I was listening to Fasina’s new single “Tomorrow” when the idea came to me, the idea of talking about my generation. My generation, one connected by the internet, one born in an epoch of an empowered black race, one breaking moulds and limitations. It’s beautiful being alive right now, it’s a blessing being an African with a dream. The possibilities have always been endless, we’re only taking advantage of it more now and creating a new age.
The ‘New Age’ as many call it, is a breeding subculture of non-conformity amongst African youth, it champions freedom of expression and deftly executed bodies of work, it comes from a place in the minds of these youth longing for someone to defy the status quo of mediocrity they’ve grown tired of expecting, and at a time in their lives they see an opportunity to be what they’ve always seen themselves to be regardless of society’s predispositions. A great strength they possess is that they have each other to look to for inspiration and because you’ll find these kids on social media, existing in communities of collective escapism, no matter what part of the map you’re from, you’re welcome as long as you’ve got the app. And these apps which are available for free, appeal to so many levels of social class in a society where our middle class is referred to as ‘middle’ only because of a lack of a better name. Consequentially; kids from different origins, tribes, regions can connect through their music, art, photography, fashion, tech, and whatsoever craft with others who appreciate deft execution and loathe mediocrity, they’ve stepped up to the plate to be the saviours they’ve much longed for. Little by little, an inclusive society of people sharing some similarity, becomes a culture of vibrant souls celebrating the spark inherent in each other. The craft exists alongside craft, one appreciative of the other in a progressive creative utopia.
I want to talk about New Age music, as some people say “Music is the most powerful language in the world”, and they’re probably right as the change and growth of the new age was first clearly seen in the music scene. Music has always been an access point of Africa to the world, with older generations like Sunny Ade, Mariam Makeba, to more recent musicians like WizkidD’banj, Casper Nyovest. We use music to communicate and the kids of generation Z are pushing this the furthest. Their sound is unique, with a unique follower-ship they’ve created in their own world. The music is a source of expression for them, Odunsi, Ozzy B, Adomaa, Yinka Bernie, DJ Yin,DJ Femo, Lady Donli, Tonero, Fasina, Suede, To Name A Few, Lykay, Ayat,Bryan The Mensah, D-Truce, Zamir, GMK, Tomi Thomas, Idris King, Efe Oraka,Olù, AYLØ, Bond, BankyOnDBeatz, Sute, Kryian Asher, Psycho P, Charlie,Darkovibes, Prettyboy DO, a few names off the top my head are minds breaking boundaries in their craft with the reach they have on their music, which regularly gets play from people all over the world due to tools line Spotify and SoundCloud which allows them share their sound easily. Their sounds shape a new character of a young African, an idea of creating new things and exploring. They create music with elements touch across different genres, they are socially conscious and peculiar on topics like depression, Nigeria’s state, being a dreamer, love, pain, growth, Africa’s new age, etc. The entire execution of their videos, artwork, visuals, have all morphed into a strategic and artistic way of making & selling their music.
This new approach comes from a place of creating music to change and impact lives, creating music to actually escape their world, to be free from the harsh realities being African brings, creating a new way to find happiness through sound. The afrobeat sound was a first step but to many, it was a false approach, it was music clamouring on joyful tones of upbeat drums which were made to keep us happy but the reality came fast and we realized we weren’t happy. We wanted change, we wanted hope, we wanted to try new things without restrictions, the New Age music was born as all other things in Africa as a means of saying Africa is more. We’ve been influenced, colonized, caged, now we’re taking all that and fusing it into something we call our own! The world is coming for our new age and dancing to the new music we’re creating.
Truth be told, life on this side of the world isn’t particularly great, the prospect of day to day life can be daunting to say the least, so it’s no surprise that young people long for a way to escape; some through drugs, the aforementioned artistes, through music which they pursue careers in, so as to fill a void in their souls. The internet serves as a connection to make smart moves to further themselves in their careers, not so short of a guidebook to see how others who climbed the ladder they currently find themselves at did too, and educate them on creating high quality music in our ever-changing world where high-quality today most liked won’t be high quality tomorrow.
Music has always shaped Africa but the New Age music is pushing Africa forward and giving birth to much-needed structures that will keep our music at the global level it should be. It creates a new idea for the kids to believe in. Gone are the days when tracks strictly spill out verses and beats with singular concepts, the future is for expression, the future is for music with no limit created by Africans all over Africa, the future is us. Maximum support needs to be rallied around these new identities reshaping the music scene.
I’m so impressed with all we’ve achieved so far, our first mission of New Age music is structure and every day we add a layer to this, from shows like 90sbaby Soundoff, Lemon Curd, PGM Live, to management/music companies, to our own African made steaming apps like Octo sound.
We’re talking the world in our palms and redirecting it using our talent, ideas and creativity. What a time to be alive.
We can’t slow down now, we need to push harder. A lot still lies ahead, but together as one continent we can reshape the sounds of the world and give our music a New Age voice.