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
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...
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?