The homecoming of one of Nigeria's famed prodigal son JJC, has thrown the music industry and his fans at home into a tizzy of speculation mixed with excitement and anticipation of what this proudly African legendary artist and entrepreneur, has in store for the country, music industry and the entertainment world as a whole. JJC aka Skillz producer extraordinaire, artist, boss, cook, and entrepreneur is a true African man and he flaunts this fact proudly anywhere he finds himself. A true patriot he makes sure to encompass in his songs African beats, pidgin and dialects in a bid to inspire African pride His homecoming with a new crop of Young Talented group of artist Collectively called 'BIGBOYZ ALL-STARS' promoting their individual and collective explosive potential 'Hit' tracks titled SE N GBOMI, SAY YES-JJC, CHING CHONG AND PATEWO promises to throw the Nigerian music charts and reputation off the roof. Could the return of JJC be what the industry has been waiting? In this chat with MILLICENT AREBUN, JJC &BB ALL STARS bares all.
WHAT influenced your recent decision to yourself and your business to nigeriah permanently?
I woke up one day and I thought, 'I have been here twenty years' I have to go home. I actually came back to Nigeria with my Artists for a promotional tour in July but again (because I come into Nigeria often) I saw that Nigeria has moved, my friends has moved and I felt its time to move. I have been very active in the United Kingdoms and I know I have attained the peak there so I think it's time I come home.
Why now particularly because as at this same time last year you were already at the peak of your career over there?
It's because now is the right time, for God time is the best. I have always come back home but the time has never been right but it feels right now. Previously, whenever I visit Nigeria and go back to the UK, I feel like staying there but now whenever am back in the UK, I feel like I want to come back to Nigeria so I know it's the right time in my bones to make Nigeria my base.
What do you hope to achieve in the entertainment industry by setting up permanently here?
Am more focused on production right now, my company Big Boys Entertainment has a different creativity or different way of looking at music videos or movies or the way sound is recorded and all the rest
How do you balance, been a song writer, artist, producer, boss and chef?
Basically all the things that I do, are all things I love doing, so that kind of makes it easier. It doesn't feel like am working because to me its like am going from one fun thing to another. Sometimes I find myself at three in the morning still on the computer, when those around me tell me to go to bed, am like 'let me do this one last thing'. Still as soon as I wake up in the morning I want to go back to the computer or go do some filming because that's what consumes my mind. I love it. My balance is wrapped up in discipline and knowing the right time to do which. Focusing on what you need to do now and doing it before moving on to the next thing. Time management and deadlines really helps me too.
What the secret to your success?
I still think is disciple and focusing on what I need to do instead focusing on having a good time, going clubbing, popping champagne, been the coolest guys to all the girls and all that. I believe in creativity. I drive myself making sure am educating myself as much as possible for instance , self taught, taking courses, talking to elders. I use all these knowledge to drive myself forward and that's the secret of my success. Disciple and knowledge
Your song 'we are African' was not only off the hook in melody but meaningful, considering the current trend of gibberish lyrics, why is that?
I have always been that artist whose songs has meaningful lyrics. Its great to have fun with music but sometimes I think it's our responsibility to make music more serious or pass a message with our songs because a lot of people listen to it. Most times, its best to have something to say, that will last longer in the consciousness of your listeners. We are Africans is now no longer a song but a movement, we have people from sierra lone calling me for a their remix and we have done that with the video. It's the same thing in Zimbabwe, south Africa is on board, in Ghana people are talking about it, so there's this new wave of people that want to push that African drive and pride forward.
I have been pushing the Nigerian pride/brand for so long especially back then when no one wanted to be associated or branded one, now ten years later, everyone in England is so proud to be Naija and it all started with music. For instance my song, 'Nigerian is the best land, gba', they couldn't understand it at first, for here is this London boy, been successful even in London with a group called Big Brothers, getting up there and screaming Nigerian is the best land, but it inspired them and a whole new generation.
What your reactions to Dbanj picking the BET Award and where Mohits record label is now, especially as he and Don Jazzy were once your 'boys' and you their mentor?
Am proud of them. I have pride in my heart when I see them perform and gain awards. I believe that every single artist I have brought to the table was to break new grounds. Big Brother in the UK was the first Hip Hop/ R&B Act from the UK that went platinum and then crossed over to America. JJC and 419Squad was the first Afro- European group that made it to BBC, MTVBase, won the Corral and other international awards, been African from the UK. The next generation was meant to be Dbanj and Don Jazzy.
Yes I didn't follow them to where they are now but the design was for them to be that great and am happy that they have taken on the baton, because some others were not able to last long or accomplish their own personal goals apart from the goals I had for them but Dbang and Don Jazzy has been able to. Also, they have been able to help the next generation like Wande Coal, Prince and lots of them, so am proud of them, they have learnt the way it was meant to be and are utilizing it. I am proud of them and I believe and pray that the next generation am bringing will also break more ground than them.
What's your inspiration?
I am mostly inspired by life and all the circumstances surrounding it. Everything that happens in life makes you who you are, either positively or negatively and this reflect and inspires my music.
Would you say you are a patriot?
I definitely know am a patriot. I am in England, presently at the height of my success and like I said the only thing I could scream was 'Nigeria is the best land' and am saying to people, learn my language 'kilonshele means what's up'. That's why I think it's weird when people ask me why are you back? Am like, What do you mean why am I back? Am I meant to go and sleep or live at work? I have gone and done the work, I have paid my dues, it's time for me to come back home. So coming back home shouldn't be a shock to anybody but celebrated and encouraged. The JJC and Big Boy brand is so much a part and parcel of the UK scene that it will leave a vacuum and am hoping i will inspire others to take the step of coming back home and making the African dream a reality.
Do you see a need in the Nigerian entertainment/ music industry that needs to be addressed?
I believe the industry needs structure, I know lots of people have been working on it but the government needs to help so the industry can grow even further because around the world we are resonating in every club, movies and video place, so our art and culture is really spreading around the world. I believe with more structure, artists can actually benefit from the fruits of their labor. At the same time I think a certain mind set needs to be spread in Nigeria; we are part of one society, if the society/our family is embracing us then the little that we can do can help so many. For instance setting up Artists charity organizations so that whatever you get , you can give back to the society that helped make you who/what you are. Basically social responsibility to the people.
Word to the budding Artist out there?
The best I can tell you is work hard as if you haven't prayed and pray hard as if you haven't worked and absolutely follow your dream. I remember when I was a twenty one, I was working as an editor in an editing company because I trained in school as a television and video production person. One day I walked up to my boss and said 'I quit, I want to go off and become a superstar' , he looked at me and asked 'do you do music? And I replied 'not yet but I will and am going to be a star, watch for me in the next two years because am going to be on TV' . Here I am now, so believe in your dreams and never let go.
[color=red] 2Kriss [/color]
The journey so far?
We are two Nigerian born and bred brothers who left Nigeria while we were nine and eight respectively currently studying law and engineering in the university. Our music journey started a long time ago but it came to a head when we accompanied a friend's brother to an auditioning, the auditioning label was BBE. We actually accompanied our friend just for the opportunity to see JJC, because he is a big deal. When we met him we told him that we produced and sing and he said ' show me you can do' and we showed him and he put us on the spot right there to free style which we did. Two days later we got a call from him and that's how we came to be on this path now.
You guys produce?
We actually produced 'Se n gbomi' and our single' 'l.o.v.e'
Did you have formal training?
We kind of stumbled on it because it was a hobby that we kept practicing because we enjoyed doing it and before we knew it, it was a profession. We were already playing keyboard and other instruments in church so we already had music in our veins.
Are you moving with the label to nigeria?
We are actually planning and working on that at the moment, by next month we should be sure.
Do you guys think you can give Wizkid a run for his money, now that you re making Nigeria your base?
There is no competition, Wizkid is our friend and he is very talented. We have actually done a song with him and we are yet planning a video with him for the song, so the answer is no, there is no competition between us. Nigeria is big enough for everyone.
Your stage presence and performance is so fiery as opposed to the normal you, tell me where does the fiery come from?
I have natural ginger..laughs..it is my natural energy and it's mainly because I love what I do so I put in all the energy that I've got into it.
Did you translate from dancer to singer/rapper?
When I was in boarding house in Nigeria precisely Federal Girls Akure, I use to drum on the table and sing along with my friends and then I went to the UK. I was a dancer in the UK until last when I went with a friend to JJC studio, though he already knew me then but as a dancer. When I got there he asked me if I could sing advised me to add that to my dancing if I could in order to enhance my career , so I told him 'cool, let's try it and see' and we did and he said ' oh I see you have great potentials I will build it up for you' and that's how my journey started .
Do you have any singles out now?
Yeah, I've got the Dagrin tribute that I did and my new single that we are promoting on tour now, 'Ching Chong'
How you also relocating to Nigeria with the label?
God is with me, I haven't made that decision yet finally but very soon I will.
What inspires your lyrics if you write them yourself?
My environment and the things going on around me. For instance Ching Chong is a song to actually enlighten people about what my name means. It means, go crazy, be happy, embrace your own life and don't be afraid to do whatever you need to do. I did the song to get people to understand the meaning and philosophy behind the name is what I embrace personally.
Looking at our talented Nigerian female rappers, do you see anyone that will give you competition?
I believe everyone's got their own strength, where I find my own strength is my Yoruba rapping. I've been around, to shows, event, video shoots, and so on but I see no Yoruba rapper so far, they are all English and that's my niche and edge. The fact that I stay in London doesn't make me appreciate English still, am Yoruba, its my first language. I take pride in what I whatever I say and where I come form. The entertainment music industry in Nigeria is very competitive, it's not somewhere you go and feel good because you've got the talent , an edge and a solid label, somebody else may just be better that than me if not now, soon, so I constantly have to strive to be better every time. I think am good but still, I have to always step up my game.
As a BBE artist, how has it been for you personally, do you feel slighted or sidelined, in this age whereby some artist are disgruntled with their labels or producers?
In Big Boyz Entertainment we are like family, and like any normal family, we can always have minor skirmish and quarrels but we still come back together as one family. It's necessary that we have these fights because without that outlet, we might all just hold grudges. In BBE , they don't focus on just one person but are promoting everybody at the same time, its now left for the individual artist to go the extra mile in marketing and presently both your label and your brands because of no label can promote all their artist equally at the same time. Don't wait for your record label to do everything for you and think this is where artists go wrong in their relationship with their label. Overdependence on your record label will actually breed disgruntlement.
Journey so far?
My stage name is lil miss while my real name is lara. Am based in the UK, am a vocalist, I sing, , and do a bit of acting. I am actually the first female Act in Big Boys Entertainment. Singing to me is a family trait because everyone in my family sings, from my dad to my sister that sings in church. I am sort of a black sheep in my family because I do lots of odd things. I did sing in the bathroom when I was a child. I was little because I was told I used to drag people to sit down because I wanted to entertain them with my songs. I actually did Biomedical science in college which had no relation to music because I didn't really take music seriously. A few years back I auditioned for a gospel music competition organized by my sisters' church in England with a cash prize of a thousand pounds up for grabs and I won. one day JJC put up an advert on Facebook, that he wanted a vocalist for a music show and since I was interested I massaged him on Facebook, he was online we started chatting. He asked me to upload a video of me singing, which I did and he liked it, so he asked me to come down to the studio and that's how my real journey in music began.
Do you have any single out right now?
Yes I have. It's called 'Patewo' and it's out on U tube, and almost all Nigeria radios right now. We shot the video in London
Are you moving with the label permanently to Nigeria too?
Of course! Am with the label, anywhere the label go is where I follow, as long as I get a very good university where I can continue my studies.
Do you write your music?
Yes some but sometimes JJC helps me.
What inspires your lyrics then?
My lyrics are basically reality. For instance 'Patewo' is about heartbreak or rather being strong after heartbreak. Everybody has gone through that phase at least once in his or her lifetime, it doesn't have to be relationship wise, it could be family or friendship wise and so on. Patewo is basically saying it a phase I had to go through but it's a lesson and I have learnt from It, so thanks for teaching me, for after every stage one becomes stronger.
Was that lyrics inspired by a personal experience?
I have actually been asked this questions lots of times but the truth is, it is nota personal experience, but it's something that I have seen happen around me and it could be related to myself , the same way it can be related to anyone. So that why I did a song on it because it may not happen to me or you now but it can happen in the future
Certain people perceive you as a snob, is that true?
Yes, people say that, but the truth is I don't snob people because am not a snob. If you get to know me, you will find out am actually a playful, bubbling person who giggles, shouts and scream but the same way I do that, is the same way am very serious when it comes to business. To me the secret to success in any endeavor is discipline and hard work because you just can't sit down and expect success to come your way.
What's your advice to closet artist/vocalist like you out there, that are talented but don't want to do anything about it yet?
Don't waste your talent, go for it. It's about how badly you want it. For me it came as a blessing so I might have said 'oh, I didn't really work for it, so I won't work hard at it' but it's not like that. All you need do, is to find and have a good support person or system behind you, with that it won't feel impossible or too hard. Prayer is also very key to success, to quote JJC 'pray like you haven't worked and work like you haven't prayed'.
Journey so far?
My name is Alex Samson popularly known as King Lexy. I started music about six years ago, hanging out with my friends and having fun with it. After a while I started my own gig while in London staying with my mum who encouraged and gave me all the support needed to achieve my dream. I eventually started recording, dropping mix tape and working on my own songs. After achieving huge success in the musical line, I moved back to Nigeria to set up a video and audio recording studio. Along the line, i joined a group called (Nice T Cube), before going solo by releasing my single "Naija rubber band" which was released by Lexy Records in 2008. In Dec 2009, the single 'I Bet She Want Me' helped to make ready my first album, while In 2010 summer, i successfully dropped the 'Naija Rubber Band Remix' with various Nigerian UK artists, before my debut album 'It's Game Time' came to be in June 2010. I met JJC through the internet and fell in love with his songs and when I finally met him after a while, things just fell into place.
What inspires your rap?
Really I just love rapping. The lyrics of my raps is inspired by all I see and feel that happen around me.
How has the reception been like since you moved to Nigeria with the label?
The reception has been very great and encouraging, the love from our fans in Nigeria that we have felt since we came back has inspired us to do even more greater things. Big-up to all the deejays, television and radio station because you made it happen, we appreciate
Word for the Artist like you out there?
My word to the budding artist out there that is, believe in yourself and out for what you want. Follow your dream, hold on tight to it and never let it go no matter what.
How has it been like for you since you signed up with Big Boyz Entertainment?
Big brother is like one large family with lots of siblings, we may have misunderstanding with ourselves some times but the core bond of love still keep us together as family though we are from different backgrounds.
Next five years?
Flying in the sky because I will be flying so hot.