Music is a tool for storytelling, communicating, culture appreciation and overall a medium to foster a good cause. This is why making music is so important for eccentric Nigerian musician known by his stage name Ibejii Music.
Ibejii describes his music as Afro-retro, which digs deep into indigenous African sounds and other foreign genres. It fuses indigenous genres with foreign influences to create a nostalgic sound reminiscent of Afro-fusion.
The Afro sporting singer is officially four years strong in the Nigerian music industry and recently rolled out his fourth studio album titled “Ilu Ilu“. Jaguda caught up with the singer who spoke heartily about his latest album and his journey as a musician.
Jaguda: How would you describe your music?
Ibejii Music: My music can best be described as “Afro-retro” made from beautiful indigenous African sounds. It can be considered as Afro-fusion because it also fuses other well-recognized genres of music with the local sound.
Jaguda: You recently released your fourth music project titled “Ilu Ilu”. What does it mean?
Ibejii Music: The title of my album “Ilu Ilu” has a Yoruba origin. “Ilu Ilu” simply translates to “sound of a town” in English. The title reflects the state of people at the moment, people going through some tough times.
Jaguda: What did you hope to achieve with your album “Ilu Ilu”?
Ibejii Music: The world is at a point of turmoil and pain with all the things going on right now, the world needs healing. This and many more inspired the creative process for making my latest album. I’m bringing a healing sound to a sick world. “Ilu Ilu” should heal all the hurt from COVID-19, police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement etc. The album is bringing healing to all who listen.
J: This is your fourth album in four years what’s the secret behind your momentum?
IM: I’m a storyteller, Ibejii uses music to tell stories every year. There are stories all around us to talk about, I tell stories of love, unreciprocated love, hope, regret, pain, culture etc. There is so much to share and I’m doing that with my music.
J: Do you have plans to take your music to wider audience?
IM: I want to reach the world with my music. I want to reach new fans one by one, a new convert after listening to my music.
J: What is your greatest moment so far in your career?
IM: I have been doing music for four years now, however, my greatest moment would be my first time on stage. I was opening for Brymo at Terra Kulture, I performed to hundreds of people many who have not heard my music before. Hearing that first applause from the crowd was an amazing experience. Besides that, I’m always pumped when I’m putting out a new project.
J: As an Afro-retro artiste do you have an exclusive concert for your ardent fans?
IM: I have an annual show called TILX (The Ibejii Live Experience) which holds every democracy day. It has been going on for the past two years but this year because of COVID-19 we couldn’t have a show. It used to happen on May 29 until democracy day was moved to June 12. For this year there will be a live recording of my latest album streamed on UduX on June 18.
J: Much of your work depicts your heritage and culture what does it mean to you?
IM: I’m a creative, not just a musician, I write, I’m an author. I have done other forms of arts like singing, acting so it narrow to describe myself only as a musician. Music is only one of the tools to push creativity, so it’s fantastic if I can use music to push an indigenous agenda which reflects my heritage and culture.
J: What inspired you decide to take up making music and performing serious?
IM: I wasn’t inspired to make music. I took up music for the fun of it. I wanted to hear myself on a record so I went to the studio and made my first song and someone liked it. I made the second and third and people around me loved it. MI Abaga and my producer Reinhard encouraged me to take music seriously as they all liked the music I made so I continued. Besides that, I enjoy different genres of music.
J: Do you have a record label or you’re an indie artiste?
IM: I’m an indie artiste and my label is Ibejii Music.
J: What’s the experience like being an independent artiste doing your own thing?
IM: You are only able to stay true to your craft when you’re not under the pressure from a record label. When you’re under a label they want you to go in a certain direction, look a certain way and make a certain type of music. I insist on being true to my own journey. It’s been hard pushing my music on my own, it takes a lot of commitment. I have to work 247 and I put whatever I have into pushing the music.
J: What’s the future like for Ibejii Music?
IM: I hope to be here for a very long time God willing. We would keep putting out new projects one every year. We will keep telling stories of our black experience to the world and also push our indigenous culture.
J: With the current restlessness in the society how are you using your platform for a social change?
IM: I am a very conscientious human being and I have used my platform to foster the advancement of the black man. I have an organisation which advocates for the fair treatment of black people and fights discrimination based on gender, religion etc. I currently run a campaign which seeks to open up West Africa to black Americans who want to come home get lands and help build Africa as a whole.
J: Do you have plans to collaborate with a mainstream act in the nearest future?
IM: A collaboration would happen when it happens, it’s not a popularity contest for me. We are open to working with anyone who would like what we do.
J: Why do you often sing in Yoruba?
IM: I want everyone out there to appreciate the Yoruba culture more.