Focused Music Producer Turned Singer | The culture keeper
As the world began to get over the hangover from the COVID-19 pandemic and major concerts resumed across the world, something unexpected happened to Adewale Oguntade. For the music producer, songwriter and singer known professionally as Ajimovoix Drums, it was an era of newfound fame. His instrumental disc, Concentrate on the rhythm of the dance, took the music industry by surprise. Its heart-pounding drum and piano beats became a highlight for every dance floor, music concert, and party where Afrobeats music was featured. The Focus head dance has been featured by superstars during performances including Burna Boy, Poco Lee, davidoamong others.
It was surely a thrilling feat for Ajimovoix’s drummers, who later peaked on the Apple Music Top 100 chart. However, it wasn’t the most surprising feat for the street-hop/pop sonic genius. ; later that year he released a long dubbed play, border to border, which marked his entry into the singing circles of the Nigerian music industry. In border to border, he preached his gospel of the ghetto, giving hope through his melodies and voice. Barely a year later, he has just released a second EP titled, This unserious Boi of concentration, a 10-track blend of harmonious instrumentals, passionate vocals and inspiring lyricism.
Like other music producers who have since burst into the industry singing space, including Pheelz, Young Jonn, and KDDO, among others, Ajimovoix Drums comes with the aura of a veteran and a hunger for more. a newcomer. In This unserious Boi of concentration, he affirms his courage as a dynamic singer and conscious lyricist.
In this interview, he discusses Custodian of culture, reminiscing about his journey from sound board to mics, hustling as a construction worker before breaking into the industry, his evergreen affinity for street-hop/pop, his creative inspirations from the heart of Ikorodu, a bustling suburb of Lagos , as well as his vision of becoming a world record holder.
Tell us about this new album.
I’m so proud of this record. I’m already living my dream. I wanted to create something that would resonate with people. It is called This unserious concentrated boy, because I’m still pushing despite the impression people might have that I’m just a street music maker. There are inspirational songs on the album, alongside danceable music. These are all ear candy vibes. They will help inspire you and move you forward. He’s a muse for the younger generation, inspired by most of my life experiences and things I’ve heard from people.
You are known for your favorite instrumentals. What made you want to sing?
In fact, before music production, I was an artist. I was the lead singer of a band before music production was called. I felt like I couldn’t just let that vibe or that particular scene of me disconnect like that. In my lane, I know I’m very good, so I had to jump in and start somewhere. And I hope everything is going well for me.
So, are you saying that you started producing music as a source of income, and not necessarily what you always wanted to do?
As the music scene grew, around the start of the 2010s, the music production landscape also improved. I think that’s when my interest in it started to grow massively. During this period, music producers began to increase their rates due to the change in sound. Autotune was also introduced to us at this time. The level at which producers got equipment and software increased because they started to invest more. I tend to learn quickly once I have my mind set on something. I was not scared by the cost of the investment. I knew all I needed was dedication. Funnily enough, the studio fees kept me running; then it went from N7,000 to N9,000 to N10,000 to N15,000 and N20,000. Do you know how many days I had to work on a construction site to earn 20k? 25 days. So I tried music production. However, I forgot to sing soon after I started making beats. I was surviving. I was no longer going to the construction site. I didn’t have to go to the farms. Then I started listening to people I thought I could sing better with. And somehow, I found myself making music again. I had even made my last EP before my viral instrumental, Focus Dance, exploded.
The whole EP?
Yes, the whole EP. I just added a new song.
How did you do To concentrate? Describe the events that happened when it exploded for you.
Errrm, Focus is a mystery, I won’t lie. I remember talking to one of the guys on my editing team. It’s a white lady named Debra. She said there’s something about “Focus” which has not yet been disclosed. I like this still has that extra life, and I should just watch and see. I wouldn’t be surprised if “Focus” should come back to life as before. It has this vibe of staying for a long time. It may seem like it ends once in a while and tomorrow you just hear it explode. What really pleased me was that people who were listening focused couldn’t really get over the sound. As soon as the sound went up, they vibrated it. I wasn’t really surprised when I saw Burna Boy dancing on Focus. He danced to “Lagos street vibe.“Naira Marley had just arrived. All these people, from Naira Marley to Don Jazzy, among others, who vibed on “Focus”, they did it with “Lagos Street Vibes”, and some of my other instrumentals which went viral. In fact, when I saw them play the instrumental Focus at a concert in the 02 arena, that’s when I was shocked. Burna Boy started taking dance everywhere. The day I saw Micheal Blackson doing the “Focus” dance, I thought to myself, is this a dream or what? People don’t really know how I felt. I think I did my best, and I still have more to give. The day a friend of mine sent me this shot of Rihanna, where she was vibrating to the dance beat “Focus” in a club, I was convinced that the track had become very popular.
As a producer, you are known for street pop. But as an artist, you are very gentle and introspective. Why?
Apart from all these indigenous artists, one of the things that caught my attention about music was that I really wanted to sing. I just didn’t know how to put it down. I was like, I have to make it look different when the time is right. These are the types of songs that come to mind whenever I want to play something. I think those sounds were my kind of vibe when I started singing too. I was doing it towards this pattern, which was a very quiet sound. I don’t really do dance music, but what got me into doing dance beats was when I started seeing boys doing dance beats. I was like, ‘what’s this one playing? I can actually do this beat. So I tried it with a title Eko o jina, fi ese salo.
Oh. So you were the one behind it Eko-o-jina to beat?
Yeah. So when we did that, I had just moved from my father’s house to a friend’s house, in the heart of Ikorodu. The kind of people I worked with back then wanted hits. There is something about the environment. As an artist, once you’re in that hood, you’ll have that vibe and that inspiration. The type of sounds and the lifestyle they live will definitely generate something for you as a music producer. You see them playing street vibes, those Ajegunle songs, etc. And I’m good at summing up sounds. I can actually listen to Joeboy or Wizkid songs and sum up the sound in a very “street” way. You will definitely like it.
When you say sum up sounds, what do you mean?
For example, I can simply choose instruments from different sounds and try to replicate what they did in my own way. So it’s about remixing what I’ve done from other people’s songs in a street vibe. I think I did this with To concentrate too.
So, what is your vision of “Street pop” music and also of your own career?
I’m the type of person who isn’t really scared when a sound isn’t accepted at first. I believe once the sound is good, it will definitely hit. Lagos Scatter took five years after its release before it exploded. The atmosphere of the street of Lagos took about four years before it exploded. To concentrate took more than three years to explode. I call my sound the talking beat like you can actually say something without a voice over the beat. Like, that’s what this beat says; this beat tells me to move this way and dance this way. It’s a concept, and it’s my vibe. So I see myself as the world record holder. I still have a lot to deliver, bigger things are yet to come and this is just the start. I see myself as a leader, with the dream of preparing so many people. I used to see myself that way, and I start with myself on that. For Afro-pop, it’s growing. In ten years, it will be bigger. People really vibrate, a lot of guys make music with it. The beats are going really well, and I’d rather listen to them than listen to music these days.
So for you, the melody is like the most important thing. Is that why you sometimes only put instrumentals in your EP?
Yeah. It’s my signature. Sometimes I don’t even want to add my tags to what I create, but later I tell myself that people really listen to this. You see a lot of guys doing this because they just want to follow a trend. I try to differentiate the sounds. When I listen to beats, there’s this thing that I see in a sound and I don’t think anyone sees it.
Chinonso Ihekire is a multimedia journalist and music lover based in Lagos, Nigeria. He also currently sits on the International Committee of the All Africa Music Awards. His writings have appeared in several leading publications across Europe and Africa including Guardian, PAM, Wakonte, etc.