One of the vanguard of what's being loosely described as "Afro-fusion", Oxlade is rapidly rising through the ranks to make his presence known not just in his home country of Nigeria, but the wider world as well.
Known for his single-minded approach to his career, Lagos-born Oxlade has gone on record as saying he's made a point of ignoring those who cast doubt on him and his creative choices. When asked about his breakout appearance on Blaqbonez's "Mamiwota" in 2018, Oxlade said in a Red Bull interview, "I didn't even care if 'Mamiwota' dropped or not. Blaq was like, 'Yo, we are going to drop the song,' then he came back and was like they said the song was not hip-hop enough and I was at the cybercafe working and told him to do whatever he wanted because I did not care."
Fortunately for him, the track became a runaway hit for both him and Blaqonez and his self-confidence seems to have paid off. The gentle bump of sun-kissed bubblers like "Away" and the smouldering heat of "Angelina" has endeared him to millions and he's also become a sought-after guest artist and the go-to guy for Afrobeats hooks. New Yorker Melvitto and Ghana's Sarkodie have both tapped him up for those silky melodies, but it's his contribution to Skengdo x AM and Sneakbo's "Brixton Boy" that stands as one of his finest, coaxing out the deeper grooves in Juelz's instrumental and balancing out the tough-talking lyrics from the three South Londoners. There are plenty more examples, but those three features together extended Oxlade's influence across three continents.
Those high-profile collaborations and the five years of material he's accumulated have set the stage for Oxlade to take over and spread his music on an international level. The first move is his Oxygen EP, a six-track mission statement tying together his lifelong loves: hip-hop, R&B and Afrobeats, blurring the lines between the three for a sound that's already drawing legions more fans to his "Afro-fusion" sound.
Complex caught up with Oxlade to break down every track on Oxygen, explaining more about some of the themes and how they play into each track.
"On 'O2', I basically express how important my girl is to me: a breath of fresh air, my rock in times of despair. It's me accepting my vulnerability without her in my life, and also asking if she'd be there for me. I made a lot of vows and promises in the verses, which was initially a love letter I wrote to my ex during my stay in London. I made the song with Nosa Apollo, then Spax added some touches to it. It was fun making this particular song because I made it via Instagram Live."
"'Hold On' is me further explaining how being in love with my girl makes me feel, hoping she stays on so that the deal can be sealed. This one was made in Anambra, Awka, a state in Nigeria. I had a gig there and after my performance, I hollered at my friend, Dera The Boy, who schooled in that state and we made this on the spot. The melody was inspired by the people and the type of music they were listening to, which was Eastern Nigerian music."
"This is the lead single, and here I tell my lady to come away with me on a journey to a place where there's only us; no fuss, only trust. And the video you'll see us running away from a couple of people. They represent the negative energy, basically the noise in our silence. I made this song with Spax when I just got back from London, and it was another fun to make because it came from nothing, just vibes!"
"'Kokose' is more uptempo and kind of like a follow-up from 'Away' as here we are finally away from the negative energy. It's basically a feel-good song trying to express that even in the hardest times, we shouldn't sway to the bad energy, never fear the enemy, just dance and stay happy no matter what. Spax, the genius, came through on this one again. I don't know where he gets the drum patterns and chords from, but I enjoy making Afro-fusion songs with him."
"Love is the inspiration here. I realise she is my kryptonite. I mean, I have no reason to creep every night for she is my weakness, and I'm sure there are many couples who can relate to this. This one came from a writing camp I had with Lussh Beatz. He's a great guy. We made a lot of Afro-soul songs, but 'Weakness' really stood out so I submitted it to my team for review and they loved it too."
"This is a life tale. It's my story from my beginnings to now, and a reminder that we should never give up for tables will always turn. This song came from a production camp my team organised for me during the period I was compiling this project. My love for the beat was love at first listen; I heard it and ran to the studio I could hear the sound was coming from and told the producer, Echo, to export it and record me on the spot! I had the storyline and what I wanted to sing about on the spot. It was like the beat was talking to me and one name came to my head while making this type of music: Moelogo! So we connected and made this brilliant record."