Music is a business and with every business, the end goal is to make a profit. For most artists, the dream is to get signed to a record label and make all that music money. However, the pursuit of such a dream has on so many occasions led to artists getting bad contracts with impossible clauses- ultimately jeopardizing their careers, careers that had barely kicked off.
One artiste who is determined not to tread on such a path is Lojay. Lojay, whose real name is Lekan Osifeso Jr, is a popular artiste who is also independent- not signed to any record label. Frankly, not many signed artists let alone unsigned artists can boast of Lojay’s discography which includes a joint project with seasoned music producer, Sarz, and a collaboration with Nigerian global star, Wizkid- a testament to the singer’s dogged talent, hard work, and good fortune.
With Lojay’s latest project ‘Gangster Romantic’, the singer has been able to prove ( if there ever was a doubt) that his previous commercial successes were no fluke.
In this interview, largely inspired by Lojay’s recent body of work, the singer narrates his working process, his love for video games, and the overwhelming reception of his craft by the public despite being a lone wolf amidst other enthralling subjects.
How has the experience been since you started your musical career proper?
It’s been adventurous, very interesting. Ups and downs because I’ve been independent since I started dropping music officially, there are the challenges that come with that but asides from that, it has been a blessing.
Did you know you were always going to do music?
Well, around age thirteen to fourteen years of age, I started nurturing that seed, it was the first time I got into a studio and since then, I loved the idea of being an artiste. Although, at some point, I wanted to be a pilot but asides from that it has been music.
A lot of people noticed you for the first time through that viral video that showed you reacting to hearing Wizkid on LV N ATTN. How did that moment shape your career?
It was a defining moment for me, a moment that exposed me to the internet, to the world and I’ve just been going with that ever since and going on with this new life. The famous life where I can’t go out whenever I want.
Regarding the LV N ATTN EP, you worked with Sarz on an amazing project that still resonates now. How was it working with a top producer like him?
Sarz is an amazing producer and working with him was very seamless. We have very good chemistry and we had the same ideas as regards what we wanted to do with the songs and the direction to go. Working together was easy and we’ve been able to create a good relationship after and outside work.
Monalisa was the biggest song off that EP amassing over 42 million streams on Spotify and at some point was the most Shazammed Afrobeats song. You had a remix of that song with Chris Brown. Remixes are often strategic to break into new terrains. Did this remix fulfill its purpose?
Yeah, it did. It took the song to the global market and opened it to a lot of other markets it hadn’t touched and markets that Afrobeats as a whole hadn’t touched so yeah.
There’s a line on Tonongo that stuck with me and everyone I believe ‘You win the ass cheeks balloon d’or’. I understand the football reference but how did you think about it?
I was just vibing, and that was what resonated with me at the time.
It wasn’t like you saw any bum bum that caught your attention. Because you win the ballon d’or in football after a year-long madness (Laughs) oh yeah, there was a madness, she did a madness.
You took a break somewhat after that time, was there any reason for that?
A lot of stuff was happening behind the scenes that I could not control. At the time I wanted to drop music, there were other parties involved who felt it was better to chase a Monalisa remix. So when that remix dropped, I released Leader and since then I’ve been on my own run.
Lojay, you’ve been on a crazy run since that time with features on DJ Neptune’s ‘Only Fan’, Blaqbonez’s ‘Whistle’, ‘Automatic’ with Smallgod, Show Dem Camp’s ‘Your Love’ amongst others. No misses for real. What’s your creative process like?
To be honest, I just flow. I don’t have a direct pattern. The only thing for me is that I just want to be in a good mood and a good space. Whatever comes, comes. I don’t force it. I also like to take my time. Some people take pride in finishing songs quickly. I don’t believe in that.
I agree because I was watching one of your interviews recently where you mentioned that a couple of songs should have made the EP but didn’t because you were meticulous somewhat…
I mean, more than anything as things were changing with time, the project kept changing. I don’t think it got to its final form till when it was close to its submission, which was around October.
Let’s delve into the project properly. Gangster Romantic, what’s the story behind the title?
It was just a different approach to romance. For one, it’s an anti-romantic project. It’s not about falling in love per se, it’s more about having the heart to take whatever comes with being in love and being able to accept the bad side of love and moving with it.
It’s a different angle from what a lot of people preach. Most times it’s love or anti-love proper.
I just wanted a different perspective because I didn’t fancy the whole ‘I hate women’ angle because it’s played out and I genuinely wasn’t in a place where I was in love so I couldn’t go that way too. I had to be honest with myself to find where I was mentally and this was where I was.
Do you have a favourite song?
(Laughs) In that case, I’ll just let you know my favourite songs. MOTO and OVA. I remember where I was when I heard MOTO for the first time. I planned to listen to the whole project when it dropped but I decided to give MOTO a chance and it was crazy. When I thought nothing was going to beat that song on the EP, OVA came along at the end I loved the song arrangement and I’m certain there was some intent with that.
Uhm, I just wanted it to be cohesive. From the jump, I wanted it to feel like an album not a random collection of songs. I wanted that cohesive feel, the same mood, and the same tone throughout the project and I think that happened because a lot of people keep calling it an album.
Did you expect Gangster Romantic to do so well?
Yes and No. Yes, because I listened to the music and thought it was amazing. No, because before this project the industry was in a different place, a fast-paced place so I wasn’t sure how receptive people were going to be. As a whole, this project is mid-tempo to slow. Only two high-tempo songs so I wasn’t sure what to expect but when it dropped I guess it’s just the power of the music that has been in control because it has just been beyond my expectations, to be honest.
You mentioned being an independent artiste and there are a lot of things that come with that, the good, the bad and the ugly. How has it been and is there any chance you’ll be signed soon or you’re waiting for what fits the bill?
To be honest, I am waiting for what fits the bill. Signing is a very delicate thing and I just knew from the jump that I didn’t want to enter any office without any leverage. That has always been my focus, to take my time and do as many things as I can independently.
I still think that it was the best decision for me to make. I also think that there was a lot of grace involved. I mean having an EP with Sarz, a feature with Wizkid on the first project, and a remix with Chris Brown has given me a lot of leverage to do things on my own.
Because of all these things, I’ve been in places that I normally wouldn’t have, and been on stages that I wouldn’t have performed at. Even the meetings I have for deals and all, I get a lot more because of all that has happened and now with Gangster Romantic, it takes things to a whole new level.
Everything now has given me leverage to shape the conversation in whatever direction I want to. In the beginning, it was labels looking to help me and own the narrative telling me what’s best for me. Now it’s about, “We see what you’re doing, we like it. What can we do to help? How can we partner with you?”
Do you have any artiste/artistes you want to work with?
I don’t know, they are plenty, man. There are a lot of super-talented people in this life. I’ll rather work with artistes that will teach me things and help me challenge myself. I love Post Malone, he’s an amazing musician, and he plays instruments too. Drake is an amazing writer and Ed Sheeran. Kanye West too. I’ll love to just share ideas with him. I’m sure if you pick his brain you’ll find very interesting things. I believe he is often misunderstood but for someone who has made a billion dollars, you cannot underestimate his mental prowess.
You seem pretty chill, what do you do for fun?
You don’t play football?
No oh, games. I’ve probably played ball once in the past six months, it’s games or sleep. Even before my music blew up, I’ve always been that guy to sit in front of his system making beats, songs and all. That’s where you’ll find me. Even if I’m not working, I can be watching something random. Gaming for me is therapeutic most times though, I could go a while without playing but once I start I can keep going for like 12 hours. That’s when I have nothing to do though.
What are your plans for the rest of the year? Any more collaborations?
I can’t lie to you, make everybody just dey see. I don’t want to say anything. I like when I surprise people.
You saying you’ll surprise people means something is coming
Surely, a couple of things are coming yeah, not just one thing.
Your fanbase is growing…
Yeah, I won’t lie it is. I can even see it, even just from social media and the number of listeners. At the end of the day, it all still boils down to the quality of the music.
Everyone is talking about the project. For LV N ATTN, at a point, people just spoke about Monalisa and almost forgot about the rest of the project. With Gangster Romantic, people love the entire project and that was intentional. Before the release, I tweeted that I wanted people to listen to the entire project from the beginning to the end. That was the most important thing for me. It has been crazy, man. It’s doing so well.
In the first week, we did around 18 million streams and that was just based on the grace of God.
Anything you want to say to your fans?
I love them, man. I honestly don’t have anything to myself apart from my fans. I dey for them and I love them genuinely. They are a big part of who I am and as an independent artiste, that’s all you really have to yourself.