‘NATIVEWORLD’ A Year Later: 7 Standout Guest Appearances

A celebration of NATIVE Sound System's present and the lustre of its future

In 2020, NATIVE Sound System (NSS), a music production collective (under the auspices of NATIVE Networks) with a passion for promoting the African youth culture, took a decisive step in curating the sounds and artists championing Nigerian music on the homefront and across the world. Recording camps were formed in Lagos and London, and artists—established and rising—were invited to collaborate and birth interesting sounds that highlighted the diversity and talents of Africa and the black diaspora.


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The result of their work came in the form of the 15-track compilation album ‘NATIVEWORLD’, which boasted names such as Ayra Starr, Cruel Santino, Teezee, The Cavemen, Lojay, Lady Donli, BOJ, Odunsi (The Engine), Show Dem Camp, Obongjayar, PsychoYP, Bloody Civilian, Tochi Bedford, Joyce Olong, DETO Black, SGaWD, DAP The Contract and NSG, among others. Today marks the one year anniversary of ‘NATIVEWORLD.’ The album is a labour of love – from its sonics to its visual identity. It is an extension of Native Sound System’s connectedness to the pulse of the youth culture through fashion, radio and other areas of entertainment.

The magic in ‘NATIVEWORLD’ are the hitherto unlikely combinations of talents. Artists whose styles were thought too dissimilar turn their differences into strengths, sparking brilliance that comfort zones would never have made. In honour of ‘NATIVEWORLD’, NATIVE Mag‘s has selected seven guest appearances that epitomises the album’s spirit of hyper-collaboration—no mean feat for a no skips project with over 30 contributors. This is a celebration of NATIVE Sound System’s present and the lustre of our future.


Ayra Starr the star that you are. Her mastery of delivering standout hooks and verses that will ring in your ears days after has never been up for questioning. Her twinkling vocals introduce this project standout with an echoey line “Can’t get my mind off you.” She leads in the high-tempo track with mellifluous brazen confessions of love in the first verse and carries on the hook in a message to her muse over a glistening production. Ayra also provides supporting vocals over DAP’s effortless flow in the second verse, heightening the track’s other-worldly feeling. Just as Ayra’s been stuck on her love interest, I’ve also been stuck on this track and its masterful display of relationships complexities in a series of melodies.


The Cavemen couldn’t have been a more perfect fit for an intro track of a genre-bending album with glowing elements of dance like ‘NATIVEWORLD.’ The track leads in with an intoxicating bass-heavy beat strong enough to get your heart thumping to the rhythm. Like a portal opening, smooth chords and subtle shakers accompany the  charming bassline as new notes unfold with The Cavemen’s chant-like adlibs. “Let the music take you away,” the pair command in the pre-hook, urging audiences to give into the feeling of freedom the chords instil. They go back and forth recognizing the veterans that have laid the groundwork for the success Nigerian music experiences today. They set the tone of the rest of the project when they croon, “Ka anyi gba egwu” which translates to “let’s dance.” Effortless and clean finish. 


Assembled on this lucid record are a quartet of highly affecting singers, but Wani puts in arguably the strongest shift. His millennial-sounding vocals are the first you hear, his crooning revealing suggestive tendencies while painting the most serene picture about being in love. It’s the kind of performance that makes you ask your boys what their plans on marriage are, the kind that makes you reflect on the substance of your romantic affairs. As though in agreement that his tone and perspective most carries the song’s message, the other artists leave the hook for Wani, who exudes pleasant warmth until the song’s last second.


Alpha P does most of the heavy lifting on “Pressure,” to great effect. He is provided a massive assist from producer Le Mav, who creates a catchy, Amapiano-tinged production. The log drums and the handclaps power the jubilant mood and it’s this setting that Alpha P enters with panache. His vocals glide throughout the songs, with melodies and adlibs clashing into sweet symphony. His co-collaborator Lady Donli also adds passionate, sultry vibes, stamping her imprint with confident yet soothing vocals. Still, Alpha P steals the show with his dynamism on the chorus, pairing unrelenting melodic chants with an assuredness in delivery.


The biggest strength of ‘NATIVEWORLD’ is how the artists lay down their diverse skills for the benefit of a song. “Honest” is unarguably one of the best examples, merging the alte-influenced singing of Teezee with the particular candour of Tec’s verse, who turns up for Show Dem Camp. They’re brilliant efforts like many of the contributions on this seminal album, but it’s Knucks who emerges the surprising star of the show. His verse wields a precision that’s heavy with realism yet assuming feather-light humour, as seen in a bar like “Knucks is in his bag like he stays in Birkins”, the last word delivered to land with the specificity of place. And yet his thoughts move beyond him, embracing the grace that comes with being a narrator for generational experiences.


Bloody Civilian lays out her feelings plainly. That much is clear on her fairly recent debut EP, ‘Anger Management’, but the evidence tracks back further, like her gauzy appearance on “Cold Freestyle.” Singeing the threads of a toxic situationship, her disappointment is palpable. However, it’s her carefree resolve – “This time was the last time/I gave you my best side, baby” – that makes the song really hit. Over SHOLZ’s cavernous bass and glistening dance arrangement, Bloody sweats out all the heartache and the freedom she radiates is nothing short of glorious.


The emotive value of Lojay’s ability as a writer can never be understated. A big part of that is specificity, it makes listeners believe he’s pulled these narratives from his personal life – which is often the case. On “Runaway,” he’s in sterling, lived-in form, playing one half of a relationship teetering on the edge of collapse. The antidote might be communication, so also could it be the catalyst for an irreversible end. Lojay embodies the unease; the fear isn’t just heartbreak, it’s the path to that point and the million and one things it can do to a person, especially when you’re the person looking to initiate the conversation and compromise. Lojay gave up the expressive goods.

Revisit ‘NATIVEWORLD’ here.

Written by Emmanuel Esomnofu, Nwanneamaka Igwe, Uzoma Ihejirika & Dennis Ade Peter.