The first question that is often asked when Lágbájá is encountered is, “Why the mask?” Basically, Lágbájá wears his mask as an iconic symbol of man’s facelessness.
Lágbájá is a Yoruba word that means somebody, nobody, anybody or everybody. It perfectly depicts the anonymity of the so called “common man”. The mask and the name symbolize the faceless, the voiceless in the society, particularly in Africa. Once you see Lágbájá’s mask you are reminded of your own facelessness.
Though the concept was developed much earlier, his first album (entitled Lágbájá) 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- an 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 Nigeria. Many of his songs dwell on serious social issues, while others simply entertain. Some are dance inducing while others pass impactful serious messages in humorous ways.
One thing that links all the songs together is his use of African drums of which Traditional Yoruba drums are the most prominent. Four families of these drums are employed in creating different grooves and moods. The dùndún/gángan family is the most prominent and at times up to five drummers combine all the various components to create the polyrhythms. The bàtá ensemble features high toned rhythms of the omele bàtá, and thunderous loud talk of the mother drum - ìyá ìlù. The general percussionist leads the sákárà ensemble. The fourth family, used as the backbone of the groove is the ògìdo, a derivative of the ancient gbèdu. The interplay of the traditional drums and the Western instruments creates a unique and enchanting soundscape. Lágbájá’s groovy fusion has been referred to as afrojazz and afrobeat, amongst other names, until recently when he christened the music AFRICANO, alluding mostly to the central role of African drums and grooves in his music.
Lágbájá's Africano is driving a resurgence of interest in sophisticated African music, rich in the traditions of the continent while cosmopolitan in attitude. In a bid to share his African grooves with the rest of the world and make African polyrhythms understandable and accessible to everyone, Lágbájá is just completing work on the first ever comprehensive digital library of "drag and drop" African grooves he calls "Africano Manchine". Africano Manchine works seamlessly with popular Digital Audio Workstations such as Ableton Live and Pro Tools.
In March 1997, Lágbájá established his club, Motherlan’ in the heart of Ikeja in Lagos. Motherlan’s design is inspired by the traditional African market square, where people gather under the moonlight for ceremonies and artistic events like dance, music, story telling, wrestling etc. True to this function, over the years, it has become a place for emerging musicians and comedians to polish their acts in front of a demanding audience.
With a serene gorge of beautiful trees and greens as background, the venue merges traditional Africa with the contemporary, creating the ambience of the countryside right in the middle of an ever bustling Lagos. Lágbájá has taken his music beyond the shores of Nigeria, performing in festivals and venues around the world.