Updated: Jun 26, 2021
Now for those of you who may not be familiar with Omah Lay, don’t feel bad. He is a fairly fresh face in the Afrobeats industry and is part of a new breed of artists from Nigeria making waves at such a young age. He has worked with some of the biggest artists in Nigeria and around Africa. And to be completely honest, this artist piqued my interest only after I heard his feature on Olamide's single called “infinity”. If you haven’t heard it, I recommend a listen. I then checked out his singles, other features & Eps. From what I heard, Its safe to say that this guy is talented. I then thought to myself, If I didn’t know about this artist who else doesn’t know about this young star? So here we are, a breakdown of everything you need to know about Omah lay.
Stanley Omah Didia – also known as Omah Lay was born in the city of Port Harcourt in Southern Nigeria. He grew up listening to Afrobeats and American hip hop and rap. In his early days, he was inspired by rap royalty Drake to start off rapping at school under the alias "lil king". However, he later got bored and channelled his focus into music production.
He first made his mark on the local music scene in early 2019 as a producer by producing a couple of records that got massive recognition in his hometown, however he wasn’t getting paid well for his work and it was a challenge getting production and songwriting credits. So, he decided to do it all himself. In 2019, he recorded and produced ‘Do Not Disturb' and ‘Hello Brother’ which got some notoriety, ended up on heavy rotation on Port Harcourt's commercial stations and built up his fanbase. He subsequently caught the ears of record label KeyQaad who he ended up signing with in July 2019. After joining the record label, he left his hometown and moved to Lagos.
In January 2020, he released his first single ‘Bad Influence’ as a taster from his anticipated EP ‘Get layd’. it was well received by fans & went on to generate over 4 million streams on Audiomack. He followed that up with his official single ‘You’ which put him on some reputable lists of new artists to watch out for in 2020. He was dubbed the "most exciting new voice at the moment," by Cool FM Nigeria. In May 2020, Omah Lay finally dropped his debut EP "Get Layd" which included the previously released ‘You’ and ‘Bad Influence’. This EP was a commercial success becoming one of the most streamed Afrobeats albums on Audiomack, Deezer and Apple Music. He also became Apple Music’s Favourite new Artist of the Month of June 2020 in Africa. He was also picked as the debut star for Apple’s Africa Rising Campaign which spots talents in Africa and projects them around the continent and internationally.
Personal Interviews and His Mindset
Omah Lay’s strength lies in his ability to thrive in his carefully curated world, delivering a fusion of sounds he has termed ‘Omah Lay Music’. His second EP "What Have We Done?" which featured 6lack on a remix to the single “Damn” in an effortless synergy that displayed the global potential of “Omah Lay Music.”
On several occasions he mentions that he doesn’t like being put in a box. And like many other artists that is very understandable. In his interview with Teen vogue, he mentions that
“There’s no fun when you can’t express yourself, there’s no fun with not having fun with my music. It’s really important that I express my story, say what is mine regardless of what the listener feels. I can’t tell a story that’s different from mine. I always try my best to be me.”
With all his achievement he has earned his place with a few of the successful new artists like Rema, Ricardo banks and Oxlade. When asked about his achievements and musical stardom by Teen vogue, he was fairly humble.
“First of all, it’s a blessing to be where I am today. Sometimes I feel like I won’t be here if not for Wizkid, Tuface, Davido, Burna Boy, and a lot of others I didn’t mention. These guys made Nigerian Afrobeats what it is today, and I have to give credit to them because they made it possible for us to be here. It’s amazing to be here and be one of the select artists selling African music to the world. There’s nothing I can say to quantify how big of a blessing it was. I was just a normal guy some months ago and then my EP ‘Get Layd’ changed everything.”
Omah Lay was also very vocal during the #ENDSARS movement and also shared his harrowing experience with the Nigerian anti-brigade.
I was handcuffed and thrown in a van, basically violated, and had my rights taken from me. The second time was almost similar, and even though I was released because I was Omah Lay I still had to almost empty my account because I was a young guy in a Benz. It’s crazy that just seeing a young person in a Benz, with a good phone is enough to get harassed, and being an artist, I’m always out late coming back from shows, clubs, events, I’m always a victim of SARS.”
This shows how serious the SARS issue is in Nigeria.
Controversy and Arrest
In December 2020 after performing at a music event in Uganda, Omah Lay and Tems were charged with allegedly violating COVID-19 regulations according to the BBC. Labelling their crimes as "Negligently doing acts likely to spread an infectious diseases C/S 171 of the Penal Code Act." This raised a lot of backlash on social media as the artists were granted travel visas by the government and were hired by organisers to perform at the venue. When all is said and done, they were just doing their jobs. A number of local Ugandan artists have also added their voices to the matter but not by expressing sympathy towards the Tems or Omah Lay. They instead feel slighted seeing as this particular concert was the first music event to take place in the country since COVID-19 restrictions were imposed by President Yoweri Museveni. Artists such as Burna boy, Rema and Fireboy DML spoke out about their detainment and demanded their release. A few days later both artists were released. When Omah Lay was asked about this experience by Dazed digital, he seemed quite keen to go back and entertain his fans in Uganda after the lockdown is over. In essence he would like to rewrite the negative experience he had with new positive ones.
Without a doubt this artist is interesting & talented. I expect more bangers and developments from him in the future & we’ll keep you updated. Check out his music on spotify below.