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Photo: Kelly Green.

The Cavemen Bring a Message of 'Love and Highlife'

We talk to the Nigerian sibling duo about their outstanding 2021 album.

A woman sings 'Teach me how to love / Show me how to be' over and over again through distant reverb. It's the opening to what was one of the most underrated albums of 2021. As life felt like it was getting back to normal and then crashed again on waves of uncertainty across the globe, The Cavemen from Lagos, Nigeria put out a record that soothes and brings joy, but more importantly, is impossible to not get down to and let go.

The 18-song Love and Highlife makes you dance in the way that classic Ghana highlife or Fela makes you dance. It comforts the same way "Chief Commander" Ebenezer Obey's voice comforts. It exudes the playfulness of Sir Shina Peters and the uplifting spirituality of the Lijadu Sisters. Brothers Kingsley Okorie (bass) and Benjamin James (vocals/drums) know that they have created a classic record for themselves. There are songs on this Cavemen record that have been with me as I fell in love far from home, that held me when my heart filled, burst, and then left me bereft. This record was there through it all. Jerking me around my room, fueling my hope, making blue skies bluer. I was repeating their mantras and crying tears as "Brother's Keeper" ended in a maze of streets, as rats scurried beneath my feet a world away.

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How Nigeria’s Emerging Acts Are Navigating the Pivot to Virtual Spaces

The pandemic presents a unique challenge for non-mainstream artists who rely on physical engagement with fans, but there may be benefits to adapting to the new normal.

It was the 28th of March, two days before Nigeria's lockdown order would go into effect. The singer Dwin The Stoic was playing a live session on Instagram for the Afrocentric fashion brand Juju, which he represents as a brand-ambassador. The session was a peculiar one for the folk-fusion artist, as he was performing without his instrumentalist, which almost never happened. Instead, he played the instrumentals through his speakers. Dwin remembers watching people popping in on the live session and telling him how happy they were to be a part of the virtual show and this—the quick feedback—made the stress of setting up all by himself, worth it.

He was aware, as the existing COVID-19 information suggested, that live sessions on social media apps, mostly Instagram, would come to be the new normal. They would be the only way to keep in touch with his fans, at least before some degree of physical contact is deemed safe enough to begin again.

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Lady Donli's Debut Album 'Enjoy Your Life' Is Here

An honest offering from the Nigerian artist your ears need to hear.

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