On his debut album, the Lagos rapper and reality TV star narrates his personal journey over a diverse backdrop of sounds.
Olamilekan "Laycon" Agbeleshe has emerged as one of Nigeria's most promising new school acts. The Lagos-based rapper and singer may be most popularly known as the winner of the most recent season of Big Brother Naija, but music had been his passion long before fortune located him as a reality television star. Music has always been Laycon's life, and that's what the 27-year-old prefers to be recognized for.
Laycon began gaining traction locally during his university years, through performing at various events in Lagos. He was one of ten artists chosen to perform at the Coke Studio University of Lagos event while still an undergraduate at the school, and was a top ten finalist of the 2017 MTV Base LSB challenge. In 2019, he signed his first record deal to Lagos-based record label Fierce Nation.
Now, Laycon has released his debut album Shall We Begin — a 12-track body of work that features some of Nigeria's top talents — the likes of Joeboy, Mayorkun, and Teni. In March 2021, he began the album rollout by dropping its first two singles, "Wagwan" and the infectious afro-house bop "Fall For You", currently boasting over 1.1 million views on YouTube.
Laycon is embarking on the beginning of what he declares will be a very long journey, and is filling you in on all the details — every step of the way. Below, he reveals intricate details about his debut album and the creation process behind it.
Laycon feat. Mayorkun - Verified (Official Video) youtu.be
What was the idea behind the album title Shall We Begin?
I put out an EP last year titled Who Is Laycon?, just for the sole purpose of people discovering who I am. And now that they all know who I am asking, 'shall we begin [the journey]?'
How long have you been working on the album?
80% of the album was done in a week. We did that while also shooting my reality show and creating its official soundtrack. So, we were working on three projects simultaneously. And that's excluding "Jeje" featuring Terri and "Verified" featuring Mayorkun.
How did you approach the album creatively? What was the process?
It was always going to be about versatility for me. The very fact that I can fuse rap into any genre is what makes it easier for me to work. Creatively, I decided to put different sounds, vibes, energies and topics into the album. And that's what you get basically. That's why Shall We Begin is a taste of what you should expect moving forward.
A number of Nigerian music heavyweights feature on the album. Tell us about working with Mayorkun, Joeboy and Teni. How did it happen and what was the experience like?
I've had "Verified" since 2019. When I came out of the Big Brother Naija house last year and met Mayorkun, the song was already done but he added his section.I then spent time in the studio with Teni, Joeboy, Terri and YKB. We did a session where we came up with the songs.
Image courtesy of the artist.
The process of creating the album was a wonderful moment for me. I discovered a whole lot about my musical abilities. And I have the people that I featured on the album to thank for that, they pushed me to do some of the things I did. They influenced my thought process. They pushed me to sing and would say things like, "I like what you're doing on this, sing on this" instead of the usual rapping that we do.
What's your favorite song on the project?
I don't really have a favorite, but I have songs that mean much more based on my personal experiences. "My Lane" is quite personal to me. I had to do some things to get myself in a space to write that one. "All Over Me" is another one, it stemmed from an experience I was feeling at the moment.
Tell us about the intro and the outro.
"And So She Spoke" and "And So They Spoke" were both intentional. Most of my projects are actually stories of my journey. The story features an important person in my life that played a part at the beginning of this journey — that's why "And So She Spoke" features my mom. For "And So They Spoke", I thought about everyone who supports me, everyone who cares about this journey that I'm on. If they were going to say something, what would they say? I say it on their behalf on the song. Those two songs are parentheses for the album.
What do you want people to take away from the album?
Firstly, I'd like people to listen to Shall We Begin with an open mind. And what I want people to take away from it is — Laycon has started, Laycon is going to be here for a long time, and Laycon is not going anywhere. We're starting now, and we're not going to end.