Written by Ashley Kolawole

As I sit in this luxury high-rise overlooking the Hudson I can’t help but admire the view. I’m thinking to myself, “imagine waking up to this every day?” My daze is gladly interrupted by none other than the “Boy Wonder” himself. Ayo Jay enters the glass-walled clubhouse with a welcoming smile and shares a hug. I can’t help but notice the heavy gold ring on his finger, it spoke for itself.  

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U.K. born recording artist, Ayoola Ogundeyi Jr. aka Ayo Jay, is well known for his hit record “Your Number” which went viral and is still very much a hit. We got the chance to talk about his journey thus far, how he got here, his new EP and a recap of what 2016 brought forth for the artist.

After signing with One Nation Records, Ayo Jay went back to Nigeria and began pushing his music. The artist shared his passion for writing lyrics and revealed that when you really break his music down you’ll see that it’s a letter or like a poem. “My sound didn’t fit the Afrobeats sound when I released the record in 2013, so it took some time for it to blow up in Nigeria.” As you can imagine, it can be discouraging for any artist when your home team isn’t receptive to your work, but he didn’t let that stop his grind. In 2015 the record was rereleased in the United States featuring Fetty Wap and it went completely viral.

“It’s our sound, it makes you want to dance, it’s different than everything, and they embraced it.”

“I remember being in the studio telling Fetty this is going to be the biggest song from an African.” He wasn’t lying, the record reached everyone, and by everyone we mean the likes of Drake and Rihanna, just to name a few. “Afrobeats is moving out here in America but we have to give credit to artists like Drake and Rihanna because they play a big part in Americans accepting the sound, but it’s our sound, it makes you want to dance, it’s different than everything, and they embraced it.” Ayo Jay was in awe when his fans blew him up via social media to inform him that he was playing on OVO radio. Relaxed in his seat with headphones around his neck he shares “that’s when I really knew this record was blowing up.” Even though he hasn’t been to Toronto, he already has a loyal fanbase there and plans to visit, hopefully, to link up with Drake himself.

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After signing with RCA in 2016, a new remix was once again released featuring Chris Brown and Kid Ink. “Being signed to RCA has definitely opened my eyes on how to actually work a record. I’m glad to be a part of this team and can’t wait to do more.” 

We couldn’t help but ask how easy it is to get numbers now. “You know, nowadays it’s easy, you know I just sing the song” he laughed and concluded, “it’s still hard.” We proceeded to ask who his favorite artists are and his answers were unexpected–Eminem and Usher. “Eminem to me is my favorite rapper of all time, in terms of flow and skills. What he did with rap, I’ve never seen in my life…my delivery in the studio was influenced by him.” He then went on to mention Lil Uzi Vert, Young Thug, and Young MA as his current favorite American artists. His eclectic taste in artists will hopefully be reflected in the range displayed on his forthcoming album.  

“Last year I wasn’t even performing, this year I’m doing stadiums.”

He credited his love for dancehall and Caribbean music from his schooling in the Bronx, New York where he attended Baruch College and majored in economics. As a result of his degree, he says that he saves and always makes smart financial decisions. Now with typical African parents, making the switch from economics to music would be disastrous but he was clever with it. “The funny thing is…they didn’t know until after I got my degree and I actually signed my record deal before I was done with school and I didn’t tell them. I waited until I got my degree, and then I just told them.”

“Last year I wasn’t even performing, this year I’m doing stadiums. It can only get better from here.” You can hear the gratitude and appreciation in his voice as he expresses how far he’s come, 2016 has been a trailblazing year for Ayo Jay and it has only been getting better. From performing at Powerhouse to taking the stage at One Africa Music Fest, it’s been a great journey so far. Let’s not forget the infamous video posted by Rihanna herself featuring Ayo’s record, “That was definitely a shock, I love Rihanna.”.

2016 treated the Boy Wonder very well, however, 2017 might set new heights for Ayo Jay. “My EP is going to be crazy,”  he says. “ It’s called Coming to America,  I’m sharing my experiences from Nigeria and what I’ve learned.” While he recently released “The Vibe” and “Want You” (which he wanted to feature Justine Skye on), his EP is set to drop this year and we got a sneak peak into it. You can expect production from Melvitto (“Your Number), Tapiano, Shizzi (“Who you Epp”), Vinylz (Bryson Tiller – “Exchange”), and even DJ Mustard. Features range from: Desiigner (with a song called, “Restless” ), Davido, Olamide, to Popcaan.

Ayo Jay is definitely only going up from here; as we wrapped up our interview he wanted to to leave you all with a message which we hope inspires you to chase your dreams and aim high. For those of you in school, stick it out, it’s important. It teaches you and gives you structure but always do what you love. Find what you’re good at and stick to it. Stay consistent, be true and don’t let anyone be able to predict your next move.”

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Ayo Jay and his manager, “Googs”

Interview conducted by Ashley Kolawole & Ayo O for OneTribeMag.                                                                                              All photography by KrishDelReis

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