Interview With Guinness U.S

Music: Houston Profile: Mixmaster Brown

Last month Guinness Live It Up brought the party to Houston, Texas. One of the three DJs sharing duties on the turntables was none other than Houston’s own DJ Mixmaster Brown. We had a chance to hook up with him recently, and ask him a few questions. It went something like this.

Mixmaster, we know you’re a DJ, but how would you describe yourself as an artist?
As an artist, I see myself as a hardworking and creative student, because I learn something new everyday. I would also describe myself as a producer on the fly.

Okay. I get it. Now if you had to describe yourself, using only one word, what would that word be?
Humble.

Why “humble?”
Well, I never let my achievements get in the way of my reasoning and interactions with people. I try to be as humble and friendly as possibility.

That’s cool. So how did you get started as a DJ?
It all started as a joke and then became a hobby. I had a music loving mum and family. So music had always been so familiar to me. It became real in the late 80’s during high school. I started taking my folks speakers to school gigs without their permission, and the funny thing is they still don’t know about it. (Laughs) In 1989, I was officially introduced to one of my mentors, DJ Mannix, by my sister. And the rest is history.

So where do you draw your inspiration from when you’re DJing?
That’s simple: from the new deejays and my immediate environment. I am never afraid to learn something new and fresh.

What kinds of music or genres do you play in a typical set?
It’s hard to pin me to one kind of music I play. Growing up in Nigeria made it compulsory for me as an artist/dj to be familiar with different genre of music. I like to say I play international music, which includes – Afrobeat, Coupe Decale, Reggae, Dancehall, Makossa, Pop, Hip hop n RnB, top 40, 70’s 80’s 90’s, and house.

You mentioned growing up in Nigeria. What’s your ethnic background?
I am originally from a town called Big Qua, Calabar, Cross River State in Nigeria.

Are you originally from Nigeria, or elsewhere?
Nigeria.

So what’s the best thing about being a DJ or DJing?
Being in charge and creating joy and happiness in the room.

Let’s flip that around. What’s the most challenging thing about being a DJ?
I am the chairman for the Deejays Association Of Nigeria (U.S.A). Some of my duties include supervising and coordinating meetings and get togethers for member deejays. It sounds easy and straightforward, but getting deejays together is one of the toughest jobs in the world. I would love to see deejays get more respect and recognition based on how instrumental we are in the entertainment industry.

How do you feel about being selected to play for Guinness Live It Up Houston?
I was excited when I got the call. At first I thought it was a prank but as we continued with the conversation I realized it was the real deal. I have been following Guinness Live It Up online and hoped to be part of it. And I’m really excited. Being selected tells me that I am definitely doing something right.

Since we’re talking Guinness, do you have a favorite drink?
Yup.

What is it?
Guinness Stout.

Switching gears for a sec, what’s the one thing people take away with them after meeting you for the first time? What kind of impression do you make?
Well physically, they say there’s something about my eyes. My voice is totally different from my looks. At least that’s what they say. People also say I strike them as an easygoing and realistic person. I think that’s true because I know I am straight forward and blunt with my words and thoughts.

How can folks find out more about you? I am not hard to find.
I am currently based in Houston and I’m all over Google. But the best place to find out more about me is to visit my official website http://djmixmasterbrown.com.

Aside from your website, do you have any social media handles people can use to get at you?
Yes. I have ‘em all. Twitter/Instagram @Mixmasterbrown. Facebook Page @IamDjmixmasterbrown. Facebook Profile @Djmixmasterbrown. Mixcloud @Djmixmasterbrown

So last thought. You’re a successful DJ. What advice would you give to aspiring DJs trying to achieve what you have?
Work hard and stay humble.

Interview by Stephen Chukumba

Thisday Daily Interview With Dj Mixmaster Brown

THISDAY DAILY INTERVIEW WITH DJ MIXMASTER BROWN

@Mixmasterbrown

Ekpenyong Otu also known as MIXMASTERBROWN or ‘Calabar Boy’ has been in the DJ business for over 25 years. He is a multiple award winning DJ and the current chairman of DJs Association of Nigeria in USA. JAMES SILAS connected with him recently, and he talked about art of Deejaying, Nigerian music industry and why corporate bodies are not really supporting Nigerian DJs.mmb-salute

Give us an insight of your background  

I am a Niger Delta Boy; partly Cross River, hence the nickname ‘Calabarboy’ and the rest of me from Delta State (Agbor). I was born in Surulere, Lagos State; married to my best friend, and we have produced two great boys. I started my school days in Day By Day Nursery School to Baptist Primary School, Surulere, then moved to Edo State, (used to be Bendel State), for Boarding school and back to Ekimogun Primary, Surulere. We moved again to Kaduna, then moved back to Lagos to complete my Secondary school at Aguda Grammar School, Surulere. I have a Diploma in Law and B.Sc in Political Science from the University Of Jos. Now I’m based in Houston.

What sparked your decision to become a DJ and how long have you been in the business?

I found myself in the DJ business at an early stage in life because my family have always loved music. My mum was a music person who belonged to a cultural music group. So I guess I was born to be a DJ (laughs). I became a professional deejay in 1989. That makes it 24 years now.

Where do you see Nigerian DJs in terms of brand affiliation and ‘monetization’ of the art?

Only a handful DJs have been able to create a brand and image for themselves. Which is a good thing; and I think most DJs and/or aspiring DJs should work on this too. It’s not all about playing music. In order to succeed in any business that involves human interaction, you must have an understanding of human relations. Starting from your appearance, to the way you interact with clients, on and off the job. The word we are looking for is “professionalism”. If most or all DJs can be professional in how they execute and carry out the job, I think it will be better for us all. I really do have a lot to say about this because I have been talking about this for a while now.

As a veteran in the game, what are you doing to pass your legacy to the next generation?

Most of the things I do today, is for those behind or coming after me. I am the only Nigerian or African DJ who has launched or created a strictly DJ pool and DJ community for African and Nigerian DJs. I created a site about 4-years ago and we have almost all the computer or internet savvy DJs registered with it. The site was created for DJs to interact, get to know each other across international boundaries, share ideas and music, learn techniques and so on. I have been doing this myself and have written to a couple of the big companies to come in and support, but I guess they don’t think the DJs need that much support. The site is called Dj2download and can be accessed at http://dj2download.com. I also have the biggest DJ event in Africa, which is supported by Cross River State Government ‘Mixmasterbrown’s Night of DJs’. It is witnessed by over 10,000 spectators. Nigerian Deejays from all over the world are assembled in Calabar every December for a showdown. This started in 2009. So in the future, I think these would be very important references when you talk about deejaying in Nigeria.

What is your relationship with other DJs in Nigeria?

I have a wonderful relationship with DJs back in Nigeria. We stay in touch as I am currently the Chairman for U.S.A Deejays Association of Nigeria.

Is there really a classification when it comes to Deejaying, and where do you fall into?

To some extent, I would want to say “yes” there is some sort of classification but it depends on the individual DJs to know what their strength is playing at event, though they might want to claim full versatility. For me, I have done it all. Clubs, radio, events. But my strength lies in Clubs and Events

What do you think Nigeria is missing in the art and business of Deejaying?

Let me start by saying that some Nigerian deejays are missing out of the global music pie. There are a lot of issues I can attribute to why the Nigerian DJ scene is lacking behind, but I will point out a few key ones. Bear in mind that some are really doing well.

First, they box themselves into strictly “Nigerian Identity”; don’t get me wrong. I love our music and culture, but at the same time, don’t shut yourself out of the global music explosion. There’s also the lack of cordial working relationship; there’s even some sort of cold war amongst DJs. From the general perspective, there’s the lack of a properly sponsored official music concert for DJs in Nigeria. Other DJs in Europe, Asia and the USA are having sold out events and making millions of Dollars from such events. Nigerian music is currently doing well in Africa, abroad and I personally know we have what it takes to make it work. DJs like Carl Cox of Britain, Dutch Dj Tiesto, Calvin Harris, Skrillex, Afrojack, David Guetta etc, are worth millions of Dollars. The DJ profession is really suffering in Nigeria. And one of the reasons is that most corporate companies do not see it worthy of sponsorship.

In the same line, what would you say about the music industry?

Nigerian music on the other hand, is doing better than the DJs who are the key apostles of music. Billions have been pumped into the industry and still counting. Although there are just a few more tweaks needed to perfect the Nigerian music industry. I have come to realize that some artists confuse distribution and marketing.

Distribution is how music gets into the shops, while marketing is much broader but can be termed as everything you and your music already are. Marketing also involves promotions, branding, advertising, pricing and distribution channels. Only very few record companies understand the difference. And when you take a look at their artists, you find them to be extremely successful. The talent is there, although we still have a few mediocre, which is normal in every society. So basically, the Nigeria’s music industry needs to beef up distribution channels and improve its marketing strategy.

We don’t see an impressive number of Nigerian DJs getting products or brand endorsements, from your point of view, what’s responsible for this?

This is still a mystery to me. It sure looks like a conspiracy. The DJs are probably the most instrumental in the industry, yet they get, the less or no endorsement. I think it’s bad. Having said that, I think we the DJs are not as united as we should – that seems to be working against us. Fact! Until this issue is addressed, we might never see this endorsement.

What else do you do, asides Deejaying?

I have a record and management outfit. I currently have one artist signed by the name, Salma Sky. She’s a multiple award winning artist from Zambia. You can look her up online. I also develop and administer to websites; matter of fact, I run one of the oldest music website called Afrijamz – http://afrijamz.com. This might come as a surprise to a lot of folks out there, yes I own, developed and run the site. I also spend time monitoring my online radio http://afrijamzradio.com. I do some events planning and management. I also do a lot of online promotions and advertisement.

How do you juggle between family and work?

Real easy. I married an understanding wife. She handles affairs pretty well, with or without my input. This gives me more room to run the business.

If you were to address Nigerians about Deejaying, what would you really want them to know about DJs and art?

I know respect is earned, so asking Nigerians to respect DJs would be out of place, but I want Nigerians to know that deejays are hard workers and are very instrumental to the success of most of their successful acts including P-Square, 2Face, D’banj, Iceprince, Wizkid, Davido etc. They should also know that deejaying is a tough but fun profession. To get the folks grooving, the DJ needs to enter their heads and minds to know what will get them up to get down. Deejays need recognition and endorsement too.

James Silas is a creative writer and Managing Director of Jarmzone Entertainment. He is also a columnist at Thisday Newspaper. Before that, James was an Editor at Hip Hop World Magazine. Asides writing, he a media consultant and runs a photography outfit, called CliQ By JamJam – see www.cliqbyjamjam.com

TRIBE X ENTERTAINMENT THE STORY

If you have not heard about “Green October” you probably from another planet or better still not yet born….This has been the word on the streets for the last couple of weeks.
Finally Vol 3 of the “Green October Mixtape” is here and as usual, well packaged and of course the best of African Acts in one place…..
I decided to find out what makes “Green October” thick so i contacted Harry Baba who is……………

So how did it all begin?

Where did the name come from?

I came up with the name Green October in early 2006 when I first thought of putting together a compilation of up and coming Nigerian artists.

“Green”, in this context, stands for the “people of the land”; all the diverse Nigerian peoples (Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa etc), their cultures and traditions.  “Green” also represents the stunning Nigerian terrain, and the country’s rich natural resources.

“October” has three distinctive meanings:(1) the month Nigeria had her independence (October 1960) from British colonial rule, (2) it also signifies the month Harrison’s mother, Pauline I. Nwozo, passed away from a long struggle with Ovarian cancer, (October 1996). Finally, it symbolizes a new positive “awareness” or “perception” of the international community’s view of Nigeria and Nigerians as a whole. October in this sense represents the autumn season. Old leaves pass away and “fall” to make room for new leaves to grow and thrive.  The positive, progressive presentation of a Nigeria that the rest of the world is unaccustomed too (the old leaves), dies off and re emerges as “something new”.

Green October therefore is the positive representation of Nigeria to the Western World by introducing them to something creative, beautiful, “something new”. That would be its incredibly diverse and powerful music. It is “new” to the outside world because all they know about Nigeria is stories of fraud, corruption, greed and religious strife. Most recently Nigeria has been linked to terrorism. Hopefully all Nigerians will discover their very own “Green October” (something special about Nigeria they could share with the world) and show the rest of the world how gifted and truly blessed we really are.

What gave you that initial push?

I was motivated by my love of the music and the negative images of Nigeria portrayed in the media. Nigeria, like most countries have a variety of problems and issues that it deals with. Nigeria, unfortunately, is known in many quarters as the most corrupt country in the world. Unlike most countries that have a bad rap, there is really nothing positive mentioned about Nigeria in the media. The fact that I was an established Nigerian promoter in the US gave me the idea that if I could get a Nigerian DJ to partner with we could put together mix tapes and push them to the Western world online. I knew that they would have to be of a certain standard and quality for non Nigerians to even listen to and accept. My initial inspiration for the fast paced Green October musical format came from listening and admiring Atlanta based DJ Mighty Mike’s Heavy Something Mix Tape series. I already knew who ManixX was and reached out to him. He said “yes” and we put out our first mix tape, Green October Volume I in April 2009.

When all the partying is over how do you like to chill out?

I love chilling out with my wife and kids at home, playing video games with my girls and watching movies while sipping on wine or munching on popcorn. During the summer we travel a lot, go out to the park, movies, dinner, playgrounds to play soccer with the girls, and travel to decent amusement parks.  In addition, when I am alone at home, I listen to music, surf the web and run my mouth on the phone. There has not been much chilling out lately as I am now pursuing my Masters in Technology Management at the University of Maryland. Pray for me ooo! It’s been a minute since I have been in school and these professors are showing no mercy!

So how is the scene in your eyes at the moment?

The scene is complicated. We are in a position to take over the music scene globally if we can all come together, pull our resources like the Hispanics did for Reggaeton. Nigerians are incredibly selfish. Everyone wants to be their own “island” so to speak. There are people with serious connections in the American music world that are not sharing that information because they want all the fame and glory for themselves. When these artists don’t make it hose resources “die off “ as they are never shared with others Nigerians who may have more talent and promise in  breaking through. We have so much talent and promise. Heck, I reached out to some folks myself that had blogs, entertainment sites, I reached out to popular PR folks, Nigerian magazine owners, African fashion/entertainment magazine owners and others who blatantly refused to work with me or carry or help me tell my story as I am telling you. I was told “no” by most, others beat around the bush, some refused to respond and you had those who promised to work with me but always seemed to be “busy” all the time. This is the reason why I have an American PR person helping me with my press release.

The scene is one of greed, jealousy and selfishness. There is that Naija Entertainment click that exists in Lagos and Abuja. They are keeping everything in house. This is what’s stifling the growth of the movement.

What advice would you give to up and coming DJs/Promoters?

I love the Coalition of Nigerian DJ’s. Dee Money, Mighty mike, Three K, Preview, ManixX, DJ Obi, Zimo, MixMaster Brown and so many others are really helping the Movement. DJ’s should continue to play NEW music and do their best to add at least 2 new Nigerian songs to their playlist every week. I think they should communicate through their networks on specific new songs (as long as those tracks are really, really hot) and play them simultaneously at parties.  What I am trying to say is if a new artist like Shakar El Swaggar comes out with “Anyhow” you know that if that specific track is played enough by ALL Dj’s it will catch on. So it all depends on the music also. It has to be a song that even though it’s NEW, it should be so hot that it would not entirely disrupt the party they are spinning at. This is the reason I believe most DJ’s don’t play new music: their clients getting mad and people unwillingness to dance to something they never heard before.

Finally: know your clients! For example, If you are hired to spin for people 30 and over, young Nigerian professionals, adjust your playlist accordingly. Don’t take for granted that you will just play what you want to play. Ask your client what type of music, artists or songs their guests would expect. Ask for demographic information. Play what the people want tohear and then slide in a couple of new tracks in between….if you are good to them and give them what they want…they won’t mind a new song or two included in your rotation…!

Promoters

Most promoters use to only care about one thing: getting their money. Nothing wrong with that but it got to the point where people were expecting a lot more than just a random party with the same people, same DJ, same $20 at the door and get in before 11pm if you don’t want to pay.

Times have changed and promoters are now thinking outside the box in the events and parties they are hosting. Some have branched into talk radio, artist management, community fundraising and other activities. I encourage promoters that think outside the box. I call them personally, hit them up on facebook and let them know that I support what they are doing because I know it’s not easy taking on a new task. My advice to promoters is to continue to think outside the box. It does not take a genius to get a club or lounge, hire a DJ, security, negotiate a bar guarantee, pass out fliers, call, text, facebook people to death and at the end other night the club/lounge owner makes 100 times more than you did…….there has got to more to the game than that. Not saying that they should stop throwing parties, heck, I would be a hypocrite if I said that, but add something more to the mix. Find something you are passionate about, package market and promote it.

How Did You Come About Green October

What Connected You With Dj Manixx

I knew of DJ Manixx in the Washington DC Area. I knew he was part of the Nigerian DJ Coalition. I mentioned to him about a year or two before I asked him to join my project that I was trying to come up with a positive Nigerian concept that I could promote and market to the Western World. I told him it had to do with music and at that time I was thinking of managing a Nigerian artist and pushing him all the way to the top. When this did not work out, (it was not as easy as I thought) I totally abandoned the idea of ever managing a Nigerian or any artist for that matter. I still wanted to do something musically. But how? I could not rap or sing. Then DJ Mighty Mike came out with Heavy Something Mix Tapes, of which I was a big fan, and a light bulb went off. The mix tapes are available online, FREE of charge and the music is blended in so no artist can really say you are selling his music.  This meant no stress in dealing with artists directly (who can be a pain in the neck sometimes). I called ManixX, we had a meeting and went to work on Green October Volume I. We do make serious attempts to reach out to all the artists featured on our mixtapes and let them know what we are doing. To date no artist has refused to have his or her music on the projects.

Anything else you want to say? Any shouts?

Shout out To God and my Lord Jesus Christ to whom I owe everything, my wife and Vice president of Operations Tee Nwozo, my daughters Olanna and Maranna, brothers, sisters, their families, my extended family worldwide, my incredibly supportive in laws and all my friends on facebook, in the Washington DC metro area and all over the world!

I would like to shout out all the blogs, entertainment websites (too many to name hear) that agreed to put up our story, music, links and graphics. When they do this for us I take their link featuring my story and post it on facebook. So if you go to Tribe X Entertainment, LLC or Harry Baba Presents Green October and go through the archives you will see the links of the Entertainment magazines, blogs, and websites etc that have supported our movement.

Last but not least, I would like to thank my haters. Without them hating on me for no reason I may not have been as aggressive as I am to succeed in all I do, especially the Green October mix tape series and other projects. The more they hate, the more determined I am to succeed at what I do best.

Contact Tribe X Entertainment
“Green October Mixtapes”

That’s how it went between Harry Baba (Tribe X Entertainment CEO) & Mixmasterbrown (Afrijamz CEO), i hope this pushes at least one person to a whole new level.
I gotta go take care of business, so i’ll catch y’all some other time with another inspiring personality.