His name is very common with every lover of good music. In the Nigerian music industry where he plies his trade as a Disc Jockey, he is rated as one of the best. Although he is very successful especially in his field of chosen career, DJ Humility bears a heavy burden on his shoulders.
As a young man living in the Police barracks, he watched as some Nigerian soldiers beat his cop father to death.Â In this interview with Torhuke Ebiere, Humility tells his heart wrecking story.
How is deejay business in Nigeria today?
The business is lucrative as you can see. Gone are the days parents would want to kill their children whenever they show strong interest in becoming a DJ. Today, DJs ride the best cars. They live in big houses. They earn good pay. It is now big business, unlike in the past. They run things on the big stage now.
How did you start?
I started practising as a young boy when I was in the secondary at Stadium High School in Surulere. When I started, my dad was never in support until the day he saw me in the papers. I was only about 17 years of age then. My Dad is late now and may his soul rest in peace. It was Fame Magazine that did something on me and when he saw it, he was so happy.
He never believed it. Since then, he gave me his support 100 percent. He supported me physically, financially and every other way until he was killed four years ago.
Killed? How did it happened?
He was killed by Nigerian soldiers. My dad was a police officer and they had a clash with the Nigerian Army, and my father was beaten and thrown out from a storey building. That was how he died, and till today, nothing has been done, no compensation to the family. Even his pension and gratuity have not been paid till today. That is Nigerian government for you.
Yes, I am proud of Nigeria but I am not proud of the leaders. I feel sad with what has happened to the family but as the eldest son, I have six siblings to look after and I know what I am going through. Most of them are in the universities right now. I am happy God gave me this talent as a DJ. So, I thank God. I am not complaining.
Did you train under anybody to become a DJ?
No, I started, just for the love and fun of it. I was in the secondary school and I did lots of DJ championships and competitions. God was on my side. I got myself into the radio station. First, I started as a part-time DJ with Star FM, then Ray Power, before I finally got full employment with Silverbird TV/Rhythm 93.7 Fm. So, I have been with Silverbird since 1993 to date. Everything has been going on well.
Does your employer permit your private practice?
I have a programme with Silverbird Television called â€˜Top Ten Count Downâ€™ with JAJ and the radio DJ thing is there as well.
To me, there is nothing as good as being paid for what you love doing. I take the job as fun and I have time for myself as well.
I have been to about 15 countries doing my thing as a DJ. I have toured the US, UK, and some European countries like Italy, France, Germany. I just canâ€™t count the countries. I was an Ambassador of the United Nations. I did the World Food Programme with the likes of Ramsey Noah, Tic Tac of Ghana and others.
We went round the whole of Africa and it was this DJ thing that kept me on. Today, I have an event called â€˜Classique DJâ€™. I bring DJs from different parts of the world to perform here in Nigeria. I have been doing it now for three years running.
This yearâ€™s edition of the show comes up on 13th December. It is an international mega show for DJs and not a DJ contest. Last year, we brought five DJs from the US, three DJs from UK. We brought one from Beirut and another from Greece and everybody had fun. So, this year is going to be bigger and greater. We are bringing more DJs from different parts of the world.
Is it a paid show or by invitation?
People pay to come in, letâ€™s say from N3,000 to N5,000, which is very moderate and it is also a sponsored show.Â We bring top DJs around the world, doing it on three stages in the same dancing arena. It is something crazy but great. It is music non-stop from beginning to the end. I have a partner who is the CEO of Great Tiger Entertainment. We have been doing it together for three years now.
How did people see DJs when you started?
The thing is that people think DJs are drop outs. That is the reason why they donâ€™t respect them that much. I could still remember when I started as a young boy. When we went to parties, they told us, â€˜please take your things to the kitchen or be at the balcony and sit there, then bring out your speakers and start playingâ€™.
We would open the windows and you will see the people dancing. But today, the reverse is the case. People like Jimmy Jatt, myself and few others have changed everything. Everybody wants to see us, even if it is a small parlour party.
They want to see us right in the middle for people to know the DJ that is playing. So, DJ business has gone to another level. We all ride big cars. We live in big houses and we have our own houses. I am telling you the gospel truth. So, people should not look down on DJs anymore.
Whatâ€™s your feeling to fans when you are in the juke box?
My fans always appreciate me because I give them what they want. As for my female fans, I treat them right. I donâ€™t do the â€˜Iâ€™m a star thingâ€™. If they are taking the likeness to another level, I make them understand. I donâ€™t chase fans away.
They make me feel great and when I am on the juke box, I want to see people sweat, I want to see people dance. When I see people dancing, I feel fulfilled.
Are you married now?
Very soon, I will be getting married.
It is evidence in you that you are really chopping money. See how big you are lookingâ€¦
I have always been on the big size since I was born. More so, whenever I want to get annoyed and I hear good music, I feel relaxed.
Were you born with this dreadlock you are wearing?
Well, it is natural. I didnâ€™t fix it. But I was never born with it. I started growing it about three years ago. You know, this is showbiz and I just wanted to look different. I can change it to another crazy hairdo. Tomorrow, I may just decide to get it off. I also feel more relaxed with my T-Shirt and jean trousers and may be, some bling, bling. It makes me feel like a hip-hop.
Why do you wear eye glasses? Is it part of the show?
This is not shakamende glasses. It was recommended by optician because I am long sighted. You know, we are in the age of computer now and every good DJ uses the computer. You know the letters could be very small at times and you need to see what you are doing. But I have been making use of eye glasses since when I was young.
Have you ever played and nobody danced to your music?
I would have seen myself in that situation if I had not done my feasibility study well. Not here in Nigeria, but outside. What I do is that whenever I have an event in any country, I make sure I get there a day or two. I go to their night clubs and see what they dance to.
I get their music online or anywhere, go to their music shops and get some of their music, return to my hotel room and mix them my own way: mix it with some African and Nigerian beats. Then, I will serve it to the people my own way so that the people will enjoy and appreciate me better. I have really not seen myself in a show where I am playing and people are not dancing.
Any embarrassing situation or threat at show venues?
Yes, that was when I went to play for Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun state. They called me to come and perform for him.When I got there, my mixer got blown off.
The spare mixer also got blown off. I donâ€™t know what happened. Two mixers all got blown up and I donâ€™t have an answer to that. It has never happened to me and as you know, without the mixer, there is nothing you can do as a DJ.
I could not mix and the whole people were there looking at me. So, it was a real experience and it will never happen to me again. I swear. The funniest of it all was that when the mixers got blown out, the Governor came to me and said â€˜you are the DJ, play music and let us danceâ€™. He was there live with good numbers of members of his executive council.
They were really in high spirit to dance. They were in celebration mood. They wanted to dance. So, I was just playing selections from amplifier to speakers. There were no mixer to really mix the sound and give it to them hot and I could not do anything.
When one music finished playing, I would have to remove and then slot in another. When the CD finished playing, we pressed to the next track. It was such a boring exercise and I couldnâ€™t just imagine myself. I couldnâ€™t just stand it. So, I went straight to my car, sat there and I started crying. I didnâ€™t know anybody to call to rescue the situation and it was in the midnight, past 12 oâ€™clock.
My God, it will never happen to me, ever again. I get myself fully prepared and if armed is the right word, I get myself fully armed for any show I am attending now. I think I didnâ€™t pray very well then, or I didnâ€™t pray at all before going for the show. Now, I always have God by my side. Nothing dey happen. I also go to any of my shows with more than enough equipment.
Do they still engage you?
Yes, they do. I still play for them but it has never happened again. I am even playing for them before the year runs out. Last year, they didnâ€™t even want me to leave. They liked me and they enjoyed my style. I just got the call for my performance this year.
What kind of show is that in the government house?
It is a party and I think some group of journalists puts it together and bring in the top government functionaries and it is all meant to honour the governor. They organise it annually and I am like their official DJ now.