Lago Is Back And He Is Freer Than Ever

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Words by Maria Ogunnoiki

In December of 2021, rising AfroPop sensation, Lago released Balance, a colourful single with groovy beats created by renowned producer, Phantom.

The song quickly began to gain traction and Lago was right in the middle of a massive press campaign when he went M.I.A—for two years. 

Almost two years later, Lago finally makes his long-awaited comeback this year with the Blaqbonez–assisted Lotto, a brazen AfroPop ballad with honest lyricism and Blaqbonez spewing cut-throat bars of pure hedonism devoid of romantic attachment. With the song barely two weeks old and having amassed 60,000 views on YouTube already, it’s clear that Lago was missed.

I caught up with Lago on Meet while he was in Zanzibar, where our discussion was soundtracked by rustling leaves and the soft waves of the ocean washing up on the beach’s shore. We spoke about his hiatus, working with Blaqbonez, creative freedom, and much more.

This conversation has been slightly edited for clarity

Hi Lago, it’s nice to speak to you again. In 2021, you were in the middle of a press campaign for your single Balance when just like the Avatar, you vanished. What happened?

At the time, I felt like I wasn’t doing a lot of things right and I needed to get right. Some people would have told themselves to go ahead and figure things out in the process of doing, you know? but I couldn’t do that. I knew I needed time for deep introspection and accurate planning. I needed to get a clear picture of what I wanted. I needed to take a step back and do a lot more learning about the industry I wanted to succeed in. I wasn’t releasing music, but I was recording—A LOT. I was doing a lot of experimentation with my sound and I can tell you right now that I have 3 properly curated albums in the vault. 

I’ve grown sonically and I’m glad I took that break.

The growth is undeniable. It’s always a good idea to take a step back for improvement.

 Yeah and to even drive my point further, there’s the fact that I’m an indie artist. People think being indie is all roses and peaches but it’s hard, you know, especially on the financial aspect. I needed that break to make sure I was putting my money in the right places and making the best decisions for my career.

During your hiatus, there’s been a lot of ascension in the entertainment industry. While you were on that break, how did you feel watching new acts rise to prominence?

Watching all those acts emerge, the only thing I felt was inspiration. I was so inspired by all the huge feats artists were achieving, particularly my close friends. They’re all making phenomenal moves and so I was just learning from them because working with pressure is never a good idea. I learned to trust my own process and timing and stay steadfast in it. I used to deal with a lot of internal pressure after any release but because of that break, I’ve become more trusting of my abilities and I’m now self-assured. I trust my instincts. I trust my process. I trust my creativity. I learned that I had to become a firm believer in my work before I can convince hundreds, thousands, and millions of people to believe in it and I’m on that mission now.

Let’s take it all the way back to the beginning. Where did your musical journey start from?

 I grew up in a Christian home. My mom is a devout Christian and my Dad, not so much but my Mom made sure all her kids were actively involved in church activities. It wasn’t up for debate. You were either in drama, dance, or music. I gravitated towards music and it just took off from there. I joined the children’s choir when I was 6 years old and I doubled as a chorister and a drummer. I play the drums to this day. Getting to secondary school I took my vocals and drum skills to the school choir and continued there. I used to sing a lot of Wizkid and Davido songs—did you have these songbooks growing up?

Yes! There used to be butchered lyrics of all the popping songs in them!

Yeah! I had so many of them, and they’re an important part of my musical journey. I started recording properly in 2015, in my second year of study at Delta State University.

Oh, so you grew up in Delta State?

Yes I did and I moved to Lagos in 2017.

What spurred your decision to move to Lagos?

 I had just dropped a song, Malaria and it was a campus hit. I was a celebrity in school and I felt like it was time to break into the industry properly. I had gotten a little comfortable being the campus star and I don’t like to be in that position so I knew it was time to move. I wanted to expand my horizon. 

Do you think moving to Lagos has done that for you?

Getting to Lagos showed me that music isn’t easy and it made me improve. I used to live in Orisunbare in Egbeda with my friend and manager. He was good with business, I was good with music so we worked well together. I remember having to wake up super early just to meet radio shows on the Island. We’d go in this rickety Honda Accord he had (laughs). Those were quite hard times but it shaped me well. 

Why did you choose Lotto as your comeback song after a 2-year hiatus?

I chose it because it’s special. It has a catchy bounce, its lyrics are simple and straightforward and I like that about it. I’m looking to take my audience on an immersive journey and “Lotto” is a lead up to a whole lot more great music. In the next few weeks I’m releasing another so stay tuned!

I’m excited about that. 

Yeah, tell everyone to catch up! Lago is back!

 Love that! Blaqbonez is well known for preaching his anti-love gospel. It seems quite contrasting to feature him on Lotto because it has a very brazen romantic theme. Why did you choose to work with him on this new single?

First off, shout out to Blaqbonez for that killer verse! He has a song scheduled to drop not long from now and he was still very supportive of the rollout. I actually had an initial reservation about it honestly. I mean this guy dedicated a whole concert to “Breaking The Yoke Of Love”! He really isn’t with the lovey-dovey biz but it brought an interesting arc to the song, and gave it more character and I love that.

 How did the collaboration come about?

In 2021, my manager at the time shared the song with his Manager, Morin and she said she’ll play it for him but Blaqbonez only hops on songs he genuinely likes, she was very clear about that so I was just hoping he liked it and in a week I was hearing a Blaqbonez verse on my song.

Once I listened, I knew it was futuristic and so I kept it; I knew it had to wait for the right time, and two years later, it was finally ready.

You’ve mentioned that you have albums in the vault so how soon can we expect them?

Give me a billion dollars and I’ll drop all 3 albums today! I’m on go time. My sound is refined and I’m ready for everything so just don’t blink else you’ll miss out. I’m not holding back anymore. It’s telling in everything I do, even this interview, a few years ago I wouldn’t have been this carefree and open. A lot has changed, and positively.

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