“I Have Learned From My Mistakes And I’ve Learned From My Wins” – An MM Exclusive With Oxlade

Joe Simpson

By Joe Simpson

Joe Simpson

16 Feb 2024

In six years of making music Oxlade has established himself as a leading light in the Afrobeats genre. The artist rose to fame thanks to his breakout single, ‘KU LO SA’, and has since gone on to work with some of the most exciting talent from his own continent and beyond, including UK Rap superstar Dave. Blessed with an inimitable vocal range and an ear for stellar production, this is an artist who continues to elevate as he reaches the next phase of his career.

I sat down with Oxlade to discuss his musical journey, the loss of his mother, the impact of his music, and his faith in God.

Where are you right now?

I’m in Nigeria in a place called Abuja. I’m from Lagos but I do come here a lot for serenity and to get my stuff together. It’s more peaceful than Lagos and there is less hustle and bustle. 

And in terms of your time growing up in Lagos, how do you think that city has informed your music?

The competitiveness, the non stop intensity, the want to outdo yourself, the want to outdo your past. Lagos has taught me all of these things and I’ve implemented them into my life and day to day activities. I guess that’s what really pushed me to get better.

What are your earliest memories of making music?

I started making music from as early as I could talk, basically. I was enrolled into a children’s choir and I was born into a musically inclined family. I lost my mum when I was three so I moved to my grandma’s and she was a deaconess. We were always in choir practice and what not – just singing, enjoying, dancing, acting, always on the altar, worshipping God, praising God. I already had an idea of what music felt like and I was unconsciously training myself for who I am right now without knowing.

I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. How do you think that’s affected you?

It affected me in both ways; good and bad. Good in the way that I learned more from my grandmother because my grandma raised my mother – so that’s double experience, double knowledge, double impact. She was really quick to help with any problems I had in my past and my present. The bad part is that I don’t know what it feels like to have a mother. But I will always give my grandma a shout out because she played that role perfectly well and without her, I don’t think I would be where I am today.

In terms of your early inspirations within music, which artists would you say have influenced you?

Michael Jackson, Wande Coal, Lauryn Hill, and there’s a guy called Chronixx. He’s an amazing Jamaican artist. I would say those four helped shape my music.

What do you think it is about those artists in particular?

They brought out the gems in their imperfections. They knew they were imperfect, so they perfected their imperfections. They came out with unique voices, unique aura, unique energy, and were born to do it. Those are who I embody. They triggered my aesthetics and who I am today as well as who I am trying to be.

When did you decide to start taking music seriously?

2016. In 2016 I recorded my first demo.

And from that point to now, how would you say you have changed as an artist?

In so many ways musically – morally in terms of how my life has been structured. There’s so many ways my music has evolved. Even sonically, there’s a huge difference between each song I’ve ever made. I learn something new from this song and I learn something new from that song. I have learned from my mistakes and I’ve learned from my wins. Every song has added an impact to my life and taught me things about myself.

There are a lot of really talented artists coming out of Africa at the moment but to a mainstream audience it almost feels like they have been clubbed together under one genre. Is that your perspective as well?

Everyone has their own definition of genre and the one we represent is under the umbrella of Afrobeats. That doesn’t mean that there are no sub-genres of Afrobeats though. There’s lots of different types of Afro Fusion going on. We have Afro Trap, Afro Grime. There is always more room to diversify but I feel like everything comes under the umbrella of Afrobeats.

Are you happy with that?

Yeah, I’m cool with Afrobeats being the name. It’s like from Reggae you get genres like Bashment and Dancehall. Then you look at Hip Hop and you have Trap and Grime. There has to be an overall genre that we have to identify with, and then we can make sub genres from there.

I’d like to talk to you about ‘KU LO SA’, as that song has kind of taken over and travelled everywhere. How has it changed things for you?

I mean, it did its job and fulfilled its purpose. I don’t get overly gassed about that record because it could have happened with any song or with any artist. That was the song that God said the universe was going to use to understand the gravity I carry. That’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s to come, though.

You also recently worked with Dave. How did you find the experience?

It was great and it showed me I can achieve anything I want to achieve. Santan is an artist that everyone wants to be affiliated with and make music with. It just felt different and felt really special having the opportunity to make a record with an artist like that. There are more amazing artists that are going to feature on my album and I can’t wait to share with you guys.

And your upcoming album – what has that process been like and what kind of music are you preparing to show the world?

African music. Proper African music that should help people connect and understand. I have big features on the record that should help to amplify what I’m trying to define. I felt like after ‘KU LO SA’ the world wanted to know more about the artist that created this global phenomenon. Before you know the artist, you have to know where he comes from, and I think that’s what I’m trying to show. It’s a perfect cocktail of greatness for you guys to enjoy.

Do you feel nervous given that it’s your debut album?

I’ve been doing this for six years. I would say I was more nervous in the first two years of my career but now I think I’m mentally prepared.

And what are your plans for the year ahead?

If I define my plans right now I feel like I am undermining God’s plan for me. I’m just going to give it my best and let God do the rest. If I say I wanted to win a Grammy, what if God had bigger plans for me and wanted me to win four Grammy’s? That means I’m undermining my future plans. I’m going to drop my first album then whatever comes after that is God’s blessing. 

Just off the back of that, how much of a role does your faith play in your music?

God is the reason I am here and doing this interview. God is the reason I breathe and the reason I can take this challenge at all. God is really integral to my music as well as being integral to my life and career. I’m really religious because the church helped harness my talent, so that speaks volumes about my beliefs.

Thanks for your time.

Thank you, bro ■

Oxlade’s debut album is set to be released in the first half of this year and has recently collaborated with MC One on the track ‘Mister Romantic’.