Lojay Is On the Rise


Photo: TSE.

Lojay Is On the Rise

Earlier this year, the Nigerian artist released a stellar debut EP in collaboration with Sarz, which contains a sole feature from Wizkid.

"Tonongo," one of the stronger afrobeats singles of 2021, came out back in May courtesy of Lojay and producer Sarz. The subtly sultry song primed the singer's riveting debut EP, LV N ATTN.

As soon as word went around of a Wizkid feature on Lojay's project, listeners questioned how he managed to secure the elusive StarBoy verse. The answer was a Sarz co-sign and a lot of patience, which culminated in a wholesome surprise made viral by the internet.

"It was my genuine reaction to hearing someone I had grown up listening to and watching him do all these things with afrobeats, creating my desire through his actions, now be on a song with me — and it's on my first official tape — like what!? It was a very amazing feeling to say the least, and the video shows you the raw reaction to that."

The 5-song LV N ATTN EP presents a medley of R&B, electro, and amapiano sounds built on an afrobeats base, forming a cohesive body of work worth every replay. Listeners have fashioned terms such as "Afro-sexy" & "Afro-sensual" for the EP, but Lojay chooses to describe it differently, "The best way for me to explain it maybe is Afro-fusion, but then I feel like that's a cheat code, 'cause you can just put 'Afro' behind everything. So simply, I make Lojay music, that's every genre."

Below, we caught up with the rising singer to discuss working with Sarz and Wizkid, and dabbling in different genres while residing in a familiar space.

Photo: TSE.

How did your relationship with Sarz begin and blossom into the EP?

I met Sarz through my lawyer and, to be honest, when I met him I was hoping to work with him. In my mind I was thinking maybe we'd possibly do one song, then he listened to my music and said he wanted to make an EP. He said he believed an EP would be better to express my sound.

How did the "LV N ATTN" song with Wizkid come together?

I had recorded the song in Lagos already, Sarz sent me the beat and I put something together quickly one night. I played it for Sarz and he said "Wiz would be mad on this." At the time there were supposed to be no features on the EP, but I was like if Wiz decides he wants to jump on it then that'll have to change.

I had forgotten about that conversation and then one night I was in the studio and I got a text from Sarz asking me to come through. When I showed up, Wiz was there. He was gassed about the song and in my mind I was like is this really playing out right now? but I just stayed calm and focused on recording. We worked on like three songs that night, it was a vibe.

After that night, we left the studio and I probably didn't see him till the listening party for Made In Lagos, and for like a month I waited for the verse. That's why the reaction was so crazy because I genuinely thought the verse wasn't gonna come again, then lo and behold, I heard the verse. I feel like the recording process of the song is the most memorable of the whole EP for me because of everything that went on, and how long it took to start and finish the record.

Photo: TSE.

Your amapiano entry, "Monalisa," is growing on a lot of people, do you enjoy trying your hand at different genres?

Yes, for me that's very key. I could say I don't like doing the same thing twice, but at the end of the day, even if I want to come back with something or do the same sound, I want to do it in a different way. Even when people ask me what genre of music I make I genuinely hate that question. Like, what do I say? Do I say afrobeats? Because I might be jumping on a hip-hop track tomorrow, I might be making a soul song next or I might be doing just acapella.

On your EP we also heard R&B and electro sounds, what would you say is the underlying essence of this project?

I guess the essence of the EP is Lojay, like in terms of sonics, no matter what type of sound I find myself, I'll always be myself within that sound. I guess that's what brings all the different styles of production into one piece, it's just the fact that there's just this one style of singing that cuts across all of them, and that unique tone is what makes it what it is. Me being me will always keep things cohesive and familiar.

As much as your songs are danceable, you also pay attention to your lyrics, how do you find that sweet spot, and how do you know you're there?

It's a feeling thing for me, it's 'how does it make you feel,' that's what's most important to me, it's not really like… I say what I say, and however that makes you feel is what it is, and that's just it. I've never tried to construct a punchline, I just express how I feel, and it just turns out being what it is, I just feel like I know what to say, and I trust my gut.

Any last words?

To everybody, I want to say thank you. Thank you to every single person that has streamed, shared posts, and interacted with any material my team and I have put out. I'm extremely grateful, I can't say that enough. I feel like saying how grateful I am will never be able to fully express you grateful I am, cause it's not by my power, it's just by grace, it's because of you guys that this is happening, I'm just one part of the machine, every single person that stood behind the whole movement, I hope one day I'll be able to thank you all in person.