NATIVE Network’s musical collective, NATIVE Sound System recently released a 15-track debut compilation album: NATIVEWORLD. The project features top-notch Nigerian artists both in the country and the diaspora from the likes of Teezee to Odunsi (The Engine), Boj, Gabzy, Joyce Olong, Ayra Starr, Show Dem Camp, Obongjayar, Cruel Santino, Lady Donli, Azanti, Deto Black, NSG, Psycho YP, Fresh L, Prettyboy D-O, Lojay, Maison 2500, Knucks and many others. Before the comprehensive body of work was released, a peek into the exciting concept and prospects contained within the project was given in the form of a single — that is, “Runaway” (feat. Lojay and Ayra Starr) — released a few months ago.
Alté, as a contemporary genre of music currently being widely explored in Nigeria, has firmly caught on among a lot of people in the country and beyond. Many are engaging with “the sound of the cool kids” — alté — and are using it as a form of experimentation with creative self-expression. TeeZee, one of the founders of NATIVE magazine and NATIVELAND Festival, describes it as a genre that focuses on “freedom of expression essentially through any medium”. This is exactly what NATIVEWORLD exemplifies. As a project replete with alté sounds, it dissects the rigid systems that determine our music tastes and exposes us to a variety of fresher sounds. Though the mood teeters between sensual and soulful to groovy and upbeat, the album still retains a valued artistic consciousness that characterises it as brilliant work. All the songs have the potential to be standalone hits, but there’s just something about a few songs on the album that effortlessly tickle our auditory senses. Let’s get into some of them!
“Stuck on You”
The celestial being, Ayra Starr, joins with LMBSKN and DAP The Contract on “Stuck on You” to create a track that transmits the affliction of sticky fingers — to ensure that we remain stuck on it. It’s a tune that is reminiscent of synth-pop sounds of the 80s blended with Ayra Starr’s striking vocals and DAP’s rhythmic lines. They alternatively sing: I’m stuck on you, you, you, you, you / Can’t get my mind off you, in odes to their respective lovers. At first listen, it gives off a magnetic resonance that just makes you want to stay till the end, replay it, and like that again till you’ve listened to it countless times already. This song is a sure winner.
“Pim Pam” (feat Psycho YP, MOJO AF, FRESH L, Prettyboy D-O)
There is a sort of eccentric aura that floats around Prettyboy D-O. Not just in his mannerisms, but in his fashion sense and most importantly, in his music. It contributes to toning up his tracks and giving them an idiosyncratic style that confronts with the conformity usually observed in the Nigerian music industry. This is exactly what makes “Pim Pam” an intriguing record, this, alongside Psycho’s talent, his guttural, hardcore, blunt bars. The track takes a genre-mashing vibe that flashes elements of alté and hip-hop. The sound is so zestful that you literally have no option but to love it.
“TGIF” (feat Gabzy)
Now, this is one for the hustlers and bustlers. It’s a short, soothing jam that speaks to so many people who are just ready to conclude a fast-paced, daunting week. British-Nigerian singer, Gabzy, croons simply: “It’s been a long week / Tryna forget my worries”. Yes, we feel you, Gabzy.
Tortoise is the first track on the album and a wonderful introduction to the project. The Cavemen and SHOLZ link up to spark off a scintillating mashup of dance and highlife. The sound goes really hard and it’s a great appreciation to the talented producer, SHOLZ. It’s unique, but relatable and enjoyable. What is most remarkable about the song is its recognition of music veterans like Fela, Osabede, Sunny Adé, Ebenezer Obey, Oliver De Coque, Sade Adu, etc. In a way, its theme and position as the first track on the album seem symbolic as it can be explained as a way of honoring the great ones who have done the work before displaying a creative brew of young and gifted artists.
“Cold Freestyle” (feat SHOLZ and Bloody Civilian)
Cold Freestyle has a vibrancy that can be attributed to SHOLZ’s and Blake’s production combined with Bloody Civillian’s impressive vocal work. Her voice strings along the mid-tempo pop beats in a tender but strong cadence to deliver solid tunes on the track. The rhythm almost aligns with that of “Stuck on You”, but it’s a certified feel-good song.