GANGSTER ROMANTIC comes off somewhat as a concept project. A gangster in love. It’s a departure from the gentle and loving Lojay on LV N ATTN…
By Emmanuel Daraloye
Everyone changes. Sometimes, they change from good to bad; and other times, in reverse order. You tend to wonder what’s responsible for these changes: the vicissitudes of life, knowledge, education, age and maturation. For the Nigerian-born artiste, Lojay, these factors could have been some of the reasons responsible for the changes that happened to him in the last twenty months. He is no longer the dude who screamed love and attention (stylised as LV N ATTN) in 2021. Just last week, he came out in a new dimension, calling his new body of work, GANGSTER ROMANTIC.
It’s a 360 degree move. How do you segue from being the guy who vows to shower attention on his lover, to the one who now claims to be a romantic gangster? The answer is simple: life happens. And it’s better we leave it that way.
Twenty-six-year-old Lojay was born in Nigeria, his childhood split between Ikorodu and Victoria Island. These two parts of Lagos State represent respectively the masses and the elite. Growing up, Lojay saw music as just a hobby. American singer, Chris Brown, was one of his most-adored artistes.
Things changed for good for him in 2016 while he was studying for a Marketing degree at University of Portsmouth, in the United Kingdom. This period was when he started releasing music. Unfortunately, a lot of this music can’t be found online. He graduated in 2018, ditching his Marketing degree for the microphone. A friend introduced him to Nigeria legendary producer, Sarz, who expressed interest in working with him. The sonic synergy between them culminated in the LV N ATTN EP in June 2021. In my review for The Lagos Review, I postulated that Lojay was a shining star who was here to stay. Those words seem to be coming to fruition right now. From being invited on stage by Chris Brown at the 2022 Wireless Festival, to “Monalisa” being streamed more than fifty one million times on Spotify, down to European tours and more, Lojay might have just crystalised his huge successes with the release of GANGSTER ROMANTIC.
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Humming reverberates in the opening six seconds of “Yahweh,” a springy, sex-tinged tune. Lojay reveals his bedroom moments with a girl. He showers praises on her for her legendary body movements. By starting with “Yahweh,” Lojay slightly hints at what the listeners are to expect in the next six tracks. This song strikes you. It echoes in your ear if you use a headset, and the quick outro leaves a lasting impression. The lyrics are relatable to anyone who might have experienced good lovemaking. While the lovemaking is good, Lojay is clear and direct about what he wants from the affair: a committed relationship with absolute attention. “Yahweh” is a beautiful mix of R&B and Soul.
In the Nigerian new school artistes group, and especially in terms of pen game, Lojay ranks with the likes of Ruger, Omah Lay, Victony, BNXN and perhaps Oxlade. Lojay writes so well. His lyrics are sequentially arranged. They paint pictures. If Lojay was a novelist, he would have been one of the best in his generation. He’s that exceptional. A track like “Leader!” show these qualities. Through the two minute, twenty-one second song, you get to understand how Lojay’s pen works. He brings the listeners into his world. On “Leader!,” Lojay details his desire to stay off relationships to remain focused on his goals to be successful.
The attention-grabbing “MOTO” is Lojay’s first song of the year 2023 and track 3 off GANGSTER ROMANTIC. Produced by Lojay, and The Elements, the song is a somber reflection on the loss of a romantic relationship. He sings of a time he would have done anything to guarantee his lover was comfortable. But now he is left with glimpses of her with another man. He sends well wishes to her while he sobs in his moto (car). The guitar work, hard-hitting drums and baseline solidifies the instrumental. They help in Lojay’s articulations in GANGSTER ROMANTIC.
On “Canada,” Lojay uses money as bait to get a girl. He tells her that despite how many guys call her, none of them have the money to fly her out to Ottawa. Lojay collaborates with veteran DJs and record producers, DJ Maphorisa, and Kabza De Small of South Africa, to give his audience an impressive fusion of Amapiano and Afrobeats. This driving dance track transports the listeners to the best shindig parties around. In his verses, Lojay highlights transactional sex now rampant among people.
“IYD,” which translates to “If You Down” is an emotionally-drenched tune. Lojay lets down his guard, offers help to a girl and ends his verses with the clause, “If You Down.” While he wants to talk and have fun with the girl, he still seeks her consent in doing so. Through Lojay’s verses, you get to understand that the girl is only heartbroken, and Lojay wishes to help her out of her depression.
On the second Amapiano track off this GANGSTER ROMANTIC EP, “Availabu,” Lojay vows to be there for his girlfriend. The chaotic state of the production undermines the song’s quality. A refined mixing and mastering would have helped.
A gangster finally meets his match on the last track, “Ova.” Lojay’s heartbroken tale forms a large chunk of the song. Lojay rues his missed chance with the girl. At the same time, he wishes her all the best.
Although we are only three months into the year 2023, with GANGSTER ROMANTIC, Lojay has released a potential project of the year material. His writing is now more elevated, and he is mature enough to play with sounds. As expected, the features are sparse; yet, you cannot but want more of him.
GANGSTER ROMANTIC comes off somewhat as a concept project. A gangster in love. It’s a departure from the gentle and loving Lojay on LV N ATTN. This time around, Lojay is more assertive. He requests what he wants and unashamedly calls for sex when he likes. It doesn’t get more “gangster” than this. Lojay sticks to the title of this project through its sultry seven tracks. And he delivers.
GANGSTER ROMANTIC shows that Lojay has been working on his craft. The last two years of work finally come to play. After releasing LV N ATTN two years ago, GANGSTER ROMANTIC shows Lojay in a fresh dimension. The storytelling, art cover design, lettering, features, mixing and mastering, etc, all collapse to form this beautiful project that looks set to stand the test of time. While fans and critics look forward to the elusive debut album, for now, GANGSTER ROMANTIC stands as an exemplary tentative gift.
Lyricism – 2
Tracklisting – 1
Sound Engineering – 1
Vocalisation – 2
Listening Experience – 1
Emmanuel Daraloye is Africa’s Most Prolific Freelance Music Critic. He has over 500 album reviews in his archive.