My wife is so sexy I am never moved by women at parties - Jimmy Jatt, popular DJ
Nigeria's most poular DJ, Jimmy Jatt, explains his passion for his job and his love for his two daughters to 'NONYE IWUAGWU.
You have been a DJ for well over one decade; are you not thinking of doing something else?
No way! I don't think there would ever be a day I would wake up and say, 'I am stopping disc jockeying'. It is something that is inbuilt. The love of music would always remain. It is not something you could just pull off like a jacket. The only thing is that you can take it from one stage to another stage. I don't think it will get to the point where I will say I am no longer doing this stuff. I might stop disc jockeying commercially, I might stop being as mobile as I am right now, but there will always be a DJ deck in my house.
I am sure you didn't think you could end up a DJ.
A whole lot of people want to be DJs now. Although when we got into it, not many people thought of doing it. I get calls from parents telling me their sons want to be DJs. If it is coming to that point where parents can actually support and encourage their kids to go into this profession, then you know that this profession is noble. Parents now wish their kids to become footballers. The world is becoming more realistic. I am not saying the world wasn't realistic before, but back then, everybody wanted to be doctors, engineers and lawyers. Imagine how this place would have been if everybody was a doctor or lawyer. It would have been so boring. You need other services.
At what point did your passion for disc jockeying turn into a profession?
It wasn't deliberate. I got into disc jockeying out of a love for music. I thought I would be a music artiste; later, a break dancer; and then I started playing music for other people. At that time, I was just doing it pending the time I would go into any of the usual things that people think you would get into. Then I realised that people appreciated what I was doing as they requested for more. Anything that you do and you know that people are ready to pay for your services, do it. It is just unfortunate that it took so long for a lot of people in Nigeria to actually appreciate and regard what we do as a profession. They probably were seeing it as a hobby. But this is a profession. Some people play football professionally and some play it as a hobby. The same way some people play music as a hobby, some play it professionally.
But back then, did your parents like the idea of their son becoming a DJ?
I come from a very liberal home. I got to know later on that my dad was a DJ for his friends, though not professionally. He was a music man and I think that influenced me, because in my house, music was everywhere. My brothers were also into disc jockeying although not professionally. I was surrounded by music and fun-loving people. I didn't have a problem with my parents. Why would I even have a problem with them? If they had said they had a problem with my profession, I would have let them know they were responsible for what I became.
And even your wife supports you?
I was a DJ before I met her. I think one of the things that attracted her to me was the fact that I was the 'chairman' at every party. You know that the DJ is always like a chairman at every party. He is the one in charge and he determines if the party will rock or not. My wife is okay with what I do. She does not have a problem with it at all.
Have you ever been embarrassed on stage due to faulty equipment or something else?
I have been very lucky. I have a technical background. My dad was into the importation of electronics. I grew up with electronics and I am a very technical person. Equipment can't embarrass me. I know what to look out for when I am choosing equipment. If light goes off or somebody trips a cable, you need to understand that it is a technical problem. It happens everywhere, even on the biggest stage. It doesn't make the DJ a bad one that sound went off for a while. That is not an embarrassment to me. If you complain, I would just look at you as somebody who is not smart, because you should know that is a technical problem. Anyway, personally, I have not had that kind of experience because I try to avoid hitches.
Since your job is mostly done at night, how do you cope?
I cope the same way a night nurse copes with her duties. I cope the same way the doctor on night call copes. If you work at night, then you sleep in the morning. I don't even know where it is written that night is meant for sleeping. I think you can sleep any time you are free. It is just that some things are just laid down and we met them like that, and we never asked questions why they are so. Nobody said one should not be awake at night and sleep in the morning. There are a whole lot of people who render services at night.
So you don't feel sleepy?
No, I try to prepare myself. I have never felt like sleeping when I am 'jamming'. Even when I am really tired before starting, the moment I get on stage and start, the sleep goes off. When you do a job that you enjoy, when you derive satisfaction from what you do, then you will always have strength to do it when you start, because it gives you great pleasure and joy. It is when you are doing something you don't enjoy that you may not have the strength to do it once in a while. The only thing that keeps you going is the money they are paying you. Primarily, when I am on stage, I am having more fun than any other person. It is not as if I am selfish, but I have to put myself in the best frame of mind. And once I am in a good frame of mind, everybody around me would feel it. That means I can deliver on that high level.
Do you play songs because they are good or you play them because the artiste is your friend?
I have never played any music because the artiste is my friend. If the music is 'wack', it is 'wack' and I am not touching it. You have to understand that good music is relative. What might be good to you might not be good to the other person. You need to understand the gathering you are in. If it is a quiet event, the kind of music I will play will be different from what I will play when I am on stage at the stadium. Even the biggest artistes can make songs and I feel they are trash and I will not touch them. I have done my own songs and I feel we didn't get it right; I don't touch them when I am on stage. I won't even be angry if another DJ does not play it. If you play trash, at the end of the day, you will wreck your record. If I try to satisfy one person and I am killing the spirit of thousands of people, which should I prefer?
We know you pocket so much as a DJ, but there are a lot of DJs now...
The essence of my being in this country for so long when in actual fact I have been offered better deals outside the country is that I want to create an industry for disc jockeying in Nigeria. I want to get attention and recognition for DJs. I want to be able to quit disc jockeying someday and be able to say I was once a DJ and be proud to say so. How many parties are thrown in Lagos alone these days? You need a whole lot of DJs. Our people also need to start respecting DJs. We don't respect them enough. I am not saying they don't respect Jimmy Jatt; that is a different ball game. But they don't respect DJs as a whole. The DJ is not somebody you call as an afterthought. At the end of the day, you would discover that he is the most important man. The DJ starts and ends the show.
Is that why you charge so much?
I don't charge much. What do I charge compared to what the artistes charge? What do I do at the event and what do the artistes do? The most any artiste can do on stage in Nigeria is just an hour. I can even name the four or five artistes that can go an hour. Most artistes can't even do more than three or four songs on stage. The DJ will still cue the song for them. The DJ is backing every artiste and when the artiste is far gone and forgotten about, the DJ is still there. You have to realise that even for a small DJ, the equipment in front of him is worth thousands of naira at the minimum.
You have become a musician too with your album 'Stylee'...
I am just a DJ hosting other artistes on an album. It is something DJs do world wide. Most people would want to refer to it as a mixed tape, but I call it an album. All the tracks were produced for the album. They were fresh materials. We went into the studio to produce those tracks. It is a DJ project. I have not dropped being a DJ. It is another way of showing DJs the ways to go. Right now, I know a lot of DJs that are working on that kind of project. You have to create an avenue so that people would do such things and not Internet fraud or other fraudulent activities.
We hear you love cars and that you have bashed a few.
How many cars do I even have? I don't have many cars. As for the accident, it was not deliberate. I have been driving since I was 14 and that was the only time I have bashed a car or get involved in an accident. If I have had just one accident since I started driving, then that is a clean record. I learnt a lesson from that accident though. I was just trying to be a nice guy. I was playing host to some people and I had to take them to the airport thereafter. I was so tired that day and I knew the most logical thing to do was to put them in a cab but I decided to drop them off. That was my greatest mistake. I slept off and bashed a car.
We hear you are doing a reality show.
It is not really a reality show; it is more like a contest. It is called Battle Field. It is my own way of trying to discover new sets of DJs. We should be grooming DJs regularly. There is a DJ 'battle' and there is a dance 'battle'. I have been around for a while and have moved around a lot. I have realised that most talent hunt shows here are all about singers, but we should understand that just the same way we have a whole lot of young people who want to sing. We also have a whole lot of young people who want to rap and dance and become DJs. If we continue to do a one-sided thing, how do we encourage the people in the other areas? So I decided to come up with something. We are having the auditions in Lagos this month. It is a monthly event. In the first month, we willdo the DJ 'battle'. The next month, we will do the rap 'battle', and the next, we will do the dance 'battle'. It is an ongoing thing. We do different competitions every month and a winner emerges to qualify for the grand finale at the end of the year. Anybody that wins in each month gets between N200,000 and N400,000.
For the grand finale, we have for the winner one million naira, a brand new car and a state-of-the-art DJ equipment. We are hoping to increase this as we roll because we are still talking to sponsors.
Will you support any of your kids if he wants to be a DJ?
Why do you think I am doing all this? It is for this profession to look good for young people, and young people include my children. My kids are heavily influenced by music. The most important thing is that I understand what disc jockeying is all about and I think it is something one can get into. Incidentally, I have two girls, so I won't stop any of them if they choose that path.
Is disc jockeying a man's thing?
It is not. It is just that around here, it is still not working for the females because of the way they are taken in Nigeria. How would you see a girl that goes out every night to play at parties even though she doesn't do anything negative? People will call her asewo.
We worry about what people say about us than what we feel about ourselves.
Is Jimmy Jatt your real name?
Jimmy is my name, but Jatt is not really my name. Anyway, it is my name since I have achieved more things in life with that name than I have with my real name. Actually, my real name is Jimmy Amu. Jatt is the initials taken from my name and my brother's name. J for Jimmy, A for Amu, T for Tayo and T for Tunde. Tayo and Tunde are my brothers. They were the ones that came up with that name, but I am the one bearing it.
Tell us a bit about growing up
It was fun. I may not have been born with a silver spoon but we had a spoon. You may call the spoon stainless steel spoon. I was born into an average family. The difference between the rich and the middle class was maybe the rich had 10 cars and you had four. The rich man may live in a house with 10 bedrooms and you live in a house with four bedrooms. I wasn't deprived at all. My mum was a teacher. I have seen life on both sides. I know how to relate to people from all walks of life.
Your mother must have been very strict...
Not quite. My mum wasn't the kind of teacher that flogged people all the time. My mum believes that you can talk to a child and make the child understand. I was never flogged at home and I don't think I turned out badly. I have seen worse people.
How did you meet your wife?
I met my wife at a party. Where else would I meet anybody if not a party? We didn't hit it off immediately, but I had my eyes on her. Thereafter, we met at a couple of other parties. There is a saying that if you meet a girl in a dance hall, she will dance away. But my wife did not dance away. I have been with my wife for more than 21 years. There is no big deal that I met my wife in a party. Some people meet their wives in churches and the marriages don't last.
Do you get distracted by the sight of semi-nude women dancing at parties?
Unfortunately, it doesn't really work for me any longer. But then as a man, it can affect me sometimes. But this is something I have been doing since I was a teenager. I am used to it. You can dance and do all the wriggling, it doesn't really move me. I deal with people from the inside. The ugliest person can be sexy if you get closer to the person. But I don't need to be getting closer to anybody. I have a very beautiful wife at home and she is so sexy. She is not lacking in any way.
So how do you cope with the female admirers?
I have been in this business for a long time. I am used to them. It doesn't even touch me. That is why I see it as funny when I see some people feeling on top of the world because they are popular. People who are born into wealthy homes are not always arrogant. But the people who made money just midway are usually full of themselves. If you ask them for autographs, they feel reluctant to give it. They fail to realise that the people asking them for the autographs are the ones that made them. If you don't have fans, you are not a star.
You don't have a male kid yet?
I don't have and I don't intend to have. I have signed off having kids. Two is enough for me. Obama has two girls. George Bush has two daughters. Clinton has one daughter.
Who will take over your name?
Which name? Jatt? When I am dead, my name would be written on a golden plaque. Are you not answering your father's name, at least for now? What makes you think your brother who is answering the same name is doing better than you? I may have come from a royal family but even if the kingship comes to my family, I am the third boy, so it won't come to me. I have even realised that I am better off with females. My girls can sit on top of my head, I don't mind. I feel females are meant to be pampered and spoilt. I feel a man must be drilled. God knows why he gave me girls. I love the relationship I have with my daughters.