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Snappy 7: Jacky B – I will never produce any vulgar music

From humble beginnings that forced him to start working at a young age, Jacob Otieno aka Jacky B, has risen to become one of the top gospel music producers in the country.

Jacky B’s TamuSana Records has produced, among other hits, Size 8’s Mateke and Daddy Owen’s Vanity which got six nominations in this year’s Groove Awards. The well-established producers spoke to Nairobi News in a candid interview about his life:

1. Briefly tell us about yourself? – I’m a very humble man, a born-again Christian and a producer. When I was young I used to go to a studio and during that time a producer who was mentoring me started calling me Jacky Boy. So later on I changed it to Jacky B because I was no longer a boy; that is how my name came to be.

My childhood was not easy and we were forced to move back to the country side after my parents passed away. Sometimes we had to fend for ourselves, but what helped me was that I was a bright student in school. After my primary education, my high school education was sponsored by a Good Samaritan.

2. Why did you choose to produce gospel music only? – I will not say that producing secular music is bad, but when I look were God has taken me from, all I want is to do is His work as a way of giving my testimony.

I wouldn’t mind producing songs praising your mother, father or wife, but what I will never do is produce for someone who sings vulgar music.

3. What is different when working with established artistes from upcoming ones? – Nothing much, except that, when you are dealing with an established artiste, they already know what they want unlike the upcoming artistes who just walk in and tell you to do everything for them. The established artists are very humble, unlike what the public thinks of them.

4. Did you finally recover your stolen awards? – Whoever stole them disappeared with them without trace. They stole my Grove Award, Mwafaka Award and other awards I had won. One day I was at home and being a Christian I always have artistes come to my house because I also have a studio there and on this particular day while I was relaxing at home, I noticed that my awards were not where I always put them. I tried asking around if anyone had seen them but later I had to admit that someone had stolen them.

5. Tell us about one of your most embarrassing moment? – One day after I had cleared high school I was with a girlfriend after a kesha. We were talking on a balcony of this building and some people thought we were either thieves or we were doing something wrong. Everyone came out and we were beaten up. Fortunately we were both fully dressed up.

6. What’s your secret to making great hit songs? – There is no secret of making a great hit, because you will never know when you are doing it. What I can tell you is that, as a producer, I know a good musician when they walk in my studio. One thing people need to know is that, the best musicians have not been heard yet.

It is very difficult for me as a producer to try and push the music to radio or TV stations, most of these unknown artistes are very talented but their music is never played on air. Most stations always keep asking of the old artistes. That’s why we are stagnant the industry.

7. Advice to any upcoming artist? – It takes perseverance to make it. Do not just come in and tell me that I can sing yet you are not prepared. Try and be humble and brand yourself before you approach a producer.