It is an established knowledge that a higher percentage of reality show winners find it tough stepping away from the heavy shadow of the shows that brought them to limelight, But Laycon has created some sort of a time travel machine back to the future he always wanted with “Shall We Begin”.
Born Olamilekan Moshood Agbeleshe, the 27-year-old native of Ogun state in Nigeria and winner of MNET’s Big Brother Naija Season 5, is proving to be the talented, down-to-earth, punchline wielding, dreadlock wearing and intelligent star millions of his “Icons” fanbase fiercely voted massively for.
The Fierce one talked about “Shall We Begin” and more with Rayo Kasali for SIMPLE… And so, it begins…
FIRST OFF, CONGRATULATIONS ON THE RELEASE OF ”SHALL WE BEGIN”; IT IS A SOLID BODY OF WORK. DO YOU EVER FEEL LIKE YOU’VE NOW PROVEN YOUR METTLE OUTSIDE THE SPHERE OF BIG BROTHER NAIJA OR YOU COULDN’T CARE LESS?
Thank you. “Shall We Begin” is an album that I created for a lot of reasons but saying that I am a star on my own without the influence of Big Brother Naija has never been the goal.
I mean there’s always something that is going to propel you. For me, Big Brother Naija is going to be part of my story but it’s not just what will define the rest of my story. It was a means to a means for me, not even a means to an end.
I will never remove that part, or the fact that, that was what propelled me but it’s not just what is going to define me moving forward. So yeah, it’s still a part of my journey and I will always acknowledge it.
IN THE BIG BROTHER NAIJA HOUSE, YOU SAID THAT YOU NEVER BELIEVED YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO WIN AND THAT IT WASN’T A MAJOR REASON FOR YOU GOING TO THE HOUSE, SO WHAT WAS THE MAJOR REASON FOR YOU?
I said never “thought” that I was going to win, not believe. They are two different mindsets.
I mean, anything could have happened. I’ve always said that the main reason why I went into the BBNaija house was to promote my music and now “Shall We Begin is here”. I’ve been putting out music and I’ve jumped on different features and now the album.
LET’S TALK ABOUT SHALL WE BEGIN. THERE’S A DIFFERENCE IN TERMS OF FEEL BETWEEN “WHO IS LAYCON” AND “SHALL WE BEGIN”. “SHALL WE BEGIN” HAS A COMMERCIAL APPEAL TO IT, WAS IT STRATEGIC OR IT WAS JUST AS THE FLOW CAME?
It’s my evolution as a person and artiste. I definitely try to always find the balance between appealing to a larger demography and also staying true to what it is that I do. But what I do with music really can come in form of rap, singing, it can come in form of me trying to do different genres and fusing it with rap. I call it is Afro-Rap!
I mean…people can look at it from that commercial perspective but then again, you can also look at it from the perspective that this artist has grown and he’s just getting to a level where he’s making music that is much more diverse and has range basically. You can look at it from that aspect too.
BEING A RAPPER, YOU’RE ALMOST ALWAYS EXPECTED TO OVERDOSE YOUR SONGS OR ALBUMS IN THIS CASE, WITH EDGY PUNCH-LINES AND DICTIONARY FLIPPING BARS BUT “SHALL WE BEGIN” HAS A PERFECT BALANCE OF COMMERCIAL FEEL, WAS IT A CONSCIOUS BUSINESS DECISION OR IT WAS ALWAYS THAT WAY FROM THE GET GO?
I feel like I’m not like every other rapper to be honest. It’s about music for me. It is about creating music that people can relate to.
In rap, the whole point might be to fuse words together in a way that people normally do, but I got to understand that I need to fuse words in a way that people will not normally do, but also in way that everyone will understand – even people that are not rap heads.
I mean yeah, I could make music that only me can relate to but what’s the point of making music for everybody if it’s only you that can relate to it. So I’m making music that I feel like I am expressing myself in a way that every other person can relate to it, and can connect with whatever it is I’m saying.
I feel like that’s the whole goal for me, but then again, you still make that kind of music and there’s always going to be dialogue that people with different opinions will come and say “oh this is what he said, this is what he meant, this is how he should have said it, this is how he should have created it”.
I mean… Everybody has an opinion on how things should be done, and that’s just the wonderful thing about art. It’s subjective.
WHAT WAS THE CREATIVE PROCESS ON “SHALL WE BEGIN” LIKE?
I have a reality show on Showmax and I had to create an official soundtrack album for that show. So, while I was recording that album, I was also recording “Shall We Begin”. I working on two projects simultaneously, two projects with different themes, different mindset, different vibe, different feel, different message to pass, but it was fun.
It was one of the hardest I’ve ever had to work since my career began. I enjoyed it and I am looking forward to seeing a lot of positivity come out from “Shall We Begin Album”.
I had fun creating this; I was around a lot of artistes, a lot of creative people, a lot of my friends and fans. People came together all around me while I was doing this so it was a beautiful process for me.
It was a process where I actually learnt a lot about myself as an artiste.
WAS THE “I AM LAYCON” SHOW ON SHOWMAX YOUR PRODUCTION OR AN OFFSHOOT OF WINNING BIG BROTHER NAIJA?
You know, they saw the brand and they wanted to work with the brand, in a continuum where people could connect with me, with my personality.
Yeah, why not create a reality show off of that, about my life, about how I’m going to adjust to everything that I’ve garnered and it’s also me, my music creating process. I felt like yeah, why not, lets do this! So, we just came together and we made it happen.
HOW DO YOU CREATE MUSIC, DO LISTEN TO THE BEAT OR DO YOU WRITE TO THE BEAT, WHAT COMES FIRST?
Its different ways, different songs. For instance, on “Verified”, I wrote the hook and then cued with the beat for it. So that’s a different vibe.
“Fall for Me”, the beat was there and we created the song to it. “God Body”, I kind of wrote a powerful song already and the beat was created and then fused together.
So, it’s really different. I don’t have a set way that this is how I want to create my music. It’s spontaneous, that’s why every vibe is different, every song is different, and every feel is different.
The quality of music has to always be A1. If everybody agrees that yeah, this song is actually good enough, it’s relatable, it can change people’s perception, it can actually drive something in people’s emotion, people’s expression, then let’s put it out, that’s the thing.
HOW DID YOU MANAGE THE PROCESS OF 2 DIFFERENT ALBUMS AND A SHOW AT THE SAME TIME?
Recording 2 musical bodies of works while shooting the “I Am Laycon” show came with its demand but I had to be intentional with my mindset.
I was intentional with most of the songs on “Shall We Begin” album. I knew that we had to create songs that were different from what I was creating for the “I Am Laycon” project.
I had it at the back of my mind that I couldn’t create the kind of songs I created on one project, for the other. So, for every beat, for every song selection, for every song creation process I was intentional not to make it sound alike or not to make the theme or the storyline sound alike. So yeah, like I said that’s one of the fun things I’ve done recently and I’m looking forward to the next step really.
WHAT WAS YOUR MOM’S REACTION TO “ON AND SO SHE SPOKE”?
To be honest I don’t think she has heard it, I mean not from me, maybe she has probably heard the album but we spoke and I didn’t even get to talk about the album because she was just praying. But for me it’s always being the same, when it comes to my music, my mum is one hundred percent down for whatever decision I take. Hers is just “If that’s what you want to do, I’ll pray for you’. That’s all. And so she accepted for her voice to be on that album. She is one of the best features too.
YOU ALSO WORKED WITH JOEBOY, TERRI, YKB, TENI, MAYORKUN, WHAT WAS THE EXCHANGE LIKE?
These features were also intentional. In the process of working with them, those wonderfully talented awesome individuals actually just came and they made that album beautiful, made it awesome with their personalities, with their presence and I really appreciate every one of them.
It was amazing working with them more so because they’re people that I respect a lot and people whose music I really enjoy.
So, for me to create music with them is something that I am elated about. And for it to be on my debut album that’s also something I’m actually very grateful for. Shout out to everyone who was featured on that album, God bless you guys.
YOU WENT FULL EXPLICIT WITH YOUR BARS IN “BAM BAM”, WAS THIS REMINISCENT OF THE “SEXUAL ENTHUSIAST” TAG YOU GAVE YOURSELF IN THE BIG BROTHER BNAIJA HOUSE?
I am a sexual enthusiast, and I kind of portrayed that on the album too. Honestly, I feel like nobody should really pretend like they don’t really enjoy sexual conversations. I mean, some people don’t but if you do say you do, don’t come and form and say you don’t like what you do like.
Bam Bam is a song for everybody that likes to listen to that kind of song. And I bet you that there are loads of people that like to listen to that kind of song.
There’s nothing anybody want to tell me contrary, we’re much. I created Bam Bam with that kind of mindset, because I and Tellz had a conversation and he told me how he saw the beat and this was what he felt for the beat and I was like: “ah you’ve come to the right place, I know what I’m going to do on this song” and I did it. I think everybody kind of likes Bambam because its not something they’ll expect.
WAS THERE ANY FEATURE YOU COULD HAVE ADDED TO THE PROJECT THAT YOU DIDN’T?
I actually have songs that I felt like couldn’t meet the project but then with me it’s always about the storyline.
It’s always the intention of whatever it is I’m trying to pass across to the audience and if I see that the song doesn’t fit, then it isn’t going to make it.
I want to work with as much people as I can, collaborate and create beautiful music with everybody because I feel like there’s a dynamic that one person has that every other person doesn’t have.
So, if I have someone on my song, that person is bringing an element that is rare which will be peculiar to that person. Yes, here are people that I would have wanted on that album but then again, I am still 100%, 200% to a 1000% satisfied with what we made there with “Shall We Begin”.
There’s always going to be improvements, like I always say I’m not going to be the best, I’m always getting better, that’s a continuous process.
There’s always time, there’s always going to be the next project and the next one after that and the next after that.
MANY ICONS AS WELL AS VEEHIVES EXPECTED TO HEAR VEE ON THE ALBUM, WHY DIDN’T WE GET TO SEE HER?
I’ve got a song with Vee, but it’s not my song.
Like I said, it’s about the story that we’re trying to pass across, the theme, if the song doesn’t fit into it then its just not going to work.
“Verified” for instance was supposed to be on “Who Is Laycon” but that’s a 2020 project and I recorded it 2019. I recorded my own part of “Verified” since 2019 but it didn’t make the “Who is Laycon” project, now its on “Shall We Begin”.
That’s the way it is with music. You never really know, but you just have to focus on things that you need to make one particular thing work.
HOW MANY PRODUCERS DID YOU WORK WITH ON YOU ON “SHALL WE BEGIN”?
I have to count now, Finito, Semzy, Titanium, Q, Major Banks, DWill, Tellz, Jasons, Dj Clem. So that’s the 9 producers.
HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING WITH THEM BEFORE?
No, I’ve been working with Finito, Titanium and DWill before now but most of the other producers, some of them I just started working with them.
WHAT’S YOUR PERCEPTION ABOUT “SHALL WE BEGIN” ALBUM?
It’s awesome. Can’t you see the madness that we that we did on “Shall We Begin”? (laughs). For the fact is there are lots of factors that I keep thinking about saying, for this album to be the way it is with the process, time and energy that was put into it, we really did wonderfully well, and I appreciate everyone that came on the project. I love you guys so much. You guys are the best. Thank you so much.
THERE’S A CONNECTION BETWEEN THE OUTRO SONG AND THE INTRO THAT YOUR MOM DID, WERE THEY RECORDED AT THE SAME TIME WITH THE SAME MINDSET?
I had that intention already but it wasn’t recorded around the same period.
The same person produced it but it was a different time frame.
WHEN IT COMES TO SONGWRITING, ARE YOU THE SPONTANEOUS GUY OR THE DETAILED PERSON, DOTTING YOUR I’s AND CROSSING YOUR T’s?
It depends. That’s why I say my music creation process is different for different songs.
On “God Body”, I used a different form of creation process, for “All Over Me”, I used a different creation process, for “Verified”, I used a different creation process. So, it’s always different with me.
I’m actually open minded to go through different processes to acquire the same result which is to create a quality body of work or create a quality song and I make sure its relatable and people enjoy it when they listen to it.
YOU STUDIED PHILOSOPHY IN SCHOOL, HOW MUCH OF AN INFLUENCE DOES IT HAVE ON YOU?
Yeah, and I took minor courses in History and Strategic Studies, that’s History and International Relations. It influences my life and influences my way of thinking, definitely.
WHEN EXACTLY DID YOU BEGIN TO FEEL LIKE MAYBE MUSIC WAS THE THING FOR ME?
I’ve always been feeling that way for as long as I can remember. But I started recording professionally in 2012, then I put out a couple of mixtapes on job, Conspiracy, then I put out “Young Black and Gifted” in 2016 and then from there “Any Given Monday 1”, “Any Given Monday 2”, then “Who is Laycon”, and now “Shall We Begin”.
THESE WERE STRICTLY RAP?
Yeah, rap. “Young Black and Gifted”, “AGM 1”, “AGM 2”, “Who is Laycon?”. I mean, yeah I started evolving from there and now I’m still evolving.
WHO WOULD YOU SAY INFLUENCED YOU A LOT WHEN IT COMES TO RAP?
Everybody! I get inspiration from everything, everybody. I’m just a kind of person that the way I derive my knowledge is from everything around me.
So, if I’m listening to people and I’m trying to get a body of knowledge I’ll probably pick the head from you, the tail from somebody else, pick the middle from somebody else.
It’s just like that with my music influence also, mixture of everything.
WHICH RAPPER DID IT FOR YOU IN TERMS OF FLOW, PUNCH LINE?
It has to be Jay Z. I love Jay Z, I love Kanye, and I love Drake and Lil Wayne.
The thing is I’m going to keep mentioning names because for every one of them there’s just one thing about them that every other person doesn’t have.
WHAT IS THE “SKANNY SIR” TAG ABOUT?
It starts with Laycon. When I was in school, girls used to call me “Conny” because of the “Con” part of my name. But then, when they said “Conny” I was always responding with “Sir”. So, it’s “Conny Sir” and I’ve been using that tag since 2013.
IF YOU WERENT DOING MUSIC?
I would be playing football.
WHAT POSITION DO YOU PLAY?
KANTE OR JJ OKOCHA?
Not a 4. Creative midfielder. Yeah, I was that good, but I dropped everything for music. Every sacrifice I’ve ever made in my life has always been towards music.
NOW THAT YOU HAVE BEGUN, WHAT’S THE NEXT PROJECT YOU CAN’T WAIT TO GET OFF YOUR TABLE?
I’m just focusing on “Shall We Begin” now; let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The album is just out, let’s keep streaming “Shall We Begin,” let’s get it to.
It’s charting in over 20 countries. “Shall We Begin” charted number 1 album in Guinea Bissau.
That’s my first time of having a number one album anywhere in the world and its Guinea Bissau not even in Nigeria. So, I’m really happy with the progress the album is making and I just want to implore everybody to keep streaming, keep spreading the word, keep sharing the music. Let’s keep getting the numbers up.
Watch full interview here;
Interviewed and Photographed: by Rayo Kasali
Styled: by Stefan
Production Assist: Anuoluwapo Dada & Adebayo Adetola
Executive Producer: Edun Adedamola