Idris Lawal’s discovery of music came from growing up listening to his parents’ mixes and Hollywood soundtracks. He recalls weekends and car drives in Lagos where his dad would play long mixes of popular Nigerian musicians (Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade, Sir Shina Peters, Sonny Okonsu, Sir Victor Uwaifo, Ebenzer Obey). His exposure to western music came from soundtracks he heard while watching movies like The Bodyguard (Whitney Houston) and Indecent Proposal (Sade) with his mom – having to close his eyes during make-out/sex scenes would expose his ears to the background music that accompanies those scenes.
An Introduction to 2pac’s ‘Changes’ by a friend would spark an interest in rap music and inspire a focus on poetry and lyricism that shapes his writing. Growing up in Nigeria, Qatar, South-Africa and Canada; his early exposure to different cultures would become the foundation of his genre-bending sound. Today, he draws from a variety of musical influences including rap, afrobeat, highlife, afro-pop and soul music.
With his new song, ‘Gung Ho’, Idris Lawal also takes on production duties, linking up with Canadian singer, Sydnee Croft, and saxophonist Jelani Watson, to create an alternative afro/rap arrangement for Idris Lawal to pour out retrospective lyrics on lessons from his parents and how they’ve shaped the man he’s become today. The song’s chorus is also an infectious vocal display.
Speaking on ‘Gung Ho’, Idris Lawal says “I was reflecting on the last year – having moved from Ottawa to Toronto to get closer to my dreams. Dealing with new adult responsibilities in a new environment became tasking and in my reflections, I became a lot more appreciative of the effort my parents took – moving away from family and the familiarity of home in Nigeria to a foreign country in Qatar, and then South-Africa, before settling in Canada. All the while, they instilled in me the importance of always remembering your roots and where you came from. These experiences and teachings what was ultimately inspired Gung Ho’s lyrics.