Born Bisade Ologunde, Lagbaja is a Nigerian Afro beat musician who started music actively in 1993. He is a singer-songwriter, instrumentalist and a marvelous saxophonist.

Lagbaja

According to Lagbaja, his mask is used as an icon of man’s facelessness. Lagbaja is a Yoruba word that means “nobody in particular”. It depicts the anonymity of the so-called “common man”.

Equally the mask and the name symbolise the faceless, the voiceless in the society, particularly in Africa.

Also known as “Omo baba mu’ko mu’ko,” his concept was developed long ever before his first album titled Lagbaja was released to national acclaim in 1993. Over the years and more albums later, the music continues to fascinate with its unique focus on a core of African drums.

His music is a product of various influences ranging from traditional Yoruba music to jazz. Often, the music is purely instrumental- interplay between traditional Yoruba percussions, drums, chants, and western instruments, especially the saxophone.

When there are lyrics, they are primarily sung in Yoruba, English or a blend of the two as is colloquially spoken in Yoruba cities. Many of his songs dwell on serious social issues, while others simply entertain; passing serious messages in humorous ways.

One thing that links all the songs together is his use of traditional African drums. Traditional Yoruba drums are the most prominent. The ensemble of drummers constitutes the larger part of the band. Lagbaja’s groovy fusion has been referred to as Afrojazz, Afrobeat, Higherlife and Afropop until now that he himself has christened the music AFRICANO, alluding mostly to the central role of African drums and grooves in his music.

In March 1997, Lagbaja established his club, Motherlan’ in the heart of Ikeja in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria. Motherlan’s design is influenced by the traditional African town or market square, where people gather under the moonlight for ceremonies and artistic events like dance, music, storytelling, wrestling, etc.

He won the 2006 Channel 0 Music Video Awards’ Best Male Video (‘Never Far Away’). His works include Lagbaja 1993, Cest un African Thing 1996, Me, We both in 2000 and Paradise and Sharp Sharp among others.

— Kayode Aponmade

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