Justin Baron Mainye alias Viva Jeez is a rapper and a songwriter known for his dope punch lines and metallic bars since his debut. He made headlines when he revealed that he is Ringtone’s brother and that he was the writer of the hit song Pamela before Ringtone made away with it. He speaks to GEORGE D. MWENDWA about this and his musical journey.
Rumour has it that Ringtone is your brother. Kindly respond to this.
Ringtone and I are first cousins but we were brought up by the same parents under the same roof until he eloped to the streets after being disciplined following the usual teenage mischief.
So what’s the beef between the two of you considering you’ve chosen different paths; secular and gospel.
I decided to put the story out there because the World needs to know the truth especially due to the fact that he keeps spreading stories that don’t hold water. He never showed up again home until his stardom moment but he side-lined everyone despite being in a position to assist in some family issues like for instance land issues we’ve had recently that ended up in court. He went mum not even picking our calls.
So when did your music journey begin?
It all began when I wrote the song Pamela which pushed Ringtone to stardom. That’s when I realized I could sing and write as well and decided to pursue this line.
Why would you surface right now to claim the ownership of the song that ushered him to the limelight?
As some may see it, I’m not after using his name to make mine because my music has been in rotation even before this story surfaced. I wrote the song Pamela and he can confirm this. He however took the song and rushed to Sakata Media to record it with SK Blue. I was devastated one morning to hear the song play in a public vehicle I was boarding one morning.
What type of music are you into and do you think it has a place in Kenya?
I’m concentrating on rap sing music and it’s really working well in the country. Darassa came did it and now Burna Boy is crossing borders with the same thus I have a lot of confidence in this kind of style.
Do you feel oppressed in the music industry in terms of airplay and returns?
I wouldn’t complain at all because I haven’t been around for long yet I’m receiving a great reception both on TV and radio. My fans on the ground too are showing so much love that I take sleepless nights in the studio just ensuring I don’t disappoint them at any point. The returns might not be as I want them to be but I’m putting in work first before I complain on reaping.
Is music your forte and if not what do you do when off stage?
Music is not my forte at least for now though it’s my prayer that I make it my main venture soon enough. I started off 6 years ago but I noticed that I didn’t have the right strategy and music was milking me dry. I decided to fly to Dubai to work as a chef so that I’d make a comeback. When I came back I invested in a business and bounced back to music.
What have been your greatest challenges along the way?
It was too tough to begin as a new artiste. I was told no a million times when I was distributing my music. I would visit a radio presenter then he’d send me to a whole new producer to redo the song which really deflated my efforts to stay afloat. Some deejays and presenters would ask for a tip to support you which was like a dream to me since I was struggling myself.
What’s the one reason that made you not to give up?
I realized that music is a business that needs a lot of input and hard work. I also realized that I needed to study the market, understand my target audience then do my planning well enough before I make a good catch.
Why did you choose to go the secular way and not gospel considering that the first song you wrote passed the message of salvation?
I just decided to stick to the place I was more comfortable and a place that I could define what I felt in my heart. It’s sad to see artistes playing around with the name of God in the name of running to the camp that looks trendy and when things go sour on that end they burn the bridges while crossing back. That something I vowed never to do. If I’ll ever cross over to Gospel then it’ll be in God’s perfect timing.