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Oxlade Breathes In Music At The Shores Of Lagos, Nigeria

Overlooking the picturesque ocean backdrop of Lagos, Nigeria, Afrobeats musician, Oxlade takes a powerful but somewhat vulnerable stance amongst an element he is most representative of, water. A juxtaposition with Oxlade in bright pink, loud print, and oversized cut denim, finished with the edgy close-ups of his numerous tattoos and big snowy pearl necklace, a testament to the life he is currently building for himself. A bright, eccentric character amongst a calm, mysterious demeanour. 

Born as Ikuforiji Abdulrahman Olaitan, he is a testimony to every project he injects his creative capacity or real-life experiences into, and his audience admires it. He has released many singles that are sure to be on your, or your neighbor’s playlist, including ‘AWAY’, ‘DKT’, and most recently, radio’s most loved ‘Interest’ by Dolapo, featuring Ms. Banks and himself. 

Words by  Hiba Hassan

Creative Direction: Mariam Sholaja

Photography Mariam Sholaja

Styling Manis (Sam Alia & Pieces)

Photography asst. Mofe

The name Oxlade is one of many middle names given to him by his family, being the eldest grandchild. With that comes a great deal of responsibility or pressure some would presume, but for Oxlade, he has moved his larger-than-life presence from his family, but also to the wider world. Born and raised in Mushin, Lagos, Nigeria, his artistic flair is one that came from within, being in the heart of Nollywood culture and one of the origins of the Afrobeat genre. 

 

Singing from the tender age of 10, it has been around three years since he first came onto the scene, officially. And you can say that the breakthrough in his career cracked open from his 2018 collaboration with fellow Nigerian rapper Blaqbonez, creating the track ‘Mamiwota’. It is just as important to reflect on the lows as well as the highs when truly wanting to learn or be inspired by someone or something, and during the time of his breakthrough, the immensely talented musician had dropped out of university and had almost given up on his dreams, which he recalls as his ‘darkest times’. 

 

Since then, Oxlade has been an unstoppable force in music but manages to take the time to reveal a character that is most heart-warming than meets the eye. His love for the most important relationship in his life, his grandmother and guidance by the grace of God, is what affirms his self-assurance in what some would say, an over-saturated music industry.

 

We sat down with the rising star, on set in his hometown of Lagos, to delve deeper into the musician behind some of our favourite tracks...

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How have you been keeping with everything happening over the past year?

I’m doing great, staying happy, making music, having fun, and thanking God for life. 

 

What stands out for you in particular from this past year, minus the global pandemic, of course?

The release of my first project and how far it has reached! It’s been exciting seeing people from far and wide connect with my music ... 

 

Do you have any mantras you swear by that have maybe helped you along in your journey?

I don’t have any, I just believe in myself and believe in God and his ability to help me use my gifts well. 

 

How did you come up or decide on the name Oxlade as your artist name?

Oxlade is a name that was given to me by my grandfather. There’s no deep story to it. 

You have released solo singles and featured in songs like Interest FT. Ms. Banks, how would you describe everything you have released so far, and what trajectory do you have when accepting to star in certain projects?

Collaboration is simply what drives me, I love to make music with great artists. And obviously, the plan is to convert new fans along the way in new territories. And I first have to connect with the artist on a mental level before accepting any collaboration. 

What has been your favourite release in terms of the best experience and fulfilment?

Every song I have released has been my favourite because the fans accept what I sing. 

 

You describe your last EP, OXYGENE, as chilled but very true the human experience. How is the ‘human experience’ defined to you?

Oxygene is about a love story that happened to me, that’s how real it is to me. Because it’s about me. 

 

I’m interested to know, what the meaning was behind the cover art for OXYGENE?

Music is the air I breathe 

 

Taking inspiration from this scenic shoot, I feel like your persona and the ocean/beach have coexisting qualities. What do you think the similarities are between you and this natural element?

Water represents so many things, calm, force, and beauty. That’s what I represent! 

 

The music industry, especially sections that are still new, moves and transforms so fast. Are you open to trying new things and what could this look like for you?

Growth and change are constant in everything in life, we all move when the time is right. 

 

I just believe in myself and believe in God and his ability to help me use my gifts well. 

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You once said that afrobeat’s isn’t a genre but a lifestyle, how has African culture been a pivotal inspiration in music worldwide, in your opinion?

Afrobeats is growing worldwide and it’s playing an important role in telling African stories worldwide. 

 

And how do you think you have added to that?

I’m just doing my part in making Africa great! That’s how I’m contributing. 

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Nigerian artists are some of the biggest names right now, like Wizkid and Burna Boy, who are some of your biggest inspirations from Nigeria and overall in your upbringing?

Wande Coal, Wizkid, Davido, Burna, Tiwa Savage, Olamide, all inspire me. 

 

As a Nigerian, the past year has extended far beyond Covid-19. How did the situation in October resonate with you?

The world is changing and developing fast and obviously, the new generation is taking advantage of that. The internet and media are helping us connect more with the world. 

 

Do you remember any moments growing up that offered a glimpse into where you are today?

It just shows that there’s a lot of work to be done here in this country and we have a long way to go to be truly a democratic state. 

 

Your last EP was about an ex, what would you say is your greatest or most important relationship in your life that influences your life and the music you create?

My grandma is my most important relationship but anything I sing about is a result of whatever I feel present. 

 

Something else that has been a constant around us is grief, how have you been able to deal with such emotion from a young age and be the man you are today?

My Grandma has been there for me and as I grow older the people I surround myself with have been an influence .

What is your legacy?

Being able to stay true to yourself and knowing that it’s possible to make it from wherever you find yourself in life. 

 

So, what is next for you?!

You guys will find out with time. Thank you! 

My grandma is my most important relationship but anything I sing about is a result of whatever I feel present.