Home Profile in Excellence Lagbaja – Nigerian Afrojazz Legend

Lagbaja – Nigerian Afrojazz Legend


Lagbaja, or Òpátàmèdù, is a Nigerian folk musician, singer songwriter and Percussionist

Name and mask

According to Òpátàmèdù (pronounced Òpá tàmèdù), his mask is used as an identity . Tàmèdù is a Yoruba word that means “nobody in particular”. And the Òpá identifies Talking Drum Stick.The mask and the name symbolize the faceless, the voiceless in the society, particularly in Africa. He deprived from an icon called Lágbájá. And named himself Òpátàmèdù as a symbol of being majorly an African Traditional performing artist that based mostly on African Talking drums.

Though the concept was developed long before that, his first album (entitled Lagbaja) 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 percussion, drums, chants, western instruments, and 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 Yoruba cities. Many of his songs dwell on serious social issues, while others simply entertain. Some compositions are introduced with a simple “time to dance”, informing the audience of lengthy dance numbers, while other songs address complex social issues through biting wit made palatable by disarming parables, irony, and multilingual puns.

One thing that links all the songs together is his use of traditional African drums. Traditional Yoruba drums are the most prominent. Four families of these drums are employed in creating different grooves and moods. The dundun/gangan family is the most prominent and at times up to five drummers combine all the various components to create the polyrhythms. The bata ensemble is led by two musicians who alternate between soft high toned driving rhythms with their omele bata, and thunderous loud talk with their mum drum- iya ilu. The general percussionist leads the sakara drum ensemble. The fourth family, used as the backbone of the groove is the ogido, a derivative of the ancient gbedu. The ensemble of drummers constitute the larger part of the band. Vocalists and western instrumentalists and make up the rest. Lagbaja’s groovy fusion has been referred to as afrojazz, afrobeat, higherlife and afropop until now that he himself has christened the music AFRICANO, alluding mostly to the central role of African drums and grooves in his music.

In March 1997, He established his club, Motherlan’ in the heart of Ikeja in Lagos. Motherlan’s design is influenced by the traditional African town or market square, where people gather under the moonlight for ceremonies and artistic events like dance, music, story telling, wrestling etc.


  • 2006 Channel O Music Video Awards – Best Male Video (“Never Far Away”)


  • ‘Ikira’, 1993
  • Lagbaja, 1993
  • Cest Un African Thing, 1996
  • ME, 2000
  • WE, 2000
  • We and Me Part II, 2000
  • ABAMI, 2000
  • Africano… the mother of groove, 2005
  • Paradise, 2009
  • Sharp Sharp, 2009
  • 200 Million Mumu (The Biiter Truth), 2012


Source: Wikipedia

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