Veteran producer and Ghanaian hiphop icon Jayso (known privately as Paul Nuamah Donor) has revealed to beatphreaks.com in a recent interview, his favourite of the new crop of Ghanaian producers. Among them include his protege Paapa, MikeMillzOnEm, Drvmroll, Yung Fly, and You x Me hitmaker Kuvie.
The above list has worked on excellent projects with top contemporary acts including E.L, M.anifest, Joey B, Sarkodie among others.
Jayso, who is widely considered a key player in the hiphop movement in the country, especially for his inroads with his record label Skillions also named Timbaland, Dr Dre, Kanye West, Quincy Jones, Cobhams Asuquo as his global production idols.
His debut solo album Making Tasha Proud was released in December 2015, and features such hits as Making Tasha Proud, Little Monsters, and Have A Party. In April 2013, he released a joint album TMG with Sarkodie, which contained the famous Pizza and Burger song. He has also collaborated with key acts as Kwaw Kese, Ball J, Kobi Onyame, Asem, Ayigbe Edem, C-Real, Wyclef Jean, M.anifest, Kuli Chana, AKA among others.
Read the full interview below:
Jayso’s sound has undeniably nurtured a generation of Ghanaian hip-hop artists. We talked beats, his inspirations and creative process with this record producer, artist, and the brain behind Skillions Records.
Has music production always been something you were interested in or was it by accident?
Doubt I was ever interested in music production. My main focus was rap. I only got interested in production because I couldn’t find a producer who made the kind of beats I wanted. I remember my first studio session was at a studio in Tema called i3 back in 1999. I found myself beatboxing my ideas for the producer to recreate. After PRESEC, I met Kobi Onyame who I felt was making very good beats. Learned the trade from him & the rest is history.
Prior to learning to produce, did you have any musical talent apart from beatboxing & rapping?
Yes. Singing & Spoken Word.
Did your folks support your musical exploits or did you have to convince them that this was what you wanted to do?
They were super supportive. Their only condition was: “Keep your grades up”. And I believe I did just that.
How long did it take for you to get confident enough with your production to put your work out?
Can’t remember how long it took but any beat I made back then was good to go once Kobi Onyame gave it a thumbs up. However, I trust my ears. Various industry players have endorsed my production skills & that’s also been a confidence booster.
In your opinion, what makes a great producer?
Knowing & understanding a wide range of music & the gift of knowing what sounds right. Plus, the ability to direct an artist. Mind you, a record producer & beatmaker are two different trade.
Could you break it down for those following this interview who might not know the difference?
A beatmaker makes beats. A record producer directs the music. Most beatmakers double as record producers & that is why you find most songs produced by the beat maker. Technically though, I can take a beat from say Yung Fly & work on a song with Sarkodie and direct the entire session. Including but not limited to song arrangement, adding and/or removing instruments from the beat (with the beat makers permission of course. Unless rights to beats is purchased), etc, and I will now become the producer of the record. Because I orchestrated the song.
Yung Fly will still get some production credits and that explains why you sometimes find co-produced in the credits. Note that, a record producer does not need to be a beat maker or even play an instrument; knowing how to is a plus. I can produce a track by calling in various instrumentalists to play my idea(s). That still makes me the producer of the finished song. The instrumentalists receive instrumentation credits. Hope I did well trying to explain the difference. S3 nkofo nti asi3 ah omo nko Google. Medaasi.
We know every beat maker has their creative process. Could you take us through yours?
Ei this question dierrr. Ah, the answer is too long. Let me find the link to a short video I did with NotionAfrica. Here you go. Did a short studio session with Chase & I think it answers the question; a bit.
What’s your favorite genre of music to make?
Hip-Hop/R&B but trust Jayso to go from Lay Away to this; I love good music.
The production on that M.anifest tune is amazing.
Thanks! A.B Crentsil’s shoutout to me at the outro is Bae. Legend.
What would you say is your best or favorite piece of work till date?
To be very honest I don’t have one. I love a few. Steady Progress with Reggie Rockstone, Borga Borga, War with Wyclef and Kwaw Kese, Lay Away, Y3 wo Adze Oye, I didn’t fancy the beat for Special Someone but I think the collabo was powerful, Making Tasha Proud, but trust, the best is yet to come – God-willing.
Do you think the HipHop music scene in Ghana has improved in any way since you started out?
Definitely. From an underground movement to having a category in the GMAs. From The Skillions DemoTapes to nominations globally. From Africa Unite by Scientific to Pizza & Burger being nominated at the Channel O MVAs, a resounding yes!
Who’s the most inspiring artiste you’ve worked with so far and what makes them exceptional?
That will be Wyclef. He taught me one thing, to be humble throughout. I was surprised when he asked for my opinion after doing a verse on a track I produced. I gave him my honest opinion and asked him to retake it. He agreed & did it again. I was so surprised. Valuable lesson learned there. Other artists like Sarkodie, M.anifest & my Skillions Team have inspired me too.
Who are your Top 5 producers both globally and right here in Ghana?
Ghana (in no particular order):Paapa, MikeMillzOnEm, Drvmroll, Yung Fly, Kuvie
Notice how I mentioned the young producers making it happen. The OGs be OGs.
Globally [Top 5] Timbaland, Dr Dre, Kanye West, Quincy Jones, Cobhams Asuquo
What’s your take on the balance between originality and commercial music as a producer?
I believe any original composition has the potential to be commercially successful. For me, it’s about making good music first & the rest is up to the universe.
What production software do you prefer to use and why?
I can name a few; FL Studio, Wavelab, Cubase, Logic, Pro Tools, Waves Plug-ins & other VST instruments
I use these software because they provide easy-to-use interfaces & of course, they are industry standards.
Finally, what would you say sets you apart from your colleagues and what advice would you give to upcoming producers?
Just being myself really. My advice to upcoming producers, “be humble, learn from whoever you look up to & be different”.
Great advice! Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us!
You are welcome & thanks for the platform. Kudos to you and the team behind this. A laudable move.