Sometime in mid-2015, the entire media world specifically the music industry went wild with the story of Jesse Garuba Abaga popularly known as Jesse Jagz returning to Chocolate City, a label where during his stay he was regarded as the backbone for musical production there. His leaving was received by all with mixed feeling as his exit came after the Brymo’s leave. Many attributed his leaving to lack of commitment knowing fully well the chemistry that bonded the Chocolate City label artistes; no wonder the excitement from music lovers about his return.
The announcement of his return was made more interesting with Jesse taking off him grown dreads and the original Choc Boiz comprising of MI, Ice Prince and Jesse Jagz himself with assistance from their longtime friend and label mate – Loose Kaynon releasing a single titled “Summer Time” and subsequently working on the Chocolate City’s collective album titled “The Indestructible Choc Boi Nation”
We met up with Jesse at his Lekki home where he excitedly responded to answers from our correspondent.
TM: Your leaving Chocolate City in the first place still hasn’t been made clarified; many saw your leaving resulted from a fight or misunderstanding with Chocolate City.
JESSE: My leaving Chocolate City was majorly based on creative and business reasons. Creatively, because I was done recording Thy Nation Come and business-wise it might not have been the best move for Chocolate City at that time. So my leaving was to a way to keep my music alive.
TM: So, your contract wasn’t expired yet?
JESSE: It somewhat difficult to explain, it’s just like the case of “you can’t fight your father”. I own shares in Chocolate City and am also a Director, so it really difficult saying my contract had expired. I would also advise other artistes who might find themselves in the situation I was to never try my approach. [Laughter]
TM: After leaving Chocolate City, you put out two albums and also had two concerts for these albums. It was written in some dailies where you debunked stories of you been broke seeing you put out a free concert, what then caused the gate-taking on the second concert because you categorically stated you are putting out these albums for all your fans.
JESSE: I put out a free show for my fans after releasing Thy Nation Come to accommodate every of my fans most especially the financially unstable one. When I released Royal Niger Company, we decided to add value by keeping it small. I think we settled for just 300 fans and it still was a great show likewise the first one.
TM: You left with the guys running your management at Chocolate City, wasn’t that a full plotted coup?
JESSE: [Laughter] Chocolate City is one big family and while I was there, I had guys running my management and they were already working with me on my new projects, so it was really easy taking them along with me and to be honest it was business as well.
TM: Comparing how well you fared between Chocolate City and Jagz Nation business wise?
JESSE: Business wise, leaving Chocolate City made me more smarter, responsible and knowing what is important and not. That is why most people can’t really place me in a box. I learnt a lot about business and I totally enjoyed my reign as the LION of Jagz Nation.
TM: Your coming back to Chocolate City, was it planned?
JESSE: Yeah, It was arranged. MI and I have been talking for over a year regarding me returning and it was a big decision because Jagz Nation is still alive and you can’t kill a lion. So I had to wait for my return to coincidence with MI becoming CEO and Audu leaving. And for business it was a great move because we are planning on releasing a new album by the Choc Boiz, the original Choc Boiz – me, MI and Ice Prince only.
TM: When you left, most of your fans tagged you as a rebel and loved you even more but now you are back cutting your dreads and what not.
JESSE: Here is what is going on, take for example how can a rebel like Amaechi becomes a Minister? You just have to play the game along and that is exactly what I am doing. I am still a rebel! I took two years off to make people understand what Jesse is all about, so now we can all play the game.
TM: So you could just wake up one morning and choose to grow your dreads back.
JESSE: Definitely. I don’t like keeping one look for too long.
TM: Your songs after leaving Chocolate City had this certain feel, now you are out with JagaLove which if compared to Sex and Scotch sound too soft.
JESSE: [Long laughter] It is all music. I don’t make music for my fans, I make music for myself and then when you like it you become my fan. But at the end of the day fans don’t really know what they want and I can’t keep putting out hard music all the time, the hard music is still very much coming.
TM: MI is now CEO, how does he relate with you now both as brother and as CEO?
JESSE: MI works the hardest, he is also my Creative Director employed under me. It’s just second to nature that we understand each other well – me, him and Ice.
TM: There was a chemistry Choc Boiz came out with back then, do you think that chemistry still abound now?
JESSE: We are lot closer now; I see MI and Ice almost every two days. In fact am tired of seeing them but then we are working towards making our love stronger.
TM: You came out outraged about Chocolate City delaying most of your songs and comparing your time at Jagz Nation where you released two albums within one year.
JESSE: Inasmuch as I am signed to Chocolate City, I defy all structure. I’m still a rebel and when am not confortable I air my views.
TM: What are your projects for 2016?
JESSE: I plan on releasing three projects in 2016. That is two albums and one Mixtape with each of these projects having more than twenty songs on each of them.
TM: Ruby has a baby for you, how often do you communicate with her, the baby I mean.
JESSE: Oh no!!! I had her when I wasn’t Jesse Jagz and I don’t know why you all should be asking about her. She is not a celebrity child and I have tried to keep her out of the media world, she is currently schooling and for every holiday, she is always here with me.
TM: Are there plans to sign new acts on Jagz Nation?
JESSE: Yeah, I have seen two guys I like but we are still talking. I need someone who is creatively not afraid, someone who puts out music from his/her soul not mindful of the Nigerian music scene.