Earlier in the week, some friends and I were discussing about the guys doing Alte music. Our talks extended to embrace the fecundity of their lyrics and style, the consciousness of their art and why most of them have to “blow” from outside before they heard and accepted here.
At my quiet time, I had cause to sit back and ruminate over why the term Alte (as in, alternative) is used to classify the music of some of our very best guys in Nigeria who aren’t doing the trendy afro pop, and here we refer to the Etceteras, Brymos, Adekunle Golds, Wurlds, Nonso Amadis, Tola Odunsis, etc. (It was even God that saved Brymo and Adekunle Gold because of the labels they found themselves in the early days of their careers. Etcetera wasn’t that lucky and I’m certain his short stint in the industry didn’t pay off as expected. The other guys in the list are operating from outside or returned from there – where they gained acceptance and we had to, as usual, identify with their talents and drag their nationality with the country that gave them fame in order to catalogue them to our list of Nigerians doing well abroad and turn around to make noise about being the country with the most talented guys on earth).
The term “alternative” sounds a bit derogatory to me. It sounds like the Other, like the one we have to choose when we run out of options from main music? Naaa! These guys do the main music. They do better music than the guys in the afro pop genre who we are alternating them from. Their songs are marked by outstanding lyrical depth that dwarfs that of the guys in afro pop genre, they have better live instrumentations and ensemble arrangements and are among the very few that can perform their songs with a complete live band, so how can they be classified as alternative? Alternative to what really? Alternative to the noisy, empty and obscene lyrics from most of these afro pop guys? Truth be told, we are only dancing to their heavy, wavy and funky beats and nothing more. But when we want to hear good music that enriches the soul, that has good lyrics and meaning, we turn to the guys they are calling Alte, I get it, but if that is the reason why they are classified as such, then it is an unbefitting title. Our award givers who thought up such categorization must do better. They should revisit the chart table and think out a better designation.
Like we have R&B, Soul, Jazz, Pop and so on, we must strive to categorize them into one of such genres and not alternative, abeg, dem no de use mirror look wetin person wear for hand. These “Alte” guys are the ones doing the real music. They are the real musicians. Others are just singers who are fortunate to have the opportunity of a recording studio.
This article was written by Ifesinachi Nwadike