Collins Ajere is a name that might not ring bells in certain circles, but this unassuming gentleman has definitely built a legacy worth celebrating. When heâ€™s not operating in his office as the President of the Artiste Manager Association in Nigeria, heâ€™s father to the brilliant Don Jazzy and also pop singer Dâ€™Prince.
In this exclusive interview Mr. Ajere speaks with HipHopWorld about how he got to the leadership position he currently occupies, the success of his children in the music industry and why he thinks younger son Dâ€™Prince is misunderstood. Enjoy
Q: WE KNOW YOU AS DON JAZZYâ€™S FATHER.
A: My name is Collins Ifeanyi Owuneme Ajere Enebeli and I am the President of the Artiste Manager Association in Nigeria and also a trustee of the Association.
Q: ALOT OF PEOPLE DONâ€™T KNOW THAT YOUâ€™RE THIS VERY IMPORTANT PERSON WHO HAS MADE AN IMPACT IN THE INDUSTRY UNTIL WE MET DON JAZZY, WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE NOW?
A: Yes, its show business like you know. Itâ€™s something that you might not be able to draw a line to say at what time you decided to get engaged in, if you have got it, you have got it! I formally decided to take it head-on when I started offering freelancing services for NTA way back when I was a program host. I participated in and presented lots of TV programs. But my path kept meeting with those other people who had various interests until I eventually zeroed in on music and decided to be much more actively engaged in the businesses behind the business, that led to the setting up of my own music label way back then in the early 80â€™s called Sagittarius International Productions.
I signed on my own artists and I offered managerial services for them. I had on my label then artistes like Dusty who was a fledgling act at the time. They were with the group that broke off from Don Bruce and the Angels, and the interest I had then led me to start grooming my kids as well to take over from me in the fullness of time. That was when Don Jazzy and Dâ€™Prince started getting their tutelage from childhood and of course they have the talent in them as well.
I am also credited with being the man who moved the motion for the professional disengagement of artist managers from music promoters in what used to be the Association of Artiste Managers and Music Promoters. Subsequently, a new association was born which is now known as Artiste Managers Association of Nigeria which I happen to be a trustee and the present president. My presidency commenced after the death of the pioneer president on the 9th of June 2002.
Ever since then, I have been working behind the scene to put the Association of Artiste Managers together, building up their capacity to have a better understanding of how the businesses behind the business of show business should be conducted. I donâ€™t really take much delight in being present in entertainment events on the red carpet. That is why my visibility has been reduced but my relevance has never been diminished because the effect of my works have always been felt over.
Q: FROM A FATHERâ€™S POINT OF VIEW HOW DO YOU ACTUALLY SEE DON JAZZY?
A: I am proud of him just like any father would be proud of his child that is doing well. More so when you have worked hard to ensure that their God-given talent develops and you help guide them to remain focused and keep being there for them, praying and making your own effort as best as you can. It is much more gratifying when youâ€™re an industry insider and you see you kid following on the part of a legacy which you have built over time.
Like it is always said, it is the prayer of every parent for their children to be greater than they are. So when I see my kids doing well it means God has answered my prayers, that my efforts have not been in vain. I believe such developments that they have enjoyed will be an inspiration to other people who will wish to be like they are and perhaps better; and also a wakeup call for parents to support their kids and their dreams so that they also get big. So Iâ€™m happy and Iâ€™m proud and I give thanks to God.
Q: DID YOU EVER HAVE CONFLICTS WITH YOUR KIDS?
A: No! I have never had issues with my kids and we have always had a very good bond. I discharged my parental responsibilities as best as I could and I did not allow my over bearing influence to compromise their individual personalities. So whatever they are is how God has created them and there has never been any conflict whatsoever.
Q: DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE SONG FROM THE Dâ€™PRINCEâ€™S PREVIOUSLY RELEASED ALBUM?
A: Dâ€™Prince is an artiste that most people have not understood very much, But as a veteran in this business and somebody who is gifted with a certain degree of vision that is genuine and not based on bias or because he is my son or anybody, I see in Dâ€™Prince an artiste who has enormous potentials that is yet to be tapped by those who need to fully appreciate his works. In that regard I listen to his works with good concentration to see the real reasons behind the lyrics of most of his works, and as a showbiz person I believe that most of his works are very good.
â€œThe Journey of a thousand milesâ€ in his â€˜Frenzyâ€™ album is a song and a work that will be here for a long time and I wonâ€™t be surprised if that material becomes ever-green, and an inspirational material that will be soothing to some people who wish that things happen overnight but life is not like that. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a step and it is only one step at a time you will get there.
Q: HAVE YOU EVER LISTENED TO ANY OF DON JAZZYâ€™S PRODUCTION THAT YOU LIKE?
A: I have never doubted his creative capabilities. Don Jazzy from his childhood had demonstrated his musical skills. As way back as when he was three years old, he had begun to demonstrate his capacity for a musical ear; and over time such attributes have become quite vintage and when he does jobs he is often times as futuristic as possible. I have no doubt that his outputs have been well thought about even though they are made for different audiences for obvious reasons. As subjective as musical works are, you donâ€™t expect everyone to feel the materials equally. But for him, â€˜The beat Kingâ€™ as we like to call him, he does his job taking a whole lot of things into consideration and he gets his inspiration from realms that are unexplainable because his talent is just a God given talent so he is indeed a music don.