Featured: Afro Garage

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From: afrohand
JJC defies categories. Is his music Nigerian Afrobeat? US-flavoured hip-hop? Latin? UK Garage? Yoruba pop? The Nigerian producer, songwriter, rapper and DJ is all of the above and more. One thing is for sure: he is one of the most versatile, exciting artists to come out of the UK in a long time, and he is more than ready to show the world that categories are there to be broken. Join the Faji (Yoruba for “party”) – JJC style! Born as Abdul Bello in Kano, Nigeria’s third biggest city in the North of the country, he chose ‘JJC’ as his alter ego, a term that goes back to his African heritage and is used to describe naïve newcomers to countries such as the UK. “It means ‘Johnny just come’, it’s a tag for people who’ve just come from Africa and that have no clue about England, how to speak English properly, how to get themselves around. It’s the most common insult that African people get by other Africans.” Twenty-four year old JJC, who is also known as Natural Born Skilaz (his producer alias), has always been a lover of all music. “I grew up with my dad listening to country music, especially Don Williams, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. Then I started getting into more Nigerian music like Shina Peters and Fela Kuti. Also I was into Michael Jackson and pop music.” As a producer, he is influenced by the Afro-Juju of Sir Shina Peters and Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s Afrobeat, but also admires the production skills of Dr. Dre, Timbaland, the Neptunes, Mike Soul and BJ. JJC loves experimenting with new sounds and vocal arrangements. Artists who have worked with him have the highest praise. “He’s the most flavoured and inspirational producer we ever worked with”, says Randy from Out 4 Just-iz, “he puts his heart into the beats.“ Arriving in England at the age of 14, JJC started getting heavily into hip-hop and rapping. He began producing music at Dick Shepherd School in Brixton where the music room became his escape from the confusion he initially experienced at the school. Schoolmate Brando heard the beats that JJC was producing and immediately recognised his talent and got him involved in his and his friend Letch’s group, the 121 Crew (this was before One 2 One, the telephone company, was established). They changed their name to Secret Weapon and performed at talent shows up and down the UK. When things didn’t work out the guys went their separate ways, and JJC concentrated on his production work. In August 1999, while he was working for an editing company in pre-production for TV adverts, he hooked up with Brando again and the idea of putting together a compilation of tracks by artists from the streets of South London was born. This idea soon grew and JJC and Brando decided to set up a production company/hip-hop & R’n’B collective. Letch and another school friend, K-Boy, joined them, and the four of them collectively formed the production company, as well as B’Sharp Management, Lifeline Records and Beat O’ven Studios in West Walworth, South London. Their mission was to capture talented rappers, singers, musicians and DJs off the streets that were not getting the opportunity to showcase their talents due to industry shortsightedness. They wanted to give the company a name that’s easy to remember and that everyone could relate to. “Big Brother” was one of the names that got thrown around, a person most people would look up to (this was before the name was popularised by the Channel 4 programme). Big Brovaz was born. Big Brovaz’ s unique mix of different heritages is one of the most important elements to their sound. Whilst the majority of the Big Brovaz crew grew up in South London, some were born in countries as diverse as Jamaica, Nigeria, USA and Uganda, which adds a colourful touch to the music and represents the true multicultural spirit of London. Randy (of Out 4 Just-iz) from Jamai
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