Don Jazzy, Mavin Records CEO, says he sabotaged his secondary school education to pursue music.
The record producer was speaking in the Black Box Interview with Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, the television host.
Jazzy recounted his early outset in music with a gospel group at FGC Ijanikin, where he had his senior secondary education.
He also narrated how he showed up with faked results from one of his final exams, which he failed.
“My parents divided us into two. Two went to FGC Ijanikin and two others went to Kings College. They used to report me for skipping classes. My dad would ask where I was and he would be told, ‘the music hall’. He already knew music was where I was going. Any other thing was not entering, even as I was a brilliant kid,” he said.
“When I started failing in SS2, I did it on purpose. I was doing it to join some bad gangs. Osi Asika and I were in a music group called Ministration Voices, a gospel band. We were seven. We used to sing and write songs. I backslid towards the ending of SS2 because I wanted to join some other guys who were into some other form of music.
“And for protection from rich kids. I became friends with the strongest guy, Niyi Adelusi. My colleagues and I used to bet over the first to submit during tests. It was like I was hit with voodoo, especially in WAEC. I would just submit. My parents started to beat me. During my SS3 mock, I came back home with a faked result, where I didn’t do well.
“My dad visited my sister in school and they had posted the real results. She told him I had disgraced the family. ‘4P, 4F, 1C’. It had traumatized her so much that she crammed it in her head. The C was in Igbo or Yoruba. My dad was pissed. I had to make up with my knowledge of computers, which made up for my stupidity alongside music.”
Don Jazzy had earlier recounted growing up with a dad who farmed and his mother who sold akara (bean cakes).
“I worked at McDonald’s, did security job in the UK”
Don Jazzy said he re-took GCE and got a six-month job as a computer operator to make up for his shortcomings. He would later move to London to join his uncle and secure an educational transfer — a move he noted later failed.
The 38-year-old record executive, however, added that it was this moment that became pivotal to his music pursuit.
“The impression became that I was a computer geek. We did flyers, CVs, typing. It was a business centre. I did that for six months. Internet was just starting at the time so I was opening emails. I retook GCE. I later moved to London to join my uncle. This was to see if there was a school I could transfer to. I tried to go to school,” he noted.
“I went to Sixth Form. It wasn’t working. I met D’banj after a while. I played in churches and taught children to play piano, drum, guitar. I was introduced to those who played for Jide Chord, a juju singer. That was where I met Soji Solek. I started programming beats on the keyboard. The churches were paying 150 to 250 pounds.
“During the week, I did different other jobs that we did in London. McDonald, security jobs, parking. There was this day when racist children stoned me. They threw eggs just because I was black, I returned stained white. That was when I quit after working that job for two months. At McDonald’s, I was paid 450 per hour.”
Meeting Dbanj …and almost selling Mo’ Hits label for N1m
Meeting Dbanj, the now-R&B singer, Don Jazzy would later create Mo’ Hits, a record label they co-owned on a 50-50 profit-sharing formula after what he termed a “miscommunication” in his agreement with the JJC & 419 Squad.
“I actually got awoken because of D’banj. I was making music for different people and didn’t really care about what it meant to people or how it was making money. Dbanj was coming around to the JJC studio. JJC & 419 Squad were trying to be big. D’banj and I decided we were going to Nigeria and become big,” the record producer continued.
“We needed to decide how we were going to put out the music so that informed M’ Hits. I once tried to sell the label to Obi Asika for N1 million. ‘Tongolo‘ was out. ‘Why Me‘ had yet to come so we had not yet seen the potential. We used to just come to Nigeria, spend money, and go back to London when it’s finished only to come back and push.
“At the time, we wanted to merge Mo Hits and Storm so that we could be making music for their artistes in a collaboration. But they were dulling me and Tola Odunsi would say he’s busy. Dbanj and I were running Mo’ Hits at 50-50 profit sharing. He was the frontman taking the shine. I didn’t have a problem with being behind.
“It got to a point where it looked like the ship would sink. Who’s going to bear the load? I needed to do something, to be heard and seen. I don’t do interviews. It’s not like CNN and BBC don’t call me. I turn down. The moment we didn’t sell the label, we knew we were big. D’banj got an endorsement deal at Power Feast which was N20 million.”
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