Ayo Jay, the artist behind the hit song, “Your Number,” featuring Fetty Wap (and recently remixed featuring Chris Brown and Kid Ink), recently spoke with RESPECT. about his upcoming plans as an artist, prospective collaborations, the Afro-Pop music industry and more. Growing up with strict parents may have been hard for Ayo Jay, but a move to New York for school gave him just the boost he needed to practice his artistry in a more free environment. The self proclaimed, Boy Wonder, has a lot more in store than some may think, and in the next few years we’ll definitely be hearing a lot more about Ayo Jay, internationally and across more than one genre, for sure.
RESPECT.: Do you have any projects in the works?
Ayo Jay: Yes, definitely, I’m working on my first album. I don’t have a release date yet. Hopefully it’ll come out this year, but I’m definitely working on the album.
What’s your creative process for creating new music?
Well, most times I like to work by myself. Of course I have some people I vibe well with, but for the most part I don’t like to be distracted. When I hear the instrumental or the beat that I like, I literally just sit down and freestyle the and write, I try to do all of that by myself (the composing and writing), then I’ll go to the studio with my engineer and record. Sometimes I vibe with other people but most times I go for it by myself.
Who are some of your inspirations in music?
Growing up, I used to listen to people like Usher, Akon, and T Pain. I listened to rappers like Tupac. You know, like late 90s, early 2000s.
How do you bring your Nigerian culture into your music?
Well definitely the first thing you hear when you listen to any of my songs is my accent. When I write I always try to incorporate my local languages into my music. Also, in the videos or at shows I like incorporate the fashion aspect. Nigeria is very fashion savvy so I try to put in a lot of the attire that people wear. So lyrically, I like to add Nigerian lyrics and the other big aspect is the fashion; I wear my Nigerian clothes, and African attire.
Where do you see yourself in a year?
In a year, I definitely think my album will be out. I’ll definitely be working with a lot more associated people because they’ll be a lot more familiar with Ayo Jay, a lot more familiar with the music I make. So more growth in my body of work, especially in a year, with my album, and I’ll most likely be on tour like right after the album drops.
I wanna so singing and performing for the next ten to fifteen years then after that i really want to get more into songwriting. I want to be able to help all of the young people become something.
You said you vibe pretty well when you write with certain people, who are some of the artists that you want to collaborate with?
Definitely Chris Brown, I really like him because he’s an overall talent. Anon, Beyoncé and Rihanna as well, I think I would do a great job with a lot of female artists. I think our styles would complement each other a lot, and Drake, he’s definitely an artists I’m really liking right now, I would jump at the opportunity to work with him.
How do you think a song with Rihanna would go? The Caribbean and Afro culture would be dope together!
Since Rihanna is from the islands and I’m from Africa, there are already a lot of similarities between our cultures, even the music sound. I feel like either a dancehall vibe or an afro beats vibe would work, it would come out right either way because the culture and music is already very similar.
When did you realize you wanted to be an artist?
In the late 90s and early 2000s I was still in Nigeria, I wasn’t making music then. My parents were really strict so I never thought about being a musician. I left Nigeria for New York, for school, I left when I was 17, I was more free. I had more freedom to do the things that I wanted to do. I think my second year in college I started trying to write, reach out to producers and create my own music. In a better sense, in 2010, I started trying to be an artist.
What do you think separates you from other Afro-Pop artists?
Definitely my song writing style. A lot of Afro-Pop artists focus on the beat, I like to focus on the lyrics. I try to make the lyrics very internationally. So all the people across the world, internationally can know my music.
Make sure to keep up with Ayo Jay by following him on Twitter.
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