interviewBy Anthony Ada Abraham
JJC aka Skillz the director born as Abdulrasheed Bello Buhari in Kano State to a Delta, Urhobo mother and father from Illorin in Kwara State. He is most known in the UK as the producer and creator of the multi-platinum and award winning group Big Brovaz. The artiste whose hot song 'We Are African' has been remixed seven times in different countries is on a tour around the country promoting his new hit 'Shenk'. ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM had this exclusive interview with him in Abuja.
JJC song was number 1 for 2 weeks on MTN yellow top 10-count down not in Nigeria alone but in Africa, and also Number 4 on Pepsi Top 10 video. He said that his hit song 'We Are Africans' is a tip of the iceberg but Shank is something to watch out for in Africa.
According to him, 'My previous hit song is We Are Africans and right now I have a kind of master track which will follow.' He also gave more light on his coming into the industry.
'When I first came into the music industry it was difficult because people do not appreciate that they are Nigerians or Africans. We were basically pointing fingers at one other. That was why I'm named JJC. The whole point is we kept on pushing it. And now the music industry in all of Africa is established to be something cool and even we as people are now looked up to,' he said as he leaned on the sofa.
We Are Africans has spawn over 6 remixes from We Africans (Sierra Leone Remix), (Zimbabwe Remix) (Naija Street Remix) and more to come as other countries want to leave their mark on a track that unites the continent. What is the concept of the song?
'Before the song 'We Are Africans' I had a smash hit called 'Nigeria is The Best Land Gbao' the whole essence is for us to rise up and be proud of ourselves. After doing that we have other Africans who have travelled across the world and have become Africans in diaspora. But you know what, we are Africans and together we can stand as Africans and for us as a people.
And I think that it is very important that we unite and together we will rise. I know that was why 'We Are Africans' was created. So we have about seven remixes in Siera Leon, Zimbabwe, and we have others that are in the process like Ghana, South Africa, Jamaica, USA are some on the list. This is about uniting ourselves,' the talented artiste said.
JJC & 419 Squad are probably the only act to have been guests on Tim Westwood's BBC Radio 1 Rap Show and Charlie Gillett's BBC London World music show. JJC was previously a BBC 1Xtra radio DJ (African Vibes) and has also presented a number of other one-off BBC radio programmes as well as a one-off special on France's No.1 taste-making station Radio Nova.
What more does he say about JJC and the 419 squad?
'JJC is known as that international African guy. While I was in abroad, the insult people were reigning on us was that we are 419 boys. So my friends and I came together to create the 419 squad. An image of Nigeria that is not about 419 but about rebranding the youth as 419 squad to prove against 419. JJC and 419 squad put together lot of hit songs to continue their mission in rebranding Nigeria,' he said.
JJC aka Mr Skillz also signs artistes and is currently working with a range of artistes like Noni, Lil Miss, Tipsy, 2kriss, AbFresh, TeeBo and others.
'For years I have always been developing talents and I guess it is something that is part of JJC. The first group I created was Public Brothers signed to Sony. After that I created JJC and 419 squad, later I put up a production company I called Backbone music that signed artistes like Don Jazzy, D'Banj, creame and so many.
Now I want to set up a big production company called Big Boys Entertainment. That has developed big artistes like Zondi, Tipsy, 2-Face and many we are still working on.
Are we expecting more collabos from big names in the industry?
Yes...right now JJC as a personality is coming out with an album. On that album I'm going to be looking more at home. You know I have been away from Nigeria for a long time, I want to visit Nigeria and know it. I want to work with my brothers and sisters in the industry. I want to create an industry that would be exciting and enabling for us to show our talent. So some of the people I have on my list are Timaya, 2Face, PSquare, Face, D'Banj and all the big names...the future is bright.'
What next should we be expecting from JJC?
'I think we have had twist and turns making some strong choice. Expect motivation in music, expect internationally African music because I'm an African. I spent the whole part of me outside but the African part of me still remains,' he said.
So, what message does JJC have for young aspiring artistes who look up to him as mentor and what is his take on Nigeria music of today?
'I have only done so far and so much. The future is there and we are the creator of the platform. We are working on the platform to create a better music industry. For those who are coming into the industry, look at it as a business not something you see on TV only. I think they also need to know about music business.
They need to understand that for us that have been doing it for long, we do it as business. We don't do it for the fame, it's all about the business. If you can do music and feed your family and sustain your life, it's a good thing to do. If you are doing it for money or glory, go get another job.
In his words, 'I will say the Nigeria Music industry of today is a threat to the rest of the world.'
'As long as we keep working together, collaborating, showing support to the next generation I think we are going to supersede our counterpart because I think we have population and innovation on our side. And we travel a lot. Just like I said in my other song, we got rhythm from the day we are born and that's why we are Africans,'(laughs
How is it going to be in the near future Skillz?
'I see myself establishing my style of music, the electro-afro beat. I also hope to create new stuff that would enable and challenge the new and old generation to move forward from TV to audio and most especially now, I want to get into Nollywood. So in 2013 you will see JJC in Nollywood.'