The new Google Africa documentary spotlights Alté. Alté is not only a subgenre but a subculture; and although the subculture is steadily growing in adoption, there’s still a long way to go. Alté first broke into the Nigerian mainstream in the late 2000s, but it wasn’t until the late 2010s that the genre made a name for itself.
We saw a generation of young people who were unwilling to allow society tell them what they could or couldn’t do; whether it was with their music, art, fashion, film or other fields of expression. Players in the Nigerian Alté scene like Cruel Santino, Ashley Okoli, Odunsi (The Engine), Lady Donli, and Amaarea amongst others fully embodied and laid claim to the Alté spirit.
As part of its #GoogleAfricaCelebratesAlte campaign, Google Africa sought to find out the origins of the Alté movement and explore the role YouTube played in its inevitable growth. Google Africa spoke directly to Alté culture shapers in the African Alté scene from South Africa, Nigeria & Kenya to get a full picture and tell a story that encompasses the significance of the movement.
The 14-minute documentary features conversations with artist and co-founder of NATIVE Networks Teezee; model, entrepreneur and creative director Ashley Okoli; alternative musician Karun; cultural commentator Mnikhelo Qubu; artist and founder of ’90s Baby Idris Adedeji; cultural commentator Natasha Eagle, and others. They share their unique takes on a movement that’s expanded the image of Africa globally, drawing references from their own personal life and expertise. “I do think it’s harder for women to experiment creatively because there’s a certain way they want us to behave,” says Ashley, who’s also the CEO of fashion brand SilletByAsh. “And that’s where I feel like alté comes in: non-conformity.”
“For sure, I’m not making the music that is being pushed heavily on radio and TV right now,” says Karun, who recently collaborated with producer Jinku on ‘Passenger 555′, an electro-inspired album which ranks among the year’s standouts. “I don’t fit that box of what you would consider a pop artist in Kenya. And personally, I would prefer to be called alternative because it gives me the freedom to just be flexible and be myself without needing to cater to anybody’s specific tastes. I get to do me.”
“There are options for everyone now. So regardless of what you’re into, you’re most likely going to find it,” says Natasha who is also the co-founder of online cultural intersection Jeri Kholisa. “Mainstream will always drive, for example, profitability and numbers, because that is the majority of people. But unlike before, the other people who have a different perspective or different preferences actually have choices and options.”
The documentary was produced by Backdrop and Native Networks, with additional support from creatives in South Africa and Kenya.
Watch the documentary below: