Written by Vivi Hyacinthe
“Y’all like hip hop?”
Ajo calls out to the crowd at her feet. Everyone is up and dancing to reggae hits, compliments of Nola Darling’s house DJ, and we reply enthusiastically. If the first act of the night was anything to go by, we’re all excited for a great night of music from a fantastic lineup.
“How about R&B?”
Chicago native Ajo, a talented rapper and singer, greets the crowd with Humbled, a slow burner that combines an infectious beat with Ajo’s soulful vocals and beautifully honest lyrics.
“Never be afraid to speak the truth / it comes out in everything you do / so if it’s love, then let em know / if you’re fed up, tell em, then let it go,” she sings.
As an artist, Ajo delivers the truth of all the hurt in the world and offers it up to her audience as a sugarpill, something to ease the pain. The ballad goes perfectly with the theme of the most recent Slackgaze zine, as Ajo sings of the pain of taking a risk, letting go of your defenses, and falling either in love or on your face.
Through further research (read: stalking) after the concert, I stumbled upon the makings of a smooth new anthem Ajo calls Endeavor. The opening bars set a nostalgic vibe; the percussion in the intro lifts you out of the here-and-now, back into a hazy summer afternoon.
In a powerful first verse Ajo lets us in, coming clean about feeling passive and being underestimated: “do you ever feel bigger than your body gives you credit for?” she asks. It’s a sentiment we all can relate to. Whether it’s femininity or youth or even your own self-confidence that’s holding you back, we all seem to wear our imperfections out in the open. Sometimes we are made to feel weak and alone, but this song aims to remind us that we are far from it.
With verses that draw from her talent in both singing and rapping, Ajo inspires us to make the most of the time and talents we have by diving in to risk headfirst without regret.