Ojayy Wright’s Upcoming Single ‘Fuji Pop’ Stands As Proof Of His Artistic Growth
Ojayy Wright is always ready to go with the music. Barely three days into 2020, the musician dropped an extended play, 37 Degrees in Lagos, that presented a diorama of what influences were dominant in his music and documented the evolution in his ever-expanding soundscape.
Across 11 tracks, he went from the socio-political to the intensely personal and the hedonistic.
“It was a combination of life stuff and conversations I needed to have on record, conversations I needed to get off my chest,” Ojayy says about the record. “And that’s why we created the E.P. 37 Degrees in Lagos. Just to even show the growth of afrobeats around the world. 37 degrees…if you put your hand in anything 37 degrees, you’d know how hot it is. So, it just symbolises that Lagos is hot, afrobeats is hot, and Lagos is the heart of afrobeats and we just keep it moving.”
Barely two months after dropping 37 Degrees in Lagos, Ojayy moved back permanently to Lagos just before the country went into lockdown and it completes a full circle for the musician who grew up in Nigeria’s commercial capital but left to experience other traditions.
“I grew up partly in Nigeria and then also in the United States,” he recounts. “In my early childhood, I knew I had a background relation to Mushin. Magodo as well. I lived in Magodo too for a little bit. And then as far as the U.S. is concerned, I grew up in New Jersey. I went to school in New Jersey as well, Rutgers University. Now, I’m back in Nigeria trying to focus on my music.”
Much of what he knows about music was inspired by a Nigerian childhood that had him jump between his love for hip-hop and the polyrhythmic extemporaneousness of Fuji music.
“I was a huge rap and pop fan growing up,” he starts. “I loved Micheal Jackson’s music a lot, I loved Usher too. Lil Wayne and J. Cole as well. And that influenced the pop side of my music. But, again, the fact that I grew up with my uncles, family background, and my mum’s background with the entertainment industry, I was also influenced by the Fuji sound because whether I liked it or not, they were always playing it wherever I was or whatever party that I went to back in the days. So, that also had its influence on my sound.”
In fact, these days, the musician is leaning more into the influence of Fuji music and shades of it can be heard in the boisterous bounce of 37 Degrees in Lagos‘s last two tracks: “Mofo (Remix)” and “Formula” featuring none other than Fuji icon, Pasuma.
“When I make music or you hear me sing most times now, there’s a Fuji side to it and there’s a pop side to it,” Ojayy notes. “It still falls under the Afro umbrella. It’s afrobeats/afropop but, for me, I think the variation is that Fui side to it. Sometimes, it involves me having to speak or sing in Yoruba, but it’s a blend of Fuji and proper pop music.”
When asked if the process of melding pop and Fuji is especially challenging, Ojayy pauses for a bit to consider it, but it’s only momentary.
“I wouldn’t call it stressful because that’s the whole essence of making music. As a musician you try to enjoy it even if it can get stressful,” he says. “But, for me, I wouldn’t say stressful, it was tasking though to try and combine both sounds without looking or sounding stupid. Because there’s a thin line between you trying to experiment and combine sounds and you either getting it right or not. Then it looks like, ‘What are you doing?’ That was the only mind-bugging thing about creating the music (trying to get the combination right). But as soon as I heard what the beat sounded like, I knew what I had in my head. All that extra stuff is just the process of creating music, it’s not that different from what I’ve been doing in the past.”
His just-announced single, “Fuji Pop,” is a summation of him getting in tune with the exact type of music that appeals to him.
“Everyone is saying 2020 is the year of self-discovery and self-revelation. I had to dig in deep, trying to look for what’s in me, what I should sound like, what I’m comfortable with, as well as making music that’s outside of my comfort zone but still helps me discover myself,” Ojayy says. “The mental process of knowing ‘I can take Fuji up, I can take pop up’ helped me come to a place of thinking of a sound that’s a perfect blend of both genres of music. That’s how I came up with “Fuji Pop.”
It’s a sound that he hopes to finesse along the way, tinkering with it till he can achieve the stardom that he spoke so passionately about on 37 Degrees in Lagos. “Moving away from the pandemic, I feel like I’m due for another project and I’m ready to go,” he says. “But, of course, the pandemic slowed things down so we had to reassess the plans on the table but after “Fuji Pop,” definitely an E.P. with a bunch of bangers and videos.”