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‘I AM AFRO-FUSION ORIENTED BUT DO NOT BOX ME INTO ANY MUSICAL GENRE” – OMAH LAY

Ikedi Mekz sizes up the Nigerian musician who will dominate 2021 and beyond

At the start of 2020, Stanley Didia aka Omah Lay was just another Port Harcourt boy trying to make headway in life. Fast forward months later and he is a fan favorite to many music lovers across the continent who is poised to dominate the music industry like Davido, Wizkid and former Port Harcourt based and now international superstar Burna Boy.

Before his recent arrest alongside fellow Nigerian star, Ms Tems in Uganda for performing at a concert which flouted Covid-19 restrictions, Omah Lay was the name on most lips. His song ‘You’ has recorded viral success. Same with a couple of his other songs that have since developed into hit songs. His latest hit ‘Godly’ occupied the number one spot on the charts for more than a week in December 2020.

On July 3 2020, the talented singer was picked as the debut star for Apple’s Africa Rising Campaign which spots talent in Africa and projects them all through the continent and internationally.

Afrofusionist Omah Lay

‘Bad Influence’, another song of his, was named the Top Song of 2020 by Apple Music. The 23-year-old Nigerian act, who released his debut EP, ‘Get Layd’ earlier this year, has been described as wielding the “lyricism of Burna Boy and the melodies of Wizkid.”

Following the grand reception of singles ‘You’ and ‘Bad Influence’ Omah Lay released the ‘Get Layd’ EP on May 22 last year. Singles like ‘Hello Brother’ and ‘Do Not Disturb’ which was released in 2019 heralded his emergence in the music scene but got everybody’s attention with “You” and “Bad Influence”which were off the EP.

The face of 2021

Taking a sober walk down memory lane, the singer reflected on how his journey towards success has taken a speed bump. “This time last year I was holed up in my tiny room singing my guts out, not knowing if people would ever hear or even appreciate these songs. A few months later, those songs came together to become an EP titled ‘Get Layd’ and that changed my life!!!

“I see myself everywhere, hear myself everywhere, which feels great! Everything I ever wished for.” He added: “But with it went the simple things of life, I miss being Stanley!!! Got me asking myself sometimes WHAT HAVE WE DONE???!!! Don’t mind me this shit is still new to me.”

Omah’s grand dad was drummer for Celestine Ukwu (above) the highlife philosopher

Omah Lay recently released an EP, ‘What Have We Done’, his second in eight months. The first ‘Get Layd’ which received rave reviews earned him all the attention he is currently getting. ‘What Have We Done’ released on Nov. 20, 2020, becomes his first body of work under Warner Music Group to which he recently signed.

‘What Have We Done’ seems like a commemorative title that describes Omah Lay’s journey so far, but it seems to be a complex title for an Extended Play of four tracks. It will be interesting to see if ‘What Have We Done’ produces the hits that ‘Get Layd’ did.

As a gifted artiste with an uncanny ability to exist in his space, even when circling around the afro-fusion tag that has seen a recent rise in adaptability, the promising act has left many music buffs to tip him to win the ‘Next Rated’ act at the forthcoming Headies Awards.

Speaking on his career trajectory and his brand of music earlier last year, he said: “I started out when I was around 15. I became a music producer for a long time and then started singing again. I heard a lot of stories about my grand dad while growing up, that he was a percussionist for legendary highlife singer Celestine Ukwu at a time. I think that’s where the whole thing comes from. My dad was a drummer also. These people were all inspirational to me.”

Though he described his sound as afro-fusion, Omah Lay is not comfortable boxed in one genre.

“My sound is afro-fusion, but I don’t like being boxed in some type of way; I’m not that kind of artiste. There are so many influences to my music,” he enthused while describing his brand of music and sound. Born into a family with deep musical roots in Port Harcourt, his grandfather, a percussionist played in Celestine Ukwu’s highlife band, which is reputed for great highlife hits like Ije Enu, Igede and Money Palava in the 60s until 1976. His father also played the drums though he didn’t reach the heights of his father. This no doubt gave Omah more confidence in music, as he created his own brand of music, Afro-fusion, a blend of Afrobeat and Highlife genre.

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