FORBES Magazine and Channel O recently published the top 10 Most Bankable African Artists. They had arrived at their conclusion by using such factors as endorsement value, popularity, show rates, sales, awards, YouTube views and appearance in newspapers. Investments, social media presence and influence among others were part of the research indices considered.
In their verdict, Don Jazzy was declared the second most bankable African and Nigeria’s richest artiste. He is the CEO of Mavin Records, an influential producer and has endorsements with MTN, Samsung and Loya Milk. America- based Akon took the first spot. Others who made the African top 10 in that order are: Psquare, D’Banj, Wizkid, 2face Idibia, Anselmo Ralph, Angolan Sony artiste, Sarkodie, Ghanaian rapper, Ice Prince and Banky W.
Getting the Don to speak on the feat was an uphill task as he rarely grants interviews. But persistence paid off eventually. And in an exclusive chat with The Guardian at his Lekki, Lagos residence on Friday, September 13, the don of African music industry declared that his fans are yet to see the best of him. Below are excerpts of the chat…
What was your initial reaction when the news broke that you have been penciled as the most bankable artiste in Nigeria, and second in Africa?
The first thing that came to my mind was that I remembered two years ago, I was still running Mo Hits when Forbes came and asked some questions and wanted to do a documentary on me. I told them I was not interested as I don’t do interviews. So when I woke up on that fateful day and saw congratulatory messages on twitter and Facebook, I was happy; especially as Forbes is a reputable and respected company.
What does that mean to you and the entertainment industry?
It means that our efforts in taking the industry to the world stage has gained needed recognition. Since then, banks have been calling to see how we can work together. They waited for Forbes to know how bankable we are. It is good for the industry as banks and other sponsors are now looking our way. Entertainment is what government should tap into as an alternative to oil. I don’t know anybody at Forbes. I don’t know anybody at Channel O either. And their verdict can’t be faulted because their views and researches are respected across the world. I thank God as all my efforts are paying up. Music is my life and whatever that will make African music and musicians respected across the globe surely makes me glad.
What then is your advice on how to make the industry better?
Rome was not built in a day. In the last five years, lots of quality jobs have been released by Nigerian musicians. I want to commend everybody’s efforts for this. My advice to those who have not seen entertainment as a serious business, they should please have a rethink. Things can only get better when all hands are on deck to make it a booming industry. We have to think about our country and continue to make it better through quality entertainment too. Practitioners should be the best they can, not trying to be like America. It may interest you to know that I get calls from all over the world asking for my beats.
How soon are we expecting a Grammy from you?
My answer is a no, no. I said this because I know how difficult it will be for a Ghanaian musician to come and win Nigeria’s Best Artiste of the Year. It is their show. If we need something like that, then we have to create our own Grammy. In fairness to the Western world, they have come a long way in showbiz. It took them a long time to get there. It takes a lot of money, publicity and lots more.
That can be replicated here if government gets involved and spends the kind of money to create the glamour and professionalism for an African music awards. Make it as beautiful as the Grammy. If we have the platform, we can get them to come and perform here, and then we can have ours. At that point, you can begin to hope for it. It is nice to think positive. We can dream dreams. You can’t do hip-hop here to beat an American to it. It’s their thing. Or are you expecting to win a Grammies with country music? If they want Africans to win Grammies, then they should create Afrobeat, Highlife and Juju music categories. Not world beat please.
You spoke about your beats in great demand across the world. Would you want to share your trade secret with us?
I don’t have any trade secret. I make music that I like, and I know that people will like also, because I am in it to make money at the end of the day. So people have to love what I create. I know what people want and I give it to them. I put in so much time and energy each time I am creating music, like it’s my last on the job.
A year and half after, how would you rate Mavin?
Mo Hit was a huge company. It was the biggest in Nigeria for a long time. By God’s grace, Mavin will take same spot because same energy and patience I applied in building Mo Hit is what I am bringing to Mavin. My motto is Surulere. Forty five songs in a year is a lot for Mavin. I have more to offer from the stable. Dr. Sid’s Album Siduction will be out in October. Despite all these, what I will tell my fans out there is that the best of Mavin is yet to come.
I take things easy and I am pleased with what we have achieved in a year. I am grateful to my fans, especially those that follow me on twitter. They try as much as possible to keep us going. They shower us with love. For those that don’t follow me on twitter, please do so to get updated news about whatever is going on with me or my company. My twitter handle is @Donjazzy.
Another aspect of you is giving back to the society through benevolent gestures. Can you put a figure to what you spend yearly on philanthropy?
I wish I could do that. I have my mum’s heart in that regard. She may have three tubers of yam and will give out two to a family in need. I have a problem of saying no to anyone seeking assistance. But I thank my friends who help to stop me sometimes. Reason is that I don’t want to hear of anybody in problems. As long as I have the means, I will always give out. Maybe that is why God is blessing my efforts.
We do follow up on people we help in disaster. Presently, we are in the process of registering an NGO so that we can get it better. My concern is not what you do with what I gave you. It is left for the benefactor because my attitude to it all is that God is the finisher and author of our faith.
Don Jazzy and D’Banj: Any truth in the mill that you may be collaborating soon?
For now, my focus are on Dr. Sid, Tiwa Savage, D’prince, Altims, Babyfresh and others you guys don’t know yet. Though I’m not knocking off the possibilities of us working together in future, but for now there is nothing on ground.
SOURCE: The Guardian