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Last Updated: Friday, 15 August, 2003, 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK
Nigerians rap against fraud
By Uduak Amimo
BBC Network Africa

The 419 squad
The 419 squad say all Nigerians are not fraudsters
Nigeria's dented image in the UK has been enjoying a much needed boost from a group of young musicians out to tell anyone who cares to listen that not everyone in the West African country is involved in financial scams.

JJC and the 419 Squad have been rousing crowds and using their singing and rapping talents to mend an image of Nigeria scarred by regular reports of Nigerian banking fraudsters fleecing unsuspecting victims across the world.

419 is the name given to the Nigerian banking fraud scams, so-called because of the particular section of the law that addresses the crime.

But now JJC and the 419 squad want to put across a new message - that Nigerians do indeed involve themselves in genuinely legal business apart from the infamous banking scams.

JJC himself turned the freestyle sessions of rapping and singing with his friends into a presentable form and chose the name The 419 squad for the rest of the six-man, two-woman band.

Spreading wings

And it is not just on the Nigerian front that JJC is making his presence felt.

Under the alias Skillz, he is a songwriter and producer for the UK's chart-topping band, Big Brovaz.

Big Brovaz evolved from a company that he set up to help nurture young talent in the UK - to manage his musicians as a big brother in the music industry.

JJC was picked on as a newcomer

JJC is modest about his achievements.

"I don't believe in the star or diva thing because we all have talents, some people are doctors or lawyers and some are musicians. I just feel blessed to have people hearing my voice," he says.

Born 26 years ago in the northern Nigerian city of Kano, Abdul Rasheed Bello, aka JJC, came to England when he was 14.

He was frequently referred to as Johnny Just Come or JJC, and he has chosen to use that as his stage name to show that an African immigrant can realize his dreams.

He credits the insults and bullying that greeted him as a young newcomer with helping him develop his talents as a songwriter, musician and producer.

Music was his escape from troublemakers.

With the release of their debut CD, Atide, which means "We have arrived" in Yoruba, listeners hear the influence that London's various cultural flavours have had on these young musicians.

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