Beyoncé’s visual album, Black is King has taken over social media and sparked conversations of both praise and criticism, but one thing cannot be overlooked: the young man painted in blue from head to toe dancing alongside her.
The man underneath the paint is Papi Ojo, the 22-year-old Nigerian-born artist, actor, model, and choreographer. With accomplishments including performances with Rihanna, Janet Jackson, Teyana Taylor, Davido, and others Papi Ojo is building on his tremendous momentum by preparing for his new single, “Beremole,” to be released on August 7th, 2020. “Music came first and then dancing,” he said when discussing his two passions, “but they go hand in hand.” His initial hesitancy to put out his music changed when he realized that taking a chance on himself was worth the try. Following his first single, “Awelewa,” which came out last year, “Beremole,” the Yoruba word for “get down” or “boogie-down” is a reminder of what many of us have been missing while stuck inside during quarantine: partying with our friends and enjoying ourselves. The visuals and clips on his Instagram of the music video bring together bright colors, intimate dance moves, and high energy– the perfect culmination of an unforgettable summer fete.
When discussing his musical process, Ojo notes the importance of connecting with the beat of the song before the lyrics flow. “My goal is to make a song that I personally feel, so my audience, my fans, can feel the emotions I’m trying to portray.” Switching between working collaboratively and independently, Ojo takes prides in ensuring his audience can sense his genuine connection to the music. While COVID-19 made securing a music video location difficult, Ojo and his team were able to film safely to add another song to his discography.
The recent attention he’s gained from his role in Black is King adds fuel to his motivation to further his career not only as a dancer, but as an actor and artist; Papi Ojo has only just begun to show his fans what he’s capable of achieving in the music industry and “Beremole” is a reflection of that. In response to those who may see him solely as a dancer, Ojo replied, “I’ve never liked that idea…I genuinely love what I do, and I genuinely love expressing my talents.” The connection Ojo has to his music is integral to the relationship he builds with his fans: “My goal is to cater to my fans…the fire is going to catch, it’s going to circulate and everybody’s going to hop on the wave; it just takes patience…”
The excitement on his face and in his voice was clear as he spoke about this new project and with all the opportunities coming his way, he understands the importance of taking things day by day and staying dedicated to creating daily.
In a moment when all eyes are on him, Ojo says his motivation is focused on the generations after him. When he doubts himself, he remembers the interactions he’s had with children from his church, family friends, and strangers who tell him how much of an inspiration he is to them. “If I’m inspiring other people, then I have to stay strong for them and stay strong for myself. I want to keep being that inspiration for people.”