Being an Urban Legend is an understatement For Jean Daniel, so well known yet not so well known, after establishing himself firmly in the street and fashion culture in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Congolese born Entrepreneur, Artist and Model has taken his Talents back to his Native Land of The Democratic Republic Of Congo, where he aims to uplift the broken youth of his Country.
In The Past three years Jean Daniel Has Been the Face of METRO FM in South Africa, was part of the new AXE “You Got Something” Campaign, graced the Runway at the MERCEDES BENZ FASHION WEEK, his songs have been playlisted in NAMIBIA, ZIMBABWE, SA, D.R.C and NIGERIA and had two music videos “FUNERAL SWAG and “KAYZA CHIEFS” featured on TRACE. With a Solid Cult following online, Jean Daniel has decided to reward with his first full length Project Called “Wesley Snipes” which is a EP filled with collaborations and has a massive street hip hop style with a touch of the Congolese sound.
Jean Daniel aims to take over the continent and take his place amongst the greats, he plans to tour Africa extensively and has co founded an ad/film agency in Kinshasa with his close friends called “Palladium Productions” who are excited to announce they have just shot an advert for Irish Whiskey Giant JAMESON.
Check out my exclusive interview with him below:
Hey Jean! Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
Good day to all the amazing readers my name is Jean Daniel from the DRC and I am an entrepreneur and artist.
Talk me through an average day in the life of you?
My routine has changed since I have relocated to the DRC. If we have edits,shoots or meetings with our company Palladium Productions I wake up at 5am, hit the gym and get to work, there’s also photoshoots studio sessions radio and TV interviews. That’s a regular day but things get crazier.
What institution(s) did you attend and what did you study?
I did retail management and marketing at the University of Johannesburg and now currently studying via correspondence.
In 2015, you released your first solo single “In My Circle”, what was the response you got from your fans?
The reaction to in my circle was a special one, there’s a documentary on YouTube portraying the events that took place at the screening, I had everyone rock up to my house to watch the music video after the electricity cut off at the initial venue I mean that in itself is an expression of peoples response I had people I didn’t see in years sacrifice their Friday night to come watch the videos, people where patient, provided transport, generators and etc. I also took the single to the streets providing free Wi-fi and sweets for people to download.
Your single titled “FUNERAL SWAG” got very popular in South Africa and beyond. What inspired the title/song?
FUNERAL SWAG VIDEO CHECK IT OUT ON YOUTUBE IT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND. It was inspired by a mixtape series by Fabulous called funeral service, and the dress code black on black which in hip hop is popular in the street especially when you beefing,when you going to kill the competition,and of course it is the dress code at a funeral. I needed to kill the gate keepers, haters, obstacles, demons and all that.
Tell us more about your new EP. What’s the title?
The EP is called “Wesley Snipes”, after the biggest black action star of all-time. That’s who I want to be the biggest black action star of all time, also I grew up in a time where being dark skinned was a taboo. Through most of my primary and early high school career I was called many names because as a dark skin guy, we dark skin people were ashamed of our skin and even hated our own skin. I will never forget one morning on my to school a girl a was like hahahahahah you so black you look like Wesley Snipes it ruined my Monday, now when I look back I actually noticed she was complementing me, I mean its an honour to be called Wesley Snipes, plus now she inboxes me on Facebook telling me how beautiful my dark skin is and she wants to hang out. I will reply in 80 years hahahaha shout out to all the dark skin guys worldwide we killing shit. It’s was released last month August.
Who will you be featuring in the EP?
I got one of my favourite rappers in the whole world Youngsta Cpt, my brother from 2190 Stilo Magolide, show man from Congo an amazing vocalist Refi and a superstar in the making Que.
You some months back moved back to Congo, why?
I felt that I was contributing so much to South Africa and not getting what I deserved in return. I started so many trends and movements, but because I was Congolese I wouldn’t get what i deserved. In 2011 I was the only negro sitting front row at fashion week man, the list is endless I did alot first, anyway there’s alot of people supporting me in South Africa and I thank them but I needed to come home where I’m wanted and needed plus I wanted to know my family I wanted to be loved. What alot of good South African’s don’t know is that foreigners are treated like feces, most normal functional services in South Africa is a paramount task for other Africans, while white foreigners who have no love for Azania are treated like gods and are above the law.
You co-founded an Ad/film agency in Kinshasa with some close friends called “Palladium Productions”. What’s the agency all about and what projects have you guys produced or implemented so far?
Our agency primarily is aiming to free young Congolese artists, in the DRC ART is not perceived as a so called career, so we here to change that, we make filmstalent scout, host events, conceptualize and shoot adverts plus we do online marketing for brands. We have shot four adverts thus far and we working on a short film we have recently done some work with Irish Whiskey giant Jameson.
What do you do to stay in shape, do you go to the gym?
I’m a gym freak but I’m way too busy right now so I just do 300 push ups and 300 press ups every morning.
How do you balance your personal and professional life?
I just work and not really care about too much. I’m an artist, the only time I have to fine tune my character is when I’m in the board room, I’m not taken aback my fame. I just want my future kids to not live in poverty and these talents are from God I’m just a vessel.
How were you scouted as a model?
Dressing up and always looking fresh, Instagram and Tumblr helped me too. I’m currently negotiating an international modelling deal be on the look out.
You are known for being a fan of African fabrics, why do you feel the need for this?
Africa is the mecca of everything, we are so in-tune with western culture but we need to promote our identity first. Its Africa’s time and I’m glad that four five year’s ago I was rocking up to fashion week and award shows in my African attire, I’m black African and I wear it on my soul and skin. In order for Africans to progress we need to know who we are first and show it.
How would you describe the fashion/modelling industry in the Democratic Republic Of Congo?
Congo is a developing country. The problem here is that the talent here is over flowing but the structures are still developing here, but Palladium Productions and other young Congolese companies are here to solve that.
What do you consider the most common stereotype about the entertainment industry?
That popularity comes with money. You have to use the popularity to make money.
What aspect surprised you the most once you moved back to Congo?
That a government can be so evil and give zero shit about the people.
Is there anything you would like to change about the music industry in the Congo?
I want to change EVERYTHING ABOUT THE CONGOLESE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY ITS WACK AS HELL.
Which brands, designers, photographers, clients and producers, artists, have you worked with?
Shout out to dope store clothing and punk and ivy for putting me great stages fashion wise. I have worked with so many brands Metro FM, Nike, Vodacom, Flying fish, RED BULL (shout out to Phiko) and AXE, the list is endless but I chose to mention the brands that have helped me grow also Lwazi, Blackfaff, Cedric Nzaka and Sightlessmind have been game changing photographers. I’m currently working with Dan Monga for my visuals.
What has been one of the most memorable jobs to work on?
I recently covered an operation for 42 children with Cleft lips and pallets and I got to spend a day with NBA HALL OF Famer, MUTOMBO DIKEMBE HOW EPICCCCC!.
What do you consider your biggest professional success so far?
My biggest professional achievement so far is co-founding an agency.
Who do you want to work with that you haven’t yet?
Will Smith, Wesley Snipes, Wizkid, ASAP Rocky, to name a few.
Tell us two things people don’t know about you?
Hahahahahaha uhmmmm I don’t know how to Mack hahahahaha… I aint got no type I like all shapes and sizes hahahah. I want to be a sports star but I’m too old, that’s three things but hey its the bonus round.
You are very active on social media. Do you think its important to be online and if so why?
You have to be on social media to sell your product. That’s where the world is, that’s a place where there are no boundaries to express yourself.
You are now fully based in the Democratic Republic Of Congo. How is that working out for you?
Best decision of my life I’m happier than I have ever been home is home.
What are the 5 things we should take seriously about our style choices?
The five things you should take seriously about my style are:
1. My hairstyles
2. My unpredictability you never know what the rico might offer
3. How I wear’ my suits, its just different
4. My fashion sense changes according to what movies influences me the most at the time
5. The colder the weather the better the dresser.
How would you describe your style?
I describe my style AVANT GARDE JEAN DANIEL.
What music genre appeals to you the most?
Hip hop saved my life, there’s nothing like it. U dig?
What has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge has been capital. Mula makes the world go round.
Name your five must have accessories/essentials?
1. SHADES gotta have em stuunas on man
2. A FRESH HAIR CUT CANT STEP OUT WITH OUT ONE
3. A dope watch, I recently got a brand new Rolex from my late grandfather so that’s what I wear when its game time
4. MY HUGO BOSS BELT. ITS STRONG AS HELL
5. MY FACE ITS THE BEST ACCESSORY.
What are your favorite fashion trends?
My favourite fashion trends is fur coats, air force 1s and double breasted suits.
What is your favorite dish?
Pondu, thompson, makemba.
What songs are currently on your playlist?
Currently on my playlist is WESLEY SNIPES. I play it back to back everyday; Honestly by Chip and Who Dat Guy by Tylor Creator and Pretty Flacko.
Apart from music, modelling, etc, what other projects are you currently working on?
I’m doing alot of social development in my community, making people aware of the opportunities that are available and freeing as much Congolese youth from the mental limitations that this fucked up government is creating, and also just general charity work for the less fortunate, shout out to the Sophie Kanza foundation.
Seeing you’re doing your dreams, what advice can you give others to pursue their dreams?
Stay away from people that are slowing you down even if they family. Do as much research as possible, go online see how your idols did it and what were their challenges and obstacles, there’s no easy way out work hard and don’t envy other peoples success, get a good education it always helps. Work hard and smart, FOCUS ON YOUR GOALS DON’T LET ANY ONE DERAIL YOU.
Any specific plans for the future?
WORLDWIDE DOMINATION IT’S JEAN DANIEL SEASON FOR THE NEXT 30 YEARS LIKE THE BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL and also get married lol.
Any final words?
Please support the art, help me change Africa its high time true art is praised. We have enough of media promoted wackness, dont be scared to discover whats not on MTV CHECK OUT FUNERAL SWAG ON YOUTUBE. THANKS TO TEAMJD THATS EVERYONE THATS GOTTEN ME TO THIS POINT.