In the pulsating heart of Nigeria’s thriving music scene, a rising artist known as TDB is making waves with his distinctive blend of RapFroBeats. In a candid interview with Morebranches, TDB, whose real name is Ayodeji Balogun (no relation to Wizkid), opens up about his journey and his latest single, “Save My Soul,” a mesmerizing collaboration with the talented Dwin the Stoic.
First things first, what does it feel like to have the same name as Wizkid ‘Ayodeji Balogun’?
TDB: To be honest, I hate that comparison. I just hate that whenever I say my government name everyone goes like ‘wizzy wizzy wizzy’ or I go on the web and search for my name and it’s all Wizkid. But I’ve learned that it’s not a bad thing to be associated with someone great. I guess I was born to do this. So yeah, it is what it is!
You have featured on two separate projects since the beginning of the year. The Experiment and Love in the Trenches?
TDB: So The Xperiment wasn’t necessarily my project. It was an X3M Music project, I just happened to be one of the artistes who featured on all the songs hahaha. Love in the Trenches is my own solo work.
Is there a story behind Love in the Trenches? I’m curious.
TDB: Well…I’d say it’s a broke guy’s perspective of love and I believe that’s what a lot of people can relate to. From the first song Born Sinner— a guy promises this babe heaven and earth, even when all he’s got in his account is just 2K. But you know how it is, you just have to say what she wants to hear. Most times, for the guys it’s just for the sex, and for the babes it’s material exchange. Then Spiritual, which is mostly erotic poetry, we get to Talking Stage and then there was If To Say, which is about the guy owning the fact that he is broke and if only he had bar (Nigerian lingo for money), he’d be able to get his girl back. Questions is about trying to get back into the talking stage, more like closure; the whole process of convincing and reassuring, and then there’s Monalisa which is a feel-good song and the perfect ending.
Were these events or scenarios by any chance inspired by real-life activities?
TDB: *laughs* I plead the fifth!
What’s your earliest memory of music?
TDB: I was born into a family that enjoyed and still enjoys music. We went from morning devotions to my siblings and me learning one musical instrument or the other. I play the piano and my brother plays the sax. At some point, we all joined the church choir. I played the drums too. In secondary school, it continued with boys drumming on the tables and everyone coming forward to spit their bars. It was all just cruise then till I got to university because I was surrounded by a lot of music heads, it was easy to pick it up as a thing.
Your style of music is quite unique and you have dubbed it as RapFroBeats. What are some of the genres that influenced this sound? It definitely sounds like something with substance.
TDB: I listened to Nigerian rap from way back, talk of Ruggedy Baba, 2Shotz and the likes. I used to memorize their lyrics. I had the 2Face and P-Square era too. With each phase came its own signature sound. I was into NeYo, Usher and co one time too. Then I used to imagine that someday I’d be on track with these people, so I pre-wrote my own verses.
My earliest ‘IT music memory funny enough was with Boogey. I heard him rap on ‘Ridiculous’ and it was absolutely ridiculous. I wanted to be like him so bad. There’s Falz, M.I., Ladi Poe, and definitely Show Dem Camp because a lot of people say I sound like Ghost. Basically, I just picked one or two things from these influences and created my own lane.
When did you start music professionally?
TDB: The year 2021. I had written a song on my first project called ‘White Lies’ and when I sent it to a couple of people, they started asking me if it was a true life story. So I decided to tell the story from the beginning. This inspired my first project ‘Deja Vu’ but my first release was a song called ‘Lori Iro’, I was jumping on the trend in mid-2021.
So much is growing up in Lagos as regards being a cultural melting point, would you say your style of music is birthed from experiences growing up and your environment.?
TDB: Of course. I grew up in Gbagada. Ifako boy to the core; before I started moving around Lagos and then Yaba at the beginning go my adulthood. I believe music is a function of things you absorb and we express these things in how we write or create. There was Tanana on ‘The Xperiment’ project and ‘Voice of the People’ which was about #EndSars. I try to take my own personal experiences or things I hear people say. Twitter has inspired a lot of songs for me. I take time to look at what people are saying or what’s trending and I get inspired to create magic.
So let’s talk about your latest single ‘Save My Soul’ with Dwin the Stoic
TDB: Yes! This is about someone a guy who’s been in search of love for the longest without realizing that the one thing he has been looking for was right in front of him. Now he has to do the work of convincing this butterfly that she’s really the one for him.
I repeat again, these stories sound very specific or you’re still going to plead the fifth?
TDB: But to be honest, a couple of people who have listened to my upcoming project have agreed that this is my best work so far. Save My Soul is a sneak peek into what I have coming. Dwin the Stoic and I came together to do justice to it and Grandmaster came through with the production.
This was a very smooth collaboration, especially because Dwin is a very good friend and there was no negative energy at all from start to finish. It was also funny because I was expecting him to do just a verse or a chorus but he ended up doing both. It’s so different from anything people have heard me do, and this really portrays my style; as much as I want to own my niche, I also want to be versatile and explore new territories.
How do you see your music growth so far and where do you see yourself in the near future?
TDB: In 2021 when I was new, my first release was cruise. I just wanted to show people that I could do it, there was no deeper thinking to it. I also hate mediocrity so after putting it out, I started learning from my mistakes ahead of the next release. I was eventually able to build a community of producers and mixing engineers that I work it. They believe in my sound and they’ve been supportive so far.
My manager Dafe has also come through, even though we fight a lot. Surrounding myself with the right set of people has really helped me. Even though am not a fan of vanity metrics the numbers and feedback I get push me to do better and believe strongly in myself.
Who are you looking to work with in the future?
For rap in Nigeria, Falz and Ladi Poe have a special place in my heart. But in general, I still want to work with Simi, Teni, Fave and BNXN. These guys speak to me with their music. But of course, I’m open to working with any other person. I’m definitely not proud. Listen to my music, share my music, and buy the TDB dip, we’re definitely coming up.
STREAM ‘SAVE MY SOUL’ BY TDB FT DWIN THE STOIC ON ALL STREAMING PLATFORMS HERE.