cuppy released her highly successful mixtape, House of Cuppy. The compilation features remixes of chart-topping Nigerian records. House of Cuppy was launched successfully in London, Lagos and New York. This year will probably see a bigger and better version, which other African artists from around the continent featured.
Appointed by the Honorable Minister for Culture and Tourism, on the 17th of April 2014 Cuppy, became an official Nigerian Tourism Ambassador. She is currently a brand advocate fuelling the ‘Fascinating Nigeria’ campaign, which is a dynamic imprint, aimed at promoting the development of Tourism.
Cuppy currently resides in New York, attaining a Masters of Arts in Music Business at NYU. Furthermore, Cuppy interns at the Roc Nation headquarters where she is getting firsthand experience of the worldwide music industry, putting Africa on the global music map. Cuppy calls her new sound Neo-Afrobeats, a genre of music, which blends Electric House with Afro-beats.
Cuppy is a young entrepreneur, and is definitely one to look out for in the bourgeoning Nigerian music industry.