With deep music roots entrenched in the popular high-life genre, fast-rising Afro-fusion artiste Omah Lay has laid for himself an uneven but star-studded path that may be very difficult to imitate.
There is a series of metrics used to measure the star power of a creative. Most of them are scientifically imprecise, based on an inner gut feeling that many professional music headhunters have ignored to their detriment. But there are a handful of creatives who, even without a dedicated music team, have garnered a presence that unwittingly ticks all the right boxes; their posturing, a definite give away as to the direction of their creative journey.
Budding Afro-fusion artiste Omah Lay falls easily into that category. The offspring of a musically-inclined family, his unique interpretation of Afro-fusion features a deft touch of highlife influence.
Born Stanley Omah Didia, to a family with deep music roots in Port Harcourt, his early exposure to highlife music from his Grandfather who was a percussionist for veteran Nigerian music maker, Celestine Ukwu, helped define his sound.
On how his passion for music was cultured over the years, Omah Lay’s response was succinct:
“I started off as a producer in Port-Harcourt. Although I always felt I could sing, I wasn’t getting paid well for beats and even getting production and songwriting credits was a problem. So I decided to do it all myself – it was a sort of clapback that became my new dream.”
Things happened quickly after that.
Omah Lay’s debut single was released on Valentine’s Day this year and has since garnered a collective response of almost 600,000 streams on all platforms – an impressive feat for an emerging artiste. A feature on Cool FM Tastemakers’ chart, Sound city Top 20 hit list, and Native Mag’s March episode of ‘Fresh Meat’ Artistes to look out for in 2020, has given Omah Lay an undeniable credibility that far outranks his peers.
On how his newfound musical notoriety has affected his brand and music growth, he confided saying:
“It has been great and I’m so thankful for all the love and support so far. I noticed it comes with an air of expectation for what my brand outlook is, but I’m still growing into myself. I’m trying to not be pressured into a box, so I can stay original with my music and my personality.”
Omah Lay’s music, described once by culture critics as ‘the melody of Wizkid meeting the depth of Burna Boy is something to definitely binge on, without the fear of affecting your musical taste buds.
Like every artist before him, Omah Lay has made the promise of an EP, a musical odyssey to help stamp his promising legacy. ‘Get Layd’, the suspiciously-titled EP is both a play on Omah Lay’s brand name and his penchant for deep-rooted, love songs. Although scheduled for an earlier release, the EP was eventually released on May 22nd, 2020.
In spite of his growing musical influence, there has been no sign of a collaborative attempt in the works, so we asked Omah Lay if it was an oversight or an intentional move:
“Yeah, I would say it’s intentional, but mostly because I make music in a very private space,” he said. “Also, I’ve never really tried for collaborations but there are a lot I imagine me working with. Hopefully I’ll have something soon.” he concludes.
It is no secret that in this industry, a music artiste who also doubles as a music producer is prone to earn more brownie points than the independent artiste who leans on the musical magnanimity of a producer’s whims and caprices. One of Omah Lay’s many artistic advantages lies in this hybrid – his ability to conjure up his own instrumentals while commanding his own lyrics alongside.
A hyper-creative output this vibrant and demanding is more often than not, accompanied by a quirky routine to help spruce the required creativity. Some artistes crave isolation; others get high while a few more find solace in religious acts. Omah Lay’s creative spark lies in meaningful companionship.
“For me, I just like someone that motivates me around; a close friend, my manager or someone happy to see me make the moment count. That’s mine,” he said.
The fast-rising artiste is an avid supporter of Nigerian awards and believes that they are in no way overrated and their growth in prestige duly recognizes the work artistes put in all year. “I pray to win a few for myself soon,” he adds.
On his post covid-19 plans, Omah Lay animatedly says:
“I swear I’m losing my mind being indoors. I thought I liked being by myself but this whole period has got me questioning that.”
His management had a couple performances lined up before the lockdown and with his growing streams and Instagram audience, and he cannot wait to meet the new members of his thriving fan base.
Currently signed to KeyQaad Music, he enjoys a combination of professional guidance and freedom for his creative processes. This artistic exchange has informed his unshakeable belief that every audience wants to consume an artiste’s natural expression as much as other things they already enjoy.
If the creative permutations of digital streams, a growing dedicated fan base and a series of major media predictions are anything to go by, then Omah Lay is already on his way to a star-lined trajectory that will make him one of the biggest names in the Nigerian music scene this year.
This article was written by Henri ‘Yire; connect on Instagram with him here