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Written bySaien Benjamin

Japa is a touching track that encourages people from all walks of life to reconnect with their heritage

Michael O.’s latest track “Japa” has a truly beautiful meaning behind it, the title “Japa” means “to flee” in Yoruba, and refers to the struggle faced by many Africans forced to leave behind their home’s in search of a better life in the West. Michael deals with the difficulties that African immigrants face in adapting to life in America and Europe, touching on his own experience as a descendant of Nigerian immigrants to the United States. 

Michael O., full name Michael Odokara-Okigbo, was born in New York but raised in Portland. His diverse cultural upbringing in which he was exposed To American, African-American, and Nigerian culture helped turn him into the multi-dimensional artist that he is today. He has won widespread acclaim with his music since his debut Ep “In the Beginning” reached the top 5 of the iTunes R&B charts, and in 2017 he received the HAPA(Hollywood and African Prestigious Awards) award for best upcoming artist. Michael has performed all over the world, including sold-out shows at Merrill Auditorium, The Lincoln Center, and in 2014, sang for President Obama at the White House.

“Japa” is an uplifting, melodic Afrobeats track with deeply meaningful lyrics. Michael’s amazing voice is aided by the stellar production of Harvey Mason Jr., who is also the CEO of the Recording Academy. The instrumentation combines traditional Nigerian and African sounds with more American R&B influences, in a way that meshes to create a masterpiece of a track. The track was made possible by the support of the Academy’s MusiCares foundation, along with Michael O.’s creation of NKENNE, which is the first African language learning app. 


Michael is both a brilliant artist and a visionary who aims to breakdown the social, cultural, and ethnic boundaries that separate people. His journey is one that you should be following closely with his Upcoming 2023 EP, in which “Japa” is the lead single. I am excited to see what Michael does next both as an artist and with NKENNE.