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Folu Oyefeso

The Cavemen, recreating highlife music for a new generation

Highlife music hasn't had a spot in Nigerian mainstream media for a few decades, but one band is fast changing that narrative. Kingsley and Benjamin Okorie, who make up The Cavemen have exploded on the scene due to their unique sound and electrifying live performances. I had the rare opportunity of joining them in their home studio and I got to learn a bit more about the duo and their fascinating journey thus far.

From the first moment I stepped into the studio, it was evident that their entire lives revolved around music because all manner of instruments hung, lay and rested from floor to ceiling.

Benjamin Okorie of the cavemen on the drums
Benjamin on the drums

We got comfortable and right off the bat, we were gisting and laughing like we had been friends for years. They are such easy going guys and Kingsley, the older of the two told us about the vision and path they have mapped out for themselves.

I got a crash course into who they were and learned that although the band was formed in 2018, the journey started much earlier. They hail from Imo State but have lived in Lagos all their lives. They grew up religious and as part of the church, there was always access to musical instruments. As early as 4 years old, they had started fine tuning their skills and now look at them 20 years and 30 million streams later.

Kingsley Okorie of the cavemen
Kingsley talking about the work and the dream

Kingsley is a trained lawyer and he is most thankful for the time he spent at Babcock University because of the countless opportunities to hone his music skills. Benjamin got to study Music at Peter Kings College of Music in Badagry.

At this point, we stepped back into the studio, right on time to see Benjamin record his vocals and for someone who only recently discovered he could sing, he's really good at it! It was outstanding to watch him effortlessly hit the high pitched notes. The entire process was fluid and organic, and it gave me so much a joy to be witnessing history. It honestly felt like I didn't deserve to be there...

Benjamin Okorie recording his vocals
Vocals time

Between them, The Cavemen have an unspeakable amount of talent and these almost seem like divine gifts. A number of the songs they’ve made came to them in dreams, but it takes the combination with skills honed over the years to transfigure them into melody. With this realization, you clearly see that they are here for a great reason. As Pan-Africanists, spreading the message of a united Africa is a top priority for them and they plan to spread their music across Nigeria and Africa as their part in bridging the gaps created by the colonialists.

They literally live and breathe music, and the chemistry between them is crazy. A lot of the time, words weren't even used but things still flowed effortlessly. We bonded over art, travel and culture but it was most pleasing to note that the pair are fellow fans of Demas Nwoko’s work.

Listening to snippets from the new cavemen album
Snippets from the upcoming album

As a small (but mighty) going away gift, Kingsley played us a few songs off the upcoming album and let’s just say you won’t be sitting down when it drops! Their debut album "Roots" won a Headies award for the best alternative album in 2020, so you can imagine that they are bringing twice the spunk this year.

As we drove back home, it started to drizzle and if you've heard their Beautiful rain song, you know the two go hand in hand. And like the raindrops that were being wiped away, I felt that everything would be alright. So, if you hear that The Cavemen are doing a show close to or in your city, do yourselves a favor and buy a ticket. Stay up to date with them on their Instagram page @the.cavemen.

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