Earlier in 2021, two things were the biggest toast of Nigerian social media; ‘Loose Guard’ by Styles and ‘Focus Dance Beat’ by Ajimovoix Drums. The accompanying dance routine, which involved a rhythmic movement of both hands, to the impression of a gun while the neck bops forward and backward, was initially created by Hagman and Abati.
Ajimovoix: The purveyor of ‘Focus Dance Beat’ and ‘Lagos Scatter’ [Pulse Interview]
Ajimovoix tells Pulse about 'Focus Dance Beat,' 'Lagos Street Vibe,' Burna Boy, Naira Marley, money and more.
Since then, it has travelled into the depths of African social media fascination, global TikTok and Instagram Reels.
Interestingly, the beat was made on June 4, 2018 by Ajimovoix Drums - It was a few days to his birthday.
“A few of my boys took me to the club for some pre-birthday shenanigans [laughs]. But I don’t drink much, so I just focused on the little I could drink. When I got back, I made what the in the middle of the night,” Ajimovoix says. “I might have enjoyed it at the time, but I didn’t really think much of it.”
Not feeling that beat was an option for Ajimovoix, who already had more than two viral hits by 2019. When you are in that epoch, you become selective about the things you put out. It also didn’t help that Ajimovoix played the beat for more than seven artists who passed on it.
Then in Q4 2021, Ajimovoix was vigorously searching for the recorded vocals of a song by C Blvck and Zinoleesky were working on when he stumbled upon the beat that’s now known as ‘Focus Dance Beat.’
At the time, it was titled, ‘Play Play Beat’ because its maker was simply messing around in the middle of the night, when the beat was made.
He distributed the record to his large network of DJs through WhatsApp.
Nigerian artist, Lil Kesh, who caught a whiff of the beat while it was bubbling under, reached out to tell Ajimovoix that he had a hit on his hands. Its rebirth as ‘Focus Dance Beat’ became reality after Hagman and Abati jumped on it with their ‘serious face’ and laser focus on their ‘front.’
“I think the general situation of the country led the general public to title the song ‘focus,’” he enthused. “I didn’t rename it ‘Focus Dance Beat.’”
These days, ‘Focus Dance Beat’ and its accompanying dance are a global sensation that Burna Boy and world cup winner Paul Pogba can dance in front of thousands of people. But before then, Burna Boy had reached out to the producer to lay vocals on the bare beat with the doings. Ajimovoix was excited by the prospect, but that never materialized.
Due to how the ‘sound’ was distributed, it was initially on YouTube and Audiomack illegally. By May 2021, Ajimovoix owned his sound by uploading an original version to his channel.
Ajimovoix: DJ Network and Earlier hits
By 2018, Ajimovoix had used his expansive 10,000-strong DJ network to create more than three viral underground hits; ‘Ase Ni Client E,’ ‘Yahoo Abi,’ ‘Lagos Scatter,’ ‘Lagos Street Vibe’ and ‘Eko O Jina.’ In 2019, he also co-produced ‘Baby Kingsway’ for Marlian Music artist, C Blvck. The track features Naira Marley.
In fact, ‘Lagos Scatter’ is probably an even bigger sensation than ‘Focus Dance Beat,’ despite the mileage of ‘Focus Dance Beat.’
This goes to show that Ajimovoix is not a fluke.
Whenever he makes a beat that he’s enthusiastic about, he uses WhatsApp to reach some of these DJs.
“They are not big yet, but they are so hardworking and passionate about where they’re from. So it’s easy to get their attention. These DJs and the Nigerian inner-city street culture have pushed my sounds,” he proudly says. “Anytime I make beats and distribute, they pick them up because they can relate to the sound and the culture behind them. They then become ambassadors that link the streets with the ‘cool crowd’ through my sound.”
“This is what the streets are about; collaboration and collective wins. They don’t charge me, nor do I charge street artists who simply walk into my studio for remnant beats, because you just never know what might blow up,” he continues. “That’s why we keep going.”
In 2013, this producer started building this network during the Blackberry Messenger era. He now realizes that he was building a network. But at the time, he was just looking for a cheap way to get his music out there.
“At the time, I was an artist who simply wanted to be heard. So I started collecting numbers, which led to constant backup of my contact list,” he reminisces. “Now it gives me a reach that I didn’t see coming.”
Ajimovoix doesn’t realize, but he might have hacked something special that other artists and producers should explore. WhatsApp might just be Nigeria’s largest network of interconnectivity. A few months ago, this writer penned an article about the huge potential of WhatsApp for podcasting.
Ajimovoix: The Beginning
To every story, there is a beginning. Born Oguntade Adebowale Adedamola into a musically-inclined family, he is the fourth of eight children. Bred in Ikorodu, Ajimovoix’s family hails from Okun Owa, Odogbolu Local Government, Ogun State. His father’s family used to be the lead singers and drummers in that town, with a speciality in percussion.
To foster his arty roots, his mom was a prophetess, singer and part-time actor.
Surprisingly, Ajimovoix is the only entertainer in his family, but he took a long route to get here. As a young person, he took a liking to playing bowls and pans in the guise of drums. His destruction of household wares prompted his entrance into something else.
As he got older, his mom - who used to enjoy seeing him play drums - pulled him into the church, where he continued to experiment with drums. On seeing his growth, his dad bought him drums like Samba, Omele, Alumole and Gangan when he was seven. It cost him N9,700.
Then he became a teenager and formed Ajimohun, a gospel band with certain friends - he was its lead singer. In English, Ajimohun literally translates to, ‘He who knows the voice.’
In English, ‘ohun’ means ‘voice.’ It was through that band that Ajimovoix found his current stage name. The ‘voix’ suffix is a stylized spelling of ‘voice.’
Shortly after that, his mom died. But he credits his growth to that moment.
“The death of my mom really made me. While she was alive, I would say that I was pampered and protected as the first male in the family, and I depended on her a lot,” he says. “She evcen used to support me with money for my career. When she died, I had to toughen up and I think I did.”
With siblings at home and a renewed focus on the music, the streets pulled young Adebowale. From squatting with friends who owned a studio, he started sleeping over. He then started working on construction sites, and in fish farming to afford studio time.
One day, one of his street OGs, who appreciated his drive for the music, recognized the price of studio sessions. Instead, he sought to help Adebowale have his own home studio.
“He paid for my first CGA and that was when I started getting into production: I had a home setup that stopped me from going to the studio,” he reminisces. “I also started making money from street artists who recognized my resources and skills as a producer. The first person who paid me was my friend, Remllionaire, who paid me NGN3,000 to simply record his voice.
“I used to charge them NGN5,000 - a cheaper amount than what Ikorodu studios used to charge,” he continues. “In my hood, I was like a god. I thought it was going to be like that forever till the game shifted again. Producers in my hood started getting jealous enough to criticize my methods, not the efficiency of my work. Sadly, artists listened and started moving away.”
In 2012, he finally decided to move out of the house to squat with a friend. In place of University, he attended a school of theology with hopes of becoming a pastor, to suit his mom’s initial dreams. He graduated in 2008.
“I quickly realized that being a pastor would obstruct my doings [laughs],” he jokes. “You won’t even be able to drink dry gin in public. People judge each other a lot.”
It was while he was producing that Ajimovoix realised that releasing empty, but potentially viral beats was more reasonable than waiting for artists.
“Working with artists is stressful and they can disappoint you. An artist can collect a beat, only to turn around and tell you that it’s not that great. They will then call another producer to remake the beat,” he confesses. “I then decided that instead of wasting time, I’ll just keep releasing empty beats. Especially those beats that everybody rejected. All my viral sounds were rejected by some really big names.”
He also lamented how he spent four days in an artist’s house without meeting said artist. He also lamented how Nigerian artists find it hard to reward producers, even for successful songs.
Here is Ajimovoix, creating magic without realizing it. Despite the success, Ajimovoix hasn’t been making a lot of money.
Even though ‘Focus Dance Beat’ comes with better prospects, he didn’t make great money off his previous successes, barring the underground acts who wanted to recreate the magic he’s put into the world. During the ‘Lagos Street Vibe’ run, an artist paid him NGN100,000 to simply jump on the empty, yet viral beat. But those things aren’t sustainable.
In the end…
He’s still a church boy, but he doesn’t go to church everywhere. You remember that OG who bought Ajimovoix his first CGA, he proudly calls his former mentee everyday now, to congratulate him on the success of ‘Focus Dance Beat.’
He also prays that Ajimovoix finds sustained success. These days he’s still on the grind. He has also released ‘Focus Dance Beat (Remix)’ featuring Dice Ailes, ‘Play Play Beat II,’ ‘Donda’ and more.
With his track record, another viral moment is probably closer than we all realize. But he will also release an EP. On one song off his EP, he plans to sing.
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