From his lead single ‘Tonongo’ to ‘Monalisa’, both on his collaborative EP with Sarz LV N ATTN, Lojay has been serving us with back-to-back hits since he arrived in the Nigerian music scene. His features on ‘Only Fan’ with DJ Neptune and Zlatan, released in the same year and ‘Runaway’ with Ayra Starr are just as immaculate. A Chris Brown feature on his remix of ‘Monalisa’ was a knock on the door to global stardom.
Lojay is all anti-romance with his new project Gangster Romantic, a sharp contrast with his previous project about love, lust, care, devotion and everything in between. In his words, a gangster romantic is someone who has closed out his heart and eyes to the world of love and romance. In his interview with Dadaboy Ehiz on Apple Music’s Africa Rising, he admits that he has seen “shege” on the streets and he wanted to put all of that into the new project.
Gangster Romantic opens with ‘Yahweh’ (produced by Yung Willis), the Hebrew word for God. A tricky title since this is not about glorifying God. Quite the opposite. Lojay sings about a baddie who has him over his head and whose gawk-gawk game makes him scream God’s name in vain.
Next is ‘Leader’ (produced by P.Priime) with the proclamation: “Girl, I’m your leader” and an instruction: “If she rude, put her feelings on cruise. Tell her it’s all over/Leave her, if she move wrong, leave her. Too many babes on signal” and a rhetorical question: “Why you wanna be my controller, shey you only see me like a soldier?”
In his interview with Apple Music, he says ‘Leader’ was inspired when a woman he was with was adamant about being in a relationship with him, and he wanted to tell her, “You are not going to just have me, because I know who I am and what I want,” which of course warranted the question.
‘Moto’ is our first look at heartbroken Lojay. The woman he’s in love with doesn’t share the exact same feelings, even when he’s trying his best to commit his all to the relationship. She might have moved on, but he’s still in it 100%, as he’s still offering to bail her out even when she’s on her last card. “Oh my baby, we be like oil and water/You know I could never refuse you, I dey see your face in my rearview,” is the lingering emotions and hope that they make up even though it’s never going to happen.
Featuring South Africa’s DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small is upbeat ‘Canada’. Inspired by another stripper like his single ‘Tonongo’, he tells the story of a girl who wants to leave her home country for Canada. “O lo ma do mi if she see the envelope of money” indicates transactional sex, the song’s theme. “And she don’t need no lover boy abroad,” is further proof.
‘IYD’ has a slower tempo and R&B feel. Produced by Louddaaa, Lojay seeks closure on ‘IYD’. He only wants to say what’s on his mind, but we all know meet-ups like this don’t just end with conversations. He asks that she give him a chance to explain himself and what went wrong in their relationship if she’s down. It’s not a coincidence that the song sounds like he’s trying to seduce her as well, “But I still feel a way, feel a way, feel a way about you.”
Lojay is on an Amapiano roll on ‘Availabu,’ the jewel of the bunch. “Can I put my faith in your holy fire?” is like Victony’s “If I go kpai, my resurrection sef go dey for your body o/It’s a miracle working body” on ‘Apollo’. “Now, I’m the nigga you ring when you drinking/I’m the nigga you sing when you tipsy,” he states he’s available if she ever needs love. “Her booty belong to Oosha/Her body belong to Osahlobuah” is possibly the line of the year!
‘Ova’ signifies an end, the end. It’s not a coincidence that it rounds up the project. Here, he admits that he knows that it’s truly over. “You don’t even listen listen no more/You don’t want to see my point of view/So, I don’t even ask the question no more, cos’ I know I’ll be wasting love on you,” describes someone who has clocked out of the relationship and is just there for vibes. Because of their issues, it’s evident to him that she’s been cheating, and he regrets not cheating too. Regardless, he prays that she finds someone good to her because he couldn’t be all of that to her.
With a running time of 20 minutes, Lojay encapsulates what it means to be a romantic gangster in his new project. Heartbreak, regret and a resolution to be anti-romantic is the rule of the day. The attention to detail in the songwriting, melodies, and production puts the project on a pedestal, and for a sophomore EP, it doesn’t do too badly.