The album release was heralded by 4 singles – ‘Leader’, ‘Canada’, ‘Automatic’, and ‘Moto’ all of which retain his ever-present romantic side torn between falling in love and putting up emotional self-defense.
While the singles didn’t spark anticipation mostly due to the over-flogging of his smash hit ‘Monalisa’ and its subsequent remix, ‘Gangster Romantic’ packs thematic and sonic familiarity capable of gripping audience just as his successful Sarz-assisted debut EP ‘LV N ATTN’.
A lot can be said for Lojay’s artistry. From his genre-bending style, and impeccable delivery, to his ridiculously good melodies. However, his most captivating quality is his writing which combines 1 liners, picturesque diction, and adept use of “lamba’ sprinkled with sensuality.
In ‘Gangster Romantic’, Lojay combines vital elements that define his identity and delivers a project that repositions him on a recognisable path.
His ability to open up a record with the most outrageous lines and swashbuckling delivery makes him unique. This is a recurring theme in this project as he weaves through the tracks in an exploration of his romantic side, gangster side, and the in-between.
Lojay’s romantic side is often embellished in sexual innuendos that combine to deliver a stimulating cadence. In ‘Yahweh’ he talks up his woman, extolling her body while also requesting devotion. He even offered listening ears and the steadiness of his presence. This he combines with sexually charged lines that capture his desires. The delivery and melody stand tall in a monotonous Afropop space. And the writing and production combine to create a stellar composition.
Lojay continues his romantic exploration in ‘IYD’ where he admits his flaws yet asks to be accepted the way he’s. The R&B record retains a mid-tempo that allows his vocals and writing to shine while also delivering the cadence needed to propel the composition.
He shows his soft side in the slow burner ‘Moto’ where he offers his love using different references. He admits to falling harder even against the counsel of his friends before proceeding to reveal the pain that comes with heartbreak. The honesty, pleading, hopeless romanticism, and heartbreak he explores in this record are definitely not gangster.
Similarly, in ‘Ova’, he bitterly narrates his experiences with love, going as far as saying he wishes he cheated. The pain this composition conveys perhaps points listeners to the reason he had to come up with a gangster side as a form of emotional self-defense.
His gangster sides were on display in ‘Leader’ where he combines Dancehall and Afropop to talk up himself for having too many babes on signal while also stating his reluctance to engage in burdensome trysts and assignations. This song stands out for its incredible opening sequence, swashbuckling delivery, and swaggering beat courtesy of P. Primme.
In the Amapiano records, ‘Canada’ and ‘Availabu’ he makes club bangers that explore the familiar Afrobeats theme of curvy women, generous spenders, and expensive lifestyles. While ‘Canada’ sticks out for many especially as it wasn’t warmly received as a single, it’s a nice single that combines Nigerian and South Africa’s Amapiano variants. Although the timing affected its acceptability as it came at a time when Lojay was on an uncertain part, I like to think it might have received a warmer reception had it followed his smash hit ‘Monalisa’.
‘Availabu’, on the other hand, is produced by proven hitmaker Magic Sticks who delivered a speaker-rattling beat matched by Lojay for what will likely be a listeners’ favorite.
As far as the in-betweens are concerned, Lojay’s tumultuous romantic experiences might have placed him in a dark spot which he navigated to discover his inner gangster. He talks about secretly fighting his demons in ‘IYD’, killing his depression in ‘Yahweh’, and using Fetynyl to numb the pain in ‘Moto’. These are in-betweens that exist between being a Romantic and a Gangster. These are moments when he’s neither a lover nor a fighter. Just an everyday man trying to power through in a society that’s unforgiving to the weak.
In ‘Gangster Romantic,’ Lojay merges his romantic side with a villain side for a persona that’s inspired by his many experiences.
Sonically, the project retains a mid-tempo Pop/R&B theme that’s punctuated with Amapiano offerings. Throughout the EP, Lojay’s influences (R&B, Pop, UK, and Afrobeats) are on full display as they combine for a genre-blending body of work.
After a period of releasing music that offers no insight into his artistic direction and personal ambitions, Lojay retraces his step with this impressive body of work whose only snag is the uncertainty that heralded it.
Songwriting, Themes, and Delivery: 1.5/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.6/2