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Manhattan, NY | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF | AFM

Manhattan, NY | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Hip Hop R&B




"The Source Magazine"

It was a special night tonight in NYC. Truly a night that people will tell their kids about, as host Jarobi of A Tribe Called Quest stated. At approximately 8:08 PM EST at Webster Hall, New York City paid tribute to one of Hip-Hop’s greatest heroes, James Dewitt Yancey, or better known as J Dilla. The producer and emcee’s mother, the ever so hard working Ma Dukes, co-hosted with Jarobi to an almost packed house. It was a rare opportunity for a crowd to show up not just for a stellar lineup (Talib Kweli, Phony Ppl, Soul Khan, YC The Cynic, Tanya Morgan, 88 Keys & Nemo Achida, AYOinmotion), but also to celebrate the music given to us by such a talented individual like J Dilla.

When Jarobi wasn’t trying to crash Instagram a la Ellen DeGeneres at the Oscar’s, he helped keep the show moving with personal stories about J Dilla and a balance of energy and decorum to keep the Sunday night moving along. Ma Dukes took the stage for a moment to thank everyone who made it out as well as explain the work the J Dilla Foundation was doing in each city the tour came to. In NYC, they decided to work with the Lower East Side Girls Club to promote programs that would help teach girls production skills.

The sets by each performing artist was kept short and sweet, starting with the AYOinmotion band doing their own rendition of Jay Z’s “PSA” all the way through Phony Ppl’s groovy hits. Soul Khan surprised a few ladies in the house by singing the hook on one of his tracks after some quick a capella bars. But the moment that made Webster Hall lose it was when headliner Talib Kweli brought out Pharoahe Monch and Keith Murray to show their love for J Dilla on stage. And we thought when Talib performed “Lightworks” that it couldn’t have gotten wilder in there.

We’d have to say that the first annual #NYLovesDilla show was a huge success. This thing really is bigger than Hip-Hop. J Dilla knew that. We know that. Do you?

Special thanks to the Elixir Media Group, the J Dilla Foundation, and Ma Dukes. - The Source

"Lehigh Valley Underground"

One of my favorite artists from The Quinn Spinn‘s previous run is New York-based hip hop artist Ayoinmotion. You may recognize that name, because you heard his song, “She’s Leaving” on yesterday’s episode.

I had the privilege of catching Ayo’s live show a couple years ago at Webster Hall, where he opened for Talib Kweli during the NY Loves J.Dilla Tribute Show. The man and his band can straight-up perform. They are among the most talented, engaging artists I’ve ever had the privilege of seeing live.

Ayo is also very globally-conscious. A native of Lagos, Nigeria, he also spent time Flint, Michigan before arriving to New York. In response to Flint’s recent water crisis, Ayoinmotion performed a benefit show a couple weeks ago, raising more than $500 for the children of Flint.

Below is a visual recap from Ayoinmotion’s Facebook page, which goes to show that indie artists can make a positive difference on the world they know. - The Quinn Spin



Ayoinmotion is a multifaceted, NYC-based Hip Hop artist, who never fails to rep either Harlem or his hometown of Nigeria. He is dignified, electric, cosmopolitan – and as told by the man himself – both intro and extraspective. Naturally influenced by Afrobeat, and complemented by his true spoken word talent, Ayo distinguishes his artistry by his ability to present himself with competitive ease, while exuding an energy that cannot go unnoticed.

On stage he brings a presence that demands attention and captivation. He’s a serious artist who doesn’t make you feel like he’s “too serious.” Whether it’s been opening up for Talib Kweli, or Gyptian, Ayo always has an intention to ensure that his audience is moved, feels good, and leaves the venue having had a unique and powerful experience.

He has performed at places such as the Legendary Apollo Theatre, Webster Hall, SOBs and the Shrine, and a number of European venues. He’s also served on panels with individuals such as Lupe Fiasco and Rap-Genius founder Mahbod Moghadam.

Afrocipha had a chance to sit down with Ayo to talk with him about his influences, artistic development and philosophies, among other topics.

S= Spady

A= Ayoinmotion


S: What were your points of entry into Afrobeat and Hip Hop Music?

A: That is a very good question for me. Afrobeat was my prerequisite to Hip Hop.

S: What do you mean by that?

A: I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and Fela is my biggest inspiration and always will be. When you see me perform live you can see the energy and feeling of passion when I am on stage. I am not saying I’m Fela. But I am saying that’s my biggest influence.. in terms of how I see myself as a performer. I was growing up in Nigeria and listening to Fela when I discovered Hip Hop. I have to say that I didn’t fall in love with Hip Hop immediately. Hip Hop was something I heard on the radio and had fun with. When I discovered Hip Hop albums and explored their content, I discovered that these were poets. My discovery of Hip Hop albums was late. I grew up during the heyday of Hip Hop when Puff Daddy and Mase and Bad Boyz were running everything. There was Tupac and Biggie and all of that happening. You know when you hear all of this on the radio in Nigeria and then you hear ‘All Eyez On Me,’ it triggers you to go and get those albums. That’s when you get the whole story.. That is when you find the gems. So when I was at home I started listening to the albums and seeing the beauty in ‘Illmatic’ and ‘Stillmatic’ and the beauty in all of this.

B: It’s like Tupac was the guy in America like Fela was the guy in Africa who spoke for all the people.

A: I think there will always be comparisons of Fela and Tupac.. Tupac was a poet and Fela was a poet.. There is poetry in music. But my thing is that Afrobeat moved me. Fela moved us because we are talking about growing up in a tyrannical regime and dictatorship in Lagos Nigeria, and Hip Hop is the music of the struggle. Hip Hop is the music of rebellion. Hip Hop is a music of counterculture. Hip Hop is the music of the still forgotten people who are saying, ‘THIS IS OUR MUSIC, This is our video! You can’t shut us up!’ Afrobeat does the same thing. And that was Fela’s way of saying the same thing.. And that was Fela’s way of saying ‘You can’t shut me up. You can’t shut up my story. You can’t shut up what I’m about. I am for the people.’ And so those commonalities are clear to someone who grew up with Afrobeat and fell in love with it and now hears Hip Hop and falls in love with Hip Hop. You can see that graduation. You can see that maturation.. You can see that evolution. It makes sense that Afrobeat is such a big influence in my work. It makes sense that I got into Spoken Word Poetry and it makes sense that I got into Hip Hop. And it makes sense that I am more than a poet and a rapper. Afrobeat is the influence that you find across all my music. Do you see what I’m saying?

B: Is your focus mostly on Spoken Word?

A: I think it’s love right now. I am on my second life and I am about to enter my third life with a combination of what is to happen. So in college I discovered poetry. poetry is where I found my voice. I am about to enter my third life, with a combination.. poetry is where I made my first album. It is where my musicality started. Then, I moved on to Hip Hop and transitioned. Now I feel I’ve given Hip Hop a Sonic Dissertation as I’ve given poetry, now I am on my way to my third phase, my third life.. I feel that I can… in fact, one of my dreams is to do two sets in one show. So poetry my first set then come back after intermission and do ALL HIP HOP!.. I can do both because I’ve got a catalogue and content that is entirely full of both.

B: So it’s like Afrobeat ushers in the creativity and energy?

A: Exactly. Afrobeat is the energy, the ability to write, the ability to tell a story and be content driven, and to call my Hip Hop and to call my poetry.. Do you see what I’m saying? So Afrobeat is the foundation of everything I do. It’s the template. It’s the Blueprint.

B: Yeah. Yeah.

A: As I evolve into my own musical talent this is how it is happening. Now I am Ayoinmotion and it is just movement and the movement of music and moving toward a dream. That is why I say, Ayoinmotion.

B: When did you come to the States?

A: I came to the states from Nigeria a little over ten years ago. I was a teenager. Finished high school and college. And so I’ve been in America now for a little over ten years. I went to college in Michigan and I came from Flint, Michigan to New York about three or four years ago.

B: With Fela, people always talk about how it is for them in Nigeria. Describe your experiences in Nigeria and in the United States.

A: I always say there is a story between Africans and African Americans and we are all united and we are one people, but often what you may see is a division. So basically to answer your question, Blackness cannot be defined as one thing. The beauty of Blackness is that it is diverse. The beauty of Blackness is there are colors within colors. So that, depending on where you find yourself, in Brazil, in Nigeria or in Ghana or in Cuba; whether they are doing Candomble, Garifuna, or Yoruba religion, or African Culture in the United States, what you are always going to find is this tapestry of what Blackness is and that’s beautiful. It spreads across everything. But it is unified. You know Blackness when you see it. That is Blackness for me, regardless of whether in Nigeria or the USA.

S: What was your specific point of entry into African American culture when you were living at home in Nigeria?

A: It was through music more than anything else.

S: What music from African America attracted you the most?

A: I would say Hip Hop. Tupac. Biggie.. Puff Daddy and Mase.. The Entire Bad Boy clique. Definitely Busta Rhymes. Pretty much anything that was hot here (in the United States) was hot in Nigeria. The entire Bad Boy Clique.

S: How was Hip Hop music circulated in Nigeria when you were coming of age?

A: Radio stations were playing it. TV was playing it. More than anything, I remember hearing Hip Hop music on radio stations in Nigeria. Radio stations like ‘Rhythm and Ray Power’ and ‘Cool FM.’ All of those DJs played whatever was hot in America and whatever was hot in America was hot in Nigeria. The Hip Hop Nation was virtually one nation in that sense. Basically, Hip Hop was already worldwide when I was coming up. It’s amazing to people when they realize, ‘Oh, you grew up in Africa and you were listening to Tupac? Wait a minute, Oh you were listening to Pac in Nigeria!’ And I say, ‘Yes, people swear that it was Thug Life. People swear that it was East Coast vs. West Coast.’ Thousands of miles away and it was THUG LIFE! And they would say, ‘But you’ve never even been to the West Coast.. You don’t even know what California looks like.’ And here we are talking about “California Love” in Africa. That was our reality. We had our own music, too. But Thug Life was our reality! I got to run and catch up with my people. But I’m going to say this real quickly. It’s Ayoinmotion like Poetry in Motion. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. Shout Out to my man, Spady. I’m going to check out the book, Tha Global Cipha: Hip Hop Culture and Consciousness. I think it is great that the Afrocipha is doing this. Let’s stay in touch so we can continue to build. We are all a part of the movement of music. - AfroCIPHA



Growing up during military tyranny in Nigeria left Ayo feeling powerless, unable to improve the plight of his people. Similar feelings ensued when he arrived in the depressed economic climate of Flint, Michigan, a city with resilient character but still reeling in the aftershocks of General Motor’s abandonment and violence. Both places however, inspires a life story that would ultimately radiate through his music and spoken-word poetry. Unravelling a deep creative burst during a brief stay in Japan, he returned to the U.S. and enrolled at the University of Michigan at the age of sixteen. Musically, it's been onward since then.

The passion and energy embedded in Ayo’s content and performance presence commands attention and has captivated the eyes of the music community, garnering notable attention. Recently, he opened for Talib Kweli at the legendary J.Dilla's tribute hosted by Jairobi of A Tribe Called Quest. He served on a panel with Lupe Fiasco, interviewed Russell Simmons for MTV and went on a successful European tour last year. He has also graced the legendary Apollo theater stage and featured at SXSW, where he opened for Gyptian. Ayo is a proponent of using his artistic platform as an avenue for social action; he organized a benefit for the kidnapped Nigerian girls and recently performed with his band to raise funds for children affected by contaminated lead water in Flint.

Primarily New York City based, Ayo plays with his own live band and dancers who move in a mesh of afro-beat/pop, modern, house, hip-hop and ballet dance styles. Ayo refers to his sound as Afro-T.R.A.P(To Rebel Against Anybox Period). Unable to be confined at attempts in limiting his multi-genred approach which blends influences of Afro-Pop from his Nigerian roots with hip-hop, house, r&b/neo-soul, and other musical inspirations, Ayo coined the phrase to reflect a lack of conformity

Band Members