Takun J was recently named as Liberia’s Anti-Rape Ambassador for his tireless efforts advocating for an end to violence against women and children. He is also a pioneer in the genre of hip co, Liberia’s unique music that blends hip hop and west African sounds with Liberian English.
1. “Pot Boiling Remix”, a “collabo”, featuring Xpolay, Romeo Lee, JD Donzo, you, Bentman Tha Don and Luckay Buckay and produced
by Yor-EL Francis was such a “club banger,” if I must quote Mae Azango of Frontpage Africa. It saw huge success and play in Liberia.
Yes, the fans really supported that song. I was riding with Xpolay one time and some fans stopped us, rapped the whole song back to us…was quite impressed. I think the message in the song and what is being talked about has really resonated with people.
2. You taunt the police with you number, Policeman. Have you run into any trouble with them, I mean the Liberian National Police [LNP]?
“Police Man” is a not a taunt. I saw something that was happening in our society; saw that the police were not protecting the people like they are supposed to be doing, and so I had to talk about it. I sang in the song, “Police man not rogue, but some of them can steal,” so like anything else, you have good people and you have bad people. But the song, it made them very angry. I was beaten, taken to jail after that song.
3. You generally speak against societal ills, and especially the song Hawa, speaks against violence against Liberian girls and women, more so, now prevalent after the Liberian civil war.
Yes, I wrote that song after visiting a home for young girls that were being victimized. Our women shouldn’t have to go through things like that. And so that’s why I wrote the “Song for Hawa.” The story is real.
4. The Liberian Gender Ministry recently named you a voice for their campaign against domestic violence in the Liberian society, especially against women. Your message is bearing fruits and is being heard…
They’ve named me their Anti-Rape Ambassador in their campaign against rape and sexual assault and gender based violence in general. And I’m so proud to be able to use my voice for this important cause. When I hear some of the stories, or read some of the statistics about what is happening to our women, especially young girls, some of them as young as 4 to 5 years old, it’s so sad a story that such a thing is happening in our society. And as a man, I know my responsibilities are greater. And all I am trying to do is to speak to other men also as well, because we have to end this.
5. You recently release an album “My Way,” after your debut album a few years ago, what can your fans both at home and the diaspora expect from the tunes, more so, as far as messages?
My debut album was The Time, which included songs like WHO MADE YOU CRY, SIX JUE, and POLICEMAN etc. And I think my fans really responded to that. Even now, more than 6 years after I released that album, my fans still come to me singing those songs, requesting them at shows. The new album, My Way, I released in December of last year. And the difference between the two is there and can be heard, you can hear the improvement in quality because our industry here in Liberia is getting better. The songs, are talking about our everyday lives, about the daily struggles we go through, whether it’s with corruption or relationships. It’s music that people can relate to.
6. What is the PCI Media and how did you come to work with them…?
PCI Media Impact is an NGO that uses entertainment education to tell stories and change behavior. They reached out to me because they were doing an anti-rape campaign in Liberia, and they made me their Gender Based Violence Reduction Ambassador. We produced 2 songs, and the “Song for Hawa” was one of the songs. We’re working on some more projects, still center around the issue of ending rape.
7. Jazzo entertainment is your front company, which record studio did you works with for this album.
I worked with Studio 57, and with Red Eyez.
8. Which music producer[s] and writers did you work with for this latest effort that saw your album “My Way” come out.
I write all my own songs. It was great to be able to collaborate with some really talented artists on this album : Nasseman, Santos, Soul Smiter, Bentman, Scientific, Marvalous, Ice Princess. And to have great producers like Stone Gray, AB Swaray, King Brian, and Rawlo. Their input was instrumental .
9. Nora Rahimian, your manager has work diligently to see you interests advanced, you must be proud of the organization she has brought to your efforts…?
Very much so. She has a lot of love for hipco, and for the work we’re doing. And because she has a background in social justice and community organizing, we share similar visions for our work. We make a good team.
10. There are those who say Liberian music is not measuring up to other genre of music in Africa and especially Liberian neighbors of Ghana , Cote d’ Ivoire, and Sierra Leone. What do you say to them? When the camera goes off what do you do to cool off?
Liberian music is so sweet, we just need to start prioritizing ourselves more. When the radio stations start playing our music more, the people will get used to it and appreciate it. And that’s happening already. Look at the success of Pot Boiling Remix. You didn’t hear any other music last season but that song. Look at our hipco festival, where we attracted about 17000 people, they came in the numbers to support Liberian music, it is fantastic. It’s changing and getting better. And to cool off, I recently opened an entertainment spot where artists come to relax, rehearse, do shows. I go there. And I spend time there with friends and family.
11. Thanks for granting the Liberian Listener this interview.