Alté is simultaneously the face of Fela Kuti’s anti-establishment legacy and the avatar of Nigeria’s youth, with their desire to shape their own world. A handful of artists have managed to embody that energy and serve as ambassadors for the fusion of home and away’s joys and insecurities. At the center of it is Santi.
Santi is a Nigerian artist and prominent member of the Alté movement; a Motley Crew of young musicians drawing inspiration from varied continental and global influences. The emergent sub-genre is stylistically and sonically informed by traditional styles of Nigerian music, along with pop, soul, indie, dance, R&B, dancehall, and hip-hop. As with Afrobeats, there’s a focus on amalgamating sounds across a range of genres and musical eras.
“Alté represents freedom, genuine love, expression, and most importantly the reminder to never suppress your ability,” Santi shares. It’s perhaps this sense of optimism that makes both Santi and Alté such an endearing musical proposition, operating from a position of artistic insouciance.
Of course, this carefree aura may also place the values of Alté’s practitioners at odds with those of the general populace. A lax view on prescriptivism is what fuels this vanguard collective that appreciates expressiveness and individuality a lot more than conformity. There seems to exist a suspicion of the role Alté plays in a societal context; a legacy of the position largely espoused by previous generations of Nigeria’s music community.
Although Alté currently operates on the fringes, it’s slowly beginning to occupy the same spaces held by Nigeria’s more established stars. For Santi, divergent outlooks haven’t dented his relationship with seasoned artists.
This eclecticism occurs on Santi’s pioneering Birth of Santi EP, released in 2013, and his most recent project, 2016’s Suzie’s Funeral EP, where he references and blends a kaleidoscope of sounds, encapsulating the ethos of Alté.Santi has evolved into a whole new vibe entirely.
The sub-genre houses fellow artists Nonso Amadi, Odunsi (The Engine), Tay Iwar, Lady Donli, Zamir, and Amaarae, amongst others, while its youthful demeanor makes it an appealing outlet and is slowly energizing the Nigerian music industry as a whole.