At 25, Nelly has accomplished a lot, enough to make him one of the country’s best and most sought after club DJs. He has worked tirelessly to help make Liberian music popular and loved by its own people. As a result, Nelly has gained a lot of local and international recognition, like being the only Liberian disc jockey whose mix is being played on Be100! Radio owned by Debra Antney, Nicki Minaj’s former manager.
As the winner of the DJ category of the just ended Liberia Entertainment Awards, Nelly talks about his passion for his craft, how he started and more.
LIB Life: Welcome Nelly, how are you doing? Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
Nelly: Well, I’m doing great and moving on strong; I cannot complain – life is good. My name is Chuku Nelly Degbe and I work at Royal Plus and BigFm. I was born in JFK Hospital and I had a rough upbringing. Life was truly hard but God brought me through. I cannot go further than this.
LIB Life: How did you get started as a DJ?
Nelly: I actually started my career in early 2002 when I was still in high school. I always loved music and the way it moved people; and when I got the opportunity firstly to learn the craft under DJ Red Dogg and later Master D, I made use of it to get in the game.
These guys taught me a lot and I much appreciate them for giving me the opportunity to become who I am today.
LIB Life: What makes you different from other DJs?
Nelly: I’m different because I’m not afraid of challenges. I work hard to perfect my craft in order to beat my competitors. Another thing that makes me different from other DJs is that I am humble and willing to learn.
LIB Life: What does it take to become a successful DJ in Liberia?
Nelly: It takes determination, patience and the love for music in order to break through. Secondly, you have to understand the kinds of music your fans want to hear, or else you will find it difficult.
LIB Life: When DJing, what scene you love the most?
Nelly: Hmmm, what can I say? I was not expecting this question; however, just to answer your question, my favorite scene when DJing is hearing that pop from the crowd when I’m dropping songs. When they go crazy, they make me feel good to drop more songs.
LIB Life: Whenever you are about to perform, what do you do and how do you select your music?
Nelly: The thing I do is to listen to the hottest music around the world and then putting a list together for my audience.
LIB Life: What has been your most memorable experience as a DJ? How did you manage it?
Nelly: The first time I deejayed as a young boy, I was very nervous. At first people looked down on me because of my age and body; however, I was able to survive that by keeping on doing what I love.
LIB Life: Was there any point in time your mood affected the way you mixed your music? When did you realize you had become a brand? Have you ever thought about quitting before?
Nelly: I was born to become a DJ and at no time have I ever thought of quitting. Matter of fact, I love DJing than any other thing. This is my life and I love it.
Hmmm, for the brand question I think it was last year when I established an entrainment company called Nelly Empire, which helps upcoming DJs to improve their skills. I also help underground artists to put them on a platform. Whenever we have a big event we make sure underground artists open up the shows.
LIB Life: Who are your favorite DJs and what genres of music do you like the most?
Nelly: My favorite DJs are Master D and Red Dogg and most definitely myself. As a DJ I can’t discriminate, I like all music.
LIB Life: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start DJing?
Nelly: To anyone who is interested in DJing, just know that it is seriously harder than it seems. Anyone can play music, but not everybody can become a DJ.
Robin Dopoe, Jr., I a freelance art and culture writer for the Daily Observer Newspaper in Liberia. The Nimba born is a former Public Relationship Officer for the Liberia Nation Movie Union and a bio and music coach.
Follow Robin on Facebook with the name Robin C.L Dopoe, Jr.