“In my position as an artist, many people would want to tell you how to live your life and what to do at different points,” Nigerian rapper, singer and songwriter Victony tells Apple Music. “Everybody has an opinion [regarding] what you should do. And I just want to be myself. But it seems like being yourself, especially in this part of the world, it’s sort of a crime. And I’m like—if being myself is a crime, then I’m an outlaw.”
Being an outlaw is a philosophy Victony has lived by since he dropped his first hip-hop mixtape, 2017’s The Outlaw King — and one that he’s used as the foundation of his career ever since. Inspired by his idols Kendrick Lamar and Drake, he stretched into R&B, trap and Afropop, while lockdown granted him a sense of freedom that allowed him to incorporate more singing into the mix, with 2020’s Saturn EP delivering earworms like Jó Riddim and Space & Time. (This was all while he pursued a bachelor’s degree in engineering. “Balancing music and studying has taught me how to prioritise,” he explains.)
The reasoning behind his unrestricted approach became even clearer for him in April 2021, after a severe auto accident claimed the life of his friend Doyin, and left Victony and three others severely injured. In the months that followed, he used his music to process, and explored deeper, more profound themes with singles like Pray and Holy Father, the hit collab with Mayorkun.
“If I had died in that accident, life would’ve gone on, and everybody would’ve forgotten about me,” Victony (Anthony Victor) says. “My music would live on — but life goes on, right? So, why don’t you just do what makes you happy and just be you—because at the end of the day, man, you’re going to die someday. So, just do what makes you happy and just be you to the max.” Victony embraces that sense of freedom on the new EP, 2022’s Outlaw, a showcase of his versatility and his ability to translate his headspace into melody underscored with witty lyricism. Here, he breaks down the album, track by track.
“I made ‘Outlaw’ in 2020 with [the producer] Ktizo. We laid it down, but we didn’t start working on it exactly that same day because I wanted to take my time with it. For some reason, the chords were really speaking to me, and I knew that whatever I had to do on this beat, it had to have depth. So, I let it soak, and then when I heard it the following week, it spoke to me even louder. I told the story of being an outlaw and not being scared of anything. Whatever it is, I’m always going to be on the move. That’s what the chords just kept telling me to say. It was really a collaborative production from start to finish.”
Chop & Slide
“The song is basically narrating how a girl just wants my money, and she doesn’t want [anything else]. She just wants to chop and slide. I don’t even know why I wrote about that, honestly, because I haven’t even been in such situations. But I’m very, very imaginative with my writing.”
“‘Apollo’ is a direct sample of DJ Clock’s ‘Pluto (Remember You)’. It’s just been really special to me since high school—and it’s just been stuck with me ever since. I had a session with P.Priime, and I told him to play those exact chords, and we just ran with it. We made something vibrant; we were just feeding off each other’s energy.”
“I think I’d just come back from an interview or something, and I was just sitting in the studio, just trying to catch my breath and just relax. And honestly, I just wanted to make something vibrant as well, really active and something that drives. I was just thinking about the clubs in Lagos—imagining being in the club and knowing where to put the drop and knowing what to say that would really get people dancing in the club. So, my head was in the club. I’m describing a guy who was in the club and he’s lusting; he’s just having a good time. And he walks up to this girl and says, ‘Yo, all power belongs to you. So, just do with me as you wish.’”
Jolene [Victony & Ktizo]
“When Ktizo played me the beat, at first I thought, ‘Yo, I don’t really like this beat.’ Later, I had time alone in the studio, and I was just going through files, and then I played that same beat again. And I’m like, ‘Oh, this beat is crazy.’ So, I pick up my phone and I record this idea—I’m not really excited about it, but I just know that it is something really nice and can be used, if not by me, probably by another artist. [The producer] Hoodini recorded me, and he thought the idea was so big that he could see it in different parts of the world. He sees people in Spanish-speaking countries just vibing to it. So, he called [a small choir] to the studio, and when they added their voices, that’s when ‘Jolene’ became ‘Jolene’ to me.”
“I was at [the producer] Tempo’s house. We just made a record, ‘Rosemary’, and he played the Soweto beat. I’m like, ‘Oh, I like it. Just keep it playing.’ I think we were watching Netflix and the beat was playing, and I would watch TV, and I’d go over to the mic and then I’d say something—and he saved the idea. And I’d keep on watching TV. But he was really sold on it. I began to see it in a whole different light. It’s pretty much about this girl you have in mind, and you are really professing your love to her, you’re trying to woo her—but in a very calm way. I’m speaking to her, but I still want her to just be herself and express in full bloom. She doesn’t have to really be connected to me or be attracted to me as well—I’m just letting her know she’s very beautiful and I’m in love with her.”
“I went over to [producer] BlaiseBeatz’s place for a session. I told him to play those chords; they were really speaking to me, and I was just really in some mood. I just really wanted to express what I was feeling on the inside because I wasn’t really in a good space per se. I just wanted to be in a better place, mentally. And I didn’t want to think about all the problems that I was facing, everything happening to me. When I talk about stuff on my music, it tends to free up my mind and I let go of what I’m really worried about.”
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