Image courtesy of Jay Trigga.

Interview: Get to Know Rising Zambian Artist Jay Trigga

Jay Trigga could very well be Zambian music's next big thing—and he's doing it all from China.

Zambia has relentlessly developed a vibrant music scene in recent times, instigating new genres like Zambian Rock (Zamrock), Trapundula (a music genre following the driving element of Kalindula) and putting their own spin on afrobeats. This has all been possible through the collective effort of young Zambian artists wanting to create music that is authentic, different, bold, and purely African.

For 21-year-old Zambian hip-hop artist Jack Lumbeta Kafukwilwa also known as Jay Trigga, the need to showcase Africa to the world through music has been his greatest motivation. "I would define my sound as afro-fusion as it is a mix. I am quite versatile so finding a word to define my sound is tricky because I do trap music as well. In clear terms, my sound is chill, youthful and futuristic," Jay Trigga tells me over our virtual conversation from China where he is currently studying a masters degree in business management.

Following collaborations with Ice Prince and Davido's DMW rapper Dremo, the young star is significantly bent on shooting for the stars in Zambia's music scene. We sat down with Jay Trigga to talk about his journey, new single, his influences in music and more.

Jay Trigga - Like I do [Official Video]

Who is Jay Trigga?

My real name is Jack Lumbeta Kafukwilwa. I'm a Zambian artist and entrepreneur currently based in China for uni and everything. I came here in 2015, and I've been based here for about five years. I got my degree in Petroleum Engineering in 2019, and then I came back to pursue my master's in business management.

Did you know you were always going to do music?

I've always loved music since I was a kid. I grew up in a music family. My father played a lot of songs that in a way made an impact on my music career. I never really thought that I was going to be an artist. So, I started listening to music and I came across Kanye West. You know the story of him being a producer and then an artist, and him being so confident in himself sort of inspired me as well. Like, I was always shy, but listening to his songs motivated me. I also started listening to people like Wizkid and seeing how big you can be coming from Africa also motivated me.

Who and what inspires you to make music?

I would say my inspirations came from Kanye West, Wizkid, and Burna Boy. These were some of the main acts I started listening to. But me taking my country Zambia to the world is what really solidified my love for music because no one really makes it big from my country. Looking at Wizkid and Burna Boy and how they are making it big for Nigeria just made me feel I can do it for my country Zambia.

Being an African in China, how do you intend to showcase your roots through your sound?

Me being here is a big opportunity because we have a lot of Africans as well that are outside here in China. My main genre of music is afrobeats, more like afro-fusion. The main agenda I'm trying to push with my music is changing the image of what Africans are known to be outside here. It is a new place where China is being introduced to people like us, so we try to portray the best picture of ourselves in our music and also in school as well.

Jay Trigga ft Ice Prince - Money (Official Audio) || #ZedMusic Zambian Music 2020

Your collaboration with Ice Prince and Dremo was truly memorable, how exactly does it make you feel?

It makes me very happy because these were artists I also looked up to, most especially Ice Prince who pretty much paved the youthful sound of afrobeats and Afro-rap. So when I ended working with him, it was basically a dream come through. There are very few words I could use to describe that feeling. It's just a dream come through.

Who would you love to collaborate with next?

I'd love to work with Nasty C, Wizkid, Davido, Dadju, and Diamond Platnumz from Tanzania too. I just want to touch as many African countries as possible.

Tell us about your latest single "Buss Brain"

"Buss Brain" was actually one of my easiest songs to come up with because it was just a vibe. The beats came from Bizzouch (the producer of Omah Lay's latest hit "Damn" ft 6lack). It came so naturally, and I wanted to come up with a song that people all over the world would groove to; something that anybody can step out to, enter the place, and feel confident because that's what I want to do with my music. I want my music to help boost self-confidence like how these artists made me feel at some point in my life. So, I'm just trying to push the same narrative of self-confidence and believing in yourself, with a bit of swag as well.

Did the COVID-19 crisis affect the production and release of "Buss Brain"?

It mostly affected the music video, but when it came to the audio, it wasn't much of a problem because I am a producer myself. I record, master, and mix my songs myself and all these happen from my room in uni. The production process wasn't much of a problem. We thank God for the age we're in (the digital age) where things move fast and we can just send stuff. Shooting the video was a bit tricky, but other than that, there were no issues.

How did the reception for "Buss Brain" make you feel?

I'm really happy because I imagined positive feedback, but this one was overwhelming. I feel like it went even beyond what I expected, and everybody loves positive feedback, and it shows that I'm headed in the right direction. I got love from the UK, and Nigeria because that has been like my stronghold. I got huge support from them, and I'm so grateful.

If you could change anything in Zambia's music scene, what would it be?

I think I'd love to restructure. Young artists in my country haven't been able to come up with a good streaming structure and there is a lot of piracy at the moment where people just download music. So, I'd love to put a better streaming structure in place. It's getting there, but I think it will be better.

What is next for Jay Trigga?

I've got a video coming soon for "Buss Brain," then EP in the works. Then early next year, I'm hoping to give you my first album.

Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Image

#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.

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