Alte Music is all about creativity, fluidity and the beauty of being an outsider.
Alte Music is yet to be defined, however, it is gradually garnering a formidable following in Nigeria. The scene has managed to establish an impressive fanbase in recent years; the lead acts in this category include- Tems; Lady Donli, Wurld, to name a few. The burgeoning music genre has developed completely; however it is impossible not to notice the subtle impact the genre is making across the country.
This new movement has been labelled ‘Alté‘, meaning ‘alternative’.
Towards the end of the recently concluded decade; several independent acts began to gain notoriety. The experiment of Contemporary Afrobeat; shoegazing and elements of Hip Hop/Rap. This creative experiment is similar to that of the Nu Metal and Alternative music that unexpectedly experienced a massive boom; in the late 90s and early 2000s in North America and Europe.
At the time, the musical style of bands such as Korn, Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit differed from the norm. Their maverick tunes and melancholy lyrics could not be hidden underneath a bushel; it was only a matter of time before they blossomed. Although the mainstream exposure of Nu Metal was shortlived, the impact birthed several other genres.
While Wizkid and Davido are considered the flagbearers of the Afrobeat genre; Alte is the promoting its own agenda.
Afrobeat is for the popular kids, Alte culture is predominantly embraced by hedonist and wannabe cool kids. In Lady Donli’s voice ‘Enjoy your life’.
ALSO READ: Burna Boy: What next for Afrobeat after African Giant’s Grammy loss?
Where did Alte Music originate from?
Before the term ‘Alte’ was coined in the 2010s, several Nigerian acts experimented with different elements. Asa released a folk-rock/R&B album, Rooftop MC released their massively successful rock music album, Shock Therapy. These alternative acts created a sound that differed from that of mainstream acts such as D’Banj, 2 Face, Styl Plus at the time, their sound stood on its own.
By the time social network platform such as My Space, Youtube and other platforms was becoming prominence in this part of the world, more alternative acts were gaining modest notoriety. Adol, DRB LasGidi, Show Dem Camp and Ladipoe have the internet to thank. Their affiliation with the DIY mentality has seen them shun the mundane to maintain their own originality and message.
They were discovered online because of no radio station will air a song with radical lyrics.
The Alté name was officially coined by DRB members Teezee and Boj in their 2014 track “Paper” (“The ladies like me because I’m an Alté guy,”), later used to discuss leftfield styles of music more broadly.
This is where beauty was birthed. The purpose of Alte is to challenge the status quo.
While mainstream media shuns sensitive issues such as androgyny, depression and mental health, these fledgeling acts have approached the topic in the majority of their music videos.
The music genre is breaking grounds with its own message.
Will the genre eventually gain mainstream acceptance?
Talent is never enough.
It takes guts, hard work and a little bit of luck to gain mainstream accept (ask Naira Marley). The genre has received modest attention in some part of the country. Of course, it would be a massive deception to claim the genre is it’s in its peak; not at all, it’s currently metamorphosising into what it ought to be.
23-year-old singer, Tems is doing exceptionally well for herself. Her single ‘Try Me’ turned her into an overnight sensation in 2019, in fact, she has been dubbed the Queen of Alte. She can be everything and more, 2019 was a really good year for the beau.
In case you didn’t know, she served as one of the opening acts at Wizkid’s Starboy Concert in December. This is progress.
The genre is indeed evolving for its own good. Recall Wurld collaborated with one of the biggest Afrobeat producers, Sarz. They released a project titled I Like Girls With Trobul; the singles ‘Ego’ and ‘Trobul’ were critically acclaimed.
Lady Donli worked with Davido and the scene pioneers DRB LasGidi are still pushing boundaries.
The genre is not far from attaining its peak. In the near future; it might probably be bigger than Afrobeat; and R&B in the country, only time will as all things are usually profound in its season. In the meantime, we must adore the creativity and transparency these acts put into their work.