With deep musical roots in his family and influences from Nigeria's southern region, Omah Lay’s velvety voice rides over a variety of grooving rhythms.
The young Port Harcourt man found himself becoming one of the most popular producers in the city at the start of his musical career. Now back behind the mic again, Omah Lay grew his already existing fanbase with the release of “Do Not Disturb” and “Hello Brother” in 2019.
Further positive reception has gained from the singles “Bad Influence” and “You” earlier this year when Omah shared his debut EP, “Get Layd”. Despite only providing three new tracks, the Nigerian artist was still able to define his Afro-fusion sound.
The 23-year-old has already been compared to the likes of Burna Boy and Wizkid with his infections R&B melodies. Omah returned this year with the breezy track “Damn”, featuring the effortless style of Atlanta hitmaker 6LACK. The tune accompanies Omah’s new EP “What Have We Done”, released just last month.
Both EPs stand side by side and acts as an ode to contemporary Afrobeats with successful use of percussion-based instruments. Despite only amassing ten songs between the two, the EPs offer something that isn’t trying too hard. Omah’s sound isn’t too loud or complex, his smooth vocals do all the work in guiding the listener through each one of his tracks.
Guest editor for Notion 88 print, Tiffany Calver picks Omah Lay as one to watch for next year.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
I yawn and try to sleep again.
Tell us your first musical memory…
First musical memory was my love for Vuli Ndlela by Brenda Fassie. That song used to be an automatic pause on whatever I was doing.
A song that sums up your life so far?
‘Over’ by Drake. ‘I know way too many people here right now that I didn’t know last year. Who the fuck are y’all? I swear it feels like the last few nights we been everywhere and back but I just can’t remember it all… what am I doing?’ That’s so me right now.
If you were Prime Minister for the day – what would you do?
I’d resign. Don’t think I can stand that pressure.
What’s your biggest learn from 2020?
How unpredictable things can be. Nobody has all the answers, you just have to trust your process.
You’re stranded on a remote island – you can only have five items. What are they?
Flare gun, duvet, knife, flashlight and jollof rice.
Describe yourself using one of your own lyrics…
I look nice but I’m not so good.
How did your parents react when you started making music?
I lost my dad before I decided to do music, but my mum was cool with it. She probably didn’t know far it could go but I’m glad she never tried to stop me.
You can only eat one meal for the rest of your life. What is it?
Jollof rice. I think I already started eating it for the rest of my life.
What has been the defining moment of your life so far?
The day I dropped Get Layd. I saw things picking up steam before then, but after the EP dropped, it wasn’t just “yeah he’s so talented” anymore.
If you could curate the line-up for the next Tiffany Calver & Friends, who would you pick?
Alpha P, Ajebo Hustlers, Chloe x Halle, Simba and Laila Ike.
What’s your hidden talent?
I think I’m quite good at football.
If you weren’t making music – what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t doing music, I’d probably be a pastor.
Cats or dogs?
Dogs please. All day, everyday.
If you woke up to 1 million pounds in your bank account – what is the first thing you would do?
Which of your songs means most to you and why?
I think Hello Brother. I was in a vulnerable place at the time, not being able to show up for people you care about and recording it was just me letting it out. I hope to never again be in that space, but I’ll never forget it.
If you could be remembered for one thing what would it be?
Great music. I hope someday my music inspires big dreams and aspirations, especially for people coming from nothing like I did.