Michael Odokara-Okigbo is an emerging Nigerian-American singer/songwriter and producer, who writes and performs under the moniker Michael O. His latest single, the Harvey Mason, Jr. co-produced “Japa” derives its title from the Yoruba slang word “to flee,” a reference to the many Africans across the continent, forced to seek out a better life in the West. The song is also a story of survival — and a story about the foundation and creation of America.
Featuring skittering African-inspired beats, glistening and atmospheric synths, bursts of strummed guitar and a razor sharp hook paired with Odokara-Okibgo’s sultry yet plaintive deliver, “Japa” is a breezy and slickly produced bop rooted in a deeply universal message of survival — and hope. We should all remember that folks everywhere are struggling, and many are resorting to the most difficult decision imaginable: picking up their entire life and going someplace they’ve never known for the hope of a better life. Many of our — and here, I refer to those in America, Canada, the UK and so on — ancestors have done the same.
“Japa” will appear on Odokara-Okibgo’s forthcoming EP, slated for release next year.
Odokara-Okigbo is also the founder of NKENNE, the first African language learning app. Founded to create solidarity and as an avenue for the global African Diaspora to connect to their roots through language and technology, the Nigerian-American artist and producer has won the 2022 Gorham Saving Bank Emerging Business Award. He has also received a grant from MusiCares COVID-19 relief program, which has helped him jumpstart his app and his EP.