The heartbeat of Afrobeat music, DJ Tunez, ignites a fire into the creative minds of young musicians of color to pursue their dreams.
Africa has shaped the past, Africa is now, and Africa is the future.
With a career birthed by the legacy of Afrobeat pioneer, Fela Kuti, DJ Tunez keeps the Afrobeat revolution alive by empowering the next generation of musical legends.
“Africa to the world” transcends far beyond a catch phrase. It is a boundless spiritual essence that is being felt across borders and generations alike.
The spiritual vibrations of Afrobeat music can be felt radiating inside of the auditorium at The Eagle Academy for Young Men, just miles away from DJ Tunez’s humble beginnings in Brooklyn.
Inspired by DJ Tunez and the rich cultural connections of Afrobeat, Eagle Academy music educator, Damarcus Bell, and students from the Honors Live Band course engaged in a unit of study specifically centered on Afrobeat music. Mr. Bell sometimes used songs such as “Ojuelegba” as aural skills exercises for his students to hone their ability to play by ear. He would simply play the songs, and the students would have to figure out how to perform them with minimal guidance. With this constructivist method, the students used their own musical ideas to collaboratively arrange a medley of three songs: “Drogba” by Afro B, “Iskaba” by DJ Tunez and Wande Coal, & “Ojuelegba” by Wizkid. The band performed the medley for DJ Tunez as he watched in pure adoration of their hard work.
“I remember the time when Afrobeat music was not hot at all. Seeing the youth here in Brooklyn perform this is amazing, I’ve never seen anything like it before.” DJ Tunez
Scholars watched DJ Tunez debut fader documentary, “Details”, in amazement and engaged in discourse on Tunez’s unwavering love for Africa, Afrobeat, and his community.
Following the jam session, band keyboardist, Matthias Nixon, moderated a Q&A where scholars and educators got to dig deep into the creative process of DJ Tunez.
Gabriel Barker-Haskins, 7th grade: Did you take music seriously when you were younger?
“Since I started music in church, I kind of had to take it seriously. I always made sure to have fun though. I was always smiling and happy to see people dance. That’s my main advice to you, no matter how serious this music thing can get, always make sure to have fun.”
Damarcus Bell, Music Director: How do you get better at your craft?
“I practice and listen to more music. I listen to different genres and open myself up to more music. Sometimes I listen to really long songs with no vocals, they can be really long, like 17 mins. I listen to Fela Kuti, some of his songs are about 13 minutes long of magic. When I do this I can FEEL the vocals come in. My manager and people around me also expose me to new music all of the time.”
Sayyed Ayube , 7th Grade: How long does it take to make one song? What is the creative process like?
“With “Iskaba” I started by working on the beat with Spellz, a producer out of Nigeria. Then I met with Wande Coal here in east New York. We were in the basement for about a week just listening to the instrumental and dancing. We knew we needed an anthem. Wande Coal is an amazing artist! He put the vocals on it, and the rest was history. Iskaba has over 12 million plays on YouTube and 10 million on Spotify. I’m just a kid from Brooklyn just like y’all, I didn’t see this happening at all, but I’m blessed.”
I just dropped a new single “Too Much”, and this track took me 6 months to get it to sonically sounding how I wanted it to. It’s a process, and it’s all about the right time.”
Waju Brown, Teacher: Outside of the states, where is your favorite place to DJ?
“London! London is two steps ahead of us with music. They have Afrobeat on the radio! They play Tekno, Wizkid, and everything in the mix of other hip hop songs. The energy in London is crazy! I love how Afrobeat music brings all races together there. They even have Afrobeat TV shows! I’m just waiting for America to catch up.”
Daniel Daleus, rising senior:
“What opportunities are available in the Afrobeat scene for youth instrumentalist?”
“We will definitely create more opportunities for the youth. Seeing how serious you all are about this is an amazing thing. We will definitely keep you all in mind for future gigs!”
The Eagle scholars left the visit feeling more inspired, empowered, and capable than ever.
This partnership is the beginning of something magical. Bringing the youth along on the afrobeat revolution is critical to the future an livelihood of Afrobeat music.
DJ Tunez plans to collaborate with the band in the near future, and vowed to advance his mission of paving enriching avenues for youth in the Afrobeat wave.