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How Traditional is the Alté Genre?


How Traditional is the Alté Genre_

Considering all the word going around about the new wave of afrobeat called Alté music being more foreign than original to African roots, it has given me lots of time to try finding out the truth.

Is Alté music more Alkebulan than it is white music?

Well, we might have to look into its origin to find out what is and what is not. And the truth remains that there are different shades of alternative. Inasmuch as these different shades might leave the lay listener confused on what the genre is really about, the fact is that Alté is more than just another kind of music. It’s a lifestyle.

Beginning with famous, legendary Afrobeat/Afro-fusion musician, Lagbaja, we see that Alté has everything to do with being different – expressing uniqueness and the coolness that there is in being an African.

This shade of Alté can as well be seen in Brymo‘s and Asa‘s music; with them doing soul/R ‘n’ B in their indigenous language (mostly Yoruba). The originality of being African proves to be more important than the part of being a Lagos cool kid and wearing weird clothes like we see Alté today.

Beyond continuing the legacy of his father by doing Afrobeat and playing the saxophone, Seun Kuti tells the right black story through his music and lifestyle – portraying authenticity and the organic free-spiritedness associated with our continent. He has the rebellious flair to his music that cannot be found in Femi‘s – his brother’s – music.

This ‘rebellious flair’ is also very much evident in Burna Boy’s art and even lifestyle. It has earned him some sort of distinction (which is the primary attribute of Alté).

The Alté Movement as we know it now (with the likes of Lady Donli, Odunsi The Engine, Santi) is as well doing their best in telling the African story. However, the misconception of the public perceiving them to merely be exhibiting “cultist behaviour” comes from these artistes trying to tell the story in an entirely new and modern way.

This is me urging them to press on as ‘different’ is all that being Alté is about. At the end of it all, the past, present and future of our wealthy continent should be painted into pictures in the minds of world people through music.

These Lagos cool kids are on their way to becoming global giants. Stay jiggy.

Written by Itty Okim

Itty Okim is a Nigerian entertainment writer and Gen Z sociocultural promoter. He lives in Lagos and takes PR for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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