19 December 2016
Nigerian-born King Ajibade describes his music as “world fusion” – a danceable style with a savor that’s definitely tropical, incorporating elements of Caribbean, Latin and African musical genres with classic RnB and rap. In Yoruba, his name means “one that wakes into royalty” and keeping that connection with his heritage is another important thread throughout the release.
Based in the United States with his family at a young age, Aji started with singing in a gospel choir and graduated to rap after high school. One of his mentors along the way was the late Ann Tillman, one of the founders of Destiny’s Child, and Aji is a producer as well as singer and songwriter. He released his first single in 2011 on his own label, 26th Element Records, (now distributed through Universal Records,) and following it with a string of singles and his first EP in 2014, Bad Boy In Disguise.
Passport, dropping February 17th, is Aji’s foray into the international world pop market with a style that he’s hoping to take to a global audience – and it certainly has the potential. The EP offers a winning combination of high energy influences, including Afrobeat and Latin rhythms. “Excuse Me Lady,” the first track, has an infectious energy with driving rhythms. It covers the usual ground of boy wanting to meet girl with a world beat sensibility. It’s the lead track and now available as a single in advance of the album release in February
King Ajibade has a nice fat voice that he can manipulate in and out of melodies that contrast the driving rhythms. “Stuck in my Head” continues in a dance-pop mode, with Aji’s fluid vocals wrapping wrap around the throbbing dance rhythms. “Coming Around” mixes plaintive lyrics about — naturally — love with an upbeat tropical vibe.
“X feat: Blaque Ra” is a standout track that mixes hip hop with the guitar rhythms of Latin music – a multi-layered piece where the vocals, beats, and effects are nicely balanced. “Yeah!” is another great track, with a horn section adding a thick sound in a cross between Afrobeat and ska.
Passport represents a solid entry into the international/global pop canon, with slick production and tracks that offer a range of styles that showcase his strengths – danceable rhythms and smooth vocals that lie on top of the mix.