Oritse Femi is one of Ajegunle’s few success stories. In the early 2000s, the Lagos township known as Ajegunle was the poverty porn capital of the world. Making it out of Ajegunle meant surmounting several tough obstacles and success wasn’t something a lot of its inhabitants had in mind. Yet, Oritse Femi, like Daddy Showkey, Baba Fryo and African China before him, was able to achieve mainstream success with four albums, several singles and multiple awards to his name. More recently though, there hasn’t been a lot of activity from Oritsefemi’s camp.
Born Oritsefemi Majemite Ekele on January 5, 1985, into a polygamous family of 25 as the third child of his mother, Oritse Femi developed an interest in music early on. He was heavily influenced by the “Ajegunle sound” of the day and has credited his biggest influences to Fela Kuti, Daddy Showkey and Sizzla Kalonji. After his primary and secondary education, he enrolled to study law at the Delta State University, Abraka but dropped out to focus on a music career.
To get started, Oritse Femi joined Cherubim and Seraphim choirs in Ajegunle and enrolled at the Ragga Dub music school in Ajegunle owned by Johnny Napp, who had produced Ajegunle sensations like Baba Fryo, Daddy Showkey and Daddy Fresh. This is where the reggae influences in Oritse Femi’s music comes from. He also describes his music as “conscious music.”
He then formed a group with a friend and they were called Junglist Boys. Together they released two albums: Boys Dey Binu and Money Na Time, both eight-tracks projects.
The group split up in 2006 and both members went on to pursue solo careers. His first album as a solo artist, Elewon, was a hit on the streets of Ajegunle and launched Oritse Femi as a local star. The lead single Flog Politicians was released just before the 2007 elections and the political commentary helped propel Oritse Femi beyond the fringes of Ajegunle.
“I actually grew up in Tolu which is one of the worse areas to live in Ajegunle. I experienced all types of miserable lifestyles, but I survived them all. Today, I am a role model to a lot of the Ajegunle youths. I used to counsel them that if I could make it, they too, can make it,” Oritse Femi said in a 2017 interview.
His second album Unfadeables produced the hit track Mercies of the Lord which was Oritse Femi’s breakout hit. He has since gone on to release four more albums: Wicked World, Double Wahala, Corporate Miscreant and Money Stops Nonsense (MSN) after his own record label of the same name. His biggest song yet Double Wahala is his remake of a Fela classic of the same title and it got him a couple of awards at the 2014 City People Awards. The remix features D’Banj.
“I got the inspiration from God. Everything you want to do, you definitely put God first. Before I came out with ‘Double Wahala’, I was receiving low responses from my fans. I tried my best, but my fans did not identify with my songs. I had to go back to the drawing board to review my style of music,” he told Pulse in 2014.
Some of Oritse Femi’s other popular singles include Igbeyawo, Happy Day, Ongba Larami and Awoo Ewaa. These days, he is still releasing new music and performing at shows although he has not been able to replicate the mainstream success he enjoyed just a few years ago. He has a new song Shine which just dropped in the first week of March.
Oritse Femi lives with his wife Nabila Fash (m. 2017) and has three kids – two from previous relationships and one with his current wife.
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