Nigerian Artists Defining the Alté Movement.

In an era where everything seems similar, or like a copy of a copy, some young talented artists are taking bold steps to create an alternative style of music. These artists are all African, creative, stylish, out-of-the-box thinkers, and not to forget, they have an enthusiasm for the retro. Watching these artists blend romance, realism and style – a mix of never-before-heard beats and lyrical melody – is nothing short of beautiful. These artists have gone all out to thrill their audience with a new and potent kind of musical energy, and the thrill of it is a whole mood.

There is an extra spice to these artists’ idiosyncrasies, their inclusivity, to say the least. In their style, we see an inclusion of people who may have ordinarily be sidelined or overlooked – the LGBTQ community, the androgynous, the goth, etc. These artists and their style are in line with the alté culture which is one of unorthodox and alternative lifestyle.

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We at Altéist decided to spotlight a number of them. Check them out:

Odunsi the Engine, ‘Star Signs’:

Everything about this particular RnB music video takes us down memory lane to the 90s. The colorful costumes of both sexes, the adire, and laces, choice of jewelry and hairdo, a blend of vibrant colours and subtle make-up. Born in Lagos, Odunsi the Engine, real name Bowofoluwa Olufisayo Odunsi, also served us a Yoruba-themed ballroom, entertaining an audience in his see-through shimmery sequined number with matching headgear and pearls around his neck. It is impossible to miss eye-candy characters in his music video, like the dancing boy with the tiara, pleased at himself and basking in the glam of the music; and another with a bell hat, gisting at a table, confident in himself, his savoir-faire hitting the roof; and there’s the gate-crasher in green with face-arts and hair dyed green to match her outfit, comfortable in her own skin.

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Odunsi succeeded in not just gracing the screen with a worthy nostalgic music video, but in merging experiences – from the 1800s ballroom to the Yoruba culture.

Tems, ‘Try Me’:

Tems served us a musical experience similar to Rihanna’s Hard of 2009. The uniformity in the video coming out of Nigeria is of notable quality. She builds upon this in the video, which is fused with gangster life of the 1800s and the 1900s with the present-day protest against oppression.  

There is keen attention to details on the costumes of the characters, rough denims, dreads with cowries stringing from them. The leather jackets, boots and bikers bring motorcycle gangs from retro movies to mind. Also included in the movie set were an albino male and another with vitiligo – people who are regarded as outsiders by some parts of the society.

Santi, ‘Rapid Fire’:

There’s no talking about the alté culture without mentioning Santi’s work. He built this music video on the foundation of western 1900s and early 2000s he was exposed to while growing up. He ends up giving us a timeless nostalgic vibe that is relatable across ages and regions as his audience in the diaspora would certainly be familiar with his content.

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“Rapid Fire” visualizes diversity and gangsterhood, including rasta-style and Afro-Americanness, accompanying these with costumes and a cinematography filled with the nostalgia and eclectic hue that is what the alté culture is about.

The Nigerian alté culture is not just about baggy trousers, torso hugging vests and peepers. It cuts across a vast range of lifestyle – fashion, music, art, entertainment. It also touches on open minds for out-of-the-box thinkers, giving room for minority groups to find their place in entertainment too. We clearly see that in the art of these alté artists.

Jephtha is an altéist with a flair for lifestyle and everything literature. His ambient affinity for everything unorthodox fuels his writing.

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