What’s Next?

A Letter From the Editor

I’ve always preferred the future to the past. Well, not always. A few summers ago I finally watched The Sopranos, and Tony Soprano (RIP James Gandolfini) said:

“ ‘Remember When’ is the lowest form of conversation.”

It’s really stuck with me.

In the world of music, especially in the transitory period that currently defines Nigerian music, it would be ill-advised to ignore the mistakes of our predecessors – and that’s everyone, from artists to press. I still can’t help but look ahead. Sometimes when you have the ball, you just have run with it. Yeah sure, watch the tapes the night before, watch what went wrong in the last game, try and remember it. But nothing is quite like being in the position yourself, and just doing.

In the last couple of years, we have been inundated with the phrase “Africa To The World.” What does it mean? Who is the world? Who exactly is Africa? It sounds more like a UNICEF tagline than anything, but I’ve come to appreciate the sentiment behind it. When looking to the future, so many of us can be extremely self-centred – and it’s very normal. You hear people setting themselves goals for the New Year: whether it’s to become healthier, or to cut out certain vices, they all tend to be very individualistic. What we’ve tried to show with our NEXT Issue is how the right kind of team work can push you to heights you never expected. We spent months with Davido, who went “Back to Basics” with the team he came into the game with seven years ago, and had the most dominating year we’ve seen in modern Afrobeats. We met Darkovibes and La Meme Gang, an Odd Future-esq posse loudly taking over the streets and airwaves of Ghana, one banger at a time. We sat with Odunsi The Engine, the lifelong outcast that finally found his tribe, and is now the poster boy for the alternative music revolution in West Africa. The three minds behind Daily Paper formed a legendary partnership to give back to a girl’s school in Accra. Of course sometimes it’s good to be selfish, sometimes it’s good to be competitive, but sometimes, collaboration really is all you need to level up.

It’s crazy to think it’s been just over a year since the launch of The NATIVE. There have been so many highs, and luckily so far, not so many lows. One thing I must admit, as an editor, is that I’ve found myself grappling with the big question of audience. Due to the increasingly popular nature of African music around the world, we have garnered a lot of attention, not just from the homegrown/diaspora, but also general music lovers who may not know much about the place this music actually comes from. To be the first point of contact that someone has with a country, and in many ways, a continent, is a massive responsibility. There are so many amazing things happening in Africa in different sectors: music, art, fashion, sport, film, tech…the list goes on. Sadly, these things are happening in spite of the conditions of the continent, rather than because of it.  It would be easy for us to be so optimistic about things, and paint this improving picture to the unknowing outside world. But in reality, there are still so many things wrong. We asked a variety of young people in different spheres the same question: “what are you and your friends worried about this year?”. We got identical answers. Tech geniuses and R&B maestros went through similar things at school – being outcasts based on a system that simply isn’t inclusive enough in 2018. But these dark truths are where we draw the ray of light from: this is why The NATIVE exists, to show that there is a way. To the young boy reading this, who has a million and one ideas, but can’t concentrate in class –  Timi Ajiboye and Odunsi The Engine are here to tell you not to beat yourself up about it. Keep trying, but don’t let your ideas go. They’re just as important as your education. In an ideal world they go hand in hand. To the young girl who is confused about who she is and where she fits into the world, Wavy The Creator is here to show you that you don’t need to fit in to stand out. To the graduates who are just trying to find their feet, Mowalola and Daberechi are here to tell you that timing is everything and you can always make it work. To the young person that takes that risk to do what they love in spite of what your parents or friends first said, Davido and I are here to tell you that sometimes you have to trust yourself: people don’t always understand the bigger picture at first.


What does a new year mean to me? Honestly, just another year closer to fulfilling the promise.