Ajimovoix Drums Is Pioneering The Sounds of Ikorodu

The “Focus Dance Beat” hit-maker is establishing himself as an artist to watch out for.

In conversation with many people, it’s easy to decipher that Ikorodu exists mostly in their minds as a voyeuristic backdrop to their cultural consumption. A rich and cultured concept that has provided some of the most essential pop acts redefining the scope of Nigerian music like Zlatan, Seyi Vibez and Mohbad, but still a mere concept nonetheless. The Ikorodu that exists in the world of Ajimovoix Drums is a very real place. So real that you can reach out and almost feel the pulse of the city in his music. For the little-known but influential record producer and recording artist, Ikorodu is a living, breathing organism that has shaped his ideologies, sharpened his resolve, and defined his conception of life. 


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There’s ample proof of how much Ikorodu means to Ajimovoix Drums across his cavernous, free-wheeling discography. That love and appreciation somehow works its way into his everyday life, which in turn defines how he approaches music-making. When we finally get together via Zoom one sunny Saturday in April, he’s talking about occasionally returning to Ikorodu to decompress and finish the bulk of his records there, away from the daily hustle and bluster of metropolitan Lagos. “Ikorodu is my superpower,” he says, laughing from a dimly lit studio in Itumoja, Ikorodu. “There’s a vibe in Ikorodu that’s natural. It’s just a feeling that’s not artificial and cannot be replicated anywhere else. It’s undiluted and I love it.”

While many music listeners might not readily recall who Ajimovoix Drums is or pick him out in a crowd of people, he has carved a niche for himself since 2018 on the indie circuit thanks to his vivid, euphonious instrumentals that capture the pomp and grit of Ikorodu–as well as mainland Lagos–and soundtrack the revelry and hedonism of party-goers in Lagos’ influential archipelago of islands and beyond. In 2021, one of his instrumentals, “Focus Dance Beat,” went nuclear on social media, finding virality in the choreographed confines of TikTok before spreading to Instagram, WhatsApp and, predictably, the clubs. However, 2021 was not the first time Ajimovoix Drums had a hot instrumental on his hands. “Most people don’t know this but I’ve had a lot of success before that instrumental,” he clarifies. “I made the ‘Lagos Scatter Dance Beat’ which was as big as the ‘Focus Dance Beat’‘ but I didn’t understand the business side of things then.”

Among his credits are veritable viral instrumentals like Ase Ni Client E,” “Yahoo Abi,” “Lagos Street Vibes Dance Beat” and “Eko O Jina.” Without an extensive budget to lean on or a label structure to call on, Ajimovoix Drums has had to fashion out a DIY distribution and marketing style that gets his music to the grassroots directly, thanks to an army of over 10,000 DJs and local promoters that he has access to. He first started collecting their details and sending them his music a decade ago on BlackBerry Messenger before migrating to WhatsApp. “People used to say that that was an old method of promotion but I stuck by it,” he says. 

“I still do that and people are getting to understand the importance of those mediums. One thing I’ll say is that it’s not easy to get these people and build that network. Other people might know top DJs but you have to realise that these people have careers of their own but the DJs in the streets are the ones taking the sound everywhere because they are always on the move. They’re the ones taking it from Agbowa, to Epe and Ibadan.”

All these years of working in the underground might have left Ajimovoix Drums unprepared for navigating the serpentine corridors of the Nigerian music business for his earlier hit instrumental but when “Focus Dance Beat” came, he was more than prepared. “I stood with ‘Focus Dance Beat’ because I was determined not to be overlooked for my work ever again,” he explains. “A talent manager, Oba Sijuade, reached out to me and gave me insight into how to navigate that period. He told me that it was the right time to promote myself and contact everyone I could.

“I met a lot of people at that time and that allowed me to work with a lot of people. I learned to put myself out a lot at that time because I’m not Olamide or Don Jazzy and these people still go hard at their promotion. At one point, there was an issue between me, the dancers, and some local boys who felt like they promoted the song to get it to where it reached but I refused to allow them to upload my song without permission.”

The resilient streak and savant-like musical skills that have allowed Ajimovoix Drums—born Adewale Oguntade—to carve a position for himself in an industry always in flux have roots in his Ikorodu origins. His family was part of the second wave of migrants who moved to Ikorodu from other areas in the Lagos metropolis around the mid-90s. There he witnessed the rise of a town from scratch and got in his fair share of trouble as a child. Raised by a prophetess mother and father with an innate understanding of percussive instruments, music was in his blood. As a secondary school student at Yewa Grammar School in Ikorodu, he co-founded a band called Ajimohun Musical Group but that was short-lived. “I think we disbanded because of pride,” he says. “Nobody was willing to be submissive to each other and that affected us. There were also a lot of distractions that made it hard to continue the group. In my mind, I never looked down on that group because I foresaw that it would be a big thing and I also brought up the name.”


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After a brief spell at a theological church and the unfortunate passing of his mother, the musician found himself at a crossroads. “That was a dark period for me because I lost my support system and I didn’t know how to continue.” Keen to support himself and his family, Ajimovoix Drums turned to construction work and fish farming to keep himself above water but his zest for music never died. In 2012, a benefactor provided him with the funds to buy a laptop and he “never left home again,” instead concentrating on making music and improving his skills.

A spell working with non-responsive artists left him disheartened and birthed the strategy of releasing empty instrumentals with the hope of getting someone’s attention. It’s a punt that has worked magnificently for him. “I was initially surprised that people started listening to my beats and vibing to it but I love it because that’s what I spent several days hoping for,” he says. “I’ve also worked with a lot of people thanks to those instrumentals and that’s encouraged me to also put my own music out.”

Eager to make an impression post-”Focus Dance Beat,” Ajimovoix Drums started releasing songs with his vocals in 2022. ‘Border To Border,’ released in May 2022, was a pleasant introduction to his spiritual-infused interpretation of street-pop with highlights like “Don’t Bother” and “Omoolope” while ‘That Unserious Focus Boi (T.U.F.B),’ released as a compilation later in 2022, was an instructive look at the circumstance of his origin peppered with Islam-adjacent scores and mellow, introspective lyrics. “While I was making instrumentals for other artists, I kept rehearsing and preparing myself,” he says of his decision to return to releasing his songs. “I just think it’s time to tell my stories.”

Those stories are brought stunningly to life on his latest project, ‘Available For The Streets (AFTS),’ a concise four-track tape that has everything from heart-tugging stories about picking up survival skills in Ikorodu to a quirky-yet-chaotic house beat. Still, per Ajimovoix Drums, the sole purpose of AFTS was to pay homage to Ikorodu and finally put his thoughts about the town on wax.

“I wanted to make a project that shows how I feel about Ikorodu because I learned a lot and lost so much here,” he says. The opener, “ALL D WAY  (Ikorodu Oga),” is an unmissable signpost for this message. On the song’s refrain, Ajimovoix Drums gets right to the heart of that contradiction, singing, “Ikorodu show me shege you know, won tun gbe mi soke,” roughly translating to “Ikorodu has shown me hard times but Ikorodu has also elevated me.”

“I was singing that ‘Ikorodu show me shege’ part and I was fucking crying inside of me because it’s not easy to make it out of the hood,” Ajimovoix Drums says. “But despite all that, it’s still my home and where I feel the most comfortable.” Ultimately, his goal is to serve as a connecting bridge between the mainstream and the deepest hearts of the trenches with his music. To make this point, he tells a story of inviting singer, Dice Ailes, to Ikorodu to record a verse for the remix of “Focus Dance Beat,” which was released two years ago.

“Dice came to Ikorodu to record the remix because he wanted to get that authentic feeling of working here,” he explains. “When he got here, he was overwhelmed but that feeling he wanted was just there and he connected to it. There were a lot of people on the street there to see him, singing his lyrics outside the studio. When he came to Ikorodu, he realised that this was another world entirely. The mood was fun and everything felt great, I was so excited and that’s the feeling I want to always have.”

Wale Oloworekende is a Lagos-based critic and writer covering African music and youth culture from Lagos.