Artiste and producer Jesse Abaga, popularly known as Jesse Jagz, can best be described as one of Nigeria’s most diverse artistes. In this interview with Aderigbe Tolulope, ‘the Wetin Dey’ crooner talks about his latest album, Jagz Nation Vol 2, his opinion about the “baby-mama” phenomenon and politics.
Who is Jesse Abaga?
I am a musician, an artiste; music is an expression of me. Be it pop, reggae, hip hop or even afro, I have always broken sound boundaries with my music and brand.
How has your latest album, “Jagz Nation Vol. 2: Royal Niger Company” been faring?
It is doing great even though it wasn’t a big budget project; and it was released while I was idle. It’s not even been a year since it was released, so I’m still promoting and exploiting it.
How did your stage name, “Jesse Jagz” come about?
One day, a friend of mine called me “Jesse Jagz” and it just stuck since then. It started as a nickname and then I started using it as a brand name.
Is it true that you and your brother, MI fell out because of your decision to leave Chocolate City?
We were never beefing. That’s my brother and friend; same thing with Ice Prince. Audu Maikori is my uncle. We’ve always been comfortable with agreeing to disagree. They are my family.
Does your label, Jagz Nation still exist?
Jagz Nation will always exist. Long after I’m gone, it will continue to expand. I’m working on making that my empire. Been working and talking with some artistes so in no time, you’ll hear good things.
What is the inspiration behind your singles “Redemption” and “Sunshine”?
Redemption is a socially conscious song that addresses political problems. Sunshine was just a Lagos feel good song. I sampled the legend, Fela on that; it’s one of my favourites too.
How would you describe your music?
My music is eclectic. I am a man with many sides and that reflects in my music. I flirt with genres and create from the energy I feel. I don’t have a genre. My genre is Jesse Jagz. When you hear my music, you just know.
Aside music, what else does Jesse do?
There’s always business to take care of on the side. Been working on a lot of stuff and they will come to light this year. Apart from that, I spend my free time developing myself-reading, writing, and meditating. I build myself; everything else is as a result of that.
Celebrities with “baby mamas” seem to be the in-thing now; being one of them, what’s your take?
(Laughs) “Baby Mamas” have always been there. Artistes didn’t invent it. The times we live in are different. I’ll just say a lot more people are exposed at a younger age now. Ruby (my daughter’s mother) and I have been close friends and that will never change.
You once said in an interview that your daughter raps better than most Nigerian rappers. Is she still pursuing that talent?
Right now, she plays the piano and I’m teaching her to produce. But formal education is important. She’s super talented, but we’ll know when she decides.
The FCT chapter of PMAN is pushing for a ministry of entertainment. What is your take on that?
(Laughs) If they want it to work, they don’t need to announce it. When we have a body that works, we’ll know. PMAN is just one aspect of making sure things go well and we have a real industry.
Are you dating anyone currently and any plans to marry soon?
I’m not dating and don’t think I’ll be settling down soon. I’m married to my music for now.
Rumour has it that you’re dating one of Femi Kuti’s dancers, Sandra. Is it true?
Like you said, it’s a rumour. She’s my close friend so I am not surprised; people always take things out of context.
Which aspect of your career do you love the most-producing, songwriting or rapping?
Those are all aspects of my career. They all add up into one. I work and give time to all three. The better my production, the better the song writing and vice versa.
How do you relax?
I read, write, and watch a movie or travel. When I’m home though, I relax by just being quiet. Silence is hard to find these days.
You’ve been described as Nigeria’s Kanye West due to your musical diversity, do you agree?
I let others do the defining; my job is to make music. I am Jesse Jagz.
Politics seems to hold an attraction for entertainers; what’s your take on that and what suggestions do you have for the president-elect about your industry?
We all are into politics one way or the other. It affects all of us. I would tell him to create more jobs. Most of us artistes and a lot of the people who run this industry are self-employed.
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