Tennerz: SIJI – Lagos Lullabye (Boddhi Satva Ancestral Soul Remix) (Ivy Records)
Not a new comer, SIJI has always managed to come up with a music full of images. A music synonymous with the transportation of the heart and soul. And therefore standing as so to say a traveller’s digest depending on the locations he may be livin’ in at an instant T. This time he invites us to an exciting dive into the ever boiling Lagos, Nigeria. And, by that, an introspective trip back to the city where his parents have their roots. One can hardly avoid decealing a certain nostalgia in his performance. As if remembering of some Lagos lullabye his mom or dad might have been singing to him before coming to sleep when he was a kid in his native London.
Of course, when evoking Lagos and Nigeria, hard to not think of Fela and the influence he had. With ‘Lagos Lullabye’ standing like at the crossroad between High Life Jazz and Afrobeat. Speaking of it, he explains: “Lagos just like I pictured it. With all the Funk, filth and manic energy perfectly captured in Boddhi Satva’s ‘Ancestral Soul’ remix…” Just as it says!
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Born in London to Nigerian parents, Sijii Enola spent his early childhood in Lagos. Therefore, immersed in the sounds and rhythms of one of the most frenetic cities on earth. When kids in San Francisco were tuning in to Sesame Street, say, Siji made do with the insurgent, politicized Afrobeat music of Fela Kuti and others. The music is in his blood.
At age 17, Siji returned to London to continue his education. It was there that his appreciation of music emerged with a determination to create. Teaching himself to play piano and acoustic bass, Siji began forming experimental groups. One of which, Soul Minded, givin’ him enough of a footing to start performing live onstage. While completing his Masters in Engineering Product Design, Siji began cutting demos. Once the course ended, he decided to pursue a career in music.
In 1995, he formed a label, IVY Records, and released an EP, ‘Facets’. A single – ‘My Lover’s Embrace – would come to light 2 years later. Both releases garnered much respect on the influential London scene. Their impact leading to a publishing deal with Warner Chappell Music.
Fast forward to 2000, Siji left London and moved to New York. There, he quickly found a scene of supportive musicians and producers. And from then, he began collaborating and performing with them at venues such as Bam Café and Joe’s Pub. One of these artists happened to be Osunlade. Siji’s music impressed him and he offered Siji use of his studio while he was away touring. With ‘God-given’ being the result of that time. But also a few remixes Osunlade did for him beginning with ‘Irinajo’ on Sole Channel.
Upon listening, it’s clear who his influences are… Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Al Green, early Stevie Wonder. But Siji manages to cut a line through all of these with the lightness of his voice and the intricacy of his rhythms.
The subtle use of traditional, Nigerian instruments add a distinct organic flavor to his music. Something one could feel when listening to cuts such as ‘Ijo’ with remix courtesy of Manoo and the smooth and vibrant ‘Yearning For Home’. But also ‘Lagos Lullabye’ as reworked by Boddhi Satva. Not to mention ‘Running Away’ or ‘This Must Be Love’ where he ventures into some Neo-Soul territories.