Ayo Shonaiya’s latest documentary Afrobeats: The Backstory presented a clear documentation of the creation and evolution of Afrobeats (with an ‘s’) in Nigeria through the early nineties till today. Through live accounts by several pioneer industry players through the years, many new generation Nigerians now understand the essence of transmogrification in the preservation and growth of Afrobeats. Long before Ayo Shonaiya released his enlightening documentary, the hundreds of Afrobeats artistes that have emerged from Nigeria and West Africa had also understood the importance of experimenting with new sounds, hence the recently coined term Afrofusion. Chocolate City’s latest signee, Major AJ, has taken it upon himself to also be a preserver of one of Africa’s most global export.
Born Ajogwu Boluwatife Vincent, Major AJ is Afrofusion’s latest addition to its discography contributors. His debut project, a five track EP titled Retroverse is a smooth blend of Afrobeats and 70’s funk and disco soul. The project gives an insight into the mind of Major AJ as he conveys his emotions and personal interactions with strong penmanship and up-tempo tracks. Four out of the five songs including Afrodisco, Superstar, Mr. Lover and Taboo, were produced by singer, songwriter and producer, Dunnie.
In conversation with Major AJ yesterday, he opened up to Tush about the stories behind his fast-growing, chart-topping discography. Upon arriving Lagos in 2019, Major AJ has had a fortunate career come up, landing collaborations with Telz, Leriq and now securing a spot under one of Nigeria’s most successful record Labels, Chocolate City.
In barely five days after the release of his debut project, Major AJ has amassed a curious fanbase ready to consume his new sound. Tracks such as Taboo and Superstar have fast become fan favorites and garnered thousands of plays and views across streaming platforms.
“Coming into the industry professionally with Chocolate City, I was trying to get that project that I would debut. I feel like it takes a lot of genuis to be sold worldwide, to make people listen to your music, your melodies, your rythms; that’s why you have to experiment [a lot]. We [Major AJ and several producers] were just in the studio experimenting and playing with sounds and then I had a recording camp in March. I had noticed Dunni [and her work] earlier and I knew I really wanted to work with her, she’s so amazing. Luckily she came for my camp on the last day, I didn’t even know she was going to show up and when she came, the vibe was just amazing. She immediately drafted a beat and played it for me and it was exactly the Afrodisco. I began building on the beat; I started from the first verse, then the bridge and then built on that. I immediately knew Dunni and I were going to lock it down [for this project].”
“Mr Lover is a song about a lady, it was actually inspired by my personal experiences and personal experiences of people around me. I talk a lot and i like to have conversations and to listen to how people experience life and sometimes when I’m making music i like to talk about it. Mr lover is a very chilled afrobeat vieb but i was talking about a conversation with a lady who was trying to belittle my ego. it was talking to a saasy lady that was trying to tell me I’m to little for her standards, so I’m letting her ‘Major AJ one hundred percent real no fugazi, your boyfriend, sugardaddy, all of them no buga me’. When you listen to that beat, it’s a stepping beat, so the energy of the song was very expressive, that’s why in the lyrics you could hear me conversing with the lady. I’m letting her know Mr Lover is what they call me and I’m one hundred percent real.”
“The studio Dunni and i were supposed to link up and work had power issues that day and then we decided to go to another producers studio. When we got there we we just chilling, just vibing an di was listening to some beats she made and then she played the Taboo beat and the first thing that came to my head was even if your loving na taboo. For Taboo, what came first was that line and then I immediately cooked up the first verse and recorded it. I was already a bit exhausted from the change of location earlier so I decide do take the beat back home and work on it. I’m not sure if you notice it [Taboo] has this Michael Jackson inspiration to it, I wanted to do some afrobeats sound to Michael Jacksons thriller and that’s how I made taboo. it was a ververy lovely song to make.”
“Ominirascal is a term I created. it came to me in the studio when we [Steph] were vibing. By that time we had the retro direction and said ‘Steph let’s go in this direction’. We made the song in the studio but produced it to sound like a live recording, so when you’re listening you’re going to feel like you’re listening to the live recording. With ominirascal, its like a very bad guy in all angles, you can’t tell me nothing. Most of my songs are inspired by ladies, I’m not going to say any names so I don’t put anyone in trouble lol. Ominirascal is a song inspired by that retro/lagbaja feel but also has that new funk vibe to it.”
“I feel like everyone that creates art from the soul, one thing they always know is art has to be real. There’s a reason why you listen to some people and you connect, its because what they’re telling is their life, its real. No one wants to listen to someone who just comes and says things they haven’t experienced. Making the deciosn that you want to be an artist is a very difficult decision, it changes your life. If I didn’t decide I wanted to be an artist and I just kept going on with my life and going to school, there would be a lot of challenges I wouldn’t have passed through. I have to carry my fans along through all of that. When I was making Retroverse, I thought about how all the sounds were there, the vibes, the funk, but at the same time I wanted to end with a song that told people how far I had come. People relate to that kind of stuff because many people go through the same thing. Superstar is just a song for everyone out there grinding, I wrote the song from when i had nothing but my dreams, no actions, just dreams.”
“Last year Steph was at Gbagada and told me to pull and I did. We were just recording other songs and as i was about to leave, he played some other beat he had been cooking and it was the Salo beat. I immediety knew I had to jump on the beat, the melody came to me instantly. Salo is a very sensual song, if you listen to the lyrics. I’m very used to writing on the spot and that day we created the song. I knew I had to put the sound out immediately.”
“Working with Leriq was an amazing experience. It also took a DM, I think I need to tattoo DM’s on my body. I feel like being smart is also important, before I send you a DM I’ll go through your profile to see what i can send you to make you respond. It was like 2am when I composed the message to him, I didn’t know Leriq from Adam and he’s not accessible. He’s someone that likes to be in his space a lot, so I just composed my DM very well, explaining myself and sent it. Luckily he read it and reply and told me how he normally doesn’t do things like this but he was interested. We made three songs and it was so amazing.”
” I wrote the hook to Terminator in University of Ilorin. I used to always make music everyday and play games like fornite, Call of Duty and all. So I wrote the Terminator hook to a youtube beat back then and when I linked up with Telz in 2020 he played a couple of beats and one stood out to be and the Terminator hook fit it so well. I then built the song around the line, about how far I could go for a lady.”
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