34 QUESTIONS WITH JEEN
Who are your favorite artists and why?
Who are you and what do you do?
I'm a singer, songwriter, and in summary an artiste.
Why do you do what you do?
To be damn honest, I get an orgasmic feeling from creating a song and hearing everyday people vibe to it; I feel a connection to the universe. Art makes me feel less alone.
How do you work? (what inspires you?)
Sounds inspire me, I rarely have a beat cooking in my head but when I hear a freshly created one that I automatically connect with, it's all the inspiration I need, lyrics magically fall into place and I just try to pour my soul into the track and whole project. Every other time I fetch my inspiration from the strangers I meet, I try to imagine myself in their shoes and a story builds up. My lifestyle is the biggest inspiration finally, I just happen to find myself interesting and fascinating, thinking about all I've had to do for growth and all my vices i ride with.
What's your background? [Education, skills genre(s)]
I tried to join the church choir as most singers do, but I guess I bunked the idea for deeper reasons. I sing and rap. I'm more drawn to the pop, trap and afro genre, but I plan to stay free and at liberty to explore other genres and still be understood, appreciated and recognized. I also enjoy writing for other artistes in genres I'm not actively visible in. To me, music is a universal language. I'm college educated with a degree in English/Literature; I guess it's with the exposure in this field I write screenplays, all on a low-low, for now.
Explain what you do in 100 words
Art is so important to me because it's the only medium I know to bring my even deepest thoughts and experiences to life; it's art because I do this subtly or aggressively, as the need be. What i do through my music is to let my listeners in on the sub-urban kid lifestyle. I don't consider myself a 'conscious' lyricist in the terms of pushing a political or moral idea, but I consider myself conscious in the aspects of making my listeners feel and appreciate the simple things of life.
How has your practice changed over time?
As a singer, I've gone from trying to impress my listeners with vocal dexterity to singing with soul. As a writer, I've gone from writing lyrics that are simply rhymes to being topical and communicative, no matter how shallow or deep the themes go.
Who are your influences?
I'd say Nas, Drake, Lil Wayne and TuBaba.
What's your strongest memory of your childhood?
My childhood is a blur but i strongly remember all the nights when i thought i was peeing outside.
What themes do you pursue? (What message do you pass on through your art?)
My regular themes are love, especially self-love, loyalty, ecstasy, motivation and basic contemporary philosophy. Through my art i hope to pass the message that knowing yourself completely is the most important task there is as we exist, only then do we live.
What's the scariest experience you've ever had?
The day I almost got robbed. It was at gunpoint, but I took the hell off. I'm sure I surprised even the armed robber. Gotta surprise your enemies like that, act unexpectedly. Actually, I just thank God i didn't get hit.
A lot of legends, I'd say my favorites are Lil Wayne, Burna Boy, Damian Marley, and Nas, but ask me another day and the list might change of course.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you.
Every time I hear my sister sing my songs i haven't even recorded, lyric for lyric, mostly censored of course, and I wonder how she grabs the songs faster than me. There's a time I met the legendary Jeremiah Gyang for a quick picture; he said he could tell i was art inclined, that was enough to boost my self-esteem, you dig.
What's your most embarrassing moment?
My first dance with a girl, high-school. I held her hands, swinging them from side to side. I didn't understand her expression till I saw my homies laughing their asses out.
What jobs have you done other than being an artiste?
I've been a teacher, professionally, I taught elementary school for a while, I even performed a Christmas rap song with my Grade 4 kids, and of course we murdered. I worked at a photo studio for a while after high-school. During breaks in the university days, I worked as a Waiter at events. I have done a few menial jobs.
Life is hard; music makes it a lot more bearable.
What is your outlook on life?
It's my duty to call the shots about my happiness. It's my pleasure to inspire happiness in others.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Girls who would listen to my songs and go crazy about it; make a video with it and send to me, some I can share, others PG rated.
What food, drink, song inspires you?
Coffee is my biggest vice. It be using me. Too many songs inspire me, I create new playlists every month. My taste in food changes quickly; I taste something new that I like and I get addicted for months till I meet a new delicacy. One time I was hooked on greens and I created some good music during the period.
Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
It's not lonely for me. I believe in synergy when it comes to producing good art. I've gotta be working with someone or some people on every project, that means like minds. As far as I'm working, I'm never lonely, I'm connecting. Why I've got to be working every damn time I guess. That answers it.
What do you dislike about the music world?
The fact that it's becoming a lot more political.
What do you dislike about your work?
The fact that every time i get to working, I lose count of time and end up leaving a lot of important things in my life unattended to, and that's just at this stage.
What do you like about your work?
It makes me feel extremely relevant in this vast universe. I get clouded with the thought; I'm doing something so important, as trivial as it seems. People are out there waiting for this sound to kill their pains.
What superpower would you want to have, and why?
Infinite money. Why? I think Batman already answered that.
Name something you love, and why.
I love badass solid boots. They remind me I'm 'pose to thread on snakes and scorpions.
Name something you don't love, and why.
I hate ''fakeness''. When we have to fake it till we make it, it becomes impossible to go back to real. I hate it cause it's the option we're left with as artistes to compete in this crazy industry.
What is your dream project?
Live concert album
Name three artists you would like to be compared to.
Kanye West, Lil Wayne and Kanye again.
Favorite or most inspirational place?
I love Jos. Its chill aura. It's the perfect environment for a writer.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
My father once said to me, God is real and alive, do what you want but don't forget this.
Professionally, what's your goal?
To go international, to own all my masters.
What wouldn't you be able to do without?
Can't do without my headphones. Fact.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your craft and life?
The world came to a standstill. There was finally some quiet, and I took the opportunity to write. What better time to create. From the quarantine going forward, I've gotten to meet myself and know myself a lot more. I almost lost a friend to the virus and in that moment, the world felt damn cold around me. Praises to God, it all worked out. As a human race, hopefully we get closer after all the distancing.
What are your thoughts on the END SARS movement?
In the words of WB Yeats: 'In dreams begins responsibility,'
I think the #EndSars protest is a perfect platform for us, the youths of Nigeria, to prove that we are capable of enormous responsibility even as we bare great dreams for Nigeria. Only then would positive change begin. In the meantime, I pray we are not distracted by the hole in our original plan; I urge that we still peacefully and constructively pursue the growth and development of our precious motherland.
Any up coming project (s)?
Yeah. Something's cooking up in the YDIE Planet. The stove is always lit, and we're all in the kitchen.