Creating Music Straight From The Heart

“Creating Music Straight From The Heart”

Ajani NaNaBuluku was born in Tallahassee, Florida, August 31,1994, but he has spent most of his life growing up in the Atlanta Metro area.  His name states his destiny.  Ajani comes from the Yoruba language of Nigeria, which means, “One who gains possession after a struggle. ” His last name comes from the Dahomey tribe of Benin, which means, “God ultimate power”.

Together his name simply states, “One who gains possession after a struggle is god ultimate power.”  With a name this powerful Ajani is destined to take what is rightfully his and put a new face on any genre of music he chooses.

Ajani was never your ordinary baby, child and now young man.  Music moved him differently than most people, before Ajani could walk or talk, he was a musical experience waiting to happen. He would listen to music with the intensity of a musician waiting to dissect the very essence of its purpose.  Ajani’s passion for music, no matter what genre, was evident; this kid didn’t just wantmusic, he needed it.  Music became Ajani’s refuse, his natural space.  Ajani picked up polyrhythm and different tones before he was able to speak or stand on his own two feet. By the time he was three he was playing drums. Who new that one day he would move onto the piano/keyboard?

At 7yrs of age the piano/keyboard was Ajani’s progression. The piano allowed Ajani to translate a lot of the music he heard on the radio, cds and in his head into a tangible sound that he could control.  Shortly after his love for the piano surfaced he began taking classical piano lessons from the late Elonzy Ogletree.  Ajani excelled but classical piano wasn’t rhythmic enough to keep his attention, so he started creating original melodies on the piano.  This led to Ajani getting the opportunity to record an EP entitled “Freedom Song” produced by Ajani, his father and renown producer/MC Tahir RBG (dead prez, the roots, etc…).  “Freedom Song” was a concept album that spoke to Ajani’s desire to connect his knowledge of his African heritage to all of the social ills he understood as a ten year old.  It also awarded him the chance to perform in many different venues in the Atlanta Metro Area as well as the Southeast.  In 2007 he was invited personally to perform at the National Black Theatre Festival by its founder Larry Leon Hamilton.  Mr. Hamilton stated that after hearing Ajani’s EP he had to have him perform. He performed, recorded and produced for several years until he felt it was time to move into a different musical direction.

When Ajani entered high school he began to involve himself into many different music activities.  He has been a part of his H.S. chorus, the show choir, served as assistant musical director for Crossroads Youth Initiative Program and started a Jazz band at his high school.  But the must musical altering event came in July 2009 when he was chosen to attend “Grammy Camp”. This is where the light bulb moment happened and he decided that music would be apart of his life forever.  Ajani attended “Grammy Camp” for two summers.  There he met young artist who were just as passionate and talented about the world of music as he was.  He finally understood that he wasn’t alone in his desire to create art that was honest.  Already engrossed by the honesty of Hip-Hop his curiosities lead him straight to its precursor, Jazz.

Ajani is a Jazz pianist that loves Hip-Hop.  Not rap but Hip-Hop.  He was born in the 90’s and indoctrinated into the world of Hip-Hop by his mother and father.  Even though they played all kinds of music, Hip-Hop was the sound that penetrated Ajani the most. Still today he listens to Hip-Hop that he has heard from his youth and seeks to embrace new artist within the genre.  Hip-Hop will always play a role in his musical latitude; it’s just not the solitary emphasis of his musical artistry.  Hip-hop is an inspiration and he is continuously utilizing its sounds to build upon the music he hears in his head.

After discovering Jazz Ajani heard what was going on in his head, he began to focus more on developing his chops. Listening to artist like Monk, Art Tatum, Clifford Brown, Herbie Hancock, Miles, etc. gave him the examples he needed to push forward with his new found yearning to make Jazz music.  He found himself not only playing standards but also composing personal standards that spoke to the way he heard the world.  These compositions became the base for what is now his second EP “Music Is Me”.

“Music Is Me” is an EP that was created out of Ajani’s desire to show him self in musical form.  This EP is also homage to the music that has crafted his identity as an artist and a man.  Ajani composed this EP with two covers and five originals.  He chose to cover “Africa” by DeAngelo and Pieces of a Man by Gil-Scot Heron because those two songs exemplified music with a purpose. Ajani is dedicated to this concept. He utilizes what he has learned as a musician to create music that is grounded in his passion for life. “Music Is Me” embraces the African continuum of Hip-Hop, Soul, Funk, and especially Jazz and brings forth an EP that is entertaining and enlightening.  Music is definitely Ajani.

Ajani is a Sophomore Jazz Piano major at Bard College in Annadale on the Hudson,NY. He is on a full-tuition Posse Foundation Scholarship. Ajani also DJs under the moniker DJ Ogun. He is also co-founder of the jazz band Moonvibes and he co-hosts the radio show “We R 1” on WXBC at Bard College.

MUSIC IS ME can be purchased digitally at these various locations:


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