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Tunji's debut album, One & Only Me, is a contemporary pop/R&B album, ranging from the Prince-inspired "Bad Girl", to the rap-injected remix of the title track. The self-produced album marks the inaugural release on Atlanta based record label - TouchDown Enterprises. From the title track, about pushing past the naysayers and heel-draggers in the music industry, to "Something Good," in which he thanks his divine inspiration for his blessings, Tunji has a wonderfully positive attitude that has transcended adversity. In the song "Price Of Poverty," the young artist knows of what he speaks.
As the name of the recording implies, there's no one quite like Tunji Ajigbeda. He’s the son of a former Nigerian ambassador and his given name means "joy comes again." A native of Benin, a small country west of Nigeria, Tunji emigrated with his parents and three brothers to the United States in 1982 at the age of 7. "We started off OK," Tunji recalls. "The government of Nigeria was funding our housing and then my dad had to return, leaving us here and things weren't so great then.” "I remember going through a few bad times where we were living in what was considered to be the slums of Atlanta and basically making ends meet." Tunji found solace in the pop music of Michael Jackson, Prince, and Whitney Houston in addition to singing in the church choir. "Music does something emotional to me. I feel it in my heart," he says.
In high school, Tunji joined the performing arts choir to develop his vocal abilities but his other talent, the one he knew he could apply to a more conventional career, was international studies. He became the first student in his school to graduate with honours in both fields. Noting his family's financial struggle and Tunji's promise, his school counselors encouraged him to apply for the Martin Luther King Scholarship to Emory University, giving him the opportunity to complete a four-year program in computer science. "That's when the music really started to develop because, during that time, I joined a four-man group and we actually got a producer and started performing," notes Tunji.
The group, called Promise, was an original harmony-driven R&B quartet in the vein of Boyz II Men. "I actually wrote the majority of the songs, just the lyrics. I couldn't produce at the time," says Tunji. "After the band broke up in 1995, that's when I started to learn about producing music." His first step was purchasing the home recording and sequencing gear. He worked in technology during the daytime and at night became "obsessive compulsive" about learning the Cakewalk sequencing program and all he could do with MIDI. "I was amazed everyday at the new applications I could do," he says.
Initially, his sounds were only as good as the equipment he could afford - "which was not that great," he chuckles. "Then in 1998 my material started sounding like something worth investing more time and money in." He started producing local artists, including a rap act, DSA, and a female singing trio, Storm. Like Promise, both groups came close to getting a record deal but broke up before any deals were solidified. Meanwhile, as his job took him around the world, to Japan, Panama, Mexico City and Monterrey, colleagues and friends who heard his self-produced demos or heard him sing live kept suggesting that he record an album.
When the female group broke up after he had invested so much time into their development, Tunji was fed up. He decided to gather all the material he had written and produced the past few years and, if he couldn't find a singer for the material, he would lay down the vocals himself. The result is Tunji, One & Only Me, on which he wrote all the songs, sings all the lead and background vocals, and produced all the tracks. Only two guests appear on the album, his high school friend Emerald (ex-member of Storm) on "Step Back," and L-Dawg on the remix of the title track.
Tunji says that he elected to release the album independently to "control my own destiny and own timetable." Recording on the weekends, he took a second mortgage on one of his houses to take his home recordings into DARP Studios, a full-fledged 48 track studio owned by Dallas Austin, over Christmas of 2000. Tunji has since upgraded his home gear, so he can produce other artists with the same quality that DARP Studios gave him. His next recording project for TouchDown Enterprises will be L-Dawg, followed by Emerald. "I'll probably have to mortgage another one of my homes," he laughs. It's that kind of singular dedication that will make Tunji's One & Only Me a success.