HIP HOP is certainly back on the rise, with new artistes springing up every day. In this dog eat dog industry, you need to bring the skills, if you want to hold your own against the big dogs in the relatively small yard. Enter CJ Bigger Man, a talented rap artiste, who is already firing on all cylinders and lighting up the rap scene in Ghana with his flawless delivery and witty punchlines. There’s really no telling how successful this artiste can get as he seems to be the real deal. I caught up with him to find out more.
How did you begin your career as a recording artiste?
CJ: It started back in high school. I won a talent competition and the prize was a record deal. They put me in a group with three other guys, but things didn’t really turn out too well, so we had to let it go. When I got to university I was offered another record deal, so I took it and ran with it. I started recording songs and performing at underground shows. I have never looked back. It’s all about the present and what the future holds for me.
What do you talk about in your music?
CJ: I like to deliver a social commentary, if you will, through my music. I talk about all aspects of our daily lives. It’s important that people relate to the music I make. I use many similes and metaphors and go hard with the punchlines. I like to give people something to reminisce about, like something we can all relate to, that happened in the past, in high school, etc. Basically, I talk about anything and everything that has to do with our society. I take pride in making my lyrics as descriptive and colourful as possible so people get a clear picture of what I’m saying. As musicians, it’s very important for us to have a strong message in our music. We have a huge fan base that listens to us. That’s a lot of power. We can use that power to make a huge difference in their lives. Eminem can rap about murder and people might go out and commit murder. That’s how powerful music is. Music goes right into the soul. A person might not be able to learn the lyrics to a song word for word, but he will still take something away from the song that will resonate in his head forever. We need to have a message in our music, especially in these difficult times, and when many people look up to us and our work.
What are some of the obstacles you face as an upcoming artiste?
CJ: There are so many. You spend so much money recording a track, and then getting a DJ to put it on his playlist becomes an issue. They will literally demand payola. Most of the playlists on radio are one-way. DJs will only play music from popular artistes even when an upcoming, underground artiste has a potential hit on his hands. If you’re not a mainstream artiste, or you don’t have the money to push your music, then you have your work cut out for you. Event promoters also believe he’s doing you a favour, forgetting that it’s a two-way thing because you are also going to entertain his audience or you are ever-ready to fill in for a popular act that is not ready to go on stage yet, or maybe has not even turned up on time. They don’t appreciate the craft. It also goes a long way to messing the game up because when this under-appreciated, underground act blows up and becomes mainstream, he harbours this experience and refuses to help other upcoming acts. The biggest challenge facing us all is the lack of record labels. So many acts go through reality shows but have nothing to show for it. If we had more record labels, they would scoop them up and sign them.
What do you hope to achieve through your career?
CJ: When people talk about rap music in Africa, the name that comes to mind should be CJ Bigger Man. I want that international recognition. I want upcoming acts to look up to me and see that the dream of success is achievable. I want people to make a case study out of my music. I want to have my idols look at me as competition. It’s all about the passion, but it’s also very much about the money. I need to get that money! (laughs)
How big is hip hop in Ghana in your opinion?
CJ: It’s definitely one of the biggest genres of music in Ghana, thanks to big names like Jayso, Sarkodie, J Town, Scientific, M.anifest, Coptic and the like. They have really held it down for so many years. Hip hop has come a long way. When we have our own hip hop awards, people will get the picture of just how massive the genre is. It’s only going to get bigger.
Where exactly would you say your brand of hip hop fits in this highly competitive industry?
CJ: I try to address every element of rap in terms of timing, delivery, punchlines, attitude, etc. My music is fluid and can never be clichÃ©. I produce records not just music. I make records that will last forever. People will look back years from now and be like “Damn!!’
What are you working on currently?
CJ: I’m currently promoting my two singles; ‘No Shakin’ and ‘Food Bombers’ . They are doing pretty good online. I plan on shooting a few videos soon as well. I am working on my album, of course, but I really want to push the singles as hard as I can. I plan on being one of the biggest moguls in Ghana. It’s already started. My time is now!!
A message to your fans?
CJ: Keep believing. We’re almost there. As I always say, it’s “zero days to stardom”. Big up to my team for all the hard work. We’re almost there!!
By Eddie Blay Jnr
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