Afrikan Boy (Olushola Ajose) is a grime MC from London, who was born to Nigerian parents. He recently took time out of his busy schedule to chat with us about the refugee crisis, youth activism and performing in Calais.
Check it out!
How did you first get involved with The ONE Campaign?
In 2013 we collaborated in spreading my lifestyle brand Y.A.M (Young Ambitious & Motivated) on the ONE blog. We did so by asking the simple question: “Are you Y.A.M?”. We received a tremendous amount of engagement through this post. We selected a few of the best answers and I sent out Y.A.M t-shirts to them.
You’re a big believer in youth empowerment, why do you think it’s important to give young people a voice?
The youth are the future. Simple. I don’t believe in ‘giving’ young people a voice because we already have it. The most important education is to have guidance and knowledge on how to best utilise our voices in the right way.
Can you tell about your experiences in Calais?
It was like being in Africa, but with a European air. The rawness of how these people are living, it’s very basic. I found it interesting that all the nationalities were naturally split up. So you have people from Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Syria and all the Sudanese people. Having travelled to Sudan earlier this year for two shows, one in Khartoum and one in Port Sudan, immediately it felt like I was back there – but not. At points it just felt like I was at a festival. Moving from tent to tent and walking around. It was definitely surreal and I don’t feel like I saw all of it.
We filmed a documentary about it and shot a music video in the camp. It’s called ‘Border Business.’ Check it out:
What inspired the trip to Sudan?
Music and culture inspired the trip. I worked with local musicians and rappers to create and exchange cultures. We also toured Algeria and learnt a little history. The trip was organised by the British Council in Algeria.
Do you think you are a political musician? What role do you think music plays when it comes to political issues?
I don’t believe in politics so I cannot be a political musician. I simply say what’s on my mind and sometimes depending on what I say, sh*t can get political! Fela Kuti is one of my idols. He was very outspoken about what was on his mind regarding the state of the country. He voiced his opinions through music, challenging certain aspects of how Nigeria was being governed. He did not necessarily change the face of politics but rather he was successful in addressing the root cause of the problem because Nigeria is still corrupt.
What sort of crowd goes to an Afrikan Boy gig? Do you talk to your fans? What sort of issues do they speak about?
I engage as much as possible with the people who support my music and ethos. The way I see it, my fans are the customers in my local barber shop in Woolwich, South East London. We talk about all sorts of issues in that barber shop. Life issues is what I deal with in my music and I know that everyone who connects to my art is also dealing with life issues.
What is your advice to young activists like our Youth Ambassadors?
Do what you believe in and believe in what you do!
If you had a message for the UK government, what would it be?
I’ll keep that one to myself for now.
Afrikan Boy is playing at the Roundhouse in Camden on Saturday 19th March. Tickets are £5 + booking fees.