Don Jazzy is a Nigerian record producer, singer, songwriter and entrepreneur who is also known as Don Baba J, but his real name is Michael Collins Ajereh. He is also popular for his philanthropy on social media and as part of his biography, we will examine two record labels that Don Jazzy established, namely; Mo’ Hits Records and Mavin Records.
Before we go into the details, we provide a quick summary of some of the most important facts about Don Jazzy below. The summary will cover everything from his personal life to his business ventures and of course, his endeavours in the music industry.
10 facts about Don Jazzy
- Don Jazzy was born as Michael Collins Ajereh on 26th November 1982 and while his mother is Igbo, his father is an Isoko man. Thus, Don Jazzy is not Igbo but Isoko.
- Ajereh grew up in Ajegunle, Lagos State after his family moved there from Umuahia, Abia State.
- He could play the bass guitar from 12 years old and also knew how to play many traditional sound and percussion instruments.
- He met D’Bank in London and proposed that two of them come back to Nigeria to start a record label. In 2004, they co-founded Mo’ Hits Records.
- In the early 2000s, he, D’Banj and JJC (now JJC Skillz) formed a group called 419 Squad.
- Before D’Banj left Mo’ Hits, his first three albums, No Long Thing, Rundown/Funk You Up and The Entertainer, were produced by Don Jazzy.
- In 2011, Kanye West signed Don Jazzy and D’Banj to G.O.O.D Music and this deal was instrumental in the break up of Mo’ Hits.
- Don Jazzy is also a very talented singer besides his production skills and he often provides background vocals for artistes he produces songs for including Kanye West in the song, Lift Off.
- Don Jazzy claims that he is in a serious relationship and is not single and searching.
- The music producer is popular for his philanthropy on social media where he gives lots of cash prizes to fans and followers.
Don Jazzy Biography: early life and education
On 26th November 1982, Michael Collins Ajereh was born in Umuahia, the capital city of Abia State, Nigeria. While he had been born in Igbo land, Don Jazzy is not Igbo. Instead, he is from Isoko, an ethnolinguistic group that inhabits the Isoko region of Delta State. Although he is from Delta State it is natural to find Isoko people living in Bayelsa State as well.
Don Jazzy’s father, who is an Isoko descent had married his mother who is a royal descendant in Abia State. Not long after his birth, the family moved to Ajegunle in Lagos State. This was where he grew up most of his life.
He had his secondary school education at the Federal Government College, Lagos State. Don Jazzy had already developed a passion for music and likely had a keen interest in musical instruments. His Wikipedia page mentions that he could play the bass guitar when he was 12 years old. Also, he took part in playing traditional and other percussion instruments. These hobbies likely created the desire in him to not just listen to music but to also make them.
On completing secondary school, Don Jazzy got admission into the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State to study Business Management. He had to leave Lagos where he had grown up to attend the university. The university lists him as one of the most popular alumni of the school, along with many other popular Nigerians.
His uncle is said to have played an important role in influencing Don Jazzy to pursue a fulltime career in music. When he visited his uncle in London in 2000, Michael Collins Ajereh got invited to play the drums at the local church. After university, he lived in London for a while and got a job as a security guard at McDonald’s.
Don Jazzy Biography: Music career
During the period he worked as a fulltime staff at McDonald’s, Don Jazzy never stopped pursuing his musical interests. In the early 2000s, he, D’Banj and JJC formed a group called 419 Squad. At that early stage, he also worked with Solek and Kas as well. JJC now goes by JJC Skillz although his real name is Abdulrasheed Bello. He is married to popular Nigerian actress Funke Akindele-Bello.
Watch this video of JJC speaking on how he met Don Jazzy and D’Banj:
Mo’ Hits Records
According to an article in The Guardian, Don Jazzy had told D’Banj that he was “a star in the making“. He also assured him that he thought they could make it together. Thus, the pair decided to come back to Lagos in 2004. They formed Mo’ Hits Records that year and they also released the evergreen single ‘Tongolo’ which D’Banj’s mom allegedly paid for.
Then they went on to produce D’Banj’s first two albums No Long Thing (2005) and Rundown/Funk You Up (2006). The albums shook the Nigerian music industry at the time.
Aside Tongolo, the pair gifted listeners with Mobolowowon, Why Me, Do You Like the Koko?, and Run Down (Funk U Up). The songs won many awards at the time. It was during this time that his trademark intro, ”It’s Don Jazzy Again”, became popular.
Wande Coal joined Mo’ Hits in 2006 and again, Don Jazzy produced his album, Mushin To Mo’Hits. This album has been credited as one of the best the country’s music scene has ever seen. It brought charts topping tracks like You Bad, Kiss Your Hands, Bumper To Bumper, Taboo, Ten Ten and lots more.
Later, the record label signed other artistes like Dr SID, D’Prince and Kayswitch (or K-Switch). Although not officially recognized and not credited, most of the songs that Mo’ Hits artistes made had background vocals performed by Don Jazzy. In 2008, he produced D’Banj’s third studio album, The Entertainer. This album outdid the previous ones with singles that are still catchy today. Some of these singles include Fall in Love, Celebrate, Gbono Feli Feli, Suddenly, Kimon, Igwe, and Olorun Maje.
In 2011, Kanye West signed Don Jazzy and D’Banj to G.O.O.D Music. We could not find many details about the deal and Forbes reported at the times that the sketchy details and silence of Kanye West raised suspicions. Furthermore, Don Jazzy lent his vocals to Kanye West’s song Lift Off off of the Watch The Throne album.
Why did Mo’ Hits Records break up?
In March 2012, Mo’Hits Records ceased to exist. There were many reasons that people put forward as the cause of the breakup of one of the biggest music record label in Nigeria, Mo’ Hits Records. The most widely accepted one was that the co-founders, Don Jazzy and D’Banj, could not get past their artistic differences.
As we stated in the previous paragraph, the Nigerian duo had gotten a deal with Kanye West. This deal put them in a position to become as big in America as they were in Nigeria. In fact, they had already met Jay Z and Beyonce through the deal.
However, Legit claims in an article that Don Jazzy had not been happy with the situation. The position seemed to have been supported during an interview D’Banj granted to Tim Westwood TV where he explains what led to their the duo’s decision to breakup:
“Our vision got different. My vision was different and his vision was different. I wanted extra, global, he wanted that as well but it was different. I wanted us to have that bridge. It was so hard and we spent so much money. Don Jazzy said it is better to go back to where we were coming from. I asked for six months … and at the end of the six months, he asked that we split up. Me and Mo’ Hits had to break up so that African music would blow.”
You can watch the full interview here:
Thus, there you have it. Mo’ Hits Records broke up because the co-founders, Don Jazzy and D’Banj, reached a career point in their lives where their goals no longer aligned. D’Banj wanted world dominance and Don Jazzy was content with ruling the Africa music sphere with a more gradual transition to global dominance, a bit like making the world come to him. If that was his aim, he actually got what he wanted.
In any case, in March 2012, Don Jazzy announced that he and D’Banj have parted ways and that Mo’ Hits Records was no more.
Within two months, on 7th May 2012, to be precise, Don Jazzy returned to announce that he has formed a new music record label, Mavin Records. The remaining artistes from Mo’ Hits heyday were also the first members of Mavin before he signed one of Nigeria’s most recognised female singers, Tiwa Savage, to the company. To show strength, Don Jazzy released an album, Solar Plexus, on 8th May 2012, and all the artistes in Mavin Records featured on it.
To further give Mavin Records a push, he launched a social networking website called Mavin League. He also penned deals with producers such as Aluko Timothy also known as Altims and Sunday Enejere who goes by the name BabyFresh.
Endorsement deals from companies like Samsung, Loya Milk and even Pepsi came to Don Jazzy and Tiwa Savage. Wande Coal departed from Mavin Records in November 2013 after he and Don Jazzy had a conflict. According to many reports, it started after Coal released a song titled Kilaju without the support of Mavin Records. Then, when Wande Coal dropped Baby Face produced by Shizzi, Don Jazzy went to his own Twitter page to accuse him of breaching their contract and stealing intellectual property.
Both Wande Coal and Don Jazzy began tweeting at each other back and forth in public. In the end, Mavin Records made an official announcement on 7th November 2013 that Wande Coal was no longer a member of the company.
Following Wande Coal’s departure, the Mavin Records boss signed deals with Di’Ja, Reekado Banks and Korede Bello in February 2014. They were allegedly signed one week after each other.
Not long after, Mavin Records dropped the charts shattering single, Dorobucci in May 2014. It had contributions from Don Jazzy, Korede Bello, Di’ja, D’Prince, Dr SID, Reekado Banks and Tiwa Savage.
The video currently has over 36 million views on YouTube. Watch it below:
While there have been other songs that generated more interest than Dorobucci from Mavin’s studio, it was the first single that the new artistes and the older ones worked on together and it turned out incredibly well. It won Song of the Year at the MTV Africa Music Awards (2015) and at The Headies (2014), it won Best Pop Single category.
Since Dorobucci, Mavin Records have made many more singles that received critical acclaim. At The Headies Awards 2015, Don Jazzy and Olamide got into a disagreement after the latter came on stage to accuse the organisers of snubbing Lil Kesh for the Next Rated award. Mavin’s CEO had on his part insisted that Reekado Banks was rightly the deserved winner of the award, which came with a car prize. The disagreement continued several days online after the award until both parties apologised on their social media pages.
In October 2016, Iyanya joined Mavin Records as a singer. On 28th February 2017, Johnny Drille, Ladipoe and the DNA twins joined the label as well.
Reekado Banks left Mavin Records in December 2018 while Tiwa Savage officially exited in May 2019 after Universal Music Group signed her. Iyanya had left the company earlier in February 2018. Their departures seemed to have been amicable as it raised no dust.
In March 2019, Don Jazzy officially announced that he has signed Rema to Mavin Records and on 31st May 2019, he signed Crayon as well. The same day, Mavin Records released the collaborative single, All Is In Order and Don Jazzy, Rema, Korede Bello and Crayon all featured on the song.
Don Jazzy Biography: Film appearance
The music producer appeared in the Nollywood film The Last 3 Digits. It was directed by Moses Inwang and besides Don Jazzy, Ali Baba, A.Y., Nonso Diobi and Dr SID also made cameo appearances as well.
Don Jazzy Biography: Net worth, endorsement deals and businesses.
On how much Don Jazzy is worth, we could not find any reputable answer online. However, we did find some assumptions of what he is possibly worth. Celebrity Net Worth, a blog that publishes articles about ‘Richest Businessmen’ claims that the Umuahia-born CEO of Mavin Records is worth $10 million as of 2020.
In 2017, Forbes listed him as the fourth richest and most influential artiste in Africa. Also, as we do not have any trusted source that reveals his net worth, we can get a sense of it by looking at some of his sources of income.
Mo’ Hits had arguably been the biggest recording label in Nigeria during its time and the group likely earned lots of money from sales, streams and events. His wealth would have likely increased with the formation of Mavin Records as well.
But this is not all that puts Don Jazzy in contention for the top spot as one of the richest artistes in Nigeria. There are several endorsement deals that he has under his belt that would be swelling his bank account. For example, Nigerian Infopedia mentions that he signed a deal worth N40 million as a brand ambassador for Loya Milk in 2012. He also has endorsement deals with giant telecommunications company MTN and electronics firm, Samsung.
Also, in 2015, Don Jazzy signed a deal with the e-commerce company, Konga, as a brand ambassador.
In 2020, he has been promoting VBank, the mobile banking app of VFD Microfinance Bank. While details are not clear, it is likely that the financial institution pays him for what he is doing.
Legit claims that his house is worth around NGN160 million. While we cannot prove this, Don Jazzy’s house in Lekki is actually very big and beautiful. Lekki is considered a highbrow area of Lagos State.
In 2017, the celebrity was alleged to have four cars including a Porsche Carrera, Bentley Continental Flying, Cadillac Escalade and Range Rover Sports.
Don Jazzy Philanthropy
Don Jazzy has always been popular for his philanthropy and generosity. In 2015, while he acknowledges that he loves to give to people, he says that he did not like the idea of creating a foundation or a particular structure to do this. Pulse quotes him as saying:
“I don’t trust some of these foundations. I think it’s just people looking for an opportunity to collect money. I don’t think I need to set up a foundation before I help people. I help people regardless of that.”
He instead comes online on random days, usually Instagram or Twitter, to give people money gifts and he picks these people randomly. Other times, some people tweet their needs using his Twitter handle or they tag him via Instagram concerning what they urgently cannot do without. And he sends them money to take care of their needs. Most times, he supports struggling entrepreneurs with money as well and buys equipment like cameras, sewing machines and laptops for people who are struggling in their different businesses.
Don Jazzy Biography: Personal life
Without a doubt, many people have been inquiring about Don Jazzy’s relationship status. This is because the music producer appears to be single as he has never shared who he was in a relationship with. Yet, Don Jazzy is not single, or so he claims on a 2019 Loose Talk Podcast titled The Blueprint.
In his words: “No I’m not free, no I have a babe, a serious babe actually.”
So, Don Jazzy is not single after all and no one publicly knows the mystery lady that is his partner. The only thing that his fans expect now is an announcement of an impending wedding ceremony, should they decide, although for all we know, he may actually be married.
Don Jazzy has also at a time openly acknowledged that he has a crush on American singer, Rihanna.
There are also rumours that Don Jazzy has a child, but he has denied this allegation online. For further reading on this, see: Don Jazzy confirms he does not have a child
Final thoughts …
Don Jazzy’s biography has shed light on many hidden facts that many people didn’t know about the ace music producer. It has also revealed that he has a good ear for music and a talent for discovering fantastic brilliant acts. All his signees and productions are proof of this. Additionally, he is a good businessman.
Besides the above, we learnt that Don Jazzy actually sings very well and if his background vocals were officially credited, then he would have had an impressive catalogue of songs as a singer. As it stands, he does not claim to have any single track to his name. Yet, it is undeniable that he has contributed immensely to the growth of music in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
Bonus Don Jazzy information
Albums produced by Don Jazzy
- D’banj – No Long Thing (2005)
- D’banj – RunDown Funk U Up (2006)
- Mo’ Hits All Stars – Curriculum Vitae (2007)
- D’banj – The Entertainer (2008)
- Wande Coal – Mushin2Mohits (2008)
- Dr SID Turning Point (2010)
- MAVINS – Solar Plexus “MAVIN Records” (2012)
Singles produced by Don Jazzy
1. For D’Prince
- I like What I See
- Give It To me
2. For D’banj
- Why Me
- Run Down
- Olorun Maje
- Gbono Feli
- Fall in Love
- Mr Endowed
- I do This
- Scape Goat
- Mr Endowed
- Oliver Twist
3. For Wande Coal
- Bumper 2 Bumper
- You Bad
- Kiss Your Hand
- Who Born the Maga
- Been Long You Saw Me
- Go Low
4. Dr SID
- Something About You
- Winchi winchi
- Pop Something
- Over The Moon
- Chocolate West African Remix
- Chocolate East African
- Lady Don Dada
- Love Mine
- Baby Tornado
- Baby Tornado Remix
5. For Mo’Hits Allstars
- Ten Ten
6. For Darey
- Escalade part 2
- Stroke Me
7. For Shank
- Never Felt
8. For Naeto C
9. For Ikechukwu
- Like You
- Wind am well
- All on Me
- Now is the time
10. For Sauce Kid
- Under G
11. Kanye West, Jay-Z and Beyonce
- Lift Off
12. For Weird MC
Don Jazzy Awards and recognitions
- Nigerian Music Awards (2006) – Producer of the Year.
- Nigerian Entertainment Awards (2007) – Music Producer of the Year.
- The Headies 2011 – Producer of the Year for Over The Moon, Mr Endowed and Pop Something.
- The Headies 2014 – Producer of the Year for Dorobucci.
- City People Entertainment Award (2015) – special recognition award.
- The Beatz Award TM (2019) – New Discovery Producer.