Meet Jizzle Benz
Friday, June 15, 2012
Born in Bakau to Momodou Jallow and Maimuna Janneh, both hoteliers, Jerreh studied at Ndows from nursery up to Grade 9. He currently lives with his family at Kotu. Meet aka Jizzle Benz…
How did you get involved in music?
I started doing music as real business in 2009, after completing Grade 9 at Ndows. Before that I was doing it just for fun. I would just be playing free-styles, scribbling songs on a piece of paper and discarding it. Actually, I got inspiration from my big brother, Ensa Jallow aka BrekaVeli. We share a room, and he would be playing his music loud at night - I would wake up and watch him. At first I was not interested, but later got attracted.
How come you’re more popular in music than your brother?
Yea, he is still into music, but busy doing some studies. I have more advantage than him because I am young, small and anywhere I burst people would say: ‘wow how can a small kid like him do that!’ Besides, I am more serious in it than him. He was doing it undercover while I was open with it.
What was your parents’ reaction to your music?
At first my dad wasn’t cool with it, but when he realised that I was determined and doing good, he gave in. My mother never complained.
But for various reasons, music is not a career most parents wish their children to do. What did your father or mother initially want you to do?
Education first and I decide later. Of course, my dad would ask what I would want to do and I would say that I want to become a computer engineer. He was willing to pay for me. In fact, he did when I went to GTMI where I studied IT. This was in 2011.
Were they disappointed that you ended up not as a computer engineer?
They were never disappointed, but surprise. I was stubborn and seemed to lack the character of a musician. In 2010, my mum heard one of songs called ‘Over Sona.’ The song was about being fed-up with everything. Though I never experienced such, I saw people with it, so I sang it. My mum was moved and she supported me. With that I believe I can achieve something big in music.
How did they come to know…?
My mum was the first to realise that I was doing music. She once came into our room, looked into my note book and saw the songs I wrote in it. She asked if I was doing music, I was afraid to come straight, so I answered no. She seemed to trust me because she must have had the feeling that it was my brother, whom she knew was doing music. One day, she was listening to my song, ‘Over Sona’ and my little sister jumped I said: ‘that is Jerreh’. My mum could not believe it. She asked if it is true, and I said yes. She immediately applied that song on her cell phone as ring tone. Anytime she is relaxing, she would play it, and when I get home, she would sing it to me. She told my dad about it, and played the song for him.
How many singles have you released so far?
Since I started till date, I released 12 tracks, while two are in the studio being mixed. However, all my songs are promotional songs; they are for free, you can download and listen to them.
Why make them free?
When you just start as a musician, you don’t go straight for the money. You work hard till you get recognition and when you stand on your two feet, that is the time you go after the money.
How do you sustain your music?
Well, at the studios I record my songs, I don’t pay. They are Green Organge Media at Bakoteh owned by Cherno B Jallow and The Bloc Entertainment at Pipe Line, by Mo Hawk Rap Khalifa, a musician cum producer as well as DJ. My mum and dad help me and some of the shows I attended, I have something, but that goes to take care of my transport.
How did you get public exposure?
There is a DJ called Quincy, who promotes Gambian music every Wednesday on West Coast Radio. I met him on Facebook, and had a chat with him. He, on that very day, asked me to come to their Fiila Open Mic concert at Fajara. I went there, and I told him that I was the kid he met on Facebook. We had a real talk, I gave him my CD and he allowed me to go on stage. The crowd was large and this was my first public performance. What I did was not perfect, but I rocked the crowd. I just played a beat, sang on it and the crowd cheered.
Since then which major shows have you performed?
The Open Mic Festival in 2010 at Bakau stadium; and The BK City Open Mic at Bakoteh. I played at shows in Brikama and I do perform for schools, and fashion shows.
Your mother attended your shows, what sort of advise did she give you?
Well, she would say, ‘you guys had a great performance last night. Keep it up and know the kind of people you move with’.
And how about public reaction to your music?
Well, when I am off the stage, after performing, some would come to say hi. They’ll say ‘what you did today is fine, keep it up, stay away from drugs, do not follow girls too much, have time for your books and stuff like that.
Have you been heeding to those advices?
Yes, I have. I read novels, other books and they are really helpful.
What of drugs and girls?
I never take drugs…
I have a girl friend. I do not date more than one.
How do you deal with advances… obviously you must be fancied by some girls?
I punch them with a smile and stay away from them. They do not see such in my eye. They do come around me, some come over to my house.
And did your girl friend know about this?
How would she react if she finds out?
She will feel sad.
But you don’t do anything bad with them. Do you?
No, I don’t. We just sit and chat.
What issues do your songs seek to address?
I sang on war, poverty, young people etc. The song called ‘Together We Make It’ is about the world problems. The song has been selected to be voted in Global Rock Star, an international music award. See: www.globalrockstar.net. ‘Life Is Not Easy’ challenges the status quo in which young people are trapped particularly at the ghettos.
When will you release an album?
It depends on the support I have. I lack resources to release an album. As a lad I cant afford such, I’m not working. I want a shoot a video, give it out to national TV station, but I could not. I really need support.
You featured some prominent Gambian musicians like Freaky Joe in some of your songs. How important is this to your career?
It is very important because these are people whose songs are played all over the country and even beyond. For someone like me do a song with them is an advantage.