To say that Lookman Adekunle Salami – better known as L.A. Salami – is a character is a bit of an understatement. But being slightly offbeat hasn’t hindered his career – if anything, it’s helped it.
Talking to Music Week, Salami explains the idea behind the sole skit track, Papa Stokely, in his upcoming debut album, Dancing With Bad Grammar: “Papa Stokely is a guy who lives in my head, and he’s also one of the founders of a hip-hop project called The Unscene Supper Klub. TUSK for short.
He’s one of the MCs in that little side-project. His voice comes in all different forms - he sounds like whatever’s necessary at the time.”
Dancing With Bad Grammar: The Director’s Cut (“There was supposed to be a standard edition with 11 tracks, and a Director’s Cut edition with 14 tracks, but I think they’re only printing the long version,” says Salami) is the singer’s first album - but he’s already got five more planned.
“I’ve got quite a few albums written, it’s just a case of putting them out now. The intention was always to put Dancing With Bad Grammar out first,” he explains. “These albums that I’ve already written alll have names and themes.
“I released an EP called The Prelude in 2014, and that’s basically referring to these albums - it’s an EP for six albums, basically. That was the intention of that EP, and all these albums have particular themes and sounds through them. Dancing With Bad Grammar is one of them.”
The name of the album, according to Salami, means “making the most of what you’ve got”. He adds: “Doing something beautiful with your limitations. It could refer to personal things or the world in general. The theme is more of a conversation, about the philosophy of Dancing With Bad Grammar.”
The album was recorded in just a week, tracked entirely live. “That was one of the main vibes I wanted to get from the album,” claims the artist. It will be released next month via Sunday Best (with Domino taking on the publising rights). After meeting Sunday Best in - where else? - Shoreditch House, Salami opted for the indie over other labels that were interested.
He explains: “It’s an indie label, so I imagined it would be more free. They seemed nice - Rob [da Bank, label founder], seemed really nice. They liked the music as well, and he’d known about me for a while. Love those who love you back, y’know.”
Salami is big on love - but Dancing With Bad Grammar isn’t just a collection of love songs. The first track to be revealed from the album, The City Nowadays, is a about London - and couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. “I suppose you could say it’s intentional,” says, Salami.
“In terms of the sound of the song, it was quite conscious, but the lyrics were more, I decided that’s what I wanted to say and just wrote it. I write about things that I’m feeling at the time. The song’s called The City
Nowadays, so I wrote about the city nowadays, and all those things. The last few weeks have made it more relevant than ever. You could see it coming a mile away; it’s been brewing for a few years.”
While the song was picked to contrast with the acoustic tracks already online and “establish” his sound, Salami supports using your platform to say something. “If you’ve got a platform that you can use, and you feel strongly about it,” he says. “It’s the same as feeling strongly about love.
“You hear loads of love songs because people feel strongly about love, and it affects every single person, so they write about love. If you happen to feel strongly about politicians fucking up the world, you might want to jot something down about that too.”