'Africa as a whole is full of riches and it always has been. I mean this as more than just gold, diamonds and oil. Our Culture, Our Tradition is rich.'
Evan Dale // Dec 27, 2019
With roots split between Nigeria and the UK, up-and-coming AfroFusion star on the rise, AdeJosh draws his unique sound from his unique upbringing. With his youthful artistic influence comes a lot of insight into two of the music’s most important musical scenes, their coalescence, and what the West African Cultural Renaissance, its diaspora artists, and their role in the future of global music are bringing to the table.
RNGLDR: 2019 has emerged a musical year marked by an explosion of West African music, art, style, photography, cinematography, and culture at large earning its rightful place in the international mainstream. Musical artists in particular from Burna Boy to Adekunle Gold; Kojey Radical to Juls; Alxndr London to Serious Klein; Santi to GoldLink are sourcing directly their Nigerian and Ghanian roots, or are utilizing its diasporic influence to merge modern music with the rhythmic, instrumental, and vocal traditions of West Africa. What does this movement – this West African Cultural Renaissance – say about international culture and the direction of music as we head into 2020?
AdeJosh: Africa as a whole is full of riches and it always has been. I mean this as more than just gold, diamonds and oil. Our culture, Our Tradition is Rich. We have so much to offer, and this includes our music, sounds and vibes, too, which the rest of the world finally seem to be clocking in on. We are in a golden era, where there’s more collaborations with artists from different parts of the world working together. Music unites.
RNGLDR: As a uniquely important part of this renaissance, what about a young generation of UK artists tied to their West African roots is creating such unique, inspiring music?
AdeJosh: The younger generation truly get to experience the best of both worlds. We are fortunate enough to live in and experience a diverse UK culture and still be in touch and connected to our West African roots because of our parents, things like Nollywood - and its popularity, the internet and music. Inspiration and influence are everywhere and the music created is a benefit of that.
RNGLDR: The UK has always been a cultural hub. Even at this moment, a burgeoning Neo-Soul movement, an ever-important electronic spectrum, and a constant string of hip-hop experimentation is flooding the international scene with music sourced primarily in London. How does the UK’s position as a major role player in West African music – whether it be takes on Afro-pop, Afrobeats, Alté, or hip-hop – fit in with the rest of what’s happening in the UK?
AdeJosh: Just as we in the UK are influenced by West Africa, they are influenced by what’s happening in the UK and other parts of the world. That’s why you hear Olamide make a Grime record or a Wizkid make a song with many similarities to a Bashment record. The internet and technology have allowed for music to become less tied down by boundaries and so it becomes a natural fit for UK to merge with West African music. That’s why we’ve had the biggest pop star in the UK, Ed Sheeran, make a Ghanaian song with Fuse ODG and also why him on a track with one of Afrobeats biggest stars doesn’t seem so farfetched in 2019.
RNGLDR: And how can those scenes be complimentary of one another in collaboration and in influence moving forward?
AdeJosh: Collaborations allow the artist fan base to connect with a whole new world. It’s already happening now as explained before. Wizkid is doing festivals in the UK as is Skepta is doing festivals in Nigeria. We are all one.
RNGLDR: For you, as a UK-based Nigerian artist, who are some Nigerian or Ghanaian artists that you draw particular influence from? And what is it in their sound that differentiates their surroundings from yours in the UK?
AdeJosh: There’s honestly too many… Wizkid, Burna Boy, Joey B… the list goes on.
RNGLDR: Growing up the son of Nigerian parents in the UK provided you a dualistic background of diverse musical influence. What about your own sound do you trace back to your Nigeria roots? What can be sourced back to your UK upbringing?
AdeJosh: The way I may pronounce certain words. The things I can reference in my songs. The content of my own music is from my own experiences. Take my last single for example - Reload It. It’s an Afrobeat song through and through but the phrase “Reload it” - it’s roots can be traced back to the Caribbean, even though it is something we in the UK say all the time due to our multicultural background. It isn’t likely someone from West Africa would have come up with a song like that based off that alone
RNGLDR: And, as a first-generation UK artist creating a new style of music from two different foundations, what can you and your fellow UK Afrobeat musicians define as musical invention of your own diasporic making?
AdeJosh: Afro fusion – originally taking from Afrobeat fused with our modern-day culture (Slang, topics, etc.) and infusing it in our music. Firstly, it only catered to those from our area, but now it's becoming a worldwide phenomenon.
RNGLDR: You have been steadily releasing a string of singles for a couple years, and with each one you seem to be growing a fanbase and finding more success. First, we want to say congratulations on the start of a successful career. And second, we want to ask, what is it like to see your own work and your own influence affect not only our own growth, but the growth of an emerging movement as a whole?
AdeJosh: I believe in purpose and I’m in being blessed to be a blessing. Every great person comes and goes, however, it’s all about what you leave behind. I believe iron sharpens iron so as I see people being influenced by my works, it sharpens me to keep going. It gives me a motive and reason of why I need to continuing growing.
I'm just happy and grateful that I get to play my part and hope I continue to do so for a long time.
RNGLDR: Which brings us to an important question: when you started releasing music professionally a couple years ago, did you foresee music sourced in the West African tradition becoming as explosively mainstream as it starting to become? Or were you always simply making music that you loved regardless of the size and range of an audience you thought you might one day reach?
AdeJosh: God told me I will be big. However, I learnt to let go and let God. I’ve cancelled any expectation and believe that every stage I’m at, God needs me to be there to influence or to iron out certain character traits within myself.
RNGLDR: With so many singles now out, and such a growing audience not only to your respective style of music, but to your music specifically, do you have a debut project in the works?
AdeJosh: I have over 1500 unreleased songs. When the time is right, I’m going to be dishing out projects like a project manager.
RNGLDR: And aside from a prospective debut, what is next for AdeJosh as an artist and as an individual?
AdeJosh: I just want to continue growing as a person, an artist, a son, a brother and in Christ. I just want to be great and leave something greater behind.