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“Every Day Presents Another Angle to Approach My Music”: DumomiTheJig, the Artiste in His Debut Year in the Music Scene

“Every Day Presents Another Angle to Approach My Music”: DumomiTheJig, the Artiste in His Debut Year in the Music Scene

DumomiTheJig - Afrocritik

“Choosing the path of music will make you look like a fool for a very long time until you’re not. And when everyone realises your talent and congratulates you, that’s not the time to gloat. ” – DumomiTheJig

By Emmanuel Okoro

Dunmomi Adenuga, better known by DumomiTheJig, stands out in a sea of talents. Every day, music streaming apps are filled with recommendations to listen to new artistes. But hardly do we find an artiste with sheer talent and artistry that provokes one to look up their name for a listen again. DumomiTheJig has ushered in three stellar singles this year: “Anticipating”, “Fantasy”, and “Maria”, featuring Afro-House royalty, Niniola. These singles have etched his name as one of the emerging talents to watch out for in the coming months. 

In this exclusive interview with Afrocritk, DumomiTheJig shares his foray into the music industry, the influential forces that have shaped his sound, his insights on the ascendancy of Afrobeats, and his aspirations for the future. 

For our audience meeting you for the first time, how did you decide on your stage name “DumomiTheJig”?

Well, Dunmomi is my government name and  “The Jig” stands for Jigsaw because I consider myself a creative, and there are many pieces to the puzzle that is me. Today, I might find myself as a sound engineer on a project. The next day, I might be a producer or a graphics designer. I just try my best to rise to the occasion. 

Everyone has an origin story. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started in the music industry?

For as long as I can remember, I have been into music, to be honest. I grew up in a household where my Dad played the piano every day. Growing up, watching him was greatly inspiring, and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. It started gradually and evolved into something else. I started listening to other people and got interested in the craft. I think Lil Wayne was my biggest inspiration. Other musicians like J. Cole, Hov (Jay-Z), and Kendrick Lamar also influenced me. I learnt how to play the piano and took it a step further and began recording myself. This started when I was in SS2. I caught the bug from there and just kept going. And now, a decade and a half later, we are here. 

At what point did you decide that you were going to pursue a music career?

I think I made that decision in SS3. Visualise a classroom setting: break time, everyone gathered around, hands drumming on the desk, and I was just there, freestyling in a rap battle. At that point, I felt I was ready for music. I’m so glad that God didn’t show me my path before accepting it, because if I knew it would take this long for my career to start, I probably would’ve faced other endeavours. But hey, we are here. 

So, what have you been doing throughout this time?

I’ve consistently been creating music over the years. I’ve always been putting out covers and freestyles. Even when I’m not putting out music, you will catch me writing and composing music. The only difference was that I had no visibility or platform so no one knew. Even my folks didn’t know at the time. I also focused on my studies as well. I have a master’s degree in Architecture and I practised it for a couple of years. I’m currently going for another master’s degree in Project Management in London. 

(Read also: “When It Comes to Lovesongs, Nobody Can Touch Me”: Joeboy, in Conversation With Afrocritik)

So, how do you manage your studies while pursuing your music career?

I had a lot of practice when I was at Unilag (University of Lagos). I had a studio in my BQ when I was in Jumbo Close (a street in Unilag). And not to be braggadocious, but I can confidently say my dedication as a musician was higher than a lot of people that I came across, and I still didn’t miss lectures. There was never a time I missed lectures, even down to my master’s level. I couldn’t relate to people who dropped out of school “for the cause”. The path I chose allowed me to pursue my studies while making music. And I did fairly well. I graduated with a 2.1 in Architecture. 

Since you’re currently in London, what’s the current Afrobeats scene like over there?

The Afrobeats scene is crazy over here. Nigerians aren’t letting up. Wherever party you are, the chances they are going to play an Afrobeats song are very high. I and my cousins went to a lounge close to Heathrow recently, and they were just playing Wizkid, Oxlade, Davido, and Burna Boy throughout. I was like “wetin dey sup gan?” It’s amazing how far we’ve come. 

DumomiTheJig - Afrocritik
DumomiTheJig

Afrobeats is an umbrella term that encompasses different genres and subsets. How would you describe your music style, and what do you think sets your sound apart in the music scene?

I’d say “Afro-Experiment”, and that’s because every day presents another angle to approach my music. And that’s the good thing about being your own sound engineer; you’re allowed to do so much trial and error. When you’re working with yourself, you somewhat work with your mood. If there’s another person in the room, you sort of think, “Is this person having a bad day? Is this person in the mood to listen to all my ideas?” For me mostly, I have my setup and I record myself. From the dumbest to the smartest of ideas, I lay it down. I am always in the lab mixing, doing vocal balancing, writing, and everything. So, it’s like an experiment. But now that there’s a team working with me, there’s the option to delegate different tasks. But the good thing is when push comes to shove, I do everything myself.

Most people don’t know you’re multi-dimensional yet multi-talented. So, how do you go about creating a typical DumomiTheJig song? Walk me through that process. 

If I’m the one making the jam, I start first by making the beats. If it is a rap beat, I visualise my flows and cadence, and then I start writing my verses and execute them. I do freestyles but I’m not much of a freestyle artiste. I like to come correct and sound perfect when I lay my verses. However, if it’s a “singing song”, I lay down the melodies I have in my head and then write and record. Traditionally, I would write but not all the time. For instance, I didn’t write “Anticipating” and “Fantasy”. I just had the melodies in my head and I just voiced them on the go – as e dey hot. However, I wrote “Maria”, so, sometimes, the beats determine the lyrics that will go in it.

Your latest single, “Maria”, has a guest feature from Niniola, the Queen of Afro-House. How did it happen?

Black Culture produced the song and sent me the beats, and I wrote and laced my vocals on it. But the more I kept listening to it, the more I felt like if Niniola could catch this beat, she would tear it apart. So, I facilitated making it happen, and it did. A huge shoutout to my team that made it happen. 

Niniola and DumomiTheJig - Afrocritik
Niniola and DumomiTheJig

Some people say the true test of an artiste is in their live performances. Have you ever performed your music live? What was the initial reception?

Yes, I have. Some days are better than others, to be honest. As an artiste, sometimes you kill it and sometimes, you don’t. Sometimes it’s a tough crowd and on other days, it’s a welcoming crowd. Sometimes, you feel yourself and sometimes you don’t. There are a lot of variables in the equation. Whatever the case may be, I put my game face on and allow God to decide how it’s going to turn out. It usually works best in my case. 

(Read also: Proof of Life Is a Rebirth for Me”: Skales Speaks on His Latest Project With Afrocritik)

Writing, composing, and sometimes, producing your music may feel like a daunting task. Have you ever encountered any challenges while making music? And how do you navigate these challenges?

To be honest, there are more challenges than perks in the music industry. As an emerging artiste who has been on the come-up for a minute and a half, you’re going to hear everyone in your ear. It will first be your parents and your uncles. But the older you get, the voice you hear transforms to your friends, cousins, and even your partner, asking questions like “How far with this music?”

My Dad, for instance, has been playing the piano all his life, but he chose the corporate world. How do you convince someone — who plays instruments but didn’t pursue it — that you want to face music squarely? Choosing the path of music will make you look like a fool for a very long time until you’re not. And when everyone realises your talent and congratulates you, that’s not the time to gloat.

Another challenge I have had to face is the coldness in the music industry. Everyone looks at you like “Nice one, nice one.” But when it’s time for them to do something for you, nothing is free. Nobody wants to hear that there’s no money involved. At one point, I was like “Am I going to chill and find people who will believe in me or am I going to keep pushing with the little that I have?” This inspired me to put my head down to learn everything there is in music production. People knew I was talented, but it took the right team to take me to where I am now. 

So what’s the difference for you between working solo trying to leverage your skills and working with a team that supports your vision?

Having a team that sees your vision is the best experience for any musician. That’s because the right team has your best interest at heart. But you have to be ready. People think they’re ready for a team but they’re not. Some solo musicians rely on inspiration and motivation to make music. When you’re working with a team, you need to make your music with discipline and not just inspiration and motivation.

When you’re working with a team, you know there are deadlines, and immediately understand that things have to be done within a certain timeframe. Do you want to tell your team that you can’t record music because you’re not inspired? If you’re an indie artiste, you have the luxury of waiting for inspiration. I have worked in ruthless architecture firms where I have no other choice than to be disciplined. I have to wake up at certain times, check my emails, and pull some all-nighters on some projects. So, I think the major difference is inspiration versus discipline. 

Afrocritik in conversation with DumomiTheJig

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Lonzo Nzekwe at the 2023 TIFF - Afrocritik

Having been in the industry for a while and seeing how different artistes sign some of their rights away in deals, how you do ensure deals are fair on your end?

It’s like this: on one hand, it is “Don’t sign away your freedom”, and on the other hand, it is “What’s a 100 percent of nothing?” I know the best of both worlds. I understand artistes who keep it 100, choosing to go indie and I also understand those who choose to work with a team. I have always been a man of simple taste, in the sense that I need the barest minimum to be happy in life. I don’t need the newest cars or the glitz and glamour. I wasn’t exactly struggling financially or looking for my next meal. I was afforded the luxury to see a little bit more clearly, just to have the leverage to say no when I see some deals. 

As an artiste, if you’re not pressured by society to look all flashy and flamboyant, you would go for a label and team that has your best interest and not jump at the first opportunity that comes your way. My team was not the first opportunity but they were the right opportunity. A lot of artistes and people watch Drink Champs, The Breakfast Club, and the Joe Budden podcast and the anchors and guests keep drilling the concept of ownership. What artistes have failed to realise is those people speak from a place of privilege. So, it gets really cold for artistes that do not have options. 

With Afrobeats gaining mainstream dominance in the Western ecosystem, what’s your take on the process?

I have been looking at the general landscape of this, and I think Afrobeats does have the capacity to grow higher than it is. We’re big but we’re not the number 1 genre in the world. But we can be the number 1 genre in the world. Shoutout to the people who opened the doors for us. People like D’banj, 2Baba, Wizkid, and Burna Boy. A Grammy award doesn’t seem like the most far-fetched thing right now. Do you remember when it was such a huge deal to feature an international artiste? D’Banj featuring Snoop Dogg? P-Square featuring Rick Ross? But those guys are now looking for us. Only time will tell how big Afrobeats will become. Then again, my music isn’t defined by Afrobeats. If you give me a Rap, Rock, or Fuji beat, I’m still going to smoke it. 

Who would Dumomi the Jig be excited to work with on a song?

To be honest, I have a lot of time recording that the answer to this question wouldn’t be the same three, four, or even six years ago. There have been so many changes of guards that the question at this point confuses me. But I can’t lie, I will be so excited to get a verse from Hov. Imagine that. Even if Hov is 65, I don’t give a damn. A verse from Hov is like a Grammy to me. If someone asks me “Would you rather a verse from Hov or a Grammy?” I would sleep on it. Because that’s a hard choice to make. Because one can pay Hov to be on a song. It is validation that gets that verse. 

Remember Meek Mill’s verse on “All The Way Up (Remix)”? He said, “Only rapper went gold without a verse from Hov”. That was a big flex and it took me aback. Hov is a stamp of approval. I just want Hov to cough on my track, and I go dey alright

DumomiTheJig - Afrocritik
DumomiTheJig

(Read also: “Music is One of My Filmmaking Signatures”: Nigerian Filmmaker, Kayode Kasum, in Conversation With Afrocritik)

This year, you have released three singles. Looking back, what has been your most rewarding moment?

I think my most rewarding moment was realising I am not a fool. For the longest time, everyone made me think I was, and I was starting to believe them. But now, they are starting to believe me. 

Having chased music for a minute, what’s the one thing you wished you had known earlier?

I’ve realised nobody wants to enter an empty bus to Iyana Ipaja (a suburb in Lagos). Your family members, friends, and colleagues may not support your vision at the formative stages. But when you take it upon yourself to build your empire, everyone will then begin to get on board. If you come to terms with that, you won’t get so upset when people don’t support you. My validation comes from within, and if you can find a way to be content with validation from within, you will be fine. 

Lastly, what can fans expect from DumomiTheJig in the coming months?

I am coming from another angle. I want fans to keep an open mind when it comes to me. That’s because I am not bound by expectations from my environment. I explore vibes and will put it out if it sounds and feels good. There are different angles and I got a couple of surprises. Sooner than later, a body of work is coming and everyone should anticipate that.

Emmanuel ‘Waziri’ Okoro is a content writer and journo with an insatiable knack for music and pop culture. When he’s not writing, you will find him arguing why Arsenal FC is the best football club in the multiverse. Connect with him on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads: @BughiLorde

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