Ayotemi’s Shaded World Of Indigo

Stevenson Altidor

It is funny how we come across the passions that ignite us with a lifetime of purpose. For some, that spark is innate when we pick up an instrument or feel on our first plane model. For others, they stumble upon them after years of difficulty. The call could be as loud as the family of a first-generation graduate or as vague as Big Smoke’s first words to CJ in GTA.For Ayotemi, he received the call during a prayer retreat from God himself.

“Deadass, I heard the voice of God tell me that I am a Minister.” Ayotemi said.

It was as if the Good Book foretold his fate but never included it in the final product. Vagueness is the reward for a young man who walked the line of faith. How is Ayotemi supposed to lead the masses? Was he destined to lead his congregation? Spoon-feeding hope, wisdom, and love to the community he lived in? Is that community confined to his hometown, or does his reach extend beyond the horizons in Maryland?

All Ayotemi ever sought after from God was more than a parasocial relationship. He doesn’t want to have one-sided conversations. What Ayotemi’s desire is to be on good terms with his Heavenly Father. Where the fear of disappointment fostered more dread than death itself. Through his eyes, Hell is as insignificant when compared to God’s wrath. If that were God’s will, Ayotemi’s devotion would see it through.

But what was the plan? Where was he supposed to go? In a trance where reality and spirituality meshed into one, too little too soon was pushed onto him. Ayotemi’s future was laid out before him with minimal direction. Seventeen years old, the age where fear conquers all, where the ideology of being man confronts the reality of finally being one. Old enough to know better, young enough to know nothing at all.

“I was asking for wisdom at the same time,” he said. “It just came from another form of anxiety. I’m getting older. I’m 17, and I’m about to go to college, but I don’t feel like a man yet. I didn’t feel wise enough to be a man. Like I wasn’t old enough to be old enough.”

Once he began to look into what a minister was, he matched his innate sense of music to the prophecy God gave him. Once allowed to look back at that moment, a series of revelations hit him. The biggest revelations being there was no need to sing in front of the church when he could have a stadium reciting his words back to him.
He wasn’t created to be the sole symbol of hope like All Might. But instead, it is to be more like Tazuna, the bridge builder in Naruto’s first story arc. Not here to save the world with his own hands but to connect the world so everyone can lead a helping hand. To live by that ideology is aspiring. Understanding that you are not the main protagonist of everyone’s story at that age is Exhibit A of growth.

Growth is an essential part of being human. Jerry Seinfield said it best in his Intro to Wale’s single “The Matrimony” where he states, “Like any growth, you can’t be ready for it because it’s gonna be new.” It’s uneasy due to our lack of familiarity with what’s beyond our grasp, so you plan. But rest assured to make all the plans you want. God is laughing at the thought of you creating certainty in your life.

Life is the ultimate sandbox, where you could build a sandcastle bedazzling it with shells, only to watch it get blown away by the wind. Will you kick everyone else’s palace down? Do you create a barrier to protect your new one from such forces? Or will you sit there and do nothing?
 

Each choice has consequences and rewards, and each will help you grow one way or another. The endgame is to be better and, in return, make everyone else around you better. But constantly reinforcing the idea verbal becomes intolerable. Ayotemi recognizes this, but it is not a concern of his.

People who seek out a leader on their journey of salvation are already with him. He makes music for the masses, for those who are hesitant. Those who feel trapped in a cycle and can’t get their hand out to stop the wheel. To him, art provides the power to release them from it. It’s not something that is a choice but more of a duty.

“The Duty of music, of art, is to break through these things,” he said.

Everything clicked for the both of us; you could feel the energy shift in the conversation. Ayotemi doesn’t bear the obligation to make art that retells those horror stories. No, it’s his purpose to break that cycle. The word responsibility gives off a sense of duty, an order to get something done. The word purpose is an intention to get something done. No one gave him this order. God’s words were too vague to provide him with responsibility, but God created him to change the way people think for that sole reason.

To change how people think, the man has to find himself first. Make no doubt it, being a musician now is both more complex and more accessible than ever before. Yet, it’s not a bad thing at all. Now more than ever, talented individuals across the globe can toy around on Pro Tools or GarageBand and make a hit record the same day.

It is unprecedented the kind of access both artists and consumers have today. Ayotemi knows what he needs to do, but how will his voice be the frequency that connects with the listener? Finding his sound would be the answer.

With so much on his agenda, Ayotemi can’t spend resources building a new canvas. His Nigerian background provided one for him in Afrobeats; all it ever asked in return was some self-reflection and authenticity. It’s a metaphor that describes his style in the best way possible. Afrobeats is less of type and more of a descriptor of sounds. Like a canvas with light sketching on it, it gives you a base to start with, but the artist dictates the final product.

“I discovered my sound” as he laid back in his chair, airing in self assurance. “I discover my integrity, My authentic power to my sound. I’m finding that whenever I apply my sound to any canvas, of any genre, it manifests into something unique to me.”

While the want to be unique is there, adding familiar ingredients to the mix is critical. Afrobeats is the extension, another tool to fulfill his prophecy. For all his life, his cultural roots rendered him all the answers he has ever needed. For the most part, the challenge came from not overthinking solutions. Precious thoughts could delve into concepts to spark that beam of hope Ayotemi wants to illuminate.

For example, how Gen Z and Millennials bear the weight of change when time isn’t on our side. How the time before us led to the moments we are in today. It’s dark outside, with the fog cloaking exit, hiding the exits which lead to paradise or Hell. Despite all of this, he wants them to know they are not alone. Indigo Rap may be Black Music, but what ails you mentally is valid no matter your race.

“You are not alone in this thing.” He pleaded. “I feel like every human being has a particular problem, the same problem a child has. A want to be loved, want to be taught, want to be seen….a want to be part of a family.”

That’s why Indigo is important to him. Since 2017, Ayotemi has dropped 7 EP’s. He is building his fan base, which he calls INDIGOS. Every new single is like an update to a live-service video game that adds something new. He gives those who have already invested something new while signaling variety for those with a much broader palette.

Having a creative template to lean on to shape his thoughts quickly became a valuable skill set. A look at all his released singles of 2021 paints this image clear. “Surround Me” utilizes a wailing saxophone in-between a despondent bass and synths that pelts the texture of the song as if it’s rain.

“New Jam” contains neck cranking 808’s which matches the well-placed triplet flow, while beneath them is a subtle flute. Synths, ab-libs, vocals stack together to give the tight-night production a sense of volume.

On his EP Detour, synths played a huge role in the album, often directing the pace of traffic like a cross guard. “Stretch Limousine” features sputtering synths and rapid pace keys, creating a bubbly atmosphere. Ayotemi flow cuts through like a Katana, playing with his inflections as he laces in and out between melodic raps.

The tender cut “Solid Asa Rock” where Ayotemi is singing more on a spacious yet feathery beat. The versatility is endless. The pillars of his sound provide stability. The creative direction of the takes will decide the exact design.

Yet, Indigo Rap is different from the others. There is something meticulous around its creative process. The phrase “wanting to take my time” kept coming up after the interview, which I found funny because Indigo Raps took ten days to create. Ten days, sitting on the same chair, in the same room as the interview, and what took up his most time was recording.
Yet, the EP rollout only further highlights the importance of presentation. Ayotemi knows this. He wants this to last longer than a week but more than a playlist addition. As a minister, he wants words to stick with his churchgoers for a lifetime. The time he puts into mixing every instrument, every vocal, seams up every transition triples the time he recorded.

Music-wise, the EP reflects everything Ayotemi mentioned. You hear the staples of Afrobeats with its driving drum patterns. Ayotemi surrounds it with animated synths and stacked vocals to supply every song a life of its own.

Elements of Neo-soul and rap blend to create an energetic R&B sound despite its dampness. Add in the understanding of when to switch his flow to keep the listener engaged, and you have the makings of a potential star.

As the interview was coming to a close, the discussion circled back to Our Heavenly Father. Everything that happened over the past six months has been aligning to make everything go Ayotemi way. Any question of fear, doubt, or hesitation doesn’t exist with him. To Ayotemi, this interview was meant to happen. Another stepping stone that will elevate him to the heights he seeks. Not just for himself but everyone around him. The entire congregation will reap the benefits, not just the pastor. Even when I cast doubt about my future, he emphatically said, “No, we gonna make it” after the interview ended.

“You are a minister.” Eight years ago, those four words were all it took to reach this point. The passion for music existed long before this moment, but what it did do was fan the flames. Ayotemi’s life purpose came upon him through prayer. But the choice to embark on this creative journey, from college tours to visiting Jamaica and honing his craft, was all his.

This is who Ayotemi is. Where the individual shares the fruits of his labor with the collective, those by blood or bonded by trust and affection. Spreading hope and positivity to one another is the only Multi-Level Marketing scheme we would universally accept. But the idea is as illegitimate as Venma, solely because uplifting ourselves while remaining emphatic to those around us shouldn’t be that hard, but it is. However, none of this fazes Ayotemi. He’s just one of many who do their part to create a better world for those around him, and with that kind of devotion, nothing will stop the prophecy at hand.

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