Kemka Ajoku


Lolu Is Bringing Everyone With Him

July 28, 2023

In my AFROPUNK debut, I penned a piece on the importance of art. In my time since then, a lot of my work has explored the relationship between community and art and Lolu sits at this intersection. To know Lolu is to have and be in community. ‘The people that gave me a chance, I’m forever grateful to them’ and throughout our conversation, he takes the time to thank those that left doors open and offered seats at the table. His practice as an artist lies in his ability to create unique experiences, sounds that showcase his evolution while honoring the support systems that have contributed to his journey. For AFROPUNK, this is Lolu’s story.

Photo credit: Kemka Ajoku / Fashion credits: Common Studios & Bonds

This Is Lolu

A Nigerian DJ, producer and audio engineer, Lolu contains multitudes. ‘An entertainer, a crowd controller and a sonic visionary’, Lolu is exploring the sounds of Nigeria, the diaspora and documenting the global music of Black artists. Over the past few years he has worked with Guap magazine, No signal radio, BBC1xtra, Reprezent radio, NTS Radio, Native Sound System and Show Dem Camp to name a few. These huge feats are not lost on him at all, he’s aware of his talent. ‘‘I can mix. I can mix songs that ordinarily should not sound well together. I’m genre-bending.’ This pride in his craft does not exist in isolation but instead reflects his experience and the village it took to get this far. 

One such example is DJ Honcho who offered Lolu a skill share opportunity as a destressor. ‘He gave me decks to use and from then I started practicing. I was on Youtube from 9am till 4pm.’ This dedication led to a moment in 2019, Lolu’s first ever set, an opportunity presented at a talent show hosted by a friend, Tsemaye. This was strongly encouraged by his manager at the time, Olegwa. ‘Honestly she was very influential for the start of my career. Encouraging and pushing me, organizing gigs, planning content etc.’ Only a few sets into his career, he met Fasina. ‘I was like oh my God, I love 5 star. He loved my set and asked me to DJ at his show that day.’ Moments like this instilled confidence and forged connections within the music scene and beyond it. ‘I was reaching out to promoters, playing at uni’s and then I branched into radio.’ He thanks Tire for his introduction and first gig with No Signal. Native Sound System for NTS Radio and Paid Hub. ‘There would be no DJ Lolu without my support system’ and there would be no Lolu without the phases and places passed along the way. He recalls the growth from friends who became collaborators and teachers, like Konde Oko and  Yinka Bernie and a wider approach to music making through Higo ‘an altè legend in the game’, TSE, Le Mav and Dare.

Photo credit: Kemka Ajoku / Fashion credits: Common Studios & Bonds

Lagos: Placemaking, Homecoming And Sounds Of The Diaspora

There’s a reason there’s so much buzz around Nigeria. For those in the know, it’s not necessarily new but it is exciting to see this play out in a global arena. Music transcends and ‘Naij music is irresistible. It bridges the gap between times, cultures and places.’ Nigerian music right now is not only dominating international charts, but also a sure connector particularly at a time where there’s so much disconnect. In the past few years especially as we find our way from COVID and lockdown, there’s a real thirst for discovery. An attempt to regain the experiences that were lost to us for 2 years. People who want to be inside and outside are ultimately comforted by the experiences of music and there’s a lot being released right now. Lolu, like many others navigating creative careers, is still finding ways to hold his own. And so far, he’s doing pretty well. A lot of this continuous strive comes from transparency and support. A lot of us are really just trying to get by and do the things we want to do in the ways we can and Lolu is no exception. 

For the past year and a half, Lolu has been a member of 44DB, a Lagos based producer collective founded by Tochi Bedford. 44DB is ‘a hub for creativity’ fostering a community and network in a bid to provide support and highlight the barriers that producers face. ‘We’re trying to rewrite the game’ and this game is directly connected to home; Lagos. Born in Lagos, Lolu carries the city and the vastness of the Nigerian music experience with him. ‘Lagos is home and everything starts at home. From the type of music I listen to, the type of music I make, the type of music that I want to put people on to, it’s music from home.’ It’s these sounds from the country and the wider African experience that served as a bridge and helped Lolu acclimatize to a new experience at a pivotal age. Today, if you ask Lolu about the music he makes, it’s an amalgamation of genres ‘compressed into a new sound. This could not have happened without strong roots.’

This is one way of paying homage to Lagos and platforming the altè scene that’s infused into a lot of his sounds. The wide support of altè in Lagos has resulted in strong bridges and connections to the diaspora. Ultimately, Lolu is part of a bigger placemaking and homemaking initiative connecting continental sounds and experiences with the larger global diaspora. 

Photo credit: Kemka Ajoku / Fashion credits: Common Studios & Bonds

What’s next?

The world is literally Lolu’s oyster and he plans to amplify the scope and expanse of altè music. He’s coming for Boiler Room sets, festivals and any opportunity to showcase his skillset and create a larger community.  ‘I’ve had my building phase. I’ve been doing my rounds, racking up my 10,000 hours. I can back myself to deliver 11 times out of 10. It’s time to give people the Lolu experience on a consistent basis.’ You can check out Lolu’s latest here.

Lolu’s Afropunk Stage

This year, AFROPUNK Brooklyn’s theme is Circus of Soul. We’re amplifying the wide range of sounds by Black artists across the diaspora and uniting the wider AP community. As we spotlight the work and talents of Lolu, his commitment to and fostering a community based practice, this is Lolu’s Afropunk Stage. Artists to check out include Asake, Somadina, Rema, 234Jaydaa, Amaarae and more. 


Photography: Kemka Ajoku 

Fashion: Common Studios & Bonds