18.02.20

Words by: Felicity Martin

The 10 Best Under-The-Radar Alté Tracks, according to Lady Donli

"I feel like he’s one of those artistes that’s going to explode in a couple years and I can’t wait to watch it happen..."

A sound emanating from Nigeria is gaining ground fast around the globe. Less of a genre and more of a cultural wave, alté (meaning ‘alternative’) took root in Lagos after a group of millennials began expressing themselves through fashion, art and music. Lady Donli is one of the artists pushing the movement forward – a close friend of alté pioneer Santi and frequent collaborator Odunsi (The Engine), she’s been instrumental in spreading the feelgood energy the sound radiates.

Having spent time across North America, the UK and Nigeria, and now living between London and Lagos, Lady Donli’s sound is a product of her diverse environment, as much influenced by British artists like Little Simz as African acts like Oumou Sangare. ‘Enjoy Your Life’, her debut album, came out last year, a record that saw her fusing hip-hop sounds with alternative jazz, psychedelic funk and beyond. ‘Cash’, which recently saw a guest feature from Davido, is arguably Lady Donli’s biggest moment to date: detailing her addiction to dollar in the most infectious way. As someone firmly ensconced in the alté scene, we asked Lady Donli to talk us through some of the lesser-known cuts the movement has thrown out, to get a further sense of the wealth of music pouring out of Nigeria.

1. Ayüü – ‘Get Back’

“I think this song is the ultimate collaboration, not just because I’m on it but because it packs the right punch. One of those songs you put on repeat without realising it. Ayüü is definitely one of my top ones-to-watch in the scene.”

2. 234Jaydaa – ‘Pink’

“234Jaydaa has one of the most fascinating voices I’ve heard in a long time. It’s for this reason I took her on tour with me. ‘Pink’ is an amazing bop, it’s in between trap and soul and is also just interesting because of the dimension Jaydaa’s voice adds to it. There’s something about the air in her voice.”

3. Solis – ‘Angel’

“Solis is one of the ones-to-watch in the alté scene. This song right here serves as one of my lullabies, the melodies, the strings. A heavenly track.”

4. Oma Mahmud – ‘Jalo’

“I’m featured on this one as well. It’s a pretty slept-on song but it’s pretty amazing. This is the real afro beat, live instrumentation, that aggressive kick that makes you ready to go to war.”

5. The Cavemen – ‘Runaway Lady’

“Watched this one come alive and I’m just so happy about it, the groove, the fusion. It’s an interesting blend of traditional high life and afropop. Everyone should have this on their playlists.”

6. Gigi Atlantis – ‘Wahala On The Rocks’

“All I’m going to say about this one is that it belongs on your playlist. Gigi fits completely into the mould of what I think the alté artiste is.”

7. AYLØ – ‘Paris’

“Fantastic artiste, fantastic voice, fantastic visuals. AYLØ is the one to watch. I feel like he’s one of those artistes that’s going to explode in a couple years and I can’t wait to watch it happen.”

8. Tay Iwar, Le Mav – ‘Golden’

“Two of my favourite producers in the alté scene came together and created a masterpiece. ‘Golden’ is the lead track off the EP but the entire EP is flames, pure sonic bliss, amazing vocals. Comes together perfectly.”

9. Zamir – ‘Munchies’

“Zamir is one of my faves because he’s just so consistent other than that he’s an OG in the scene. Been delivering quality content for a long time.”

10. Lady Donli – ‘Corner ft. VanJess and The Cavemen’

“This might be cheating because it’s my song but it’s a powerful combination of two of my favourite genres – high life and R&B. One of those collaborations that came together so perfectly, a strange mix that balanced well.”

Read next: The 10 Best Nigerian Songs For Summer, according to Santi