You may have heard of Afrikan Boy (real name Olushola Ajose) either from his collaborations with M.I.A. (“Hussel” or “Paper Planes” Remix) or his surprise hit “Lidl”, but there’s much more music by this artist. Ajose’s sound is a juxtaposition of Grime, Hip-Hop, Afrobeats, World Sounds, even Bassline and Dubstep, and it’s sometimes called “Afro Grime” by Afrikan Boy himself. For me, it’s a definite positive that you can’t pin his style down.
Olushola was born in Nigeria but he was raised in Woolwich, London and on his songs, his accent varies between Londoner and Nigerian. Amongst his humourous tracks about immigrant hardship, there’s always an element of comedy, which for me, is the best part of his eclectic and distinctive music. Whilst spinning yarns about losing his UK visa and getting found by Immigration officers, his delivery always conjures up a Keystone Cops-style scenario in my mind, his jovial personality making potentially serious topics sound like an adventure for a lovable rogue.
Of course, his hilarious tale about shoplifting food in Lidl and Asda was and still is his most famous track. The song which makes use of identical rhymes, is a perfect example of Afrikan Boy’s affable, antihero style. The track is about being so hungry and brassic that he has to steal food, but once he’s caught, he can no longer show his face in that particular store, and so it’s on to the next one…
Like I said, Afrikan Boy’s sound isn’t limited to Grime. He made the Dubstep-filled “Wot It Do?” and the Funk-inspired “Who Stole Your Visa” which along with the autotuned hook, made for a very radio-friendly, “Pop” track (and yet it didn’t attract the mainstream at all). He also made “£2 Chicken & Chips”, an ode to the chicken shop, purveyor of every student and working class person’s favourite budget meal….
Although not one of my favourites, his song “Ancestry” also showcased his unique style of humour, this time poking fun at DNA tests and the current trend for people to “discover” their ethnic origins (and to revel or brag in their newfound heritage)…
In the song “Border Business” he doesn’t shy away from the topic of being a refugee, asylum seeker, or immigrant which is very refreshing given the mainstream media’s constant demonising of these demographics. After rapping “Ain’t no human fitter than an immigrant”, true to form, he gives his listeners a touch of humour: “you know we so broke we can’t pay attention”. Regardless of what he raps about, Afrikan Boy’s music is always energetic, upbeat, vibrant, and more importantly; from the heart. If you’ve never heard his music before, I urge you to seek it out. I’ve compiled a “best of” playlist for your convenience and your listening pleasure.
One Day I Went To Spotify.
Playlist also available on Deezer (click the logo below)