April 2012

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Page 33 of 55

34 HIP HOP / RNB JAJA SOZE Issue 38 / APRIL 2012 If there is one guy who is going against the grain and staying true to his belief in doing something good with his life and his music it is this man. Oshi Another year has passed and we're gonna hit this year even bigger than last year. It's 2012 and I'm here with none other than big man Jaja Soze. Dun kno' it's all good. How you doing? Yeah man, it's all good. Nice. So where are we? We're in the PDC Studios, it's like our main studios. From what I can remember about PDC, it's something big, it's a big hive of talent. How many people have you got that you look after here? I manage artists as well as myself. I manage like fifteen artists. With PDC in general there's like a whole collective of us, we're go- ing up to about 50 individuals. On the creative side I can see there is a lot of you but is it you that's responsible for guiding and teaching and pushing the whole movement forward? Yeah we all learn off each other but I'm kind of like the main force of the whole movement. Ok, cool. Putting some fuel on that fire, nice. What's your purpose in life? My main purpose is to create platforms for a community that is just lost. When I wake up every day, this is just the same goal that I've always had. To create a platform for someone like me, when I was trying to come up, 'cause I didn't have no platforms, no help. When did you realise that? Actually, it came to me while I was in prison, I saw everyone coming in and I saw a cycle repeating itself. I said to myself, how can I break this cycle? The only way is for me to do something different, no one's doing anything different, we're all doing the same thing, we're following the people before us, the elders. Same thing, same thing, drug dealers, in and out of prison, shootings, and the cycle continues to repeat itself so I said, you know what, I'm gonna start doing something that's creating more opportunities and it's benefiting us, bringing wealth to our community, bringing knowledge and education to our community. So I said, you know what, I'm gonna change it. It's a massive thing to do, to try and change something that's so embedded. How did you think you were gonna tackle it? For more information check out At first, when I first started speaking to the people around me and saying, you know what, we're gonna change this movement from like the street movement to something more progressive, they were like 'ah get out of here, there's no way you can do that.' Everyone was kind of putting me down like say- ing that there was no way I could change the thought processes to something so dramatically differ- ent. So people were like fighting me down at the beginning, even my friends. I lost a lot of friends 'cause they were like, you know what we're not on that, we're not on that kind of transformation. In the beginning it was hard for me, you know what I'm saying, but I thought, you know what, it's gonna be worthwhile. We all got messages as we were growing up, we read Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, and musically we might have got inspiration from the Dead Prez's and the Nas's. How about you? Where did you learn your black history from? I was born and raised a rasta, so Bob Marley straight away, as soon as I could acknowledge mu- sic properly I grew up on Burning Spear and that in my house, Den- nis Brown, Bob Marley; I grew up on this music and I knew about my culture from an early age. So I always had that in me, that kind of like fight and power thing in me since I was a kid. And obvi- ously Public Enemy, a lot of other people kind of grew up on boy bands, but my boy bands were people like Public Enemy. That's what I grew up on, I grew up on that whole phase; I've always had that fighting spirit in me. Cool so you got the vibe from some of these musicians. Did that lead you anywhere else in terms of your knowledge; did your parents have any influence, or any other leading figures? When I was younger my dad would always make us read certain things and I was always educated on my culture but there was a stage where I got side-tracked where my dad kind of came out my life and my mum was struggling doing her thing as well. When the streets came in and the streets started raising me, that's when, I dunno I could say the brainwash, kicked in. That level where you kind of forget about... You get so stressed you kind of forget about the culture side, 'cause learning about your culture's not feeding you, it's not buying you Nike Airs, it's not buying you a nice watch, it's not giving you money to take your girl to the cinema. So culture kind of got dashed at the window for a little bit, I could say from about 11 'til 21, the culture was out of the window [laughs], it was just like 'I've got a gun, I've got drugs, and this is what I'm doing.' But luckily during that time though you used your soldier mentality and you used your business, 'cause whatever happened you lot put out a lot of mixtapes, so there was defi- nitely some work ethic there that was doing something and keeping you occupied. What awards did you win? Can I see some awards up there? I won an award for Outstand- ing Achievement in the Mixtape Culture and I think I'm up for an- other award soon, so the people have put a lot of work in. In those times, when I was putting out all those mixtapes, I didn't know what I was doing on a business level. I just said, you know what, Master P and them are doing it, so I'm doing it as well [laughs]! What was the moment that you would say your music changed? 'Cause I've seen a change in the output of your personal music. In the first I was going out and putting in my raw feelings, I didn't know exactly what I was doing with it, I was a bit lost. When I started educating myself, I started seeing a lot of things in the industry and I started see- ing things differently; I started watching movies differently, I started listening to music differ- ently. It was like something just kicked in one day. About how we speak and how we treat each other, and I started thinking, rah, my thought processes are a bit messed up here, it was some- thing a bit deeper than we ex- perience in our society. I started educating myself on certain sub- jects and realised something's not right here, something's a bit dodgy. The schooling system is a bit messed up. Why are we all hating on each other: why do I hate that guy over there when I don't know him? I started researching into things and go- ing back into our culture and a lot of stuff and I started thinking, hmm.... I'm kind of helping the destruction of our community. I'm part of it. So I said, you know what, I'm not being a part of this destruction, I'm fighting against the system, not my people. My thought processes started changing and my music just changed and everyone started being like 'wow'. One day you're gang banging and the next day you're some whole new level. So you had this moment, this realisation, and then you came with some epic work. What music was it that you came up with afterwards that people need to see? You can tell when my thought processes started changing, there's a mixtape called The Best Of Jaja Soze Part One. That's what you hear and you're like, woah, something's up here. When that came out people were like 'ermmm, ok, I think he's reading or something, some- thing's happening here.' And then I did I'm Not a Rapper, I'm a Revolutionary, that came out last year. People were like, yep, he's definitely changing our lives, it's a transformation. I got No. 1 Mixtape on loads of mixtape websites for that one. So how does that relate to the moment when you dropped the beat, when you said ok, let's lose the beat and just spit this message? I was just like, you know what, they are not hearing it properly! I was like 'nahhh, you're not hear- ing it! You're hearing something, but you're hearing what I want you to hear.' So that's when I came with Black Empire. What was the reaction when you dropped that? When I told people I was drop- ping an acapella called Black Empire, they were like 'nooo, no Jaja don't do that'. They were telling me the industry was gonna shut me down, but I was

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