Oluwajuwonlo Iledare, professionally known as Jaywon, is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, performer, producer and actor. Following his departure from Kennis Music, he founded the Next World Music record label in 2013. In this interview with Daily Trust Saturday, he opens up on a number of issues.
How has 2023 been for you?
The year 2023 has been one of the best years in my life. Asides being an artiste, a lot of things came my way in 2023. Family wise, I have been blessed. I just want to keep it like that and keep it moving like that. The vibe I am on is what I have always wanted and I am happy but I just have to keep moving.
When you talk about raising a family, some artistes are of the opinion that it drops your fan base. Do you agree with that?
Gone are those days, not these days. Now, it is what you put out that would decide if you are going to be at the top. What do I need? Do you know how long I have been in the Nigerian music industry? Is it now that I would start listening to anybody? I don’t need to start listening to anybody.
Is Davido not raising kids? Is Wizkid not raising kids? Is Zlatan not raising kids? So, you don’t have to listen to people’s narratives, you just have to keep moving. Like I tell everybody, this music is a way of life and it is what keeps us going. Just keep doing the job, keep working, that is the most important thing.
If there is anything I am scared of the most in this world, it is distraction. It kills.
What do you mean by distractions?
Things that would not make you focused. Things that would hinder you from getting to your aims and objectives. If you have a plan for your life, don’t be distracted, stay focused and true to your plan. Don’t get distracted with what people say about you or social media. It is dangerous. In fact, it is more dangerous than an artiste not having a hit song or being in the face of everyone.
Has being a family man changed your focus when it comes to producing music?
There is time for everything. I am still motivating people through my songs but I stepped it up a little bit. It is still me that sang ‘Facebook Love’ that also sang ‘This Year’ and ‘Aje’. I can do it all.
Some people believe that there is a cabal in the Nigerian music industry, especially looking at the case of Mohbad. Their thought is that this cabal can destroy an artiste’s career. Is that true?
There is a cabal in every industry. Let me not say that there is but people say there is, but those are part of the distractions that I am talking about. When you put it in your head that there are some people that do not want you to succeed, it would affect your work.
Like me, for the longest time, I felt that there were people on Twitter who were paid to come for me whenever I put out a body of work. I was not distracted by it because I know that those people do not want to see me but they will continue to see me through my works. You don’t want to see me succeed but you will continue to see me go higher. My song ‘This Year’ has been a big blessing to me. I am one of the most blessed artistes in Nigeria because of that song in all ways. I am blessed. The only person that is going to take the glory for my life, family and career is God.
How was it when you started your career?
I knew when I started out in the music industry that it was not going to be easy. When I came into the industry, I knew it was going to be a matter of life and death. The Nigerian music industry is a war zone and you need to fight for your success. It is like that in all industries.
Look at Victor Osimhen, there was a time nobody knew him. But from nowhere, he came out and everyone now knows him. Also, my friend Magnito, he has one of the best songs this year and he has been in the music business for almost two decades.
This year, does Kcee not have one of the biggest songs? He has been in the game for almost three or more decades. If they had given up, do you think they would have hit songs?
I know that there are some cabals that don’t want some people to flourish but my point is that whoever gives up messes up. If you do not want me to be successful you would see me all the time. If you believe that there is a cabal affecting you, that is your problem. It will slow you down and affect you.
What’s your thought on the controversial death of Mohbad?
Rest In Peace to Mohbad! I am not trying to disrespect the dead but I feel like Mohbad contributed to his problems. I will say it respectfully because he is no more here.
First, signing to a record label is not poverty alleviation. When you sign a deal, you cannot wake up one day and say you want to walk out on the deal then decide you want to start your record label when the court has not decided that the contract is terminated. That was what he did and there was nobody to tell him that he cannot do that.
I feel like Mohbad’s biggest problem were the people around him. He had more enemies than friends around him. There was a video I made and stated that he had been troubled for the longest time. He had trouble in his family, relationship, record label, only one person. So, when you talk about cabal, sometimes we the artistes are the cause of our problems.
He was young and that is why I am going to say this respectfully, he did not know better because he was inexperienced. Sometimes, you need to watch people around you closely. How do you keep a friend who stayed with a record label that you fought with? When you sign a deal, you need to wait for the deal to expire before you go. It is not poverty alleviation. We are all fighting for justice over his death because all the people who have a hand in his death must pay. I am saying all these for the younger generation of artistes to learn.
Some people don’t know that, if care is not taken, Marlian Music can claim all of Mohbad’s songs that are trending and get royalties because if he still has an existing contract with Marlian Music, they can take those songs and nothing would happen, as far as it is in the existing contract they signed.
One of the hardest things about leaving a label is buying yourself out. That is what artistes do not understand. If a record label spends one billion on an artiste, they can claim 200 billion and the only way to leave is to pay, if not you are going nowhere.
Still speaking about cabals in the Nigerian music industry, you have a song with Efe, winner of BBNaija Season 2. There are speculations that his career has not blossomed because he has been blacklisted. Is this true?
If you say he has been blacklisted, I agree because I have been at the forefront of the promotion of this song. I have spent a lot of money. If you say he has been blacklisted, I can feel it, I understand it.
For Efe, I can say that there are a lot of people who do not want his career to prosper. Even the fans are attacking me. They attack me on social media. As far as I am concerned, Efe is one of the best rappers in the industry right now. Listen to his new music. He has improved.
Even when we tried to promote the song via the Big Brother platform, I heard and saw many things. I experienced many difficulties trying to promote the song on that platform.
What I am saying is that Efe does not allow that to affect him. He continues to put out music. When you stop, that is when your career stops. Nobody is God, even the people trying to blacklist you can die at any time. How long do you want to put a good man down? One day, God would lift him up. Efe is doing so well.
Have you ever been blacklisted?
They have done it to me for the longest time. They had tried to silence me for the longest time but I am still here. I have featured in Nollywood movies. There is no how you will not hear a trending song from me in two years. I have trending songs like ‘Aje’, ‘This Year’, ‘Saro’. It might not be number one on charts but they are still trending to date.
What is the song you have with Efe about?
The name of the song is ‘Turn Up’. Efe comes to my house and we play table tennis and chat. One day, he invited me to his house and we had some drinks. Coincidentally, a music producer was around and I am someone that once I see a producer, I must record.
We vibed that day, I recorded my vocals that day only for Efe to send me the full song and I was shocked. He took his time and did his part and it was wonderful. I kept the song but any time I played it for people, they always urged me to release it so I did. It’s my kid brother’s favourite song. I have a new album I am working on. From the day we released ‘Turn Up’, we have received only positive reviews.