#NWDTalks Special: Before the Encore with Ajani

Ajani is a successful singer, songwriter and entrepreneur who event tonight (#AjaniLive) is taking centre stage at Boxpark Croydon with special guests such as Levelle London, Lionheart and Tinyman. However, this is not just to celebrate Ajani’s EP release, amongst these uber talented young men is unity and brotherhood. They have come together to bring the larger platform #MOCSI (a small charitable initiative) to highlight the achievements of some young men from communities across London through their music. NWD managed to  sit down the Ajani (who also has a 4 piece band) to speak on what Ajani really means, manhood, the importance of MOCSI and what we can expect from tonight’s performance.

1. What’s the meaning behind the name Ajani?

The name is of Yoruba origin and it means “He who wins the struggle”, I chose this name for myself back in 2008 when I hit a short spell of depression. Most of my family and I are originally from Zimbabwe and when we moved here in 1998 we were undocumented for close to 11 years, when I was a child it didn’t matter but as I became an adult I started to see the struggle because getting an education was a challenge, getting a job was impossible and nothing I was doing seemed to be paying off. I saw the name somewhere on the internet and at first, I just liked the sound of it but after looking it up and learning it’s meaning, I was empowered to use that as a way to keep my spirits up in the belief that a day like today would come. I call myself Ajani as a representation of every person who is fighting a battle and sometimes feels like there’s no hope, I only got my papers in 2009 but I’ve worked my behind off to be able to do what I do today.

2. Who is Ajani and describe his sound in three words.

Ajani is a warrior, a champion for the people and a lover of life. I would describe myself as resilient, passionate and effective.

3. What is your definition of manhood in today modern society?

My personal definition of manhood is quite simple, living honestly. Be able to tell myself the truth about myself and being accountable for my actions, we live in the age of the facade and I’m not out here trying to fool anyone. I’m okay with making mistakes because I learn from them and I don’t mind confronting myself about the dumb decisions I make sometimes. Manhood is about being authentic but to most people, it seems to be about creating a plausible yet somewhat false image of oneself – I can’t get with that. I’m just me and I like me.

4. Men’s mental health has been a much-needed highlight across the world, as the epidemic of male suicide is truly tragic. Do you believe that if men could gain additional help to balance their emotions, stresses of life with a healthy mentality, that this could reduce the high number of men taking their own lives, or be slipping into depression?

Yes, we need help with addressing our feelings and experiences and that is a mission I have personally taken a role in. I have an initiative called “One Promise” and it’s all about inspiring men to change their lives through talking things through and making one simple promise that leads to total transformation and self-realisation.

5. How did you and #MOCSI get together on this amazing lineup?

It started with a dinner that Kelly K (founder of #MOCSI) had in January, some phone conversations followed and the idea for this lineup was born. It was very organic and the pieces came together very naturally.

6. ‘The Path of Ratchetousness’, an interesting name to call your piece of work. What’s the inspiration behind the album’s title?

The inspiration behind calling my EP “The Path of Ratcheousness” was the realisation that no matter what you do in the name of doing the right thing, it can sometimes bite you in the back and cause a serious shake-up sometimes. That slip and fall can cause the more ratchet and zero f%#€s to come out and there are parts of the side of you that will never go away. So as long as you keep a righteous mentality and you embrace who you are, ratchetness and all you become ratcheous. It’s the best non-perfect but still epic version of yourself.

7. Is this EP leading to a compilation of work in the future, possibly an album, more singles or EPs?

I’m an all around creative, this EP might lead to anything for me, a documentary, an album or even another book! Who knows? I’m going with the flow, that’s the beauty of independence – the story unfolds how I say it should.

8. Would you say your sound is a spin of common alternative soul/R&B with a mix of your Zimbabwean roots?

That’s a good phrase, I describe my sound more simply as “honest music” while the statement above is true for now there’s no telling where my sound goes from here genre-wise.

9. Tonight you have a host of artists supporting you at your live show at Boxpark Croydon. What can the audience expect from Ajani?

Audiences can expect to have fun, sing along and to be inspired. It’s a varied show laced with positive energy from every performer so people can also expect to feel uplifted too, it’s also reflective so people can expect to even learn something about themselves. I’m excited about the impact it will have.

Limited tickets are still available via making a donation click HERE and we will see you all tonight.

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