10 things you need to know about London's nostalgic R&B queen, Ojerime

Her debut mixtape ‘B4 I Breakdown’ tracks a difficult journey through depression and self-discovery.

by Frankie Dunn
12 March 2020, 4:58pm

Raised in South London on a healthy diet of Barry White, Dolly Parton and 90s NY trio SWV, Ojerime was equipped with the all the essential references to end up a very skilled songwriter. Fast forward to today and it all played out just right: tomorrow she’ll release her debut mixtape B4 I Breakdown. As the title might suggest, the project is a deeply honest and cathartic one, fuelled by Ojerime’s experiences dealing with mental health issues over the past year. The result is pure 90s R&B with a UK spin.

“I had a public breakdown in April 2019 and I’m only forgiving myself for it now,” Ojerime says. “I wanted to do so many things before I got ill and due to being hospitalised, life felt like prison. Now I get to achieve the joy of releasing music again. The songs explore themes of dark thoughts, mental health, sex and relationships, and drug use.”

Interestingly, lyrics from the first song she ever wrote made their way onto a track called “SWV” that features on her mixtape -- named, we assume, after the R&B group that soundtracked her childhood. Full circle or what! Keep an ear out for the new project tomorrow, take an exclusive look at the sxc visualiser for lead single “Give It Up 2 Me” (about weed and mental health), and get to know Ojerime via the 10 fun facts below...

1. Ojerime is from Brockley, South London
“The way in which we carry ourselves is very distinctive from other Londoners. Growing up, the culture was rich: we have some of the best Nigerian and Jamaican food spots and musically, I’d say we’re the strongest too. So much talent pours out of South London. It’s not the easiest place to grow up as people are very proud yet raw in their delivery, but once you learn to embrace and adapt it equips you to live anywhere in the world. It’s shaped my vernacular, my fashion and my personality.”

2. She remembers dancing to Mariah Carey’s “Honey” in front of the TV
“We had a shaggy red carpet, a black leather sofa (my dad’s pride and joy) and a varnished pine TV stand. I remember there being vast amounts of space in that living room -- plenty of room to learn Mariah's dance steps.”

3. Discovering Jhené Aiko was a real moment for Ojerime
“When I first heard her I felt represented as a poetic spiritual petite woman of colour.”

4. Talking of which, she’d like correct this common misconception
"I’m 5’4. There’s an assumption from my online pictures that I’m really tall lol.”

5. On the verge of releasing a personal body of work, Ojerime’s feeling quite calm
“I’m pretty chill but anxious at the same time to hear what the listeners think. They’re used to hearing me be vulnerable so I think it’ll be positive.”

6. Last year was tough for Ojerime, mental health-wise. While she was in hospital, she made this mini playlist to motivate herself
Notorious B.I.G – “Sky’s The Limit”
Nipsey Hussle – “Grinding All My Life”
Rico Nasty – “Sell out”
Sonder – “What You Heard”
Nipsey Hussle – “Million While You Young (ft. The Dream)”

7. Her new single “Give It Up 2 Me" is about waiting for the joint to be passed
“It also touches on how weed affects mental health and it’s addictive qualities. The visual is by French animator St Lazare. I wanted something as trippy and relaxing as the song, so he came up with the concept.”

8. The greatest lesson she’s learnt so far is to take it easy
“Life isn’t running away. There’s plenty of time to achieve your dreams.”

9. She has a pretty diverse set of obsessions right now
“I can’t stop Googling yellow furniture, or drinking coconut water and magnesium water... they keep me perky.”

10. Ojerime’s 2020 mission?
“A part of me wants to say world domination?”

Catch Ojerime live at Peckham Audio (her first ever show!) on 18 March.

mental health