Lojay – Finally Getting All The Love And Attention
“Mr Mike! Mr Mike! I can barely hear myself. I can only hear the drums; Just the drums and the instruments.” Lojay seems frustrated as the technical crew runs back and forth trying to get him what he wants – Excellence. It’s less than five hours to his first headline concert in his city – Lagos – of course, perfection is the goal. “The stage can fall, these lights can blow, but you see the sound? The sound has to be on point.”
Since his well-acclaimed 5-track EP “LUV N ATTN” was released – Heck, since his reaction to Wizkid being on the project went viral – the name Lojay has since sunk deep into our consciousness. Topping charts, shutting clubs down with bangers, performing at Homecoming in Manchester, and now headlining his concert in Lagos, Nigeria, we saw it coming – Well, I did. All these and more, telltale signs of an artist who is on the rise.
As introductions are made, his manager mentions that he’s under pressure and might come off as snobbish sometimes. Cards on the table: I had a strong feeling he was going to be on the edge, boy was I glad to be wrong! Lojay was as chill as they come. Aware of his stardom at the moment, he carries himself with a certain grace – Confident but not smug. It’s hard to ignore the eye-catching, tastefully selected jewellery on his neck, but once you do, you grasp that you’re in the presence of a star.
Shortly after the introduction, I ask “At this very moment, what’s going through your mind?” He replies jokingly; “I wish everything would move a lot faster so I can sing to my people. We need more passionate hands”. I give him a confusing look, he understands and tries to explain his choice of words – Passionate. “We can do a lot more with three people who have passion than 50 just doing it for the pay.”
To a lot of music patrons, 25-year-old Lojay came out of nowhere. Although Lojay earns his breakout moment with the seemingly unconventional and effortless command LUV N ATTN has, he didn’t just burst into prominence. There was the infamous ‘Midnight Vibes’ – his first EP. Released in 2017, it truly was an eccentric compilation of his raw and promising abilities as a singer and songwriter. “With ‘Midnight Vibes‘, I had recorded a couple of songs and just decided to put out a couple (opposed to releasing a single) so people could, you know, vibe and that was the major intention behind the EP.”
As a University student at the time, he admits he wasn’t focusing on music at the time. Shortly after his graduation in 2018, we saw rollouts like ‘Ariel‘ and ‘Ogogoro‘. “This was when my sound really started to take shape. At that point, I had left uni and gotten back to Nigeria, I had to figure out what I really wanted to do. I only had one thing on my mind, It’s what I’d been preparing myself for 2 years prior and, well, to be honest, there’s been a massive amount of growth which I would say is very intentional. Going through my catalogue, you’ll notice the growth in the music. “
“Every new song is better than the last and that was an intentional thing for me.” This was the same intention that was carried into a 3-month boot camp with Sarz where LUV N ATTN was born – Which was apparently supposed to be just one single.
“How did you know this EP was ‘it’?” Very confident he says; “When I finished making and hearing what we’ve made, that’s when I knew yes o!” We burst into laughter, “I mean what was the mindset going into this?” In a compelling tone he responds; “Through the process of actually making it, I wasn’t thinking about trying to make a hit song or a song that sounds like this jam or that jam – For every song, I knew what I wanted it to be and just went ahead to make that song.”
At this point, I give him an assuring look so he knows I’m following. “I’ve said this before, but if I was looking for a ‘hit song’ i would have never made a song like ‘Tonongo‘- Because on paper that’s not what it is. I just wanted to make a song about a particular thing on my mind at the time. When I was done making the song, it ended becoming an undeniable song. You might not think it’s a hit, but I don’t think anyone would hear ‘Tonongo and think it’s a bad song.”
The 5-song EP is a compilation of R&B, electro, Amapiano and arguably hip hop sounds, with Afrobeats as its foundation. These are the elements that formed a cohesive body of work that is impossible to listen, without tapping that repeat button – at least twice! “Sexy, edgy, melodic and lyrically elite”: These are some of the words Lojay has used in describing his sound. With listeners making up names like ‘Afro-sexy’ & ‘Afro-sensual’ for the EP, he’s not too far off.
“I like music that makes me feel good, I want to feel good and sexy music just makes me feel good. As a girl, when you listen to my songs you feel enchanted, as a guy, you feel I’m saying everything you want to say out loud. I like to say things people don’t want to say; it brings this edginess brings to my music in general. I’m not really a punchline guy, I just say those things you are thinking but nobody has said it.”
“Do you have a favourite song on the EP?” When I asked if he had a favourite track off the project, Lojay – as the creative he is – was reluctant to pick one. “Every song is completely different, every song has a story behind it. None of them can compete with each other – And that’s the great thing about making undeniable music.” He doesn’t stop there; “You can’t compare ‘Tonongo’ to ‘Monalisa’ – Two different messages, two different directions and two different intentions.”
“It’s like comparing a striker to a defender – they don’t fight the same battles”, he quickly adds to reiterate his point. After a lot of back and forth – plus my unmatched persuasive skills – he finally says ‘Luv N Attn’ “Just because of the sentiment behind it – The Wizkid feature”. At this point, there’s a broad smile on my face (FC for life) and then we fist bump! “Bruh, I’m a huge fan – I really respect him and appreciate his music. For me to have a feature with him, bro!” Apparently, Wizkid loved the song from the jump.
2nd of June 2021: Our hearts melted to a viral video of an emerging artist over the moon that a living legend blessed his sophomore project with a verse. How exactly did that happen? “We had recorded the song Lagos a while back before anything, then we both went to London and getting some stuff done. My guess is, Sarz on his own had gone to see Wizkid and played the song for him alongside a bunch of other songs.”
“Some random morning, I was at the studio and about 2 am, I got a text from Sarz asking where I was and if I could make it to another studio at that time. To be completely honest, I had a feeling it might have been to meet Wizkid but I didn’t want to get too excited just in case it wasn’t.”
“I walked into and saw Wizkid facing the control board, he turns around and the first thing he said to me was, ‘I’m a big fan’. Bro, I was so shocked. He then asked for the track to be played and it just kept on playing over and over. He said he liked the song and he’d like to drop a verse on it – if I was okay with that.” A week passed and nothing. Two weeks passed, three weeks passed and no word. We were getting ready to go back to Lagos and Sarz still said no feedback from Wizkid. At this point, I didn’t really mind just finishing up the song myself.”
Sarz definitely had him in the first half. “Suddenly he went ahead to play the song and in my head, it’s the same version I’ve heard over a thousand times. I was shocked, to say the least – My reaction in that video was exactly what I felt. At that moment, I thought about what that meant to me, my career, everything! I’ve looked up to Wizkid for the longest. Just getting him on the tape, him doing what he did on the song, the support has been amazing. It was a big deal for me.”
Mr Mike is now signalling Lojay – They’re ready for him to test run the stage. Before he dashes off in an immaculate all-black-everything fit, I squeeze one more question; “Do you have any pre-performance rituals?” “I’m not a superstitious guy, but I love to be comfortable.” He quickly adds; “I’d pull it off either way, but the most important thing for me is to feel comfortable. This might be taking a shot, chilling with my guys, whatever it is, I just have to feel comfortable.”
“Does this spill into your style?” ” I Just want to look good bro, I can’t lie! My stylist – Succi – knows what I like, he understands my vibe already, it’s just a thing of put what I’m comfortable with on me” He adds; “My sense of fashion is functionality – The function creates the style.”
“We good? Are you sure you’re ready for me?” He walks towards the stage, grabs the mic already placed on the stand, signals the band and Monalisa is blasting from the speakers. Lojay without a doubt, was into it – like he was performing to a full house. His audience at the time? The crew, who were working tirelessly, prancing, making sure his vision is a reality. I can’t help but think about how the world would have missed out on such a great tune. Why? “Monalisa almost didn’t make the EP.”
“Through the period of making the EP, I was developing my sound. I had made ‘Monalisa‘ in the early days of the boot camp with Sarz, so I let it go to record more jams. We had already submitted the whole project without ‘Monalisa‘. The first verse and chorus were recorded, after like three months, I just decided to record the second verse. After which I kept the song aside. Then, just like three weeks before release, we had a friend of ours come over to the house to hear the ‘completed’ EP. He was like, ‘all these jams are mad o, but there’s one jam you recorded way earlier, in the beginning times.’ We were so confused, which one?
“After a lot of back and forth, we figured it was ‘Monalisa‘. He (Lojay’s Friend) was so confused – he couldn’t understand why the song was not on the EP. He swore on everything! He even asked to take the song if I didn’t want it. In the middle of that conversation, Sarz and I locked eyes and thought to ourselves ‘wait are we making a mistake.’ That night we ended up listening to it back to back to back. After that, we decided this song has to be on the EP.”
Arguably the most popular song on the project, of course, my curiosity steps in. “Do you honestly think the other song would have done as great as ‘Monalisa‘ is doing right now?” With quite a confident smirk, “I still believe that the other song would have entered as well.”
How does it feel; finally getting all the love and attention? He laughs, but his response was so shocking, my face betrayed my thoughts. ”I’m not about that”, he says. Almost immediately; “What is it about for you?” “Legacy. It’s about legacy. It’s about dying and remaining.” He takes me back to his childhood when thoughts about legacy were always on his mind. “I don’t know if it’s weird, but I’ve been thinking about it since I was seven. One day I won’t be here again, what are they going to say about me, about my life. It’s not about blowing. Let everybody reading this know that blowing is easy, it’s chips.”
“So many people have blown and gone – blowing is the easiest part. It’s about what you do, about why you are here. If that’s the case, my job here is done cause I’ve blown. Every day we live, we’re writing our story. What is it going to be? Is it going to be a long story? Is it going to be a short one?” While this sinks deep, it’s clear Lojay is in this for the long ride.
It’s roughly 9 pm, guests are starting to troop into the venue. Typical of any Lagos event, it didn’t start at the stipulated time – no one seemed to mind one bit. Hands were busy with free cocktails, mouths chatting and singing along as the DJ set the vibe right with great tunes. At 11 pm, Lojay drives into the venue, directly onto the stage – Literally – In yet another well put together all-black fit. The band cues in ‘Park O X3’ and the crowd goes wild as Lojay hits the first note.
At this point, he has a huge smile on his face – Why not? The crowd was singing every line of every song. The 400-strong audience was so lit, the not-so-great sound coming from the speakers didn’t matter one bit – Mr Mike has a few questions to answer about that.
“Thank you all for coming, I’ve been waiting for this my whole life”; Lojay says to the crowd with sincerity in his face – just before he performs ‘Monalisa”. He then delivers a slower and sultry rendition of ‘Monalisa’ – truly showing off his vocals. It was the end of the night and the question on everyone lips; Is that all? The crowd wanted more!