A track-by-track run-through of Hanu Jay’s ‘Wow’ 

a breakdown of the singer's fourth project

In the years since emerging unto the corridors of the music industry with Vibez, his euphonious collection of eight songs about the finer things of life and living in the moment, Warri-born singer, Han Jay, has kept up with his prolific streak, regularly serving timed update of his state of mind via loosies and well-worked singles that have seen him line up with everybody from Mayorkun to Zlatan over the last two years. But where the starkest evidence of his voracious aptitude for music and knack for curation has presented itself has always been projects where neo-soul sounds are often layered over hypnotic Afropop grooves. 

2019’s Let’s Smoke and Fuck was a racy trip through the mind of a creator indelibly memorialising the thrills of the hedonistic with highlights like the soothing highlife leanings of “L.O.V.E” and the sprightly flamenco thrums of “Vibration.” The nonchalance of Let’s Smoke and Fuck blunts out on its canonical follow-up, the four-track EP, Lagos Taught Me, where the singer ponders graft, loyalty, and self-assuredness over featherlight beats that his voice dances over. The propulsive energy of all this undertaking has led to Wow, his latest project where his quest for happiness collides with some of the best times of his life being captured on wax. It is his most forward-facing project as he moves into a new phase of his career. 

Below, Hanu Jay talks to the NATIVE through the process that inspired the records on Wow track-by-track. 


We made the entire EP in about two months late last year.  I always knew I wanted something with a very great feeling to start to project, something that had a choir too, and “Happy” was that song. There was one day when we weren’t even really recording, I was just chilling with my producer and he started playing some chords on the piano. As he was playing it, the chorus for “Happy” came to my head. I already had the “pursuit of happiness” line in my head because I knew I wanted to use it. My producer kept playing the piano and I was singing the chorus. We did a rough sketch that day but I knew that it would be completed when I was with a choir. I already knew how I wanted everything to be arranged. 


“Alright” was one of the songs we already had from a while back but we didn’t have the right choir vocals on it. When we originally made it, we did it up to sixty percent and tried out the choir thing but we weren’t sure if it was going to be nice; it was just an idea in my head.  Because of the kicks on the song, I wanted it to have a Micheal Jackson type of feeling to it. If you listen to it, the words are not very clear because in my mind, I was singing it like MJ used to sing his songs and put ad-libs at the end of it. I was basically trying to replicate that. At the end of the song, you’ll hear a wrestling sample. I’m a big fan of wrestling and Shawn Micheals’ theme song is one of my best ones so dug out one specific match where he was winning to complete the song. The screams of the audience and his song playing made it important for me. 

“Party on the Moon”

This is one of those songs that came after we felt we were done with the EP in our minds but we knew we could still do a little extra. My producer was about to travel to Abuja and we knew we wouldn’t be able to work for a while. We wanted to take you out of this world, to a place where it would feel like you were having a party on Mars and were chilling with aliens. We were aiming to do something futuristic and that’s how we stumbled on making “Party on the Moon.”

“Rhythm & Soul”

This one almost didn’t make the project. I didn’t really like this one at the time we made it but my brother walked into the studio and went made for the song. The next day, my gym instructor came over and was asking what song this was. So, it ended up getting on the project. It was us trying to rework old-school konto vibes, spice it with some R&B, and just add some ragga elements as well. But at the same time, we didn’t want the beat to be complicated, just bouncy enough to get people moving. 

“Wassup (Champions League)”

This is probably the most personal song for me on the project because it is directly talking about where I grew up in Warri. And it’s not just where I grew up, I mean my actual street, the house, and the places we used to watch football at. The whole vibes around “Wassup” is really personal because I was also talking about some things in my family. How I used to chill outside my grandfather’s house with my guys. There was a carpentry workshop outside my grandfather’s house and we were always there talking about football and all of that. I just talked about all those things because, at one point in our lives, football was the major thing, supporting Arsenal or Manchester United was huge.  It’s a really heavy song. 


We did “Wavy” way back to. I was chilling with four other people who were my friends and also musicians. We went to Eko Atlantic for a while and just recorded a lot of songs. “Wavy” was just one of those songs, we were just having fun and it came up. 

“Damola’s Interlude”

Damola is my cousin. There was a guy I really liked a lot and he dropped his album. There was a skit on the album and it inspired this one. It’s a little different because he was talking about something else but I just wanted something on my project where someone was talking about creativity and all. I told my cousin to record those things and she did. 

“Wow (Can I Blow Your Mind)”

At that point, you should have been blown away but in case that did not happen and there was like 20% left to go, this song is meant to do the work. It carries the whole sense of the full EP.  It’s the song that represents everything I wanted to do with the project. 

Featured image credits/Courtesy of the artist