BOJ is a multi-talented artist whose career spans over a decade. As a pioneer of Alté with his group DRB Lasgidi, his influence can be seen across every aspect of Afrobeats. The lean towards a left of centre sonics and aesthetics started with BOJ’s courage to be authentically himself. By fusing influences from his Nigerian heritage and his British upbringing, he's something unique which transitioned from a sound to a culture. As Boj prepares to release his third solo album in early 2022: Gbagada Express, he sits with F Word Music Contributor, Gracey Mae, to unpack his life, his love and his legendary status.
Gracey Mae: Hi Boj. Welcome to F Word Magazine. How are you?
BOJ: I'm good, thanks.
B: Yeah, I will describe myself as an emotional person.
G.M: When you're turnt, what kind of music to listen to?
B: I like Afrobeats actually.
G.M: When you’re angry what do you listen to?
B: When I'm angry I don't listen to music.
G.M: When you need to be motivated, what do you listen to?
B: I listen to myself - I listen to my old stuff.
G.M: When you're sad, what do you listen to?
B: When I'm sad? I listen to slow stuff - anything slow. It doesn't necessarily have to be like a sad song as long as it’s slow.
G.M: I just gave you four emotions just there and I feel like you showed us four sides of you. Your catchphrase is “Boj on the Microphone” but what came first singing/rapping or producing?
B: That's a good question, actually. I'll say producing first for a short period and then straight into the singing and stuff.
G.M: I watched an interview where you said that you got into music because it was one of the only things you were good at, apart from football. What position did you play when you were younger?
B: Any where up front! Either as a winger or striker.
G.M: Oh! Interesting and what team do you support?
B: I support Arsenal but I don't watch football anymore because Arsenal broke my heart so many times.
G.M: Me too but I've moved on! The Nigerian football team are called the Super Eagles. You call yourself a fucking cool Nigerian Eagle. What does that even mean?
B: The Super Eagles is our thing – and I'm a fucking cool one.
G.M: So Eagles aren't your favourite animal?
B: I'm like eagles. I have an Eagle tattoo.
G.M: How many tatts have you got?
B: I'm guessing 13 or 14… I’m not really sure though.
G.M: Mad oh! I've only got five. I need to catch up. Earlier in the year, Basketmouth dropped the video for ‘World People’. He's a legendary comedian and you are a legendary artist. You’re literally a Pioneer. What's it like being in the game over the last 11 years?
B: Wow has it been that long already?
G.M: Since 2010…
B: Wow. Officially we came in at like 2012 but maybe you’re right, we had eyes on us from early. So yeah. I mean, it feels mad to see the way everything has happened and everything has played out. To see how the sound has changed, to see to see how the sound has evolved and to see the acceptance of different types of things, different types of arts in general, not just music. Just to see that acceptance over the years has been great.
G.M: Now, do you still bear the title as Pioneers of Alte or have you officially left that sound?
B: I mean, it is what it is. We were one of the guys that came in and we're doing something different. We are the ones that created that whole slang of “Alte” or whatever so it is what it is. We're all doing our thing. You know, we're one of the pioneers of something that started out small and is now something that is used to describe so many different forms of art, you know? It's crazy. So yeah, it is what it is.
G.M: You're right. It describes music, it describes fashion, it describes the whole lifestyle. So shout out to you, man. I did a bit of stalking, as per usual and I see that there’s an Awolowo remix with Wizkid and Darkovibes coming.
B: [laughs] You’re so funny with the pronounciation man. Ah-wo-lo-wo. [laughs]
G.M: Okay but is it certified and when are we going to hear it?
B: It is certified and you’ll hear it when you hear it. [laughs]
G.M: Could that be 2021?
B: Yeah, it could be.
G.M: Talking about hearing, you are currently on over 776,000 monthly Spotify listeners. What does it feel like when you see those kinds of numbers?
B: I don't even know that was not the thing. I want it to be more.
G.M: That's just one platform though.
B: Still… I want it to be more. That's how I feel when I see it. I mean, I do feel like “Okay, yeah. Thank God, you know, we can reach so many people”, but I still trying to reach more people, you feel me?
G.M: There’s tons of people to reach; you're born in the UK, but grew up between London and Lagos. How did the Bi-Coastal lifestyle influenced you and your sound?
B: It’s really influenced everything, you know, from style, to the sound… just from what I was hearing in the UK when I was in school, was different to the types of music I was hearing at home. The combination of the two cultures as well, it gives you that balance. It's like you have your roots and then you're also exposed.
G.M: I hear that! You were the only child of your parents for many years, right? What was your younger years like?
B: My childhood was really nice. I had really loving parents; really hard working parents. I spent a lot of time with my mum. I used to go everywhere with her. I had some cousins as well, who I used to play - my childhood was good, you know.
B: Exactly, exactly. Those are the guys my parents used to listen to so that’s what I used to listen to as well. TLC as well!
G.M: We’ve named quite a few international and local influences. Who would you say is influenced by you right now?
B: You can never really, you know. That's for them to say. You can never really know who… you can get someone be influenced by two different people and then when it comes together, it sounds like they're being influenced by one person. When that's not actually who they've been influenced by so you can never really tell. I do know that I have influenced people, for sure and It's good to see. I’m happy to be in that position. It’s part of my purpose init.
G.M: Let's talk about purpose. When you finish your music career, how do you want to be remembered?
B: I just want to be remembered as someone that tried… did their best. Someone that also made an impact, someone that inspired. I'm not trying to be a role model or anything but I just want to inspire people to do what they want to do and what they feel like doing… what makes them happy. I want my career to show that I did something I love and that I was successful at it. Something out of the box from where I come from, but I was our successful at it because I loved it and I put everything I had into.
B: Do I believe in magic? Yeah. Well, I don't know that it’s magic, but I definitely believe in… I definitely believe that… Okay fine. Let me just say, yes I do believe in magic.
G.M: Did you know that BOJ also stands for Bank of Japan?
B: Yeah I know.
G.M: What was the first big purchase you made after becoming a celebrity?
B: I bought myself a car, a big car and it was the dumbest thing ever.
G.M: You regret that purchase?
B: Yeah. 100%. Well, maybe not regret but I feel “Damn, I wish I did something better”. I don't know what I would do with it now if I had it now but also, it wasn't that much money! It was just like some dumb shit.
G.M: You live, you learn, you grow. I feel like that's the theme of your forthcoming project: Gbagada Express. Tell us about it.
B: What you just said, is exactly what it is. It's about just growing and letting people understand that it's actually okay to be in a transitional phase. It's okay to try and start to tap in to understand yourself fully, and to just be vulnerable, you know, it's fine. It's like, I cut my hair. I got serious girlfriend, which is something I hadn't done in years and years. I’m trying to be more serious with trying to focus. I got more spiritual in the sense that I’m trying to connect with God more. It's a whole transitional phase, and I'm so lost in it right now.
G.M: This is so apt cos I feel like the transitional period is very real for a lot of people right now especially because we’re still in a the middle of a Panoramic, a Panasonic, a Pain au Chocolat! Any words of encouragement to our readers as ease our way out of this Pandemic?
B: Just keep trying to find new ways to reinvent yourself, you know? Keep pushing man. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, and God will never throw anything at you that can't handle.
G.M: Amen and Amen. All right, we're gonna wrap up! With every interview on the F Word Magazine, we end with: What is your favourite F word?
B: My favourite F word is fantastic. [laughs]
G.M: You're fantastic. Your music is Fantastic. [laughs] Thank you for joining us!
B: Oh, gosh. Thank you! [laughs]