What has kept me going for 25 years as a DJ—Jimmy Jatt

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BY ANOZIE EGOLE

Jimmy Adewale Amu a.k.a Dj Jimmy Jatt could best be described as a Disc jockey (DJ) with swag. He started his career in the entertainment industry as a budding rapper before delving into DJ business in the late 80s. In 1989, he  debuted as a professional DJ, and today, after 25 years  on the job, Jatt has every reason to recount his success story in the industry. In this interview, he speaks about his career, family and love life.

Why are you celebrating your 25th years as a DJ?
I HAVE been a DJ for 25 years.  But I’m just celebrating my 25th years of being in the entertainment industry. I actually made up my mind in 1989 that I won’t do anything else apart from becoming a DJ. And since then, I have not looked back. So, it’s 25 years of my being a professional DJ. Really. I have been reluctant to celebrate this milestone. Most  people around me know that I am not a loud person , but the only reason I was convinced to do this was because, its 25 years of relevance and consistency. There has not been an off day for me in the past 25 years. I have never been found wanting in the industry for the past 25 years. I hear a lot of people celebrate 10 to 15 years but within that period, there are times when they take a break for a couple of years.  But in my own case, I have ever been  present. I felt for once in my life that I should really celebrate my achievements.

How did you take the decision to become a professional DJ?
Being  a DJ was something I developed passion for, when people felt it wasn’t a lucrative job. People warn their kids to stay away from me simply because I was a DJ. But I took up the challenge to change the mindset of people as much as possible. Right now, DJs are being celebrated, and the emerging  generation today can see that there is life as a DJ. If I have done it for 25 years, then what’s more! It doesn’t mean I am retiring. No, it means I am taking the profession to a higher level.

Before 1989, what were you doing?
Like I said, I’ve been doing DJ work before 1989. Some people would know me from the mid 80s when I was just a school boy at Obalende. I’ve never applied for any job in my life. Before 1989, it was between my education and and the DJ work. So, I’ve been a DJ for a long time  such that I’ve never had time to think of  any other thing.

What’s your plans for the celebration?
The main event will hold on the  3rd of August. It’s going to be strictly by invitation. Then there will be the annual Jimmy’s jump off later. This year’s event would be tied to my 25th anniversary celebrations so we might switch the event a bit. It might not take the same direction people are used to. Then from October till the end of the year, we’ll be getting into some CRS activities to give back to the society, organise a lot of mentorship programmes for young DJs to encourage them. There would also be a TV reality show coming up soon. We are working tirelessly to make the best of this celebration.

What has kept you going all these years as a DJ?
For me, my motivation changes. In the beginning, the driving force was the negativity of people towards what I do. Some people in my neighborhood warned their kids to stay away from me because I was a DJ. So, for me at that time, the motivation was to prove such people wrong. Then it got to a level where I got married and I felt I owe it to my family to be responsible. It also got to a point where I attracted young people into the business of DJ and they all were looking  up to you. I owed them a duty to lead the way. These have been my motivation. Finally, it got to a point where people started celebrating me. At this time, my fan base cut across all generations. Today, I am one of the very few entertainers that dominate discussions among three generations in Nigeria. I am a brand that cuts across everybody. So I always have all these at the back of my mind, and it keeps me going.

Have you ever thought of quitting the job?
Of course, like every other business in this country, after six months, there are definitely times when frustration would set in even if you are into oil and gas business. But for me, right from the onset, there has always been that discouraging factor. But I’ve had to deal with it from the very start. Even when I feel like I’m going to give up, I always remember those early times and I keep moving ahead. Because, if I give up, those people who didn’t give me a chance in the beginning would smile, so that kept me going even in my lowest moments.

Jimmy-Jatt

Let’s talk about your forthcoming album “The Industry”?
The album would be launched at the black tie event. It’s titled The Industry and that speaks volume  on what to expect from the album. We are still in the studio, but as at the last count, I’ve recorded with well over 80 artistes and 20 different producers in the country. So, its easier to count the people that are yet to get on the album than count the people in the album. The album is basically a reflection of the state of the industry and it is quite different from my first album “The definition” . This latest one is more of a reflection of the industry and it will have a minimum of 20 tracks.

Artistes in the industry

We released 7 singles already and we are working on releasing a couple of videos  as well.  The album covers the industry, and when I say the industry, we can’t put every artiste in the industry on the album. But there is adequate representation from all sectors. You would find emerging artistes, talented artistes, A list artistes, rappers, singers and even old school and reggae artistes were also in the album. Like I said earlier, it’s a reflection of what I’ve seen in the past 25 years. I think am excited about the album already because it’s a brilliant one.

Do you have plans to collaborate with international artistes or DJs?
In terms of international collaboration, for me it has always been about projecting our own acts and our own music. I do get offers and deals from artistes in America to feature on the album, but I don’t see the need, it gives me joy to put an unknown Nigerian artistes on the album and see his career develop from there rather than featuring an international act.

In the past 25 years, have you ever felt challenged by any other Dj?
I think in life, if you always see yourself as upcoming, you’ll always grow. But the moment you see yourself as a king, you loose it. For me, I work like a rookie, that’s my orientation. About seeing anybody as a threat, I do not think so. Everything in life is a competition, but how you take the competition affects your career, if you take it negatively, it’ll affect you negatively, if you take it positively it’ll affect you positively. I take it positively, and I’ve helped a lot of DJs to come up. Because if there’s no one chasing you, you won’t run and if you don’t run you won’t get to your destination in time. So, I always assist DJs to come up because if they grow it means you’ll also have to take your game to the next level. But if you don’t help people to grow, and everybody remains down you won’t grow as well. Competition is very healthy because it helps people grow.

At the beginning, did you get support from your parents?
Yes, I had the support of my immediate family, but from my extended family and outsiders, I got hostility and criticisms.  But my parents weren’t worried because they knew me very well. They brought me up very well, and I always tell people that am a product of my family, my family is fun loving and music lovers, I just happened to be an introvert (laughs).

Would you say, you are fulfilled having spent 25 years as a DJ?
I think once you get to that point where you are fulfilled, then the next thing is to buy your coffin, am not, am still hoping to make some impact and take things to the next level.

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