Nigerian singer, songwriter and producer Lojay released his EP Gangster Romantic via Koratori Recordings on March 3, 2023. The 7-song 21-minute project was executively produced by Anthony Egwu, and is a valuable insight into the heart and mind of the rapidly rising Nigerian star, touching on a range of emotive subjects from romance to different forms of conflict through a breadth of sounds and influences. Two years ago, Lojay announced his entry into the mainstream of the Nigerian music scene with the well-received EP LV N ATTN , a joint project with renowned producer Sarz. Then a relatively unknown act, his smooth, emotive vocals and sharp lyricism and expression of personal vulnerability helped set him apart.
Of the new EP, Lojay shares, “I didn’t make this project because I wanted to have hits out. I made this project because I wanted people to listen to something they can connect with and hold onto for a long time. Of course, you want to do numbers and be on the charts, but that isn’t the point. All I ask is that you listen to the project from beginning to end as one full body of work. There is a reason why I placed all of the songs where they are. I want you to have that experience in unison and just take it in and connect.”
Today, the team at Culture Custodian share our thoughts and opinions on Lojay’s Gangster Romantic, in this installment of our ongoing In-House music commentary series.
What’s your favourite song?
Temi: YAHWEH. It’s got a good beat, a general message, and his vocals were great on it.
Ope: IYD, there’s a yearning in that song that he pulls off so well.
Damilola: From the strings incorporated at the beginning of the song, to the way Lojay flows in, ready to do it all for his girl, MOTO quickly cemented itself as my favourite song on the EP. The song embodies many things I enjoy in love songs; strings, a sexy beat and a pining/heartbroken man.
Which track do you think has the most superb production?
Temi: I think it’s LEADER! The beat is mad and it has those great ad-libs.
Damilola: All the songs have great production but there’s just something about the Amapiano sounds in CANADA and most especially AVAILABU that screams superb. The complex beat which has new gifts every time you listen, coupled with Lojay’s melodic tunes and catchy hooks, create classic club bangers that’ll have every person attempting South African dances.
Adedamola: CANADA. The combination of Amapiano with other sounds, and the feature of South African acts DJ Maphorisa and Kabza de Small give the song a truly cross-cultural feel.
Which track is a potential hit (No. 1) song?
Temi: I also think it’s LEADER! because of this great production quality, amazing vocals and there was a passion that I think shows. There’s emotion.
Damilola: AVAILABU is a cheat record for a hit song ‘cause everyone loves Amapiano right now, but that is truly a crazy record.
Which track has the best vocals?
Temi: IYD, I felt his vocal range more in this song.
Ope: YAHWEH and IYD.
Which track is a potential miss?
Temi: MOTO. I think it’s MOTO because I didn’t really feel the song; yeah so you’re driving? Okay.
Damilola: As the first song on the EP, YAHWEH did not capture my attention as it ought to have. Although it is a nice song, it fails to set an accurate standard for what to expect on the EP. Going by the first song alone, I’d have written the whole EP off, not recognising the diverse and interesting sounds in the project.
Which track do you think is the most slept on?
Temi: YAHWEH; I think it’s a really good song. I hope it’s not going to be slept on but I think it will.
What’s the track with the most replay value?
Temi: LEADER! because it’s a great song with mad vocals and production.
Damilola: Definitely between MOTO and AVAILABU. Can’t get enough of them.
What do you think about the project as an EP in 2023?
Temi: As an EP in 2023, that CANADA song go make sense die 😭😭. I think people will like it, men especially since it’s for the gangster romantics like him. Or can women be gangster romantics?
Onyeama: It reveals Lojay’s rare vocals and exquisite pen game sonically. Following the success of his collaboration with Sarz on Monalisa, the Gangster Romantic EP is now the most important project he will ever release. It’s the result of his calm under pressure to create another hit song, and it could turn out to be his best project yet. It shows a mature Lojay, one who understands the industry and is eager to demonstrate his abilities.
Ope: It’s pretty solid.
Damilola: The project houses a variety of classic and trending styles that keeps you on your toes at the initial listen. It is an interesting body of work for 2023.
Michael: It’s good. Too bad it was released at a time when most Nigerians have their minds on Nigerian politics.
Adedamola: While fans are in anticipation of Lojay’s first, full-length album, the current EP positions the singer at the centre stage of his own amorous adventures. This time around, he seems to be more emotionally mature to handle different shades of affection. It’s a romantic ensemble of ups and downs, a sonic rollercoaster.
What do you think comes next for Lojay?
Onyeama: More collaborations, singles and maybe an album in 2024.
Ope: I think he’s so underrated, I need him to blow up ASAP.
Damilola: Hopefully more bangers.
Michael: An album, perhaps.
Adedamola: I think his penmanship is cool. For me he’s at the level of BNXN, Rema, Victony, etc. I’d like to see him hone his lyrical skills in his next album. I think the sky is the starting point for Lojay; he might not turn out as the most in-demand Afrobeats artiste in the future, but he’ll certainty be one of the voices to reckon with. I also hope that in the future he will become more adventurous and explore other themes than romantic love.
Overall thoughts and a 1-10 rating?
Temi: 6/10. He has a great voice but I’m not so into the message because of the one line in LEADER! where he says “girl, I’m your leader.” If he just replaced it with another thing I’d have scored it higher. Feminism yk. But I know it’s just a song sha and a really great one too. Also, I didn’t feel AVAILABU and MOTO at all at all.
Damilola: I doubt I’ll revisit the EP as a whole, but some songs will definitely be bleeding through my speakers on repeat. A solid 6/10.
Adedamola: 6/10. A decent project, with admirable beats and that soothing vocals. Sometimes, thematically draggy due to the attention given to one central theme, romantic love. But the use of metaphors in YAHWEH and MOTO helps to spice up the situation.
Lojay’s Gangster Romantic gets an average rating of 6.1/10. The project isn’t perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction for Lojay. Lojay is on a musical journey and Gangster Romantic is just another stop on his ongoing exploration. As the title suggests, Lojay’s new EP is for the gangster romantics: the ones who have chosen to take a bit more control over their romantic lives rather than leaving it up to the universe.