Don Jazzy, the Pied Piper of “Enigma”

by Idiare Atimomo

I grew up with the story of the Pied Piper told to us almost like a movie thriller. In a land “far far away” a man existed who could play his flute so well that all the children in every town dropped what they were doing to listen to him and followed him. The Piper was the epitome of influence; he initially used his power to clear cities of rodents but turned his power/charm on children to spite the parents who reneged on an agreement with him.

Cut to 2011 and a modern day Piper has emerged in the online (read twitter) and musical space. He is none other than Michael Collins a.k.a Don Jazzy Ace producer, CEO of Mo ‘Hits records and latest juggernaut to join the Kanye West/Jay Z family of music impressarios. In this post i want to examine the unparalleled buzz creation powers of Don Jazzy, his uncanny ability to diffuse his ideas and how his actions become a topic for online and offline discussion especially amongst his constituency: young Nigerians and those in the music business. In the last week he launched a competition via twitter tagged Don Jazzy Beat Competition (in conjunction with the ubiquitous where he released a musical beat he named “Enigma” with a challenge to any would be musician to sing, rap, or perform a “freestyle” on the “enigma beat”. Entries are to be sent to an email address and the best rendition using the “enigma” beat would walk away with $2,000. Don Jazzy has more than 80,000 followers on twitter so you can imagine the reaction to the competition has been incredible. Entries have started flooding in, people began using the name “Enigma” to create jokes, stretching the meaning and usage of the beat in ways I’m sure even Don Jazzy would never have imagined. When I first commented on the incredible wildfire effect of the Enigma campaign via twitter, a friend of mine Deji Ashiru Balogun opined that the buzz was being generated because of the prize of $2,000 I immediately begged to differ as I saw some hidden truths come to light about the impressive buzz creating personality called Don Jazzy. Stay with me as we jointly dissect the interesting facts I observed. Follower Engagement & Credibility Don Jazzy is followed by a lot of young people on twitter because he does some things that a lot of other “celebrities” don’t do: 1. He retweets both good and bad comments from both his followers and random twitter users. In other words he exposes the thoughts, fears, talents, humor and angst of so many people to an audience they could not get on their own. He lends people his platform and people love him for it. So many times I was shocked to see people begging for a “retweet” from Don Jazzy and he gladly obliges. It’s clear to me as a psychologist and marketer that a retweet from him feeds the self worth of his followers, he makes people believe in the power of their own voice. This is a strength that makes him a great “Pied Piper”. 2. He easily “follows” people, many times without waiting for them to ask. For those who don’t know, when you “follow” a person on twitter you get to see their conversations, in effect you acknowledge they exist and what they say is important. Twitter is high school all over again! Many other celebrities want to be “followed” but don’t like to follow their “followers”…if you want to cultivate Don Jazzy-like attention; you’ve got to change that orientation. 3. He rewards his followers from time to time. He initially began by typing out recharge card PINs of different networks for lucky followers to load and enjoy. Then one day he tweeted randomly about not having airtime on his phone and asked them to send airtime to him as well, initially as a joke. Reports say he got so much airtime from his followers he was indeed dazed by the response. He recently gave out 2 iPads to the 2 lucky followers who met up with him in New York after he announced a “first come, first win” competition to his twitter fan base In all, these 3 steps mixed with his undoubtedly friendly nature and obvious talent have given him what I call Twit-Credibility (yeah, yeah I just made that up!). Now lets examine quickly the buzz around the Don Jazzy Beat “enigma” competition The Prize: the dollar denominated prize is clearly an attraction also the claim to fame from doing justice to a Don Jazzy produced beat coupled with a likely inclusion in DBanj’s upcoming album is a deadly cocktail hardly any aspiring Nigerian musician/rapper would pass up The Beat has a name! : I consider this a pure master stroke that he decided that the beat should have a name. it’s not something most musicians or producers do. In doing so he has created a sub brand in its own right many are attempting to associate with. The name “enigma” easily became a trending topic on twitter and amongst musicians/artists offline as well. The name has a mystery to it that inspires talks of the illuminati, resuscitation of troubled careers (Blackky, Azadus etc) and many other spin off jokes and jibes. It was averaging about 20 “mentions” every 5 seconds the last time I checked on twitter, that’s awesome! The Beat is cool: Listening to the enigma beat, you get a feeling that it was written for a collabo between Youssou N’Dour and Kanye West (don’t mind me…my minds playing tricks on me). It has a unique blend of African and American influences with a clear hip hop bent. With the requirement to include his trademark “oriki”( Its Don Jazzy Again IDJA) on the track, we can expect to hear a lot of interesting versions from which a song worthy of the producer’s name will spring forth. Feeding frenzy: since the competition began other producers have plugged in big time with some offering deals for artistes wishing to record on the “enigma” beat at their studios offering discounts on studio time. Some artists have been “leaking” their version of the beat all over the internet while some are going as far as shooting low budget music videos! That was totally not part of the brief but hey, who cares? Without a doubt the competition has launched a big wave of creativity, innovation in engagement and hopefully we may discover a new blow-away talent. The greatest revelation for me though remains the growing dominance and relevance of a 21st century Pied Piper and marketing buzz creator…its Don Jazzy Again!

This article was forst published on on Thursday, July 28, 2011

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