JOSEPH Haule is not a new name in the Tanzanian music circles. He is revered as one of the most versatile, creative and crowd-pleasing artists within the country and East Africa as a whole.
Best known to his adoring fans as “
Jay”, this exceptionally gifted artist is admired for his heart-throbbing
live performances, and is frequently in demand nationally and regionally.
He was appointed, among several other local star musicians, as an ambassador of a nationwide malaria eradication campaign called Zinduka. Others include Bi Kidude, Lady Jay Dee, Marlaw, Mwasiti, Ray C, Banana Zorro and his sister Maunda, just to name a few.
Like his co-star Joseph Mbilinyi a.k.a. Sugu or Mr II, Professor Jay is among the pioneers of Tanzanian Hip Hop.
Despite an influx of many new bidders, the duo remain as the most popular Bongo Flava musicians in the country.
Born on December 29, 1975, Professor Jay started rapping in 1994 as a member of Hard Blasters Crew, then one of the leading Bongo Flava groups in the country.
The group is best known for their hit ‘Chemsha Bongo’ from their first album ‘Funga Kazi’.
The group was formed in 1989 with five members — William Shundi (Crazy One or Big Willie), Ngida Raphael (KC1) and Frank Kpyrassa (Trigger F), Gabriel Kilunga (Tuff Jam) and Terry Msiagi (Luni T or Fanani).
In 1995, they were joined by (Joseph) Haule, then using stage name Nigga J, Trigga J and Killa B. And the trio’s arrival at the Hard Blaster Crew helped propel the group to the higher heights of success.
Hard Blasters recorded their first album, ‘Mambo Ya Mjini’ in 1994 at Mawingu Studio in Dar es Salaam.
Six years later, they recorded a 14-track album, ‘Funga Kazi’, at Don Bosco, Mawingu & MJ Studios in the city.
This album is believed to have revolutionized the music industry in Tanzania, thanks to great lyrics and powerful messages in tracks like ‘Chemsha Bongo’ and ‘Mamsup’.
It also contributed towards establishing Bongo Flava (Kiswahili Rap), which, contrary to what some people believe, is not street music. It’s for all ages and classes.
The lyrics in Bongo often represent hardships of Tanzanian life, including issues such as HIV/AIDS, wealth, inequality and struggling to meet basic needs.
Within a short time, Hard Blasters won the best Hip-Hop group award in Tanzania.
Some years later, the group suffered a setback as some members, including Haule, opted to drop out, citing personal commitments.
However, of all members who abandon the group, Professor Jay is the artist who forged a successful music career.
He decided to go solo in 2001, and immediately released his first album ‘Machozi, Jasho na Damu’ (Tears, Sweat & Blood).
The album was an instant hit and Professor Jay received many awards, including the Best Tanzanian Composer.
His ‘Ndio Mzee’ track was named the best single during the Kilimanjaro Music Awards. The song is off ‘Machozi, Jasho na Damu’ album. The other songs in the album include ‘Piga Makofi’ and ‘Bongo-Dar es Salaam’.
Some of his popular singles are ‘Nikusaidiaje’ and ‘Zali la Mentali’, in which he has featured co-star Juma Nature a.k.a. Sir Nature, and ‘Yataka Moyo’.
In 2003, he released his second solo album, ‘Mapinduzi Halisi’. This album was voted the best Tanzanian Hip Hop album at the 2003 Kilimanjaro Music Awards.
Some hit numbers in the album are ‘Zali la Mentali’, ‘Msinitenge’ and ‘Promota Anabeep,’ which enjoyed lots of air play on local radios between 2003 and 2006.
His third album ‘J.O.S.E.P.H’ was released early 2006. The song ‘J.O.S.E.P.H,’ which carries the title of the album, was released slightly before the album, and it was chosen as Best Bongo Flava single at the BBC and Radio One Awards.
The album also received four nominations for Best Hip Hop album, Best songwriter, Best Hip Hop song for the track ‘Nikusaidieje’, which was also nominated for Best song of the year at the 2006 Kilimanjaro Music Awards.
The same year ‘Nikusaidieje’ won Best song of the year award, was nominated for the Kenya Kisima Music Awards for Best song from Tanzania and won Best video from Tanzania.
Like Mr. II, Professor Jay’s lyrics often have political messages. In one of his songs, he imitates an elder politician and ridicules the fake promises they all mindlessly spew as they are trying to get elected.
‘Ndio Mzee’ (literally meaning Yes Sir) are some of the words in the song. This represents the brain washing of the public as politicians make these false promises over and over.
It is interesting to note, however, that after the release of this song, one renowned politician made a reference to the lyrics of the song in one of his speeches. This show that politicians also take time to listen to Bongo Flava songs.
Professor Jay has, in some of his songs, been featuring famed artists. In the songs ‘Nikusaidiaje’ and ‘Nimeamini,’ for instance, he teamed up with Ferooz and Bongo Flava diva Lady Jay Dee respectively.
He also featured Banana Zorro and Naziz in the songs ‘Nisamehe’ and ‘Border kwa Border’ respectively.
His other songs are ‘Wapi Nimekosea’, ‘Una’, ‘Hakuna Noma’, ‘Jina Langu’, ‘Piga Makofi’, ‘Nidivyo Sivyo’ and ‘Hapo Sawa.’ He also supported Kenyan singer Nonini in the song ‘Kumekucha.’
In 2007, his hit number ‘Sivyo Ndivyo,’ in which he featured Ugandan artist Jose Chameleon, was named the best song at Kisima Music Awards.
The same year, he was voted the best male artist at Pearl of Africa Music Awards (PAM Awards), before being named the best songwriter at the 2009 Tanzania Music Awards.