By Tony Ogaga and Ayo Alonge
He is arguably the most revered disc jockey in Nigeria having inspired millions of youths with his deft skills on the turntable. However, when he started out years ago, Jimmy Jatt was a rapper known as Master J, who recorded a string of demos, but after fruitlessly searching for a record label, he decided to become a Dee Jay.
With the support of his brothers, Jimmy established Jatt Studios and changed his stage name to DJ Jimmy Jatt, in honour of his siblings. Today, with over two decades in the profession and still counting, Jimmy Jatt is revered for his role in driving the hip hop industry to its present status in Nigeria. His annual show, Jimmy’s Jump Off has become popular among Nigerian music lovers, and it’s a signature event.
The Dee Jay attained the golden age recently and he celebrated in grand style. In this chat with Entertainer on the Red Carpet of AFRIMA 2016, Jimmy Jatt opens up on his life at 50 and how his wife has been a pillar of support. Enjoy it.
You turned 50 recently. Looking back, do you have any regret about the choices you made?
No, I have no regrets. I don’t look back and regret things. I look back to learn from experiences and probably mistakes and move forward, but I don’t regret.
You redefined the disc jockeying business that used to be a job for never-do-wells. Did you believe it was going to be this big and was it always your dream to be what you are today?
You set out to do something and you just don’t know it could take you to the next level. I won’t tell you that I knew being a DJ would take me to the level that is now compared to when I started. When I started, it wasn’t a job that people took very seriously. For me, it was like trying to prove to some people that, this is serious business and hopefully move on to something else. But I never believed that I would be able to take it to this level.
When you look back, what would you say has been your happiest moment?
Wow! Happiest moments don’t have anything to do with being a DJ. It would have to do with family. I think that was when I had my first child. I was really excited. You can’t measure the excitement and that was it.
Can you recall the crazy things female fans have done to you?
Several of them but I won’t describe them as crazy. I would just say it was a show of love. Some people would just jump on you without any care in the world. I have seen people go bare-chested just to show their love to me. They are just too numerous to mention.
Would you be comfortable if we describe you as an icon and pioneer?
I think that would be too much for me to take. You could call me an icon but you would be disrespectful to other DJs if you call me a pioneer. I don’t think I pioneered the work of a DJ in this country.
How about considering the level you took it to…?
Yes, but I still did not pioneer it. There were DJs before me, and people I even look up to. I would always respect them, as people that paved the way for someone like me, just like I have paved the way for others. I only know I have contributed a lot in that regard.
The music industry has grown by leaps and bounds. What areas do you think we can do better?
I think that has to do with the business side of it. I hope and pray that government can understand that there is a need to play a key role in guarding people’s intellectual property rights and making sure that they get what is due them. In Nigeria, people don’t get what is due them from their creativity, and there is a whole lot of piracy going on. You see there are so many artistes that have produced tons of popular songs, but don’t earn a kobo from them. They would have been probably multimillionaires if they got their entitlements. Some of them cannot even afford two square meals a day. So, these are areas that we need to check and it is just very sad that people give in a whole lot of work, and at the end of the day, some other people just hijack it and the rightful owners don’t get a dime. It is better now but it is still not where it should be.
How supportive has your wife been?
My wife has been everything. The truth is that my wife is the key driving force in whatever I do. We have been married for over 20 years. We were together for over six years before we got married, so I have known my wife all my life. Even before we started dating, she was my friend. We started as childhood friends. She supports me a lot. I wasn’t a DJ before I met her and for her to have allowed me be what I wanted to be up till now, I will always appreciate her.
How many kids do you have?
I have two kids, two daughters actually.