Jimi Anthony Shadare, also known as DJ Jimbo, is a renowned Nigerian disc jockey (DJ) and CEO of Effrakata Entertainment. It has carved out a place for itself by combining music from all African countries. In this interview with TONY OKUYEME, he talks about his experience, how he became a DJ, the industry, Afrobeat and Burger Highlife. He also talks about his experience in organizing concerts in French-speaking countries, among others. Extracts
Tell us how your career as a Disc Jockey (DJ) started? Was it by chance?
Music has always been my relaxation zone. Discovering French-speaking music, about 23 years ago, I got involved in shows, club nights and radio broadcasts. For the events in Lagos, I brought in the best DJs from French-speaking countries to perform. I discovered that we weren’t satisfying the general English-speaking public with Franco-style DJs. By now I had mastered a lot of French speaking African music and noticed that their music and the English speaking music, (Funk, Soul, Rare groove, House etc) that I grew up with could be mixed by my knowledge Anglophone and Francophone music. . This led to me getting the full DJ gear and practicing including mixing to produce a great sound/music mix that makes the audience happy on the dance floor. It also reduced my costs of flying into my French speaking DJs.
Would you say it was worth the effort and commitment? Why?
Deejaying and learning on the job for me hasn’t been a challenge because of my total love of music. Being able to play (mix) different genres of music to create a dancing atmosphere gives me great satisfaction. Among other things, I’m also a Rare Groove/Old Skool Deejay who conveniently caters to that market since that’s the music I grew up with in the early 70s.
The passion for entertainment, especially music, seems to run in the family given that your younger brother, Ayoola Shadare, is a jazz music promoter. Is this the case or just a coincidence?
Well, I guess the music is in the family line. My late father was a renowned dental practitioner, international lawn tennis and cricket player who also had a record company, sponsored two bands with brand new equipment, roller coaster buses, etc. The passion for music, its promotion and all, flows freely.
Being a DJ has its challenge, combining French-speaking music with Nigerian music, undoubtedly has its particular experience. How were you able to handle this?
For me, being a late stage Deejay in my life is actually a downside considering that my first record gift (Vinyl) was given to me by my late father before I was 10 years old. My dad had a solid collection of different types of music that I got addicted to as a kid… Jazz, Soul, Funk, Highlife, Juju, Saka… you name it, he had it all. In fact, I inherited his collection when he rose to fame.
How do you decide what kind of music to play for the audience, especially if it’s a mix of young and old?
A Deejay’s job is to read the crowd and know when to blend in and transition to set the mood by rocking the crowd. If you ask me, that’s where my strength lies… rocking my audience. With my background in various sounds, a melody from one different genre to another (eg French and other genres) will pop into my head while I’m busy and the mix will materialize. I make a mental note or write both songs down so I can practice mixing later.
How did it go, organizing concerts in Ivory Coast, Senegal, Benin Republic, Togo and other African countries. How was your experience?
My organization fair in French-speaking countries was an interesting experience on my CV as I tasted sweet and salty. One aspect that easily came to my aid was the fact that I am Nigerian and that was the mentality I used to deal with the ups and downs when putting on shows etc. In your experience, which of the different genres of music, especially African music, engages the fans the most? From my experience as a Deejay, Afropop, Afro R&B, Afro House, Afro Congo, Afro Trap makes audiences happy easily.
What is the idea behind ‘Burger Highlife’?
“Burger Highlife” is a particular type of Highlife that Ghanaians invented, due to the rhythm infused into contemporary Highlife to create a bumpy feel to its sound.
What is really the difference between Afrobeat and Afrobeats?
I always got to know Fela Kuti and his music as Afrobeat. Remember I mentioned my first disc gift from my late father which was a Fela disc. Over the years, artists like Ebo Taylor, Femi, Seun, Made Kuti, Pat Thomas, the late Tony Allen and many more have always delivered undiluted Afrobeat in its truest sense. To me, very few Nigerian artists choose an Afrobeat line, wrap up, say a dancehall, house or R&B hook and call it ‘Afrobeats’.
We sold the world that our new generation music is called afro…
with an ‘S’, then here we are.
Would you say Disc Jockey as an industry is getting the attention it deserves?
Yes, I will say that is the case and the idea that Disc Jockeys never sink or quit is no longer tenable. I remember my session at the last AFRIMA nominees event, 2021, during which a Kenyan nominee for the rock category, came to appreciate my performance of “African music” and their desire for me to return to the stage. The art of Deejays using music to touch lives is a God given talent
Would you advise your child to become a DJ?
Geez, it’s a shame that I started late in the day but as long as I’m alive, vigorous and warm, I’ll always let my passion for music and its delivery make people happy.
Have you been embarrassed?
As a Deejay, I was not embarrassed as I made sure to check every aspect of myself from tutorials and practices through endless practice sessions. I don’t rule out discomfort of any kind on the turntables, in the future….
when I get to the bridge, GOD will help me, on the way to cross it. In the meantime, I am enjoying Deejaying and looking forward to performing for Africans of different nationalities in a stadium setting, throwing the crowd into a frenzy.
You are the CEO of Effrakata Entertainment. What is the idea behind it, especially the name Effrakata?
The name ‘Effrakata’ comes from my very first album by Koffi Olomide which I bought in London in 2001. I listened to the album several times where me, my wife and my children could recite and dance to all the songs on the Dual Album. It’s the music and the artist that made me addicted to Makossa, Soukouss, Ndombolo, Rhumba and finally, all African music; hence the name of my outfit “Effrakata Entertainment” under my parent company. It also allowed me and Koffi to meet and become friends, so much so that he mentioned my name in his 2019 track called ‘Papa Ngwusuma’ and I also visited him in the DRC.