I Was Once A Steward



 Music producer and singer, Justice Okey Martins popularly known as J Martins, on Wednesday, paid a visit to the corporate headquarters of The NEWS/P.M. NEWS. During the visit, he opened up on his new project, his music, how he grew up and other issues



What is happening to you now?

Well, despite the fact that my last album was released in 2009, God has been so wonderful to me. I must also say that my fans, both in Nigeria and other African countries, have been awesome and so supportive. We are about to step up the game once more to make sure that my fans remain happy. We are looking at 26 August, 2011 to drop two singles and a video. The video is that of the song I did with Cabo Snoop from Angola. A lot of people call me the master of collabo, but I can tell you that my collaborations are strategic. It started with my brothers, P-Square, then Bracket, Wiz Boy, Waje; there are many of them because some are not even out yet. Then in East Africa, I have Waire from Kenya, AY the rap artiste from Tanzania another one with a Ugandan. It was in Central Africa that Fally Ipupa came in and right now, I’m doing Central South Africa where Cabo Snoop comes in from Angola. Maybe after Cabo Snoop, you will hear that I’m in North Africa. One thing that has inspired this is that I love cross music. I love to bridge a gap and the reason behind that is all for the love of music and for the love of what I do.

It is quite interesting to see how the wonderful collabo you did with Fally Ipupa blew up on Channel ‘O’ and other international stations, how did you achieve that?

Fally has been an old-time friend of mine and I’m one person that is open to all genres of music, so I thought it was time for me to export my brand of music to the outside world. Working with Fally was a great privilege because he is a wonderful artiste. He is one person I have a lot of respect for. He is also going to be here for my concert coming up on 29 October. Cabo Snoop, Gyptian and others, will also be in Nigeria for the concert.

What exactly is the concept behind the concert? Is it because P-Square just had their own?

Not at all. I have been planning to hold the concert just to let people know who I am. I’m not doing it because P-Square did their own, but you will realise that I have not done any major thing in Lagos, not in terms of performances, because we have been playing shows and concerts, but there is nothing that will be like your own thing. This is J Martins live in concert and with the help of God, I expect it to be a sell out.

But you seem to be regarded more as king of collabo and not an individual artiste?

Well, if you say king of collabo, in which sense? You can’t count up to 10 collabo that I have done. But I thank God that I have not really played any music that is not a hit. I cannot explain why, but like I always tell younger artistes, if it is not God, then it can’t be God. Basically, I believe there are two sides to everything you do; the man’s side and God’s side. When I do the man’s side, I leave the rest to God.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I take that from everything that happens around me. I don’t have any problem with my colleagues singing about women because that is how it is all over the world. But I choose to speak more about the society and help people build their faith. I choose to be on that side in order to identify with my own people and fans, know how they feel and let them realise that whatever problem they are going through had been there, not just because I’m trying to sing about it. I have been through the same process in life and know what it feels to be there. So with my music, I’m only passing a message that when you hold on to God, the problems won’t stay long. Just hold on to God and your faith and be consistent in whatever you are doing, the rest will be history.

Do you think being a producer has influenced your music?

Yes. Basically, being a producer has influenced my music. It has also helped me in so many ways. I was in Angola to shoot a video with Cabo Snoop and then the President of Sao Tome was starting his campaign and wanted me to perform. I had never been there and didn’t know what it looked like. They came for me in Lagos but realised that I wasn’t in the country. They later got to know that I was in Angola and the President of Sao Tome, being a friend of the one in Angola, arranged for my flight. Originally, as a Nigerian citizen, I was supposed to first apply for Sao Tome visa from Nigeria, but it will interest you to know that it was issued to me in Angola. It was not even on a week day. They came to meet me on Saturday on a video shoot, took my passport and returned it the following day when I already had a chartered flight waiting to pick me. So, that is what music can do for you. Being a producer has really helped me because most of those popular foreign acts you appreciate on TV also watch and appreciate you. And because you create your own beats and all that, really helps.

What will you say about today’s artistes who cannot play any musical instrument?

Well, as for me, I play seven instruments—drums, keyboard, bass guitar, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, clarinet and alto sax. Those are the seven instruments that I play. In the world of music, every artiste should be able to play one instrument or the other. If you cannot play, then there is no point for you being there. That is why you see some of them sing off-key during live performances.

But that is what is obtainable here in Nigeria?

Well, I can speak for myself and a great number of my friends who have been there. People like Eldee, Don Jazzy, D’banj, P-Square, 2face, Terry G and others would not fall victim of that. Of course, in the midst of good, you will always find one or two bad, but I still believe Nigeria holds the flag of entertainment in the whole of Africa.

Does this mean that the current growth in the music industry came about even without the proper structures that everybody has been complaining about?

I think we need to put our house in order and put things in place as well. If the structures come in, it will go a long way. But at the same time, I also believe it is a personal decision if those artistes are not also ready to improve and work on themselves. I think it is the younger artistes that go off-key.

Who is the lady in your life?

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I’m sure she is out there. Of course, I’m in a relationship. My papa loved a woman before he born me, so I must love woman too. The relationship has been on for over three years now and it is still going. Every relationship has hiccups but we are moving on. When the bell rings, you will know. The lady in question is a medical doctor.

How has she been coping with your busy schedule?

Initially, she said no problem, but along the line, she didn’t find it funny.

How then do you hope to keep your home?

There must be a balance. It is between two of us to work it out.

You’ve not really talked about your new singles?

Yes, the first one I did with Cabo Snoop is titled Good Time. It is not the usual Nigerian sound. The second one is titled Kele Papa, which means thank God. I wrote and produced both songs.

Some will say you have not really conquered the Nigerian market before moving to other countries. Are you not concerned about this?

The sky is too big for all birds to fly. I have not gotten there, but I’m still in the process of getting there. The industry is not a warfront, so I believe my fans in Nigeria have given me that love and courage, and they are still standing by me. That is what makes the difference. They gave me all the strength and energy which I used to conquer in other parts of Africa.

What are the highest and lowest points of your career?

Highest point…I don’t think I have gotten there but traces of getting to the highest point are the facts that some of the things you dreamt of as a young child are now manifesting. The lowest points are the things you went through as a starter.

Have you ever been booed on stage?

No. it has never happened to me.

Were there anytime you have been depressed?

A lot of times. Before I became the popular J Martins and all, many people did not know that I worked in a restaurant, washed plates and served food. Area boys were on my neck to the extent that it got to a stage when they turned me to an errand boy. I have worked in a motor park…there are many things I have done all in the name of looking for daily bread.

You seem to have a very strong relationship with P-Square. How does it go?

I will always say this, P-Square are my brothers for life. I have a huge respect for them and I’m indebted to them. They gave me their shoulders to lean on. They gave me their platform on a platter of gold to work on. It is not easy because you will rarely see established artistes that can do that, and that is why you know J Martins today.

But there was a time when people said there was a dispute between you and P-Square?

I heard the rumour the same way you heard it. There is nothing like that.

Did you perform at their Invasion concert?

Yes. I performed three times.

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