Over the past few years, Mr Eazi and Juls have been instrumental at connecting Nigerian and Ghanaian sounds through collaborations and an understanding of the soundscapes across both countries informing intentional decisions aimed at playing at the intersection of both sounds. The normal competition between both states has been often put aside for the music. In the past 18 months, Hackney-born group NSG has become central to the UK music scene on the success of tracks like Options, OT Bop and Trust Issues. The group is unique for being one of the most visible groups in Afrobeat music in the world right now and featuring Nigerian and Ghanaians who grew up in the UK. Off the success of most of the material, they have shared since 2017, they have prepped for the moment where they release their debut project and today, they let it go. We caught up with them ahead of the release of Roots. Better familiarize yourself with the group leaving their mark and stream their new project.
NSG has been putting music out for years now. Talk to us about the beginning of the group and how you all decided you wanted to be a group as opposed to individual artists.
I guess it all started off like obviously, five of the mandem went to the same school and we all lived in the same area. I went to school outside of Hackney but we all lived in Hackney. We all knew each other and kinda used to chill together and we all did music anyway. So it got to a point where we spent so much time together, partied together, vibed together. Ultimately, we were always going to put our music together. I don’t’ know what sparked it but I think it was the end of 2013 we came out with our first track and never looked back from then.
Groups are very rare these days, particularly in the Afrobeats genre. Why do you think you guys have been able to stay together and buck that trend?
I feel like for us it’s very easy for us to be together and put out music as a group ‘cos it’s like we’re a family more than a music group. We’re together throughout the biggest moments of our life- throughout school, throughout loads of things so it’s like we’ve got each other’s backs. We’re a music group but we’re more of a family so it’s easier.
As a big group (6 members), how do you guys break ties and agree on specific details?
We run a democratic system in our decision making. When there’s a split, we come down to a vote and whichever decision has the most votes. If there’s a tie break, we’d tag in our manager Seun and he’d cast the deciding vote. We’d always have a conversation anyway and everyone gets to bring forth their pros and cons and I think that’s one of the benefits of being a group- you get to hear different opinions and get a more balanced view of whatever decision you’re trying to make.
What has been the biggest highlight of your journey?
The success of Options. It’s been amazing. It’s blown down all the doors, to be honest.
You guys are probably the rare instance of Ghanaians and Nigerians coexisting in peace. Talk about how that experience has been.
Yeah! It’s definitely rare to see Nigerians and Ghanaians coexisting as we do but that’s what makes NSG- appealing to both the Nigerian and Ghanaian side. One love, One unity, One continent.
How important has London and it’s huge diaspora demographic been in your growth?
London is very key to the movement. It’s been amazing to see. The impact London has made in connecting everyone together ‘cos we’re all pushing the same message. Everyone is on the same page and now people from all over- different continents, different places now listening to music coming out of London.
You guys broke out to the big time with Options and OT Bop. Talk about the experience of finding that success and how it changed your lives.
I feel like people forget that before Options and OT Bop, we had Yo Darlin. That’s where everything started for NSG, to be honest. Big up Geko. From then, that’s when we knew we’d landed, we’d arrived to take over the game. But I always feel like people forget that Yo Darlin time. Options is what solidified everything that these guys are here to stay, we’ve got no choice than to take in these guys. People started reaching out to us. When Yo Darlin came out, people weren’t really checking for us but when Options came, people knew we were here to stay. With Options that feeling will forever feel nice. Just seeing the world and everyone listening to it and doing the dance.
What was the process behind creating this album? What were you guys looking to do and how do you think you fared? What should people expect to take away from this?
We could have dropped this tape last year or two years ago but we just decided to take our time ‘cos we’d record new music every day anyways. A couple of songs were recorded like a year, two years ago. We just decided to take it slow and select records we thought would make sense for the mixtape. We 100% chose the right songs. All the songs are straight bangers and we gave the songs that people are going to want more. We gave the songs that are going to make people want more. You’re going to hear this and want more. It’s also important that people don’t forget the message we’re trying to convey- know your roots. Know where you came from and most importantly, know where you’re heading to. That’s how we created NSG. We 100% know where we came from and what we’re trying to achieve. That’s the main message we’re trying to push on the mixtape and we hope people enjoy it.
After the album, what’s next?
Doing shows! We just want to travel across Africa doing shows. Places like Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Zambia. All these places. We’re just trying to connect with the roots.