Certain oxymoronic phrases can be chronologically distinguished by ambiguity, wit, and the presence of subtle genius; at least, that was my thought when I came across the EP title, ‘Gangster Romantic’ by Lojay.
Only two years ago, Lojay was fully introduced into the burgeoning Nigerian music industry under the wings of seasoned and gifted music producer, Sarz. The latter had noticed something in the then-24-year-old singer and decided to collaborate on a project with the younger creative; the result of this decision is ‘LV N Attn’ (2021).
Prior to this, Sarz had established a credible reputation as a ‘kingmaker‘ of some sort; in R&B, this wasn’t his first rodeo in terms of successful album collaborations with indie singers.
He had accomplished a similar feat with Wurld (Love Girls With Trobul) two years prior, laying a massive appetizer for Lojay’s.
A series of strategic media rollouts, including a viral clip of Lojay’s reaction to surprise vocals from legendary Nigerian singer Wizkid on one of the songs that were to be included in the Extended Play, created an avenue for oddity, which led to the project’s acceptance by the public upon discovery of how good the body of work was.
Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, Lojay’s career had surfaced, now holding weight thanks to hit records like ‘Tonongo.’ ‘LV N ATTN’ ( featuring Wizkid), and ‘Monalisa’. The boy had become a man (keeping things poetic, of course) and could now stand firmly without the endorsement of his benevolent collaborator.
Contrary to what some may believe, ‘Gangster Romantic’ is Lojay’s sophomore project as a solo artist, not his first; his debut as a solo artist was 2017’s ‘Midnight Vibes’, and the growth he has experienced from then till now has been benign to say the least, having towered over all obstacles to reach his present apotheosis, which includes a feature with American Superstar Chris Brown (Monalisa Remix).
Now, Lojay wants us updated on his new ethos for love, Love is wicked, and he would belt this on a rooftop if he could, “I was a fool for believing, now all my feelings you hang on the ceiling, I should have cheated on you” he vehemently signals on ‘Ova‘, a P.prime produced song.
In contrast to ‘LV N ATTN’, ‘Gangster Romantic’ veers notably. On the record, one can discern that the singer has been transformed from the hopeless romantic that he once was to a person who now takes precautionary measures when it comes to the affairs of the heart; still a romantic but only now bruised badly which, in turn, spawned a tint of savagery, a fuck boy, if I may, “She know say me I be chop and leave” the singer affirms on ‘Leader’, ‘Availabu’ equally delineates this side to the talented singer.
‘Yahweh’ creates a form of ambiguity to the theme as it challenges the rhetoric, “Give me devotion properly, I don’t need no secret love, I only need your company, so call me anytime you wanna talk,” he sings over Afro-pop cymbals and snares. This is the romantic in Lojay voicing out, seeking a deeper connection from the one he was used to.
We fully get Lojay’s dilemma on the sultry but heart-wrenching ‘Moto’, as he painfully recounts the sacrifices he made for a lover; all to no avail, as this lover ends up in the arms of someone else, “Saw you with a Valentine substitute, feel like say my tummy don loose, I hope that he gives you all the whole wide world while I cry alone.” If anything, one could empathize with the singer, unrequited love hurts like hell.
'Gangster Romantic' is polarized by Lojay's impressive vocal octaves, songwriting prowess, witty lambas, and a lot of giddy instrumentation that makes it a very worthy listen.