Jerreh Uthman Badjie, better known by his stage name Retsam, is a Libyan-born Gambian, hip hop recording artist, song writer, entrepreneur and one half of Senegambian Hip Hop crew Grandiz Kroo
A French graduate and holder of a diploma in Linguistics, he is also the CEO of the famous and most talked about urban wear in The Gambia #Chambaii Urban Wear. With five crew mixtapes and more than 200 songs recorded, he released his first solo project in January of 2015 under HeartCold Records entitled EyeSaw #TheEP.
Chambaii Urban Wear was established back in 2012 and is the culmination of Retsam’s lifelong dream of owning a clothing label of his own. The popular line became Gambia’s first sold out urban wear. Sold internationally, the line consists of shirts, sweat shirts, jumpers, tank tops and more.
We had the chance to ask Retsam about his music and his clothing line:
What was the inspiration behind your clothing line?
Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim
The inspiration came when I realised Gambia didn’t have any urban wear of its own. My crew and I had previously created a few pieces but #Chambaii was the one that fit best with the lifestyle we were trying to promote. The word Chambaii (meaning you rock, you are smart, you are beautiful) is used in all my intro tracks, so when I realised that it caught the attention of fans and listeners, I automatically thought to brand it and take it from there.
What are the primary messages you aim to put across in your music?
My music is all about the truth, be it the corruption and injustice going on in Africa including where I live, to the beautiful trees and sunshine Allah blessed us with. It is also geared to the women that value themselves and also offers messages of hope, that nil volentibus arduum ”nothing is impossible to the valiant”.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
I would say MC Solaar, Fugees, Ismailo Lo, Musa Ngum, Motown to N.W.A, Positive Black Soul, DLC ”Kanasu Barz and Killa Ace”, Chronixx but my biggest inspiration and influence is my big brother and producer MAB TheLastOne.
What is your opinion about the current state of the music industry in The Gambia? Its weaknesses and strengths?
If my opinion matters, I will say our industry is quite dormant lately. People unfortunately focus more on irrelevant stories.
A few years ago, everything seemed to be heading down the right path, now it seems we’ve gone back 15 or 20 years. We need a fresh start but that doesn’t mean that there is no talent or hard working artists in our midst. To those that are putting in money and working hard to innovate, I say keep striving. The weak ones will fade with time.
The weaknesses of the industry: very few artists are humble and groupies aren’t helping the case. National and private sector companies are bringing in and supporting overrated foreign artists instead of our own, no royalties or dues are being paid to the artists and the list goes on.
The strengths: artists who work hard on innovative projects, initiate shows and help the underground with no benefits in return but doing it simply for the love or for the sake of Allah .
Thank you very much InGambia, I’m a fan of the great work.
Coming up for Retsam:
#Chambaii urban wear will take part for the second time in a row in this upcoming Fashion weekend Gambia, rep on the runway to present their upcoming collection which will be released this winter.
Retsam is also working on his first solo album entitled DE-Light which stands for ‘The Light’ and ‘Delight’- two words, one meaning. The album is planned for the end of 2016.
Finally, Grandiz Kroo will be back in the studio for their final mixtape, coming soon!
Check out Retsam’s music: