Meet BOJ on the microphone, one of the sexiest Afrofusion voices and co-founder of the Alté scene that celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. He is an OG in the rising Alteé scene and keeps on launching music; alone, with his collective DRB Lasgidi and in collaborations like those with Ajebutter, Falz and Teni. He’s one of the three guys that started the Alté subculture and has been pushing it for the past 10 years. The hard work and fame didn’t change him; he is very approachable, replies to DMs and shares your Instagram story if you tag him. Boj is one of the sexiest voices in Lagos and the kind of artist that makes you want to crush on stars again.
Photographer Coco Olakunle and I chase him down in Lagos. We met up at Victoria Island. Before we start Boj says we should get a drink to get in the right mood. We went upstairs to a small restaurant, where he [of course] knows people, and bought us three G&T’s - we‘re good to go.
Boj is born in London, went to boarding school and uni in England, where he met the other two members of DRB: Fresh L and Teezee. In uni he studied Business Management and Audio Engineering. “The first degree I did for my parents, the second one was for myself”. In uni he found his musical talent and he realised he wanted to learn more. After graduation Boj moved back to Lagos in 2015. “I felt like I had to go back to my roots, because my sound is heavily influenced by Africa and African sounds... and I’m African, so it’s a good place to start”.
“It’s just a thing of one Africa. We are trying to bridge that gap, we’re all one and together we can make a serious influence on the world”. Boj is all about collaboration and putting each other on “All that we need to start doing in Africa is making the culture bigger”. Boj has collaborated with Nigerian artists like Ajebutter, Falz, Teni and of course his collective DRB Lasgidi, but also with artists from Ghana like Kwesi Arthur and Darkovibes. “With the collaboration with Falz for example, he’s a more mainstream artist with another type of fan than Ajebutter and I have. By collaboration we don’t only bring amazing sounds but also let our fans experience something new”.
When growing up his parents used to play Wyclef, Lauren Hill, Bob Marley, Fela, Lagbaja “... and Sean Paul, my mum introduced me to Sean Paul”. As a result of that, he now thinks in melodies and has many beats in his head. “I record a lot, I don’t write music”. He gets a beat, plays the beat and he starts singing. At the moment there are a few producers he works with “... sometimes we make shit from scratch, I have an idea of a melody in my head, I sing the melody and we build from there. Or the producer starts making the beat and I come up with the melody”.
This year is a big one for Boj. He’ll launch individual projects and launch an EP with Ajebutter and Falz. And DRB, the collective that started the whole Alté subculture celebrates their 10th anniversary by bringing out an album. “Loads of kids would remember DRB from their high school days. It’s a big deal we’re dropping our first DRB album”.
“Being signed was the best and worst experience I had”. Best because he learned a lot in that period, worst because it was limiting his creativity “ Marketing people or managers tell you what should and shouldn’t be in a track. For me that doesn’t work”. At the moment he’s happy to be independent, he has creative freedom and controls the profits; “Every Naira I make goes to me, I only have to pay my manager his percentage”. When you’re signed those things work differently; you’ll get your share, just like all the other people involved. “I prefer to do single deals now. I record songs, bring them to labels and see how we sort it out.”
“I’m an Alté guy, but my music is Afrofusion”. Boj is very explicit on the terms that we use for the different sounds and subcultures in or from Lagos. “People need to understand that Alté doesn’t describe music, it’s a lifestyle”. DRB came up with the word, but Teezee made it what it is today “It describes a lifestyle where people are free and don’t confirm to the [mainstream] culture”. He explains that in Nigeria people box any sound that isn’t mainstream as Alté, that even an r&b artist is labelled as Alté, “...my music is Afrofusion, it’s afrobeat, hiphop, jazz. It’s heavily influenced by the African sound”.
Text: Carmen Hogg
Images: Coco Olakunle