Alté: How A Small Lagos Scene Took Nigerian Culture Global

What is alté, you ask? Well, let’s start by saying this: it’s probably easier to describe it in terms of what it isn’t than what it is. In the years since the West African subcultural movement has come to global prominence – say, over the past five years or so – it’s often been erroneously tagged as a music genre, pioneered by the likes of Cruel Santino, Odunsi The Engine, Lady Donli and Grammy Award winner Tems. The thing is, though, there are as many interpretations of the alté sound as there are artists associated with it, with the influences you’ll pick up on in tracks by any of the above spanning R&B, hip-hop, synthpop, house… and then some. Indeed, alté is so much more than a sound, it’s a fully-fledged lifestyle – a way of being that’s expressed as much through style and art as through music, and that has come to define what Nigerian youth culture looks, sounds and feels like today. As Ashley Okoli says, it's "literally just vibes."

Increasingly, alté artists are ascending to global stages – see Tems' collaboration with Rihanna, performed at the 95th Academy Awards no less. Alté is no longer a traditional subculture, but a globally influential style and identity that everyone wants a piece of. In this episode, Mahoro Seward, i-D’s Senior Fashion Features Editor, speaks to Odunsi the Engine, a music producer who’s been at the forefront of the alté scene since its earliest days; Ashley Okoli, a stylist and creative director who’s collaborated with the likes of Mowalola and Victoria’s Secret, unpacks the central importance of fashion in the alté lifestyle, while Teezee, a musician, record label head and founder of rhizomatic cultural platform Native, discusses the ethos at alté’s heart and how it’s going global.

Host: Mahoro Seward

Scripting: Mahoro Seward, Amelia Phillips

Research: Niloufar Haidari

Research Assistance: Alexia Marmara

Art Direction: Calum Glenday and Aleksandra Talacha

Producer: Amelia Phillips

Audio Producer: Robin Leeburn

Production: Podmasters

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