Fest Focus: Lágbájá

by Van McNeil

The Nigerian mystery man will perform two sets at Festival International de Louisiane.

Lágbájá is a Nigerian Afrobeat singer and songwriter who’s first album was released over 20 years ago. He’s perhaps most well known for his elaborate mask which he wears on stage. Lágbájá is a Yoruba word which means “nobody in particular.” The mask is intended as a symbol of man’s facelessness, and it’s a particularly effective icon for the voicelessness Lágbájá feels in society, specifically in the representation of Africa throughout the world.

While some of his songs are just fun to dance to, many are laser focused on addressing complex social issues. The music itself is sophisticated, building a fascinating give-and-take between traditional African drums and more Western instrumentation. The sound is rooted in building a groove, specifically through the use of drums and rhythm. Everything else is just extra flavor. His other musical weapon of choice is the saxophone, which soars through the intricate soundscape with all the power and emotion one can muster. This is a man who can play, but he’s also got something to say. Let’s listen shall we?

Lágbájá will be performing April 25 from 1:30-2:45 p.m. at Scène Stabil Drill International. He will also be performing April 26 from 12:15-1:30 p.m. at the same location.

Here’s the O Music Award-winning music video for Lágbájá’s “Never Far Away.”