Chocolate City’s newest signed act, Major AJ, who’s fondly known as “Retrobaby” is a Nigerian songwriter, rapper and singer whose sound is embedded in Afro Fusion. He hails from Benue State but spent his early years in Niger state. He graduated from the University of Ilorin where he has been widely known for his musical abilities in 2019 and released his first single, ‘One Take’ in the same year; the reception the song gained opened up more recording opportunities for him. In 2021, he released a single called ‘SALO’ that caught the attention of Chocolate City’s A&R. Right from being on the label’s radar, the artiste was announced recently as its latest addition to its roster.
Major AJ recently released his debut project ‘Retroverse’, a 5-tracked collection of rare African funk & disco-inspired sounds enmeshed with elements of Afrobeats. This project gives an insight into the mind of Major AJ as he easily conveys his emotions in a very relatable way with strong penmanship. The project features production and additional vocal credits from sensational singer and producer Dunnie.
We catch up with him to speak on his background, artistry and journey into the music industry.
Welcome, Major AJ. It’s a pleasure to have you join us. How are you feeling tonight?
Major AJ: Pleasure to join you tonight, I’m feeling awesome!
Great!! First off, for anyone who has been following the rollout of RETROVERSE, it’s clear that there are constant infusions of the interesting 70s funk & disco style/theme going on all over the project. In what way did the 70s inspire your visuals and sound? Why is it so reflective in your art?
Well, this project is very special, RETROVERSE is my debut Ep under chocolate city and I really wanted to give my fans and the world a taste and feel of the real Major AJ. I’m a very versatile artist and this is an era of my sound that I’m taking my fans through, all part of a bigger collective journey, and this retro era is one where I’m giving my fans a taste of that current afro sound, lyrics & delivery infused and garnished with elements from the 70’s & 80’s giving them this amazing listening experience along with pleasurable nostalgia.
This sounds really special. One thing that makes your music special, is actually your approach & desire to experiment with funk & disco sounds, defying the gravity of regular Afrobeats. Can you briefly describe your composition process for RETROVERSE? How did it all come together?
Well for me it’s always the MUSIC. That is the most important thing and I always let the music lead. I was in the car one day and I was bumping daft punk’s album, it was around that time when they disbanded so I was just thinking of how cool it would sound if I could make a perfect blend of that disco retro sound with the current Gen Z Afrobeats spice and flavor.
It was just a random thought but it came to life in my recording camp. We were working and making bangers and on the final day of the camp I finally got to work with legend o! Dunnie, shoutout to her by the way.
The first song we made was Afrodisco, we both just knew it sounded special! So we just kept on linking and working, then we made taboo, Mr. Lover, Superstar, then Steph & I also made Ominirascal and it all just aligned.
On the track SUPERSTAR, you sang about your journey coming up to this point in your career. Can you tell us a bit about your musical background, how it all started for you and how you got this point?
Well it’s been a journey filled with ups and downs, but I’m very grateful for how far I’ve come. I grew up in Kainji, Niger state and I had little to no resource around me to break into the big stage and industry, it was tough and then losing my dad at a very early age made life a whole different experience for me, but like I said in the lyrics of the song I never stopped even when I was REPEATEDLY LOSING.
I just kept on picking myself up and doing my thing and I stuck with the vision and dream in my head. I started from playing the keyboard in church, and freestyling around town, doing street rap battles. I won my very first rap battle in Somolu when I came for a visit to see my aunt. In Uni I was the musical winner for Unilorin’s Got Talent Season 2 and that kind of gave me a fanbase in school that propelled my career too. I’ve just been grinding and working and I’m glad finally people are catching up to my amazing flavor of Afrobeats.
We’re happy that you’ve been able to actualize your dreams. At this point in your career where you’ve joined one of the leading music labels in Nigeria. What does success look like for you?
Well I would say at this point success for me would be my sound getting out there and actually connecting with my fans and making them feel good! That’s what the music is about and that’s the most important thing for me. I want my music crossing borders, I want to tour the world with amazing music for people to enjoy and connect with. I want to also have a fulfilling and comfortable life for myself.
You’ll surely reach that height! Now, It was a pleasure to see Dunnie as a major producer & vocalist on your project. How did the connection happen that made both of you work on three songs together, and what was the whole experience like?
The connection was amazing & it was just very organic! I’ve been a big fan of Dunnie even before we worked and I just told the team I had to work with her. Luckily she came through the last day of my recording camp and the bond and connection was instant! She’s awesome.
We love that connection! So what was the most difficult part about putting RETROVERSE together?
Well I believe that if the aura, the vibe, the mood is right, then nothing stops the art creation, I won’t say any part was difficult, every step of the journey had its purpose and I enjoyed every bit.
Enjoying the journey is a great feeling. We will like you to tell us three things about you that a lot people don’t know?
Here are a few; I’m big on gaming – I play Fortnite, Call of Duty, Apex Legends, Rocket league, Watch dogs, Fall Guys – so I love gaming and I do that in my free time.
Also, I’m a great cook! and I love to play Tennis
Interesting! We know you’re yet to collaborate with any artistes at the moment, but tell us, who are your top three Nigerian artistes you’d love to work with?
I’d like to work with Travis Scott, Wizkid and Gunna.
Big List. Finally, what’s one thing you’d like every listener to take out from RETROVERSE? What’s that message you’re passing across with your project?
I’d like every listener to listen to RETROVERSE and just get that “Afrobeats is really special” feeling, because it’s a lovely project and the retro elements make each track so unique , every song takes you on a ride , and I hope everyone that listens turn a fan.
We appreciate you for finding time to connect with us tonight on MaxChat, Major AJ. Congratulations on being a new member of the Chocolate City Music family. We wish you the best in your future musical endeavors as we keep streaming RETROVERSE. Have a lovely night!