NATIVE EXCLUSIVE: SHŌLZ explores vulnerability and alienation in debut single “Vex”

"Vex" is out now

Over the years from holding down the NATIVELAND crowd to festivals in LA, Paris, Malta or Accra, SHŌLZ has gathered a reputation for his standout showmanship behind the deck, joined by DJ partner, Addy Edgal for NATIVE Sound System. With several shows under their belt, the pair released their debut compilation album, ‘NATIVEWORLD’ enlisting a slew of African talents on standout tracks like “Stuck on You” and “Runaway” with Mavins Records SabiGirl, Ayra Starr, The Cavemen on the stellar intro, “Tortoise,” Cruel Santino on “EDMP (E Dey Move Person)” and more. Championing the growth of the creative community in these parts, the project also featured note-worthy contributions from talented producers like P.Priime, Tyler Turner, GMK and more.

Now coming in fully as an artist-producer, SHŌLZ debuts his new single “Vex,” the second song in a two-pack release, alongside the Somadina and TAR1Q-assisted “Cruel Love,”. After witnessing a shift in the attitude of many Nigerians following the loss of innocent protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate Massacre on October 20th, 2020, many Nigerians surrendered all feelings of political apathy in order to take a stand in determining their country’s future. However, following the events of the 2023 Presidential election, many Nigerians have once again been left feeling unenthusiastic for the country’s future.

At such a sensitive time for many Nigerians, music can serve as a source of comfort and togetherness for everyone feeling defeated at the state of the country’s affairs. Understanding this, SHŌLZ channels these strong emotions, tapping into a distinct range of rap geniuses including a major face in Nigerian drill music, Odumodublvck, Alte Pioneer Teezee and uNder alum Candy Bleakz. Accompanied by an energetic beat, Teezee crosses between Yoruba, English and Pidgin to express his frustrations on the standout verse saying, “You try to kill us but we are up/You can’t kill our spirit, We go vex.” Finally, armed with his usual hard-hitting bars, Odumodublvck shows that he is not afraid to speak his mind with witty lyricism as the track draws to a close, “Tinubu day call me, Odumodu can you PM/ I tell am say I no go free if e no buy me loud.”

Fresh off the song’s official release, The NATIVE spoke to SHŌLZ on the new single “Vex,” under Nigeria’s current political climate, the song’s accompanying visuals and what we can expect from the artist-producer in the future.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by shōlz (@djsholz)

His answers, which follow below, have been lightly edited for clarity.

NATIVE: Hi SHŌLZ, coming off the release of ‘NATIVEWORLD’ with NATIVE SoundSystem, this is your first solo release as an artist-producer. Why was it important for your song to speak about the state of Nigeria?

SHŌLZ:  I’ve always been attracted to music that could move me and make me feel something. Having spent more time in Nigeria in the past couple of years and being here for the last few months, it’s impossible not to feel for what’s going on here politically. In my own way, I wanted to push a sound that could encourage conversation and make others feel what I felt. To see the direction that the country is moving in is painful and vexing. I wanted to bring our world and community into that.

NATIVE: Teezee, Candy and Odumodu are inimitable rap talents with very distinct styles. How did the selection process for the featured artists come about?

SHŌLZ: There wasn’t any selection process to be honest. I prefer music to develop organically. We normally run camps to record new tracks and develop existing ideas and this was one of the songs that came out of the camp we ran in August, last year. I think Candy recorded her verse first and by the time OD(Odumodublvck) recorded his, we knew we had something because everyone knew the words by the end of the day.

NATIVE: The video for “Vex” finds all artists in the streets of Lagos, talking about what’s currently vexing them. What message were you trying to pass across with the video?

SHŌLZ: I want the music to be a medicine for the pain I guess. This thing called life can get hard, so whether it makes you dance, laugh or even cry for a second, it reduces pain. I’ve been trying to vocalise more of what I’m going through and hopefully, it encourages others to do the same.

NATIVE: What’s next for SHOLZ this year?

SHŌLZ: More of everything. I am looking to drop an album this year, ‘JJC,’ so keep a lookout for that as well as some instrumental/beat tapes. Some other dope stuff too which I can’t really share but let’s just say it involves going on the road.

Watch the video for “Vex” here:


Featured image credits/Instagram