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Chris Brown lifts Afrobeat's 'Monalisa' into global sensation

Nigerian duo of Sarz and Lojay want to work with Daliwonga

Masego Seemela Online journalist
Nigerian afro-fusion artist Lojay and internationally renowned super-producer Sarz lift the lid on how it was collaborating with R&B superstar Chris Brown on the Monalisa remix.
Nigerian afro-fusion artist Lojay and internationally renowned super-producer Sarz lift the lid on how it was collaborating with R&B superstar Chris Brown on the Monalisa remix.
Image: SUPPLIED

Nigerian afro-fusion artist Lojay and internationally renowned producer Sarz's new remix song Monalisa featuring RnB superstar Chris Brown is taking the world by storm. 

The song, that’s got the likes of American comedian Kevin Hart and South African stars dancing, is taken from Lojay and Sarz’s (real name Osabuohien Osaretin), joint EP, LV N ATTN, that they dropped last year. 

Much as the original version of Monalisa, the remix boasts hypnotic beats and infectious hooks, which has fast made it become not just one of the biggest releases in Nigeria, but a global hit as well.

Lojay’s (born Lekan Osifeso Jr) sublime vocals have garnered him as one of the best in Nigeria, while Sarz’s slick production, synonymously known for blending contemporary Afrobeats with vibrant hip hop and sensual RnB sounds, has established him as the go-to producer for heavyweight acts in Nigeria and across the globe such as Wizkid, Burna Boy, Skepta, Drake and Beyoncé. 

How did you two meet?

Sarz: I met Lojay on the streets in 2020. I’d always see him sleeping and begging people for money and because it was a pandemic, he couldn’t go back to his parents’ home. He was destitute for three months and seeing that he was struggling I thought I should help him. 

One day I heard him sing and asked him if he wanted to get into the studio with me. Our first time in the studio was pure magic. 

How did you get Chris Brown on the remix? 

Sarz: We’ve always wanted an international voice on the remix of Monalisa and we felt that Chris Brown stood out from the list of international stars we had. 

Chris is an artist that can sing in any genre and still be identified. His voice took the song to another level. 

How did Chris Brown feel when you first approached him with the proposal for the remix? 

Fortunately for us, he was as excited about the collaboration as us. He loved the sound and melody and he jumped on it – the process was quite effortless and smooth.

Nigerian afro-fusion artist Lojay and internationally renowned super-producer talk about their Monalisa remix with R&B superstar Chris Brown.
Nigerian afro-fusion artist Lojay and internationally renowned super-producer talk about their Monalisa remix with R&B superstar Chris Brown.
Image: SUPPLIED

How did you identify your sound? 

Lojay: While music is ever-changing, we always try our best to keep up with which sound is current and infectious. 

Sarz: We always go for a sound that makes people feel good, a sound that makes them want to vibe to the beat. 

What’s your reaction to the international reception you’ve been receiving? 

Sarz: African music is the new pop. Yes, music evolves with the trends but fortunately for the African sound, it has the ability to change and remain current. 

Lojay: African music and art have played a major role in striking the world’s attention to the African continent in the last five years. 

That way we have been able to showcase our talent on a broader platform. 

How did you get into music? Where did it all start? 

Sarz: A friend of mine introduced me to music production when I was 15 and the very first time I created a beat, that experience felt so natural. I knew then that music was what I had to pursue. 

Lojay: I used to listen to a lot of gospel music because of my mom – in that I have been able to infuse different types of genres. 

The first time I went into the studio was when I was 13 but I only fully pursued my music career after I completed university. 

I only took my music career seriously in 2018 and I haven’t looked back ever since. 

How has your musical journey been so far since you met in 2020? 

It’s been an incredible one. Our energy still transcends through into our music. 

Your wishlist collaborations?

We definitely would like to collaborate with Daliwonga. 

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