Mo’hits Records has been nothing short of a phenomenon in the Nigerian music industry and Hip Hop World recently gave Nigerians a glimpse into the record label’s rise to the top with an exclusive video interview with Don Jazzy.
Check out some excerpts of the interview below, watch the video and let us know your thoughts in the comment section!
Hip Hop World Magazine: So how did you meet D’Banj?
Don Jazzy: D’Banj used to come to the studio in the JJC & 419 squad era. I just saw him as very funny character and he used to always bug us; I need a beat, in Nigeria things are popping off. I was like; okay dude, sing, you can’t sing. What can you do, can you rap, no you can’t rap. But he could play the mouth organ, I liked the way he used to play the mouth organ and he was very funny, so he used to crack us up. So we preferred to take him when we are going on shows on the road so that he would just be cracking us up. He used to make the road trips short for us; that was basically why we were taking me. If you watch some videos on Youtube, when we are performing you will see him at the back with his mouth organ, he will just be shouting “kilonshele!”, so that people would notice him. That’s the kind of person D’Banj is, any position you put him, he will stay there but he will try and make sure that you must notice that someone is there. And when I was leaving JJC & 419 Squad to go set up my own stuff, he was the only one that was like; now that everybody was taking a break, since we are close in the studio, that should he follow me. I said “where are you following me to? You are following someone that does not have money. I already know that I have talent, it would work for me at some point but for now I just need to settle my head”. He was like; no, you can do this thing, in the studio everyone knows that you are the one making the beats. I really liked his belief in me from them. I was like; for this guy to do this that you decided to follow me. Since the UK market was petty dominated by JJC & 419 Squad, the Nigerian scene, let’s go to where they don’t know us and we can start from scratch and come up. Let’s go and do an album. So we went to a friend of mine’s studio, I begged him to use the studio. We didn’t have the time, so we rushed the first album in like two weeks and it was done. As we had that copy like this, oya let’s go to Nigeria now and see what happens. That’s how D’Banj came into the picture. Well the confidence wouldn’t have been there if not that two weeks happened to be around the time they were doing Nigeria’s independence in London and for some reason we had to perform alone instead of with the group, JJC & 419 Squad, as we normally do. We never used to perform individually.
Hip Hop World Magazine: It seems like from the get go, you decided to go with your own record label instead of say, shopping D’Banj to other record labels, why did you decide to do so?
Don Jazzy: Oh no, we decided to set up our own record label because everybody in Nigeria at that particular time were just setting up record labels. But at some point, there was one time that we almost sold Mo’Hits Records to Storm Records. Things were pretty rough, there is nobody that we didn’t approach, we approached Questionmark, they were our big bosses at that time. They had Asa at that time and we could tell that the record label was pretty buffed up, as in they had cash to spend. Storm Records was doing big things, Kennis Music obviously. Yeah, we pretty much went everywhere. As we came in, we came in like children in the industry; I think that was helped us, really because a lot of people underestimated us, so we were like anybody’s baby. You see the way Wizkid is now, that is the way we were, we were just going from here to there. Every upcoming artiste should listen o, you better do that, jus be running from here to there, it works all the time. There was one time that we decided to merge Storm Records and Mo’Hits Records, so I would be the in-house producer for the artistes on Storm Records, Naeto C, Ikechukwu and Sasha and Storm Records would provide funding for D’Banj’s videos, basically take over the whole stuff, so D’Banj’s projects would be Storm Records/Mo’Hits Records for one million naira. And its not like we changed our mind, that we did not collect the money; it was them that were dulling. We used to go to their office everyday; we had even planned what we were going to do with the money. This was just after “Why Me” and it was not like the money was there. Even if we used to always act like there was money in front of the camera, there was no money.
Hip Hop World Magazine: Then Channel O Awards came for “Why Me”
Don Jazzy: That is not even what changed the whole thing. What changed everything was Powerfist’s endorsement because we would have still been running to Obi Asika of Storm Records, looking for that one million naira; that was the period that Powerfist’s endorsement came. 20 million naira ke? Are you kidding me? From one million to 20 million naira! Now, we know why God was delaying the signing of the one million deal. So let’s take it from there. if you have 20 million naira and you don’t know how to run your company from there, then your head is not correct. So basically, the bank account never read anything lower than that from then. We thank God.