NATIVE Sound System’s DJ Sholz Shares Stellar 2-Pack, “Cruel Love” & “Vex”

With features from Teezee, Odumodublvck, Candy Bleakz, Somadina and Tariq.

Afropop exists at a very interesting juncture right now. In the hands of innovative producers and musicians it’s become a most malleable sound, easily folded with conventions from other genres. That sonic compatibility emboldens the scene with the responsibility of creative risk taking, and few have so valiantly stepped up like NATIVE Sound System. Carved out of the NATIVE Networks, NSS is a DJ collective and producer supergroup that has increasingly touched base with the sounds of Africa and its sprawling diaspora, releasing last year’s ‘NATIVEWORLD’ in alliance with that vision. 


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This year, the collective has again struck musical gold. Championed by SHOLZ, the release of his two-pack single arrives with much promise. Given the magical body of work which its debut proved to be, establishing the diverse grooves of our heart through earthy, lived-in music and talented spate of artists on the roster. Just as the collaborators on that project embodied the creative vision, so also do the featured artists across these two new songs–including the heavily sought after artist from Abuja, OdumoduBlvck and Chocolate City rappers, Candy Bleakz and TAR1Q (Nu Trybe)

Cut from a dreamy soundscape, “Cruel Love” starts off with the floating beauty of Somadina’s vocals. The production merges an heart-grabbing drum pattern with finishes of psychedelia disco, ominous tones and retro sound effects playing from the background. Vocally, Somadina’s eighties-evoking sheen meets in harmony with TARIQ’s new-school Trap-welcoming flow. All the mental hoops that comes with hoisting a toxic affair is present, and with skilled precision as well the richly layered sound, their emotions and perfectly set up the second release.

“Vex” is a different beast. Many listeners would likely return from this with Odumodublvck’s incinerating verse playing off their domes, but Teezee’s nostalgia-inducing set-up is just as inviting. At the heart of the song is Candybleakz’s poignant hook, bravely singing, “Na wetin I want I go get, and if una no give am to me, I go vex,” establishing the protestant edge which coats every angle of the record. Odomodu’s gleeful but demanding lyrics echoes his style on “Picanto,” but feels gruffer in delivery which captures the difficult emotions many young Nigerians currently feel.

With the heavy cloud of political activities in Nigeria, a record like “Vex” becomes a stance on democracy, on the supremacy of the people’s will. Bursting with a menacing Drill base, the accompanying elements from producer Adey only serves to heighten the atmosphere. In consideration with “Cruel Love”, the two-pack shines a light on the private and public aspect of Nigerian lifestyle, reining-in strong opinions on what are the most discussed topics in our contemporary society. 

With a background forged by spreading the gospel of breaking sounds from our home state, country, and continent, NATIVE Sound System and SHOLZ’s latest release is a reminder of their penchant for identifying, championing and now producing sounds from this side to the world watching.. The zesty turns of Dance music although charging the songs, leaves ample space for the musicians to impress their distinct perspectives. Beautifully ideated and even better executed, “Cruel Love” and “Vex” is essential music.