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Don Jazzy: From Mo’ hits to Mavin Global, a Nigerian music industry blueprint

Don Jazzy: From Mo’ hits to Mavin Global, A Nigerian music industry blueprint

The year was 2001 and legendary DJ and on-air personality, Abass Abayomi Tijani (DJ Abass), introduced Solek Crew to the world featuring three members, including the sound guy who sat at the keyboard producing the sound. He was named Michael E.

In the early 2000s, Micheal was introduced to the Nigerian music industry, alongside artist D’banj by JJC-Skillz. He subsequently adopted the stage name ‘Don Jazzy’ and founded Mo’Hits Records in 2004.

Over the last 20 years, Don Jazzy has become a musical genius who is more than just a producer or record label boss but a creative architect who has meticulously crafted artist’s careers and shaped the trajectory of African music.

Micheal Collins Ajereh, who hails from Umuahia, Abia State, was born on 26 November 1982. Don Jazzy started his musical career at a young age, playing the keyboard in the Cherubim and Seraphim church in one of its branches located in Ajegunle, Lagos.

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After his years in school, he left for London where he met music pairs from Nigeria. After attending some Nigerian-themed concerts, he and D’banj decided to come back to Nigeria to introduce their sound to local radio stations.

From Mo’Hits : A Legacy of hits

Don Jazzy’s influence in Mo’ Hits Records in 2004 saw the launch of other superstars like Wande Coal, K-switch, Dr Sid, and his brother, D’Prince.

Don Jazzy produced the albums ‘Rundown/Funk You Up’ and ‘The Entertainer’ with hit songs like ‘Tongolo’ and ‘Mo Gbona Feli Feli’ becoming national anthems. Their sound, a unique blend of Afrobeats, hip-hop, and pop, became the blueprint for a new era in Nigerian music industry, winning multiple local awards.

In 2007, Don Jazzy produced the album ‘Curriculum Vitae’ for the ‘Mo’Hits All-Stars.’ This album was a compilation of tracks from the label’s artists, showcasing their talents and the collective strength of Mo’Hits Records. ‘Curriculum Vitae’ included hits like ‘Pere’ by D’banj, ‘Booty Call’ by Mo’Hits Allstars, and ‘Ololufe’ by Wande Coal.

In 2009, he produced Wande Coal’s Mushin 2 MoHits, a classical Afrobeats album described as one of the best to come out of Nigeria. he later produced other hit songs like Oliver Twist.

Mavin Records: Building the future

Following ‘Mo’ Hits’ dissolution, Don Jazzy rose again in 2012 with Mavin Records. Mavin kept established talents like Dr. Sid while it continued nurturing talents like Korede Bello, Reekado Banks, and signing Iyanya, and Tiwa Savage who at the time had returned to Nigeria to seek career in music as the group continued its hit-making tradition.

While these artists had individual albums and hit singles that had lots of airplays and online downloads, the group under the production of Don Jazzy had group hit singles like ‘Dorobucci’ and ‘Adaobi’ in 2014. Ten years after, these songs are regarded as classic songs that create nostalgic memories in the mind of Nigerians.

Revolutionising music business

In recent years, Mavin has become not just a music label but a booming entertainment business firm known for brand partnerships, music licensing, performances, and content production.

Mavin Group has also been known for its rigorous training and mentorship programs, transforming raw ability into polished stars. After the contracts of the first set of Mavin stars expired, Don Jazzy redefined artist signing and development bringing in talented artists, with the view of making them globally appealing in songwriting, branding, and stage performance.

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The New Generation: Rema, Ayra Starr, and Beyond

The Mavin Academy, established by Don Jazzy, has proven to be a successful platform for grooming talent. Notable graduates include Rema and Ayra Starr, Boy Spyce, Bayanni, Crayon, and, most recently, Lifesize Teddy. This focus on artist development has become a model for the entire African music industry.

Mavin’s current roster boasts some of the hottest young stars. Rema’s hit song ‘Calm Down remix’ became the first African song to cross a billion streams on Spotify and in the US, and Ayra Starr is taking the world by storm. Artists like Johnny Drille, Ladipoe, and Magixx showcase the label’s diverse musical palette from Hip Hop to Afropop and RnB.

A Legacy of Innovation

Don Jazzy’s impact goes beyond music. His infectious enthusiasm and savvy social media presence have made him a pop culture icon.

Universal Music Group, in February 2024, announced its acquisition of a majority stake in Mavin Global, comprising Mavin Records. However, the deal remains subject to regulatory approval and is expected to be finalised by the end of the third quarter of 2024.

As part of the agreement, Michael Collins Ajereh, known professionally as Don Jazzy, founder and CEO Don Jazzy; and Tega Oghenejobo, COO, Mavin, will continue leading the company, maintaining autonomy over its strategy and future talent development.

Don Jazzy and Mavin Global are a testament to the power of vision and dedication. By nurturing talent, innovating in artist development, and championing Afrobeats, they have laid the foundation for the future of African music.