The Richard Antwi Scholarship: ‘I’ve changed my narrative and it’s now possible to inspire others in my community.’

Jojo Mukeza

It is now five years since the tragic early death of British music industry lawyer, manager and entrepreneur, Richard Antwi.

Following his passing a group of his friends established the Richard Antwi Scholarship, which champions Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals and is awarded in conjunction with the Music Business Management MA at the University of Westminster. It is supported by all three UK major record labels, music publishers, and several of the top independent music companies and law firms.

Here in the first of three interviews with the graduates from the Scholarship so far, MBW meets Jojo Mukeza – who is part of the new team at 0207 Def Jam…

Can you tell us a bit about your background and how much of a difference the Richard Antwi Scholarship made in terms of providing opportunities?

I’m a Congolese-born British citizen. When I was 15 I was a huge fan of the producer collective Ruff Sqwad so I started making grime beats on FL Studio, and with a few close friends we formed our own producer collective, The Confect.

Fast forward a few years and I ended up achieving a Masters in Music Business Management, courtesy of the great Richard Antwi scholarship.

How did you find the course?

It was one of the most challenging things I had done in my life at the time. I never really excelled in formal education, so it was a whole different
pocket I was in.

Two things stick with me: First, the people I met, the whole class of ’18/’19. There are some powerful thinkers in there and I’m sure many of them will go on to achieve big things in this industry.

The second thing is – and I need to preface this by saying I’m not really an advocate for formal education as I believe there are many different paths and entry points in this game – learning how to write in essay form and communicate my thoughts in such a style was and is something I am massively proud of.

What have you learned working at 0207 Def Jam?

The Richard Antwi Scholarship made a colossal difference and played a huge part in the opportunities that I have in front of me today. I have changed my narrative and it’s now possible to inspire others in my community.

0207 Def Jam is one of the best labels in the business that understands the unique experience I bring and I’m able to fulfil my career and creative ambitions.

What has your mentoring experience been like?

I haven’t had a formal mentoring experience, but I’ve connected with people on the way who I would consider giants, that have shared crucial perspective and wisdom.

Matt Ross [Sent Entertainment], who helped set up the scholarship, was hugely supportive in providing insight on how the industry communicates on a business level. Sally-Ann Gross played a key role as my lecturer and her support through my studies is something I’ll always be grateful for.

“This industry moves at 200mph, but it’s important to be heard out and Char [Grant] is a shining reflection of the team over at 0207.”

Will Bloomfield [Modest Management], who is also part of the scholarship team, gave me time, which is very underrated, but very valuable. He would listen to all my ideas, including the rubbish ones.

I then met Char Grant [A&R Director at 0207 Def Jam] when I got into Universal. Her support has been invaluable.

There’s so much happening all the time, and this industry moves at 200mph, but it’s important to be heard out and Char is a shining reflection of the team over at 0207.

I also have to give a huge shout out to David Joseph [Universal Music UK Chairman & CEO] for having the foresight to support the scholarship in a real, tangible, impactful and meaningful way. It’s ground level change, far beyond an Instagram post and a company box tick.

What are your ambitions?

I want to share stories, listen to other people’s stories and build on my own stories.

I’m blessed because my passion for music and sound align with my work. I always enjoyed producing and I never thought it would lead me to an MA and then to working with some of the greatest people in the game at 0207.

We are in a time and space where creators have to be well informed in the music business in order to adapt to the demands of the market and climate. I want to spend some time unpacking what that fully is for me, personally.

There is much demand on the industry to change, to become a safer place for workers, to have mental health conversations and many other ethical and structural changes.

I’d like to be a part of the right kind of change and conversations.

What’s the one thing that you think needs fixing in the music business right now?

I’ll always be a producer at heart, so that’s the fight I’m picking. I can see cracks in the relationship between the music business and producers; that dynamic needs repairing.Music Business Worldwide