Cavemen Love and Highlife: Nigerian Music at it original base
Nigerian music in the 60s, 70s, and 80s was a major pop sound. In those days importation of songs was done but was not direct influence on the pop-music circle. Instead the pop-music circle was saturated by the home grown sounds of High-Life, Fuji and Afro-Juju. While the South West was dominated with Afro-juju and Fuji, High-Life music was the biggest sound in the south-southern and South-Eastern part of the country. And each of these sound where unique because it had elements of Nigerian local instrument mixed with the instruments like Drum-kits and guitar imported to Nigeria.
The sound then was clearly lacking good engineering which is something not lacking in today’s Nigerian music. The lack of good engineering was a kind of flavour to the Nigerian sound. It was not called Afrobeats then or Afropop but just High-life, Afro-juju or Fuji. This three genre of music is what gave birth to the modern Nigerian sound called the Afrobeats and Afropop.
Cavemen is a musical duo made up of biological brothers: Kingsley Okorie, a bassist and Benjamin James, a drummer. In the recent past years have made it their job to make original Nigerian music with very little influence of the modern Nigerian sound. Their new album titled Love and Highlife just like their first album provides an LP of Nigerian music at the original base.
Cavemen is a musical band hence most of their songs are produced by blending Analog and Digital production. That is heard in this production from the first song to the last. To give it that 80s and early 90s highlife sauce they did some sound engineering nice as analyzed below.
THE KICK DRUM
Back in the days just like today drums where amplified and recorded by adding microphone to the kick drums. The only difference is that back then, most times there was never enough microphones on ground. What this implies that the kick-drums which was seen as not as important like the congas and bongos are left without microphone. Hence creating a sense of making music with a drum-kit without bass kick drum volume. This gave it a different soundgasm and uniqueness. For a song made in the present day Nigeria to sound the way it sounds is a deliberate attempt by the Cavemen to make it sound like that and I love it because it is original.
THE SHEKERE AND WOOD
Back in the days, the shekere or wood instrument was always in the hand of either the lead vocalist or the harmony singers. This gave these instruments a volume which other instruments did not have. Hence the wood and the shekere became the life of the sound be it a Highlife or Afrobeats tune. Again, for a song made in the present day Nigerian music sphere to sound that way, then it is a deliberate attempt from the music producers and engineers to make it sound that way.
Kingsley Okorie is one of the Duo of the Cavemen is bassist and his contribution to the baseline structure of the songs made by the Cavemen is outstanding. This is because he makes his baseline sound unique by trying to keep it as crude as possible while allowing the Lead Guitar enjoy its place in the music. The lead tenor Guitar is the major string in any highlife music and Kingsley Okorie’s position with his sound give the lead its place without sabotaging the sound.
Cavemen Love and Highlife