The Cavemen release their highly anticipated debut album, ‘ROOTS’

“It’s long...but you’ll sit with it because it’s great music,”

Right from their debut single, “Osondu”, the Cavemen’s immediate agenda was clear: they are here to build on the immortal blueprint of Highlife music, and play their part in extending the influential sound’s relevance in the most authentic way possible. In the past year and a bit, the sibling duo, comprising bassist Kingsley Okorie and drummer Benjamin James, have advanced their cause in meaningful ways, constantly raising the bar with subsequent singles, playing an integral role on Lady Donli’s critically acclaimed debut LP, ‘Enjoy Your Life’, and generally improving their profile as one of the most delightful bands around through their electrifying live performances.

All of this culminates into ‘ROOTS’, the Cavemen’s newly released debut album which they’ve been teasing since the beginning of this year, but working on over the past two years. Initially set for release on August 22nd, the pair have shared the album ahead of schedule, heeding the call of expectant fans and explaining that they also couldn’t wait another day for it to drop. In a weekend with a slew of new album releases from mainstream heavyweights, Fireboy DML, Cuppy and Adekunle Gold, the cavemen are hedging their bet on cutting through the stack with quality music that will be carried through word of mouth by fans and early listeners.

When we interviewed Kingsley and Benjamin for our recent Time Issue, they made it clear that they were making an album people can live with. “It’s long, haha, but you’ll sit with it because it’s great music,” Benjamin remarked about the hour-long album, a tricky proposition in the streaming era where more artists are prioritising brevity to deal with shortened attention spans.

Our “Welcome to the Cave” is a brief introduction to the sonic tour we’re about to embark on, a 2-minute announcing upon which The Cavemen reveal that “the cave is the heart of a man”. This opening track projects that the music, music that emanates from their heart, will change the world, starting small with Nigeria, bringing peace and unity to Africa and then the world.

From their living room, where this album was recorded, The Cavemen begin their journey to change the world by diversifying the Nigerian music landscape with a Highlife sound, that has been audibly omitted from contemporary music. Though we’d heard them perform alongside at Odunsi’s Lagos headline in December 2018 and a couple of weeks later at Lady Donli’s intimate performance at The Patio, it wasn’t until The Cavemen accompanied Lady Donli on her debut album, ‘Enjoy Your Life’ that we were fully clued in to their own musical tastes.

I met [The Cavemen] first in 2018 at Tamerri festival in Abuja, and I was just in awe of their talent. I knew then that I wanted to be a part of their journey, so did what I could to in my capacity to just get them out there. From performing at my shows to linking them with all the musicians in my circles.” Lady Donli says of her discovery of the band and putting everyone on. Two years later and the two acts are two projects deep, as their executive production on Donli’s masterpiece has flipped into Lady Donli’s first A&R project on The Cavemen’s own debut: “Working on their album has been super fulfilling and I’m just so happy that it’s finally coming out. I feel like everything is coming full circle cause they worked with me on EYL and now I’m working on them with their debut.”

Deciding to “fill the vacuum for contemporary highlife”, The Cavemen share with NATIVE, ‘ROOTS’ is, as its name suggests, is produced in reverence to their Nigerian heritage and the music that coloured the country during its most turbulent times. The Cavemen’s service to their country is reflected even in the album’s artwork – courtesy of Atide Studios, a rising creative agency in operation between Lagos and LA – which non-coincidentally uses solely green hues: “The album art represents ‘community’” they reveal.

Beyond the lively album cover and The Cavemen’s traditional instrumentalism, the duo’s ‘ROOTS’ can also be heard through their lyrics, which are more often in their vernacular tongue, Igbo, than in English, an inaccessibility that actually elevates the album with its uniqueness and authenticity. Whether you understand the lyrics or not, songs like “Oge” or “Bolo Bolo” will certainly leave you feeling alright; and the times at which The Cavemen do adopt the common tongue, their breadth of experience is evident, with the enamoured description of falling fresh into love on “Fall” contrasting the pain expressed on the melancholic “Crazy Lover” that features a glimpse of femininity who drives home the sentiment of loss (“ey, you take my heart away”).

On first listen, the Cavemen seem to have achieved what they set out for. Comprising five pre-released singles and eleven new tracks, the 54 minutes-long set is packed with bewitching, colourful and easy listening grooves, resulting in an album that flows immaculately from front to back and favours repeat listens.

Don’t just take our word for it, listen to ‘ROOTS’ here.

Featured Image Credits: Twitter/staycavy


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