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DRB Release Their Long-Awaited Debut Album 'Pioneers'

The collective's debut album highlights their influence on Nigeria's Alté scene with collaborations from Santi, Lady Donli, Olamide and more.

The trendsetting Nigerian collective DRB have released their highly-anticipated debut album, Pioneers.

The 12-track album features a slew of notable guest features from Nigeria's youth culture-led alté scene, including Lady Donli, Tems, Odunsi (The Engine), Prettyboy DO, Santi and more, while the heavyweight Nigerian rapper Olamide appears on the track "Shomo."

Consisting of members Boj, Fresh L and Teezee, the group named the album Pioneers, to reflect on their roles as "key figureheads within Lagos's rapidly expanding Alté scene." In the spirit of collaboration, the group also worked with young producers like Pheelz and GMK and enlisted the new wave Nigerian artist Edozie Anedu for the the album's standout artwork.


'Pioneer' album cover by Edozie Anedu

The trio also released a 4-minute documentary on Thursday to commemorate the release, and highlight their decade-long influence on the scene. The documentary features appearances from artists they've worked with both in front of and behind the scenes, including Davido and Skepta, who speak to the group's unique presence in Nigeria's contemporary music scene.

DRB Lasgidi PIONEERS THE ALBUM www.youtube.com

They released the album's lead single "Softly" last month. "Softly in Nigeria represents being gentle," says member Teezee of the track. "It's used for endearment. For example, when someone looks great or if someone is having a good time and relaxing you can say they are soft. Softly identifies calmness and gentleness, while delivering something fresh and brand new."

"We wanted to mix the original sounds of Afrobeat, but infused with the new wave of the Alté sound," he adds.

Steam DRB's Pioneers album below via Spotify and Apple Music.


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Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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