Tunji Ige is a black American teenager. Born in Pennsylvania to Nigerian parents, Tunji was exposed to music in its rawest form at a young age. Tunji‘s first interactions with music came in the form of his parents’ music, including artists like Roy Ayers and Fela Kuti. At age 14, Tunji started taking his own music seriously – putting to use a laptop, a sampler, and a vast record collection. Since joining the creative collective Brain Bandits two years later, Tunji has been developing his sound and carefully building a plan for bringing his vision to the world. With the release of his self-produced debut The Love Project, Tunji saw hundreds of thousands of plays and critical acclaim from music magazines like Pitchfork, Noisey and Fader, and most importantly – love from fans.
Tunji recently sat down with Noisey’s Tara Mahadevan and spoke about the origins of his debut release:
“I feel like with the records we had tucked away prior to The Love Project releasing, there were a few songs that were intended to jump start [my] career,” he tells me. “‘Day2Day’ was a random idea that I did in an hour and I uploaded on my birthday as a random track to drop—no PR, no exposure, just uploaded it at five in the morning. And it sparked something crazy, when I woke up to my phone going off. I’m very happy about it.”
A few months later, in early December, Tunji dropped his debut mixtape, The Love Project, which he recorded and produced entirely on his own in the basement of his dorm at West Chester University. The setting’s actually a subtle motif throughout the tape, with the phrase “in a basement in Pennsylvania” cropping up on the songs “For Us,” “Day2Day,” and “S.O.T.N.” Even though his equipment was pretty standard—a Rode NTK microphone, an audio interface, and Macbook—he still amassed a collection of noise violations. But his neighbors weren’t the only ones paying attention to him.
The tape arrived to considerable hype and positive press, and it has quickly racked up tens of thousands of plays on Soundcloud. Pulling together a wide set of sounds that drift from mainstream radio rap and electronic’s party vibes to contemporary underground rap’s eclecticism to the more classic sounds of soul, funk, and Afrobeat (a nod to Tunji’s Nigerian background), it’s a project both out of time and of the times.