August Digital Cover: London
Whether you’re at a day party with a rum and juice in hand or at home with your speakers on blast, there’s a high chance that you have heard the ‘London’ tagline in the last four years. The man behind the magic goes by the name of LONDON. The co-conspirator and creator of hit records such as Rema’s Soundgasm, Gyrate by the Grammy nominated Wizkid and Bloody Samaritan from Ayra Starr’s 19 & Dangerous project.
Like many of the musical greats from yesteryear, LONDON’s musical journey began in the church. "I grew up in church and I used to play the drums. I started playing when I was 7", he reminisces. His early developed skills would go on to be of benefit years later. Looking back on his childhood, the trail of a child destined for a future creating music was always there. “Making beats for me has always been my passion. I remember in school I used to sit at the back with my guys just chilling and when there was no teacher in class, we’d be hitting the table and just rapping".
Along the journey of pursuing his career in music, LONDON found the expectations of his family an obstacle he had to navigate. A spanner in the works, he was willing to force his way through by leaving his parental home in Benin City and moving to the musical Capital of Nigeria in Lagos. “They want you to be an engineer or a lawyer or a doctor, and I'm not into any of those things” he explains.
Upon moving to Lagos, LONDON was able to take his art to another level. Under the tutelage of renowned Mavin Records’ super producer Babyfresh, he was able to hone his skillset under the guidance of the very best in the scene. “He (Babyfresh) will tell me ‘Ok, you could do this like this and do this like that. You can take out the snares, or you can do this and do that’, so that was pretty much how I got to improve with my Afrobeat skills”.
Prior to pursuing his career in music, he was working as a graphic designer. A colleague made him aware that ‘FruityLoops Studio’ (software designed for music sequencing with a graphical user interface) now known as FL Studio could be used to make beats and he never looked back after. “I downloaded it onto my laptop and started learning. I learnt it in like 3 months and after that I never went back to the office again. I just found love [a love for] FL Studio honestly”.
LONDON’s growing reputation can partly be attributed to the personal and professional relationship that he has with Mavin Records’ singer, rapper, and songwriter Rema. Known as one of today’s leading figures within the Afrobeats sphere, he has helped elevate the genre to the global stage. The pair first met in 2018 in the Mavin mansion and immediately hit it off.
“We were friends for like just over a year. We never hopped in the studio together. We never did music together. We just used to be chill guys and play FIFA. We started working in December 2020. The first song we made together was Jo”.
Since then, the pair have developed the kind of chemistry most artist and producer dynamics would yearn for. It’s clear within the music they create that they have an authentic relationship, an understanding of each other's strengths whilst being willing to go beyond the status quo when creating their art. One of their biggest hits to date, Soundgasm features on Rema’s latest studio album and has taken social media, and the everyday party and nightclub by storm.
“We were just chilling in the room, and you know the guitar came on and immediately Rema was like ‘doo, doo , doo, doo, doo, doo’ throughout and I just made the beat. Wherever it is, we vibe. Even the Rave and Roses album. Most of Rave and Roses was done in my bedroom. I swear, like just getting up from bed, Rema pulls up with his idea we just knocked it out”.
LONDON’s talents have positioned him in a space where his music is in high demand, from both fans and artists alike. One of the musicians to have benefited from London’s capabilities goes by the name of Wizkid. The pair worked together for Wizkid’s single Electric from his 2019 SoundMan Vol. 1 EP. A project which gave fans of Wizkid and lovers of his follow-up album Made in Lagos and taste of what was to come. So much so, Electric itself could seamlessly slot into the MIL sequencing had it appeared on the album. However, LONDON did find his way onto the Grammy-nominated album through the track Gyrate. Working with Wizkid and having his work recognised on a global stage is everything LONDON had dreamed of four years prior.
“I remember back then when I was at my Mum’s place I used to always be like ‘oh one day Wizkid is going to be hitting me up, Wizkid is going to be calling me and one day I’m going to get a Grammy’. Everything is the Law of Attraction. You speak things into existence, and it finally comes to pass. It was crazy”.
Sometimes when you’re living in the moment and riding the high tiding wave of success, it becomes difficult to find the time in life to reflect. It can become normal to go from project to project rather than reflecting upon the impact of your work on the world. The good, the bad and the in between. It’s been a whirlwind four years for LONDON and so the opportunity to sit back and genuinely process his achievements has been a poignant moment.
“I just feel honestly proud to be a part of the people pushing the sound and to be part of the generation that is taking this sound to another level. Right now, it’s a good time for Afrobeats honestly, and it’s a good time for me. Now people will want to work with me because when you say new school Afrobeats, I’m one of the people that are pushing this shit with my other friends, so it’s crazy. I’m super excited, and I know Afrobeats is going global”.
He is currently busy working on his own debut album, which has been in the pipeline for some time. LONDON’s time in London has given him the opportunity to connect with artists from the UK - he’s a true musician. Someone that revels in studying music of all genres and sounds. Hence, his natural gravitation to a thriving UK music scene and the artists that come with it.. “I have a few favourites. Mahalia. Jorja, she’s dope. Skepta, Ardee, Central Cee. Those guys are really, really dope”.
Having achieved so much in such a short space of time, it would be understandable for LONDON to rest on his highly accoladed laurels. There aren’t many in the world that can claim to have achieved what he has in such a short space of time, to have worked with the people he has worked with. But LONDON is a dreamer. He is ambitious, daring, and he’s raring to continue propelling himself and music of African origin to a world that is finally taking notice of the continent's musical prowess.