#UpNext: Ajonii building a bridge between old and new dancehall

Up-and-coming dancehall and reggae artiste Ajonii is walking in his purpose. He was born into dancehall, with his cousin being the late dancing legend, Gerald “Bogle” Levy.

With this influence, Ajonii took up music while in the 7th grade at Calabar High School and never looked back. Being around others who were also heavily influenced by music, he created an entertainment group with Roots percussionist Hector Lewis which consisted of artistes, dancers, art and drama.

“Coming out of primary school I was like the champion boy from me start until me leave so I passed for Calabar and people knew my family because of Bogle and when I transitioned to high school it was the same thing. I wasn’t recording in primary school but I would sing songs that people like Beenie man and Buju Banton created because I would see these people and I would be around family members of other artistes too so we used to always a sing those songs,” he explained.

“I wasn’t writing my own lyrics until high school when me and Hector Lewis - we were best friends in high school- started a music group called Rabalac Clique and we start singing and dancing and it became big on YouTube. After that I just continued voicing in studio and I was around the game where so many others were in music as well. Me couldn’t escape music,” the artiste said.

Now, the 31-year-old, whose given name is Adjoni Sacrlett, says he is ready to take over the music industry because he has worked on his craft and nurtured it over the years. And he plans to do this by bringing the things that represent him to the industry.

The artiste also asserted that the sound associated with this new generation of dancehall, called ‘Trap Dancehall’, is due to his and music producer Blizzi’s influence. He stated that he was one of the first people to create that sound which resulted in a collaboration with dancehall stalwart, Major Mackerel.

“Me and Blizzi just did a do music and we created this sound. We shared it with some people and they came out with it and they even gave it a name by calling it “Trap Dancehall”. Whole heap of people don’t even know that the sound that you are hearing is from my producer,” Ajonii said.

“I even have a song with Major Mackerel called ‘Body Drop’ that was released maybe five years ago and you can hear that type of sound in it. Major Mackerel heard it as a veteran and love it,” the artiste continued.

Though he says he is of the new generation of dancehall, Ajonii describes himself as the bridge between the old and the new due to his affiliation with those who would have helped to mold the genre, and the lessons he learnt from them.

With both influences, Ajonii is fully equipped to do well in music and achieve his goals. It is already evident through the feedback he receives from his fans. Two fan favourites are ‘Money Heist’ and ‘Dollabetic’ which will be on his soon-to-be-released EP. The reactions of his fans come across as encouragement for the artiste who stated that he wants to do music that resonates with listeners.

“‘Money Heist’ and ‘Dollabetic’ are going good and a fan message me encouraging me to keep doing what I am doing. It is reaching people because they are even using the “Dollabetic” term. I am not trying to do the one day, two day, and two week music. I want my music to resonate and last so that whether is a teenager or a 50-year-old you can listen my song dem because me teach in my music,” Ajonii explained.

The artiste, whose songs can be found on YouTube and other streaming platforms, added that he also has a growing fan base in Africa as his songs are being played on radio stations in Uganda with plans in place to go further in that market.

When asked why he decided to take on music and not dance given his familial connection, Ajonii explained that while he can dance he loves to use music as the means through self-expression. He added that he also writes poetry and has put on poetry shows as well. Added to this he is in the process of writing a book titled ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ which will narrate his life in Arnett Gardens, also called Jungle.

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