Would you please tell our audience; who is Oxlade?
Oxlade is a Nigerian artist, 26 years of age. He was born on April 22nd 1997. He lost his Mum when he was 3 and was raised by his Grandma. (Oxlade) took music personally after university but has a background in Gospel Music. He grew up literally in the choir. He’s just part of the new crowd of legends that Afrobeats is beginning to birth and he’s trying to make history the best way he can with my music. Stamping his name in the book of music and not just Afrobeats.
Tell us a little bit about your upbringing; where in Nigeria did you grow up?
I was born somewhere called Mushin. Thanks to my Grandma and her upbringing, we didn’t end up how our environment wanted to mould us. After secondary school, I moved in with my Dad and that’s when I became a hustler and where I learned how to become a man. It’s not like I’m not still learning how to become a man but that’s where I realised the reality of Earth because my Grandma really didn’t make us see some things while we were growing up and you know, me just realising how hard it is to achieve 3 square meals inspired my hustle.
After university, I was squating in different friends' houses and those friends happen to be teammates right now. Crazily, one of them is my manager, the other is my video director and cinematographer. So literally, I grew with my people in the worst situations and right now, we’re reaping from what we’ve invested in.
You mentioned starting to make music whilst in university. Growing up, what are some of the artists you were listening to?
There’s two segments; artists I didn’t have a choice listening to, the OGs like Erika Enu, Sonia, Ebinisode. My Grandma didn’t really listen to Fela because he was saying vulgar stuff but one of our neighbours, Papa Gasko, happened to be one of his drummers, so I would go in front of his room and listen to Fela. Michael Jackson also played a major part in my developing stage. When I grew into someone who really wanted to make music, I started listening to artists like Wande Coal, Lauryn Hill, Chronixx, Chris Brown, Michael Jackson is also still in the bracket because he has been my prototype. That’s the person that I am trying to outdo and I feel like he is the greatest pop star to ever do it.
If you could pick a moment where you went from this music fanatic to an artist in pursuit of a lasting career; when would that have been?
At some point, I actually left music because it’s a thing for you to want to make music and it is another thing for you to be able to music. I didn’t have the funds to invest into promotional work but, at that point, I wasn’t really pushing music. ‘Mami Water’ brought me back to music by a friend of mine, BlaqBonez during 2018. He was just trying to break out and I happened to be in the studio with one of our mutual friends who’s a producer, Alpha Genie. We birthed ‘Mami Water’ and I was still in the streets literally selling bus tickets when it dropped. BlaqBonez called me saying I am trending on Twitter and I didn’t even know what Twitter was back then. I was like: “What’s that? Is that a means to make money?” because that was the only thing that was on my mind at the time.
Music called me back because when I saw the love, when I saw the power that my voice carries, I just had to come back to it fully. All I needed was that validation like yes, this is going to make sense to you. That is what ‘Mami Water’ did to me and that is what gave me the confidence to actually face it like let’s do this. That was the transition from me being an aspiring artist to an artist, even though I have vast knowledge of music from growing up within the choir system.
And now as an established artist, you have the opportunity to travel all across the world and see all kinds of cultures and people. What is one of your favourite moments abroad?
I had so many legendary moments in the space of like one year. It really put me in that state where I am not scared to fail anymore because those are moments that validate the reason I am doing all of this right now. Accor Arena with Wizkid in front of 21,000 people and insane energy. I’ve never heard this amount of noise in my life. Performing at the Global Citizen in Ghana with Usher Raymond. Performing in South Africa on New Years Eve, every person was singing my song word for word. That club was Amapiano themed, I could feel their Amapianess [laugh]. But, when it was time for Afrobeats, it was next level for me.
In those kinds of territories, it is really hard for Afrobeats to actually penetrate except if it is a global smash. Every single legendary venue I had performed at before, they have been special to me. I performed at the Southbank Hall in London, Quai 54 in Paris, I’ve performed in arenas I used to hear about when growing up. It is just the ginger for me to want to go harder because I will get more blessings with every release.
Makes total sense. Speaking of Afrobeats, you’ve been here since the beginning of its rise in terms of international reach. What do you make of Afrobeats today? Where do you see it potentially heading?
I feel like trying to predict Afrobeats’ greatness right now is just limiting the boundaries the genre can break. We’re doing the stadiums now though [laugh], we’re doing everything now. We’re performing at the BETs now, we have our own category at the Grammys now, so what else can I predict that wouldn’t happen or wouldn’t be bigger than what we’re doing with it right now? I just feel like the more we go harder, the more unstoppable we become.
I want Afrobeats to be a household genre. I want it to be on the same levels of R&B even though it would take years and years of success to get there. I want it to be on the same level as Hip-Hop. But, we’re doing it! We’re actually doing it and we’re killing it so I am not even tripping. I don’t want to place a boundary with what we can do with our Afrobeats greatness. I’ll just say it’s boundless, it does not have any stops, it is limitless. The greatness Afrobeats can achieve is beyond even my own prediction, you feel me?
Yes, I understand. Let’s go into your recent single with Dave, which kind of came as a surprise for both fanbases. Although we know you like to feature with artists in different regions and different music styles, how did this come to be? First, how did you meet Dave and how did you decide to work together on ‘Intoxycated’?
I’ve never been the type to jump on any wave. If I really want someone then I will get that person against all odds. I know it was unexpected, but why do I feel bad that you guys didn’t expect this? [laugh]. Am I that predictable? Now this has given me a different perspective to how people actually perceived my style of music.
Having Dave on that record was a necessity. I’m sorry because I love every rapper equally, but with Dave man, he is the best rapper of my generation. With all due respect to every MC out there, he’s the best to touch the mic in my generation. Who else would I feature apart from Dave? It took me 6 months to get Dave, 4 months on the hunt and 2 extra months for him to write it. He literally took me to a store, asked me why I wanted him on the song. It was a crazy routine and I’ve never seen that type of thing in my life.
Those kinds of experiences are why I wanted him on the song. You never know the kind of cruise you’re on until you find it. I’m so happy I could create something that could potentially become the song of the year.
I’m glad that the hunt was worth it. Is there anyone else you have in mind that you would like to collaborate with in the near future or still on the hunt for?
It’s a long list. Now that I am finally open to artists jumping on my song or even letting songwriters assist me, I’m open to working with Eminem, Chris Brown, Drake. You see, I want to serve like the whole rap industry with choruses.
This is an agenda by the way, let’s go back to early stages, Ox has a song with BlaqBonez, Sarkodie, a bunch of rappers, right? That’s a CD on its own. That’s me giving you a glimpse into the plans I have for the music world. I am not just trying to give to only Nigerian and African rappers, (it has to be) the best folks, you understand? I am trying to expand the possibilities. I am trying to give the youngins hope that they can actually work with Drake, that they can actually work with anybody as long as they put their mind to it.
I happen to be the voice behind ‘Hide and Seek’ from Stormzy, that’s great for my catalogue. So why wouldn’t I aim for Dave? It is a trajectory I am trying to show the world, it’s a side I am trying to make everybody understand that there is no sound Oxlade can not actually fit into. There isn’t an artist I am not compatible with as long as the artist is also making good music, which is all I need to drop on a song.
So me saying SlimSshady is very planned and intentional. There’s Lauryn Hill, there’s Chronixx, I want to work with all my idols. I already did one with Bob Marley and Whitney Houston. There’s more to come, there’s more legends I have. Those are things I am prophesying into my life because prophecies got me this far. There are a lot of songs in my catalogue that speak about the way I am today.
You described a performance at an Amapiano club; are there any Amapiano artists you are keeping an eye on and you think that would match your energy?
One of my favourite artists in the world is Young Stunna. An amazing guy, his choice of melodies, his finesse, his riz, everything about him is insane. Musa Keys, that’s my boy too, we connect on some crazy wavelength. Even though this is not Amapiano, I happen to be on the biggest remix that came out from Africa last year; Sete. It has K.O, Young Stunna, Blxckie, Diamond Platnumz and myself.
I always connected to the South African audience, even the Hip-Hop side, I have a song with Blxckie. Even Nasty C, that would be some nasty combo. Basically, I am just open to work with people that make good music.
Let’s just go back a year ago, 2022, you’re at the Colors x Studio show performing Ku Lo Sa. It felt like it blew up over a couple of days but basically, the whole world of the internet went crazy. What was your reaction?
Actually, it wasn’t a couple of days, it took 3 months until it went mainstream. I remember a day before, a very tragic scandal broke out and I put myself in a dark space. My head and my mind was in shambles. I had no choice! Colors was in Lagos, a German show, wanted to come out and bless the Afrobeats scene with world class performers. I had to perform regardless of the circumstances. I performed like I had nothing else, no burden, nothing to lose again. What else could I do but just sing? Right after the performance, I went to rehab in London to get myself together. There were no phones, there was no communication, nothing.
Came back 3 months later and the song is gaining its momentum. I go on Tik Tok and it is getting attention little by little. I started making 3 Tik Tok videos everyday for 2 months. The face behind the song had to level up because some songs get bigger than the artist. I just had to level up with the branding. It went so fast and I just started collaborating with influencers.
I even got a cringe thread on twitter. People said my content was cringey. On top of my hustle, my daily bread, something I am using to feed my family, but the best reply for those kinds of threads is the magnitude of success the songs are. I am shameless with my hustle, I don’t care how you feel, as long as I’m pushing my music because it is my work. I can not be sitting at home and expecting my song to just blow up.
This success was also a lesson to the bougie artists who don’t think they need to push music. So yeah, I am living my dreams, I am learning from my mistakes and I think I am inspiring people to push their grind to the next level.
Yeah, I hear you on that. Well, we’ve spoken about your past, what you’re up to in the present, but what is in the future for Oxlade?
Right now, I am pushing Intoxycated but the song comes with other brothers and sisters. An entire body of work ‘Oxlade in Africa’ is coming this September. That’s what the future holds for me. A body of work, a world tour, God willing, more global collaborations. I’m just trying to make that project come out the best way I envision it, you know.
Would this be your debut album?
That will be my first album and first baby. That’s my first sacrifice to Afrobeats so definitely my debut album.
Why do you think this is the best moment to drop this?
Due to the fact that I wasn’t signed to a household label and I didn’t have that boost from the jump, it was a gradual process for me. I was developing brick by brick, day by day, collaborations by collaborations, drop by drop. I was gaining the momentum, I was gaining the recognition and then, Ku Lo Sa happened and just opened the doors to everything I had ever hoped for.
The world now definitely deserves a body of work and I’ve been cooking this for 3 years, but it didn’t stop me from dropping two EPs. I just feel like if you rush in, then you rush out, and if you don’t have that machinery to rush in and maintain that pace, you just have to go the realistic way; slow and steady, little by little. And when you come out, nobody can sell you short.
Since this is your debut album, what is something your supporters can expect from this project?
One of the best debut albums in the history of Afrobeats, God willing. That is how I feel about the body of work. Africa-ness at its peak, stories you didn’t know about me in my personal life, where I am right now romantically… it’s all in the album. The growth and evolution of Oxlade is all in that album, the diversity that comes with being Oxlade and just as the artist as I am. Lastly, the same way nobody expected Dave, nobody is going to expect the other features, you know.
Can you perhaps give us a hint?
Popcaan, that’s one of my brothers. He literally made a video vibing to the song we are about to drop. That’s like the Black Caribbean. Dave is handling the Black side of Europe. Flavour is handling the Black side of Africa, Nigeria to be precise. Sarkodie, also, God is with us on this one, that’s all I have to say.
Production Team| Deeds Studio; Photographer: @zek.snaps, Creative Assistant and Set Designer : @becauseimgarry, Stylist (@quinicki_), 1st assistant @layila.n, 2nd assistant @ddesms, Studio: @blankboxstudio, Editor Adekemi Thompson, Managing Editor Laurène Southe, Art Directior Diane Enebeli