New school cats trapped in the fantasies of the past, music duo, Ajebo Hustlers Gang is fusing the feel good sounds of Nigerian Konto, Highlife and Afrobeat music to tell real life stories.
The Ajebo Hustlers Gang is a pair of privileged kids – Knowledge and Piego – who decided to live outside the bounds of their comfortable upbringings to experience life for themselves. The results of their adventure is what is documented in their music.
The dotting difference in their sound has attracted the likes of Yung6ix, Suspekt, Kayswitch and many others to trade verses with them.
In this interview, the duo Knowledge and Piego detail their journey into music, what sets them apart and their forthcoming project, New School Oldies.
Q: What is the Ajebo Hustlers Gang?
Knowledge: Ajebo Hustlers is a gang of Ajebos (privileged people) that decided to be hustlers. We are two guys – Knowledge and Piego that grew up from a very good area [Old GRA: A residential area] in Port Harcourt but decided to be hustlers.
Knowledge is the rapper and Piego is the singer and hook master.
Q: How Did You Guys Meet?
Knowledge: (Laughs) – Mehn, we’ve been together for a very long time.
Q: (Interrupts) How long is a ‘long time’?
Knowledge: I think it should be like seven years or eight years – when we decided to hustle after we were done with our secondary school. We met at a restaurant where we were working in Port Harcourt. I told him [Piego] that; dude I’m a musician – this is my job and he said he does the same thing that I should come to his studio. That was how we started making songs and figured we were compatible.
Q: When Do You Guys Officially Become a Duo?
Knowledge: We made it official when we dropped Bole and Fish remix – that was in 2015.
Q: What is the ‘Bole and Fish’ song About?
Piego: Bole and Fish is the most popular and celebrated dish from Port Harcourt where we come from and Rivers State had always been in the news for all the wrong reasons like cultism and political related crises so we felt it would be good for us to portray the beauty of Port Harcourt so that’s how the song came about. Actually, Knowledge came up with the concept and I thought it was razz initially.
Q: (Cuts In) Did it cause a bit of an argument before you guys agreed to make the record?
Piego: No, not really. I’m the type that likes to try out other people’s ideas and stay open to every option so even if I’m not cool with something, I can still experiment on it and see how it turns out.
Q: How Would You Describe Your Style Of Music
Piego: We call our music ‘katakata music’ [katakata is a pidgin term which can be interpreted as scattered all over]. It is a fusion of many influences – Afrobeat, Highlife and different genres of music. We are basically bent on the content of the music which strongly reflects our African roots.
Q: What sets your Music apart from other Nigerian Pop sounds?
Piego: A lot! Our topics are really different, our titles and everything about our music is really different.
Knowledge: The content is different. If we decide to sing about any subject matter, we do a lot of thinking and ensure that the message is properly delivered. We try to always avoid cliche sounds and methods of delivery.
Q: What audience does your style of music appeal to?
Piego: We really appeal to everyone. Our contents can be consumed by individuals from all works of life because it is quite comprehensible. The old, the young, the rich and the kids on the streets can consume it.
Q: You have a remix for ‘Bole and Fish’ with Suspekt. How did the collaboration happen?
Knowledge: Yes, that was some time in 2015. Big T [founder of Graftons record] made it happen. He likes a lot of our content and he was like ‘Mehn what do you think about putting Suspekt on this record?’ And we were like we are down because we are also fans of Suspekt because while growing up, I listened to a lot of songs by Suspekt – the one he did with Rooftop MCs and a couple of his songs. Also, Suspekt comes from the south [Cross River] so he already knew about the Bole and Fish dish and that made it easy for him to fit into the record.
Q: Are you guys still resident in Port Harcourt?
Knowledge: No we’ve moved to Lagos
Q: What is the difference between the Lagos and Port Harcourt industry and how has the acceptance been?
Piego: It’s really different. Lagos is a larger market and breaking-in in Lagos is a different ball game. In Port Harcourt it is not really hard to break into the system. But so far, the reception has been nice because our music is self-explanatory so it stands out.
Q: What is your typical creative process? Does the hook have to be ready before the rap verse or otherwise?
Piego: No it’s spontaneous anything can happen. Don’t be surprised if you hear me rap on some songs (Laughs)
Q: Do you think the mainstream audience is ready for your style of music?
Knowledge: Yeah they are overly ready because the day we put out our recent single [‘Sophisticated Iyawo’], Terry Apala’s management reached out to us and said they really love the song. People have also made videos on social media vibing to the song. We are just looking at reaching out to a larger audience and to have these people call us, then I think the world is ready.
Q: Can you give us some inside details on the inspiration behind ‘Sophisticated Iyawo’ and what the song is really all about?
Piego: ‘Sophisticated Iyawo’ was produced by Orlando Magic – the same guy that produced our song (‘Buruku’) with Kayswitch. It’s just a feel good song for the ladies – we are in a time where there are so many reports of violence against women and all that – so ‘Sophisticated Iyawo‘ aims at making the ladies feel great. Even if you’re a guy who has a special woman, you can still vibe to the song.
Q: What is the challenge of making music as a group?
Piego: There is really no challenge. I don’t think we have any challenges because we are pretty much alike; we share same views and we have a similar interest. We are just really ready for the mainstream – we can’t wait to let world hear what we have coming in our EP.
Q: Would you like to share more details on the forthcoming EP?
Knowledge: Yes, the project would be titled ‘New School Oldies’. It will take a retrospective approach and detail the narrative of someone that has been there before but relatively new in the eyes of people. The EP would be dropping before the end of this year and we have Yung6ix, Soma, Terry Apala, Major Bankz and other surprises on the project.
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