The “blue man” was a character who danced alongside Beyoncé on Black Is King, but who is the man behind the hue?
In real life, Stephen Ojo who is more popular by the moniker “PAPI OJO” is Nigerian-American multi-hyphenate, artiste, actor, model and choreographer. Asides his big break dance alongside world popstar, Beyoncé, PAPI OJO also has credits with Wizkid, Janet Jackson, Rihanna, Teyana T and more… He is arguably Africa’s biggest dancer. Recently, #MaxChat caught up with him to have concersations sorrounding his art and personality. THe conversation went thus:
Good evening PAPI OJO. How’re you feeling tonight?
PAPI: I’m feeling blessed!!
First off, tell us a little about your background. What is your most vivid childhood memory from growing up in Nigeria?
PAPI: I was born and raised in Lagos Nigeria, completed my primary school and part of my secondary school in a school named Logic Prep. My most vivid childhood memory has be the Christmas party my family threw when I was 7! I had the best time of my life and the most food that day.
Now here’s one question everyone wants to know, is it true you were the one who taught Beyoncé how dance Gbese and Legwork? What was that whole experience like working with her?
PAPI: Yes oooo. It was I and my dance partner Caleb Bonney a.k.a Ghana Boii – the A.V.O Boyz who taught Beyoncé the gbese and leg work.
You first became popular as a dancer and choreographer. What made you decide to also start putting out your own music? Was there a special event? Or it came gradually?
PAPI: I had a moment of realization to go for what I really want. I have always wanted to put out music but I was afraid. In 2019 I decided to go all in.
“UNEXPECTED E.P” has been on a wave. It landed on Top 10 Apple Music album charts & debuted No. 1 on Ghanaian iTunes Top 100. You recently also celebrated over 500k streams, 13 weeks after release. How do you feel about this growing success as an artiste?
PAPI: I feel really great! I’m just glad I’m seeing growth in my artistry and fans! God is the greatest.
What’s your favourite track off your Unexpected E.P and why?
PAPI: My favorite tracks off the EP are Angelina and IF GOD. They are very true to the story of my life.
Are there any musicians who inspire you? What qualities do you admire about them?
PAPI: I’m really inspired by the Kizz Daniel, Wizkid, Burna Boy and the new generation artist like Rema, Oxlade and Fireboy.
Asides your music, what’s your favourite Music Album from Africa this year?
PAPI: I’m really jamming Big Wiz’s Made In Lagos right now.
As an actor, you’ve made appearances in some top movies including award-winning series ‘When They See Us’ & recently on the season finale of NBC’s Law and Order – Organized Crime. Should we expect to see you on lead roles in films anytime soon?
PAPI: I’m working on that! I’ve really invested time in taking private acting classes and I’m excited to see what God has in store for me.
Being someone who has worked with various International artistes as a dancer, a task that requires a lot talent and professionalism, which has been your most challenging experience?
PAPI: I wouldn’t say any of them were too challenging but when I was on the Black is King project I missed seeing my family.
Tell us three things about you nobody knows?
PAPI: the first one is that I have a deep snake phobia. Second, I’m scared of heights, sort of. and third, I love watching anime!!!!
Final question before we let you go. Being a creative that has been involved in all major parts of the entertainment industry, what is the biggest problem you’ve encountered in your journey as an entertainer?
PAPI: The biggest one will be the one I’m facing now which is to get people to see that I’m a creative and not just a dancer! I love the arts. singing modeling, Dancing, acting etc. are part of the things that make me who I am and I can’t be boxed into one.
Thank your to finding time to speak with us. We are extremely grateful! We wish you the best of luck in all your endeavors in the entertainment industry.
Follow up with PAPI OJO’s creative journey through his Social Media Page
Photography: Leonard Okpor
Creative Direction: Josef Adamu
Image and Creative production: Sunday School
Make Up Artist: Nikolaevna
Conversation powered by: Maxtreme Hq
Article Editor: Eni-ibukun J.T (XIII June)