Dropping an average of two singles a year since his promising debut in 2015, gifted Afropop singer, Jire displays a bundle talent and enthusiasm that is hard to ignore, reports Nseobong Okon-Ekong
For some reason I can’t explain, I want to take emerging Afropop singer, Olajire Ayodeji Ajiboye, better known as, Jire, away from his familiar props. The plan is not to distabilise him, but to find just how much grit he has. We are sipping freshly ground fruits at a mall in Surulere-Lagos. I ask him, ‘what annoys you most about this country?’
His answer is uncharitable and inspiring at the same time. While he is most definitely angry at the frustrating circumstances that stares one in the face at every turn, he is not planning to beat a quick retreat. Rather, he is looking for opportunities in the apparent confusion. His response belies his diminutive frame. He reasons beyond the understanding of the typical 18 year-old Nigerian.
He says, “What annoys me about the Nigerian situation is the battered economy. Our economy is bad. We don’t have honest leaders. There is corruption everywhere. If you are not connected to somebody high up, you can’t have particular things. Most poor people can’t have access to certain things like the rich. We don’t know how to manage the resources that God has blessed us with as a nation.”
While the stifling Nigerian situation has not affected him directly, he is nonetheless sympathetic to the less fortunate. He offers an example. “I know a lot of friends that it has affected. Some of my friends were withdrawn from school. Their parents took them to another school where they could pay less fees.”
Although, he feels strongly about this absurd situation in Nigeria, he chooses to react differently. His reply is astonishing. “If you live in a country where you can’t accomplish what you are supposed to because of the bad economy, I don’t think the right thing to do is to run away, at the least opportunity. Most Nigerians who travel out are hoping they can find greener pasture or earn more. It actually depends on you. Sometimes you can turn your life around depending on what you do. Many poor people yesterday are rich today. Many of the rich people in Nigeria went to public schools. It doesn’t really matter where you are coming from. It depends on what you believe you can do and your determination on what you believe you can achieve.”
Jire is lucky to have parents who support his dream. He likes to explain that. “In the beginning, I only had the understanding of my mother. My father became convinced later.”
From the International School in Ibadan to Christ the Redeemers School in Gbagada in Lagos where he finishes his secondary education, he keeps his interest in music alive. At Redeemers, he even brings his friends together to form a group, New School Gang, NSG. His classmates urge them on with boisterous applaud whenever they perform. He looks on with interest as the wind of music is blowing his ambition in a different direction from Petroleum Engineering which he was working to achieve. His father does not want to hear of it, at first. His mind changes when he listens to a Jire recording. How did that happen? “I am the quiet type; so that recording was a pleasant surprise to my father. He did not believe that I could do anything like that. It was enough to change his mind. He entered a deal with me. I had to promise that I will finish secondary school and score good grades. He promised to support me if I would keep my part of the bargain. That is where we are now. I did very well in my WASCE exams and my father has given me all the funding I need.”
In 2015, Jire releases his first single. His father offers his corporate platform, Logica Records, to make the song public. It is titled, ‘Koko’. Jire seizes the moment of the release of his debut single to embark on a tour of radio stations, even as the song receives massive airplay. The tune is a promising fusion of contemporary Nigerian sound and Afropop with a groovy feel that moves people to the dance floor at the first encounter.
‘Koko’ becomes a staple on many radio stations. On one of the programmes, Jire promises that he is in music for the long haul, saying that his intention is to give afropop a fresh dimension. The song tops in a radio contest for new songs decided by fans. Jire’s ‘Koko’ is adjudged the best fresh beat, shoving aside tracks like ‘Yetunde’ by LAX, ‘Susanna’ by Harrysong and ‘Orekelewa’ by Jumbo.
Jire’s ‘Koko’ gets the top mark with 64 votes. LAX follows with 55 votes. Voting is done on Twitter. He goes on to showcase a captivating performance at an Indomie Noodles event.
His string of live shows continues to grow as he performs at the Naija/BeatFM NYSC Camp show. A very promising beginning
Jire draws inspiration from successful Nigerian acts like Brymo, Davido and Olamide. ‘King of my Hood’ follows. His latest single is ‘International Mami’.
This is the fifth official single since Jire made his debut. The song is actually making waves now. It is a love song about a disadvantaged man who is trying to woo a girl who is above his social status. He is trying hard to make her feel he is worth her love. His other singles are ‘Owonieje’ and ‘Zombie’ in honour of Afrobeat maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. ‘International Mami’ produced by Slimfit shows Jire’s determination to carve a niche for himself.
Jire’s social consciousness and his empathy for the downtrodden is yet to reflect in his songs, so far. His management needs to chart his career path towards a profound direction other than singing about girls and loud living.
Jire has performed at very big events sharing same stage with notable pop stars like Davido at the Lagos Access Bank marathon; Oritshefemi and Shina Peters at the Nigerian Telecom Awards; Korede Bello at the Beat FM NYSC Camp Storm, AFRIMA and Felabration.
In the coming new school session, Jire will begin his studies of Music at Babcock University to give fillip to his dream of not only being a performing artiste but a respected academic in music who will go on to establish a school where people can get formal training in music.
Already, he plays the keyboard and his mastery of the instrument is growing by the day. This is a clear indication that Jire is determined to distinguish himself from the run-of-the-mill and take his craft to a height of distinction.