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“Music Is a Spiritual Thing”: An Interview with Ajebo Hustlers

The Nigerian duo Ajebo Hustlers make tunes to refresh the spirit. They break down their sound for Audiomack World.

This article previously appeared on Audiomack World.

Ajebo Hustlers—the Afrobeats duo of Piego, the singer, and Knowledge, the rapper—made a timely splash in 2020. The group’s sociopolitical single “Barawo” became the de facto anthem for the End SARS protests in Nigeria. The relevance of the song earned them a remix with, and cosign from, superstar Davido.

Piego and Knowledge, who originally met by fate at a catering business, have not looked back since. Hit single “Pronto,” with 16 million streams on Audiomack, featuring fellow Port Harcourt native Omah Lay, and an impressive debut album (Kpos Lifestyle Vol. 1) have helped Ajebo Hustlers become a fixture in the Afrobeats scene.

Ajebo Hustlers has made a quick, but lasting, impression because their sound is distinctly different from the Lagos style of pop music. The colorful way they infuse slang from Port Harcourt and their blend of rap and Afrobeats go against the Afropop grain.

“When the song is a conversation it sticks,” Piego says. “If the song is just a good song with a good melody, then it comes and it goes. But when it is a conversation like ‘Barawo,’ then it triggers discussions among people who listen.”


More than anything, though, Ajebo Hustlers is in it for legacy and to prove themselves. “It is really hard to make it out of Port Harcourt,” Knowledge tells Audiomack World. “It is hard to impress people in the city, too. You have to be on your toes because people over there listen to dope music.” With a new EP being mixed and mastered, the duo is primed to take themselves out of PH and into the global conversation.

The two of you met at a catering business. Do you think it was luck or fate that it happened?

Piego: I think it is by fate because I can remember when I told my former colleague at the catering business that I make music. He told me about his friend with whom he was schoolmates and how the guy also makes dope music. He said he would like for me to meet him. One day when he had an outdoor catering event, that’s where I met Knowledge for the first time. He played me some of his records and I said they were dope.

I invited him over to the studio and we went back and forth playing music. My guys were really feeling him. We just became friends and started making music together.

How did you guys come into contact with music individually before meeting each other?

Piego: For me, I grew up in the church and used to sing in the church too. When I was a lot younger, they would always tell me to come and sit in front of the church or hold the mic. I never understood why. I thought probably my mum was special in church or she was an usher or something. I didn’t realize I had a good voice.

I later realized that people like it whenever I sing. I was rapping first until I met Knowledge. He told me I would make a better singer and that’s when I started singing.

Knowledge: Growing up, my uncles would play reggae music. Also, one of my uncles loved playing Tupac. I think that is where the hip-hop influence came from. I used to have this cool friend back in secondary school. He was like the coolest guy back then. He loved playing JAY-Z’s albums in school. It was from there I really got hooked.

How do you balance the different styles of rapping and singing?

Knowledge: We are always intentional about our records, and most times we are not just trying to rap or sing all over the record. We are all about sending a message and being comical about it. We are very intentional.

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What was it like doing music in the beginning?

Knowledge: When we were pushing our solo records, people knew we were good individually but everyone felt there was something missing. Whenever we made a song together, we noticed people went crazy. From the feedback, we knew we were compatible and it worked like that.

You describe your music as “katakata” music. What does that mean?

Piego: That’s something we came up with. Our music is a touch of different genres. Today, we can hop on an Amapiano song and tell a story on it. Katakata music is just a blend of different genres.

Your big break was “Barawo,” a single that touched on police brutality and government corruption. What was the inspiration behind such a conscious record?

Piego: Honestly, it really wasn’t intentional. We didn’t set out to make a conscious record. It was just one of those ideas we got from vibing in the studio and laying out an idea. We made the song in December 2019 in Port Harcourt. It was just us experimenting. We created an idea, it came out nice and people loved it.

How did you guys feel seeing the viral clips of your song being played at the protest grounds?

Piego: It was a blessing to have a huge impact on such an important moment in our lives. We have never seen Nigerians united like that before and having such a powerful song that could really explain how people felt at that point in time. It was a blessing to be in that position.


Most of your songs have strong messages even though they are pop-based. Why is content so important to you guys?

Knowledge: Music is a spiritual thing. When I was growing up, I think music educated me more than school. It has always been a part of my philosophy to educate the next man.

We want to be the voice of the streets. We want our songs to be landmarks for people when growing up. We want them to look back on their childhood and remember that “Barawo” was the song that was everywhere.

What is the meaning of Kpos Lifestyle?

Piego: Kpos Lifestyle is a way of life. It represents our journey. We come from Port Harcourt and not a lot of people make it out from there to the mainstream market if we are being sincere.

For you to make it out of Port Harcourt into the big scene, you have to be strong and persevere. You have to be strong every day. That’s what Kpos Lifestyle means: perseverance, positivity, and pushing forward despite the obstacles. And making the most out of life.

By Ayomide Tayo for Audiomack



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