Hardy Jimbaz is inspired by Jamaican Reggae
In the 1980s, Jimbaz made a name as an artiste, disc jockey and pitchman for reggae in Nigeria. These days, he is music producer, impressario and head of Tuffgig Music Empire which operates out of Lagos and New York City where he is based.
That company’s latest productions are “Different” and “Smile”, both reggae songs by Nigerian singer Belliyah who lives in Lagos. Jimbaz worked with Jamaican musicians on the tracks including Sidney Mills, the veteran musician best known for his work with Steel Pulse.
“I must say that I’m pretty excited, though in this case I’m aligning and directing it towards my artistes. And being that they are versatile and have love for reggae music, it was just so easy to flow, because for me personally, before I became a music producer, down to having a label, I was a reggae artiste,” said Jimbaz.
Tuffgig Music Empire was established in 2004. In recent years, Jimbaz and his team have increased its profile with the release of artistes who specialise in Afrobeats, the percussive beat that is the rage globally.
While Nigerian acts like Burna Boy and Wizkid are largely responsible for making Afrobeats a world force, Jimbaz said credit for its rise must be given to Fela, the charismatic saxophonist who died in 1997.
“I will say that the Afrobeat father himself, the legendary Fela Aníkulapo Kuti, introduced the music to the world. However, Afrobeats began gaining world recognition because of the push from brand promoters like myself and others,” he explained. “It just helped Afrobeats cross the bridge and today, Afrobeats is recognised everywhere in the world. However, it is yet to be recognised like reggae, R&B, rap, etc, as it is still being classified under World Music in the international awards and on different music platforms,” Jimbaz added. “We want it to be recognised as Afrobeats and not World Music.”
Jimbaz’ interest in reggae intensified during the 1980s. Back then, he flew regularly to London to purchase the hottest songs there and in Jamaica; then took them back to Nigeria where they were serviced to clubs and radio.
In the early 1980s, with two friends, he formed a reggae group called The Messengers which recorded an album titled “Rise Africa” which featured Jastix, backing band for Majek Fashek, Nigeria’s most famous reggae artiste.
While recording a second album, Jimbaz said they were forced to flee Nigeria. He moved to New York City, home to the largest reggae community outside of Jamaica.
It was while working as a recording engineer intern at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem that Jimbaz met a Jamaican bassist called One Drop. They eventually recorded an album titled “The Stone That The Builder Refuse” which featured roots deejay DJ Angie Angel; it was mixed and mastered in Jamaica by Doctor Mashall and Stephen Stanley.
Since starting Tuffgig Music Empire, Hardy Jimbaz has experimented with different sounds. Some of his productions are Afro-roots-reggae, a mix of Nigerian beats and Jamaican music.
“Reggae is not a new thing to me, my love and excitement for reggae started from a very young age. And I have worked with a lot of reggae musicians, built lasting family relationships with most of them so everything about reggae music is exciting to me, and still finding the opportunity to do something with reggae music with my artistes, gives me pleasure,” he said. “And that’s the reason we are creating a niche for ourselves with a reggae sound with my artistes, which we call the Afro-roots reggae, which like Afrobeats was built in a different level.”
(Photo courtesy of Hardy Jimbaz)