To the average music follower in Nigeria, Jaywon needs no introduction. His fans nicknamed him “Oba Onitinko” after he dropped his debut album, Tinko Angel, and since then, Jaywon has launched himself into a journey that has made him one of Nigeria’s most sought after musicians. Apart from his album, the many artistes, home and abroad that have featured him in their hits bear testimony that at the moment, Jaywon is about the hottest item on Kennis Music label. Such hits include Essence’s Facebook Love and Goldie’s Jawo Jawo.
In a chat with Street Journal’s WOLE ADEJUMO, Jaywon opened up on how his love for music made him buy a CD player with his school fees and how his mum tried to dissuade him from pursuing a musical career. He also spoke on his role in Ghetto Dreamz, the movie on Da Grin’s life as well as his recent UK Tour. Excerpts:
How did your journey into the music industry start?
For me, music is a way of life. It is about passion, about you doing what you doing what you know how to do best. It’s about you living your life based on what you believe in. It is more than a profession, more than anything to me.
When you decided you were going into music, what was your parents’ reaction?
Of course when I was starting, no parent wanted his or her child to go into music unlike now that parents want their children to become musicians. When I started it wasn’t like that, almost all parents felt music was exclusively for touts, for the arrogant, homeless kids who have nobody to guide them and the never do well type.
But for someone like me, my whole life revolves around music because in everything I do, you’ll find me singing. Even if it is not my song, you’ll see me singing. So at a point my mum realised that. Even my elder brother did not have a CD player when I gathered all the money I had including my school fees to go and buy a CD player. When she found out, she tried all she could to discourage me, she put most of the things I had away but then, it was too late for me to stop because I was so much into the game that nothing, not even my mum who is like the most important thing to me could stop me.
I always tell people that to me, music is different. I don’t look at music the way everybody looks at it. It’s a way of life, it is either you are in or you are out.
On and off the stage, who is Jaywon?
Jaywon is a jolly good fellow, a super duppa nigger, a normal guy. I’ll say just call me Juwon. That is the real me. I don’t like people telling me I am humble, I just love to be me. You know, people can see you today and say you are humble and the next time they see you, they say that boy is no longer humble. I don’t like that, so I am only being me. I like it when people take me for who I am. If you see me as a humble guy, I’m okay and if you see me as a rude boy, no problem because I am only being the Juwon that you know.
I am an entertainer, an artiste on Kennis Music label and we thank God we have been able to make a lot of people happy. I am so proud of my fans and my loved ones.
Jaywon is fast becoming a popular face in the music industry, has fame changed anything about you?
The only thing that has changed is probably that I get noticed easily everywhere I go. But that hasn’t changed anything about me because I am still the real me. The only problem I have with people is that when they see you, they look at you as a kind of special person. I am not special; I am a human being like everyone else, so treat me like one.
For instance, someone calls you, maybe you were not with your phone, and the person will call back, “why didn’t you pick your phone?” I normally ask them you no dey shit? You no dey go toilet abi when you dey go toilet, you dey carry your phone go there? Abi you no dey chop? Abi when you dey chop, you dey carry your phone? That is the only thing that has changed, some people see me as a different person. They seem to have forgotten that the same trouser that they wear is what I wear; some of them even have more money than I do.
But everywhere I go, you hear people saying ah, that’s Jaywon and I will just say my brother, I hail o.
What should your fans expect?
Nothing but me, nothing but Juwonlo, the Oba Onitinko 1 that you know. Nothing but Jaywon. I have been living my life for music and I will continue living my life for music even though there are lots of things attached, there are lots of things that surround music and being famous.
You know a lot of people feel when you are famous it will start affecting you. Some feel that fame has gotten into your head forgetting that you have a lot of responsibilities to take care of. But we thank God, we have been everywhere. I just came back from a tour of the UK a few days ago.
When people ask me, I say I am not doing music for everybody, believe me. Just take me like that. I am not doing music for everybody. You know a lot of people don’t actually understand Yoruba and a lot of people want to hate you because they don’t understand Yoruba. Why would you hate me because it is not for you? If it’s not for you, don’t listen to it. But if you are the wise one you know music is universal and you don’t need to listen to the language. All you need to listen to is the melody.
So music is a way of life for me and nobody can stop me, not even the haters because a lot of people actually hate you because they feel you are better than their own best and possibly in the nearest future you might be bigger than they are. That is what it is, but don’t be deceived, we are just living our lives for music and that is what we will continue to do because it is a way of life for me, it is not just a profession, it is not just a business.
How did your UK tour go?
It was great; we went from Birmingham to Manchester, Manchester to Northampton and lastly London. We ended up in Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. Dublin was great, London was massive. I actually toured with Da Grin’s movie, Ghetto Dreamz, you know I was one of the cast in the movie. People really came out to support.
Are we going to be seeing more of you in the movie industry?
As an artiste, I act every day. You see me on stage, you see me in my musical video, so I don’t see anything different in that. The only difference is probably that they have to give you a script. But to some people, it is in-built. I tell people, I am not trying to form this, and this is what I live for. If I start to form it now, I will miss a lot of things.
When you were given the role in the Da Grin movie, what came to your mind?
Actually, the Director of the movie is my friend and we met last year on our way to New York for the MEA and I remember he was telling me that “Jaywon, you can actually act, why don’t you just put that into consideration” and I told him I know I can but right now, I need to stay focused on my musical career. But when he called me, I couldn’t say no because Da Grin was a friend and will remain a friend.
Being part of that movie has been a blessing to me. I feel happy being part of it because I feel okay, we were able to do something for Da Grin and we did it because we want that name to remain in people’s memories, you know, though he is dead, he lives in our minds, we still get to hear a whole lot of songs he did before he died. And it is actually working for me because apart from the fact that we toured the UK for the movie, the experience was great.
How would you describe Da Grin?
Da Grin is a product of an environment which we call “street”. That is where I am from and for every wise boy on the street, for every reasonable dude out there who has a dream, I will say don’t let anybody deceive you, you can be who you want to be. Da Grin made it, you don’t need to tell me, I made it. All you need to do is to stay focused and be yourself. Don’t fake anything. Don’t let anybody tell you that you cannot make it. Talent is everywhere. All you need is to believe in yourself that I can be better than Da Grin, I can be better than Jaywon, I can be better than any artiste in Nigeria.