By Emmanuel Daraloye
The last time Ajebutter22 released a solo project, Muhammadu Buhari, the President of Nigeria, was just two years into his first term of office. While he was on hiatus with solo music releases, Ajebutter22 churned out two collaborative extended plays with his long-time friend, BOJ, and later with rapper, Falz. Ajebutter22 started off as a group with his sister, Taymi in 2009 at Manchester, UK. They called the group “Soyinka’s Afro.” It was a tribute to the Nigerian Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka.
Since the 2010s when he embarked on his solo journey, Ajebutter22 has been cracking the industry code with his sublime hits, witty lyrics, and laconic delivery. Songs like “Omo Pastor,” “Ghana Bounce,” and, recently, “King of Parole” have dominated the air space.
In this interview with Afrocritik senior music critic, Emmanuel Daraloye, Ajebutter22 leads us into his world, the creative process of this new album, and more.
Emmanuel Daraloye: We have been working on conducting this interview for more than two weeks, even before you released that album. You are indeed one busy man.
Ajebutter22: Yeah, there are just a lot of things going on. It has been difficult for me, but I am trying to do as much as I can.
Daraloye: How has the feedback been since you released Soundtrack to the Good Life?
Ajebutter22: Yeah, the feedback has been really good. Of course, it has been good stuff from the fans. I like the fact that people understand the purpose of the album, as well as its direction, which is very important to me. I like how it’s being captured and understood.
Daraloye: Your last solo album was released about six years ago. Why did it take you so long to release this new album?
Ajebutter22: It was really intentional. First of all, in 2018/2019, BOJ and I put out two EPs, Make E No Cause Fight 1, and Make E No Cause Fight 2 in 2019.
After that, there was COVID. I was recording throughout the time. You know time goes by quickly, let’s just put it that way. I just wanted to be happy with what I had. For me to put out an album, I have to feel the vibe. I was really going to release it last year but one or two things didn’t allow me.
Daraloye: The collaborations on this album cut across Nigeria, Ghana, and the UK. Was this a deliberate decision, and why?
Ajebutter22: No. I guess. It all boils down to the places I recorded. I can’t remember the last time I went to the US to record. I record where I feel comfortable, where I have met people, vibe with people; so, I recorded in Ghana, UK and Lagos.
Daraloye: This album is more of the feel-good kind. Why is this so?
Ajebutter22 Yeah, it’s deliberate. I just want us to have a fun time, and I reflected it in that album. I just want people to listen to an album when they do something, and it would give them vibes and fun. It also gives them insight into one or two things. So, while there is the enjoyment part of the album, there is also the love part. Everything just came together. I tried to work with extensive strings of producers in different parts of the world. I actually enjoyed the process of making this album.
Daraloye: How was it like linking up with hypeman, Toby Shang?
Ajebutter22: I have so much love for Toby Shang. I like him as a person. He’s really cool and funny. I have been a fan of his for like two years now. I remember I had a show in the UK in 2021 or something. I was performing, and I used his lamba. I felt I had to do something with this guy.
Daraloye: Before this interview, I saw a post on Facebook from one of your fans who asked why Show Dem Camp was not featured on this album. Why weren’t they featured?
Ajebutter22: There is no specific reason. SDC and I are cool. I actually saw them yesterday. We are still going to do something with each other, and there are still many opportunities to collaborate. I don’t think there is anybody on this album that I have featured before, so, it’s a chance for me to work with guys I haven’t worked with before. Rest assured.
Daraloye: Would there ever be Make E No Cause Fight 3?
Ajebutter22: Yeah. It will definitely happen.
Daraloye: For the benefit of new fans who are listening to you for the first time, who is Ajebutter 22?
Ajebutter22: If you started listening to an artiste today, you can go back and listen to their songs. If I start listening to an artiste today, I will check out their previous record and see the one I like. So, for the new fans, they should check my other records. Of course, I have evolved. From Anytime Soon, my first project which was more like a dreamer, to What Happens in Lagos, to this new album which sees me trying to show and tell people about good times.
Daraloye: With the recent blur in line between Alte and Mainstream music, what do you think about the Alte movement?
Ajebutter22: Things are definitely more blurred than they were before. If you think about it, the Alte Movement started in 2012. The people who are coming out now are students of Alte and the mainstream movement. So, they get inspiration from Nigeria and overseas. The people doing Alte before got inspirations from Nigeria but also from a lot of foreign artistes, and so on. Now, the guys coming out get inspiration from us, the street, so they try to blend it together to make something. Right now, I think there is more division.
Daraloye: Is there any Alte new kid that you are feeling right now?
Ajebutter22: I don’t know if they are really “Alte Kids,” but I have been listening to YKB. Also, I like Victony’s sound. I have a lot, but I leave it to these two.
(Stream Soundtrack to the Good Life here)
Emmanuel Daraloye is Africa’s Most Prolific Freelance Music Critic. He has over 500 album reviews in his archive.