Don Jazzy born Michael Collins Ajereh, is a Nigerian record producer, singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur. He is arguably the richest music mogul in Nigeria.
A common figure bandied about online is $35million as Don Jazzy’s net worth. Although this figure remains to be verified, but we can confidently say that Don Jazzy is among the richest music mogul in Nigeria today.
At 35 years of age, Don Jazzy has really done well for himself, and it will be illuminating for Nigerian youths to learn a thing or two from his burgeoning music empire, and stratospheric rise in the industry.
Don Jazzy hails from Umuahia, Abia state in Eastern Nigeria, and was born on 26th November 1982. He was raised in Ajegunle, Lagos, where he attended the co-educational high school, Federal Government College Lagos. Ajereh found an interest in music early in life and at age 12, began to play the bass guitar. He also gained knowledge of traditional and percussion instruments.
An Igbo adage says that, “Okuko ga abu oke, a na-ama ya n’eju”, translating literally, it says that a male fowl is known when it is still very young. This is a way of saying that one’s talent is usually exhibited when they are very young.
Unfortunately, most adults discourage young people from pursuing their passion, especially if it doesn’t fit in with our traditional expectations. In the African setting, studying to become an Engineer, a doctor, lawyer, architect etc. is the usual expectation from parents, and unfortunately most kids are dissuaded from their natural inclinations and forced into roles that they will never excel in.
Don Jazzy studied business management studies at the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo state. In my previous articles on great entrepreneurs, you may have noticed a common trend among successful entrepreneurs; they study business either formally in business schools or informally through seminars and workshops. I did not set out to profile only people with business education, I too was surprised to discover that almost all great entrepreneurs in Nigeria, acquired one form of business education or the other. E.g Nnamdi Ezeigbo (SLOT), Mike Adenuga (GLO, CONOIL) etc.
Even those who did not have the privilege of formal education, acquired business education either through apprenticeship (Like Dangote, Innoson, Ifeanyi Uba, etc) or mentorship. Young entrepreneurs that neglect business education in any form, are doing so at their own peril. So many young entrepreneurs cannot even produce a proper business plan to raise fund from any organization. Today, you don’t have to break the bank, to get quality business education. Millionaires Academy (www.register.millionaire.ng) and few other online business schools, offer comprehensive, affordable and flexible business training online, Millionaires Academy also offers critical business support services, such as mentoring and consultancy.
You will notice that Don Jazzy did not make his money as a singer. He is actually an entrepreneur in the music industry. This is why I called him a Music Mogul. Any talent you have, that you cannot organize into a business, will not give you the desired wealth.
In 2000, when Don Jazzy was just 17 years old, his uncle who had noticed his musical talent, invited him to London, to play drums for his local church. This was where Don Jazzy met with the koko master, D’banj.
But first, Don Jazzy needed to survive on his own in London, thus he started working as a security guard at McDonalds. In his spare time, he continued to pursue his music career. He began associating with Solek, JJC, Kas, The 419 Squad and D’Banj.
Let me interject once more, I profile these successful men, not to entertain, but to inspire and most importantly, to point out their secrets to success. Believe it or not, success leave clues and the secret of men are in their stories. The most interesting thing, is that, the more you read about successful people, the more you realize that the core principles of success, are the same.
For instance, I have talked a lot about reference group. I said that based on research, 90% of your success, comes from your reference group, i.e the people you associate with on a daily basis. And we all know the old cliché that you are the average of 5 of your best friends, putting it another way; show me your friends, and I will tell you who you are. We see this principle again playing out in the life of Don Jazzy, while he was a security man in London. We also saw it in the life of Mike Adeuga, Orji Uzor Kalu, Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola, Hajia Bola Shagaya etc. I don’t think I can overemphasize this point. Just take a look at your friends, and you predict your future.
So while associating with these talented musicians, Don Jazzy also learnt producing skills from Emeka Infiniti at O-Town record company. This skill was one that became very instrumental in building his music empire (If you are interested in music production, pls check out our powerful manual on this topic at www.register.millionaire.ng, go to the second page, it is among our 21 bonus material ).
The music career of Don Jazzy and D’banj really took off in 2004. This was the year that the duo formed Mo’ Hits Records. Don jazzy was just 22 years then. The company’s records show that Dapo Oyebanjo (D’Banj) was allotted 30,000 shares, and Michael Ajereh (Don Jazzy) was equally allotted 30,000 shares, implying a fifty-fifty ownership.
In the next two years, Ajereh produced the albums No Long Thing and Rundown/Funk You Up. A third album, Curriculum Vitae, had also been started. Around this time, Ajereh developed a recognisable introduction, “It’s Don Jazzy Again!”
In 2008, Ajereh was credited in the production of The Entertainer by D’Banj. He also contributed to the production of Wande Coal’s Mushin 2 MoHits, an album that was described as one of the best albums to ever come out of Nigeria.
Although Ajereh did not take credit as a singer, he performed background vocals for artists he produced. These performances include vocals for D’Banj, Sauce Kid, Dr SID, Ikechukwu, Kween, D’Prince, Jay-Z. Ajereh provided vocal performance for Kanye West’s song Lift Off with Beyoncé on the Watch The Throne album.
In 2011, Ajereh was employed by Kanye West as a producer at Very Good Beatz. Kanye West made a surprise appearance at the Koko Concert in London. He showed support to D’Banj by giving him his chain. Ajereh worked with Jay-Z and Kanye West on the production of Lift Off, featuring Beyoncé on the album Watch The Throne which was released on 8 August 2011.
Unfortunately in 2012, Don Jazzy and D’Banj parted ways. According to D’banj, trouble started soon after he and Don Jazzy were signed to American rapper/producer, Kanye West’s Good Music label.
He said Don Jazzy expressed his discomfort with staying in New York and leveraging their new contracts when they could remain in Nigeria where they were “already bosses.”
“I’m like, we are almost there,” Dbanj narrated. “(New York) is expensive but we can’t guarantee because it’s a doggy world out there.
“I said to him: listen, brother, this is not uncertainty. For Kanye West to see us, na God. And he said he didn’t want us to do it again.”
According to Dbanj, Jazzy remained unconvinced and eventually sought to dissolve their partnership. Dbanj said things came to a head at a general meeting in 2011, where the entire Mo’hits crew, including his own brother, K-Switch decided they did not want to work with him any longer.
Shortly after, In May 2012, Don Jazzy formed Mavin Records. Upon establishing the rebranded record label, Don Jazzy said he sees Mavin Records being the power house of Music in Africa in the shortest possible time.
In hindsight, it seems that Don Jazzy’s intuition to stay with Nigeria and not New York paid him big time. I ask young entrepreneurs, “what service do you think you can render to Americans?”
Opportunities are slimmer in the US, you can just be their cab driver or security man, but here in Nigeria, there are still opportunities everywhere. Every complain we have today, is an opportunity for an entrepreneur to make billions. For instance, any entrepreneur that can bring a cheap solution for electricity in Nigeria, will become a billionaire. In US, Elon Musk of Tesla, is making billions through his other company called Solar City, this company installs solar panels for homes. Even though there is 24 hours electricity in US, yet he is making money with solar, imagine what he will do here, if his solar is cheaper? I am pretty sure he will soon land here, if Nigerians don’t exploit the opportunity.
Back to the Don. After re-branding Mo’ Hits to Mavin, Don Jazzy signed Nigerian singer Tiwa Savage because he admires the singer’s work ethic and drive. Since then, Mavin Records has been on a steady and fast rise in the music scene. It is now home to recording artists such as Tiwa Savage, Iyanya, Dr SID, D’Prince, Di’Ja, Reekado Banks, Korede Bello, Johnny Drille, Poe, and the DNA Twins.
In 2012, Don Jazzy signed with Loya Milk for the advertisement and promotion of the brand. This deal was worth N50 million from industry report.
Don Jazzy has a currently running sponsorship deal with Samsung electronics. This deal was signed in South Africa in 2013, which was estimated, to be in the range of a N100 million, not forgetting his mouth-watering endorsement deal as a product/brand ambassador worth millions of naira with telecommunication giant MTN Nigeria.
He owns a mansion in the prestigious area of Lagos (Lekki Phase 1) worth over 160million Naira.
Don Jazzy also owns state of the art wonder on wheels, including his Porsche 911 Carrera (about 84,000 Dollars, over N25million), Black Cadillac Escalade (about $70,000, over N21million) Black Bentley Continental Flying Spur (about $ 185,000; N56million), Range Rover Sports (about $60,000; over N18million) amongst others. Well, what can I say, musicians can’t seem to resist the lure of powerful and expensive cars, but from a business perspective, this wouldn’t be a great allocation of resources!
Don Jazzy continues to invest in other areas, including real estate, and a new oil and gas company, called Mavin Energy Limited. To further buttress how rich he is, Donjazzy recently showed off his ‘lavish’ Los Angeles home reportedly worth $5 million dollars on his Instagram and Snapchat pages.
In partnership with Dele Odufuye, He also launched a free wifi service called Flobyt. The service is free for patrons of a business who wish to access the internet while in the premises of the patron locations. The internet router itself is a plug-and-play device that, according to the founders, does not require much technical know-how to operate. We are yet to see his business model for this new venture.
In summary, at just 35 years, Don Jazzy has done remarkably well. We believe that young entrepreneurs can learn a thing or two from his story. No matter what you think of him, The young man is undoubtedly focused and hard working. Don’t envy him, work hard, follow the principles of success, and tomorrow, articles like this may be written about you too..
Engr Ifeanyi Okoro