Wasps prop Biyi Alo has already made a big impression in English rugby and is now making an impact on the world of hip-hop music as he proves there is more to life than scrums and rucks. Under the name Biyi, Alo has released five songs that have been streamed on Spotify more than 415,000 times and another five are due for release before the new Gallagher Premiership season starts later this month.
Less than two weeks ago, the 19st front row endured the bitter disappointment of losing the Premiership final to Exeter Chiefs at a rain-soaked Twickenham and now, after a short pause to let everyone get their breath back, the new season will kick-off for Wasps with a November 22 game at home to Bristol.
That 19-13 defeat by Exeter is still too raw for Alo to use as the basis for one of his songs and with training for the Wasps squad starting next week, the 27-year-old is eager to help the club build on the try-scoring momentum that took them into that Twickenham final.
When Alo was part of the Worcester Warriors squad he was the heaviest player in the Premiership at 24st, but he has now shed five-stone at Wasps while embarking on a music career that he hopes will help change perceptions about professional rugby players – his lyrics are intensely emotional and personal.
Alo told RugbyPass: “I put a lot of emotion into rugby and everything I do and when the smoke and mirrors are all gone it is about you and the person next to you. I was worried people would tell me to shut up and practise scrums but the attitude has been ‘there is one of us who is taking that step and expressing themselves’.
Lovebow OUT EVERYWHERE https://t.co/H0D3UetFzG
— B (@biyialo) November 2, 2020
“I haven’t had one bad word from anyone in rugby and I’m really happy. I didn’t start music for financial gain – it was an outlet. One of my tracks is doing particularly well and I have always enjoyed lyrics and music but didn’t start making my own until 2018. I was always writing lyrics and poetry and it has naturally been an outlet for me. If you don’t voice those thoughts they just sit in the back of your mind.
“I try and portray things through my lyrics and rugby is not always known for its emotional spaces. Once the Saturday match is over the focus is straight onto the next team meeting and preparations for the next game.
“I have had a lot of positive reactions from my teammates who are way more supportive than I ever thought because I felt I would be looked at differently, but as soon as I released the songs the boys were saying they were proud of what I was saying and doing.
“People love to see someone who is involved in rugby – which has traditionally been about playing hard, having a few beers and going home – doing something different. I hope that young players coming into rugby who think they have to be a certain type of person and can’t be themselves can see that you can.
“The next five songs were recorded in the last month and they will be released shortly but there isn’t one about losing the final – I don’t want open that wound up!”
Before the second lockdown came into force in England this week, Alo was able to use a music studio in West Acton to record his latest songs – including the popular Lovebow – and having finished that work it is now back to the day job with Wasps where an initial short-term contract became full-time employment. “We finished the season later than most and we are on track to start training next week,” he said.
“The beauty of getting back so quickly after the final is that there isn’t a lot of time to dwell on that result. It does feel weird to be starting a new season so soon. We adjusted our game plan in the final in that weather and were all very proud of our performance and it was the first time a lot of us had been in that position.
“We have shown we have strength in depth and while we will be without some guys away on international duty, everyone knows their roles and we are raring to go. Personally, to get the contract with Wasps was a personal goal and I knew I had a lot to prove and the coaches have put trust in me. It is massive for me.
“If you have excess weight you are not going to be as effective and while I didn’t have a target for my weight it was about working on my fitness and my diet. I’m at a good weight now and there is still more I can lose. Compared to my Worcester weight (24st) I’m in a completely different place and mindset.
“I’m loving my rugby at the moment and it was about a change of attitude and at Worcester, I was more of a passenger on a train rather than trying to drive it.”
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