The Cavemen, bring back “Highlife”
- Providence: Lagos, Nigeria
- Highlife, more than a genre … a vibe
- Sophisticated take on Heritage
- Bridge between generations
- “Roots” – a future classic album
Driven by tympanic melodies, saturated with indigenous rhythms, Western instruments and iconic grooves, Highlife remains a cherished African music genre. With its origins in early 20th Century Ghana, the style later spread to Nigeria, having a glorious era in both countries as the sound evolved. There would be no Afrobeat without Highlife while the structure of hip-hop is influenced by its steady sense of syncopation.
It is into this heritage that The Cavemen have arrived, crafting a very sophisticated, nuanced, yet altogether modern version of “Highlife” for the digital generation.
Nostalgic yes, but very forward-thinking, the group’s founder brothers, Kingsley and Benjamin James Okorie, have distilled Highlife, Afrobeat, jazz and soul music into what they call “Highlife Fusion” – and are having massive moment both in Nigeria and in the UK.
“It’s Highlife with a lot of undertones. Highlife that relates to the present and to what we are facing right now,” they say.
Indeed, The Cavemen album “Roots” is a future classic. Filled with a desire to make the kind of music that they grew up listening to, the band has taken a journey to bring the sounds of the past into the future, positioning themselves as a bridge between generations.
Their music is eminently familiar. “We feel like Highlife is kind of natural to an African because of the way it’s shaped, so unconsciously, it kind of just translates. And we are young people as well, so it’s interesting seeing a fellow young person doing something I never would have thought would be relevant to this generation,” say the Okorie brothers.
“Roots” is a potpourri of soothing Igbo and Pidgin English chants, laid on low to mid-tempo electric guitar riffs, with a range of percussive, danceable stylings. In the process, “Roots” won The Cavemen a Nigerian music Headies Award for the Best Alternative Albumc 2020.
For our part, The Wire is thrilled that “Highlife” has returned to Africa, promising a remarkable summer of music.
C.S.A.’s monthly cultural portal, The WIRE connects the dots of culture. With concise stories, many with video content, take a premium dive into the world of African entertainment & cultural fluidity. It’s one thing to be hip to what’s happening but it is another to know why.
WHERE TO FIND US
SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER