Alté, the fastest-growing subculture emerging from Lagos, Nigeria, which has been known as a subgenre in the Nigerian entertainment, art, and music industry, has seen itself gain mass recognition and adoption in the mainstream. The moniker, Alté, pronounced locally as (uhl-teh), can be attributed to DRB Lasgidi who first used it to describe their style and sound in a song in 2014.
Apart from championing a deep sense of individualistic expression, particularly through music and fashion, the subculture is also known for tapping into nostalgia and drawing inspiration from it.
Breaking into the Nigerian mainstream in the late 2000s, it wasn’t until the late 2010s that the genre made a name for itself. But then, the genre came with its own culture. A culture that would find mixed reception from the masses.
Although the Alté scene is gradually becoming more mainstream, a lot of people still do not understand what the subgenre and subculture as a whole is about. Some even regard people within the subculture as worshippers of the devil because of their unorthodox styles, aesthetics, and themes that often challenge conservative cultural and religious beliefs.
Power Horse and The Native Mag came together to work on a mini-documentary about Alté. The almost 8-minute video titled “WTF is Alté?” features some of the biggest names in the scene; names such as TeeZee, Tems, Ashley Okoli, Tokini Peterside, Odunsi, Mowalola, Lady Donli, Prettyboy D-O, GMK, Cruel Santino, Boj, WAVYTHECREATOR, amongst others.
Here are the major highlights from the mini-doc to help you understand what Alté is really about;
“I don’t see why I’ll be trying to copy somebody else when I can be myself,” Tems says as she beautifully sums up what the Alté scene is about. The Alté scene is about originality and self-expression. It’s about the freedom to be yourself and nonconformity.
“But that’s what makes me Alté; doing what I like to do or doing what I know how to do,” Ashley expresses. Society often bullies people into doing or becoming things they don’t want to do or become. People who want to take different routes from what society has laid out are seen as rebellious. The Alté scene is home to these so-called rebels.
“A bunch of people growing every day, discovering more about themselves,” replies Cruel Santino in response to the question “WTF is Alté?” Santino, a key player in the Alté space, is talking about how it is a community. It’s a bunch of people navigating the complexities of being different together.
Grace Ladoja, the Founder of Homecoming and Metallic Inc, expresses how to her the Alté scene has the ability to change and shape how the entertainment industry is, moving forward. It already is, as we now see mainstream artists (think Rema, Wizkid, Fireboy DML, Burna Boy) tapping into the scene to express and build their artistry.
“We are stronger together than we are apart,” Lady Donli says, further confirming that the Alté scene is a community. The scene is super wholesome because there isn’t any unhealthy competition. Everyone wants everyone to win.
As a way to close the documentary, the question “WTF is Alté?” is asked by V.O and the following answer is given;
“Originally seen as a subgenre in Nigeria’s fast-growing music, entertainment, and fashion scene, has seen itself explode into the mainstream culture today.”
“Alté defines a safe space of free expression, especially for those otherwise marginalized in the mainstream society.”
Watch the full video below.