With Lagos as their firing spirit, no wonder DRB Lasgidi has stayed this relevant in the game.
On the 23rd of November, 2018, the avant-garde collective, DRB Lasgidi released a compilation album titled DRB 10 to commemorate ten years in the game. While the album in itself might serve as a nostalgic listening trip, it also serves as a testament to their undeniable impact and effort since they stepped onto the scene. The album houses some of their timeless hits, unreleased songs and fan favourites such as Toyin, Selecta and 3kingz. A throwback to when these songs were originally released and things weren’t exactly the way they are now.
In the early 2010s, DRB Lasgidi which consists of the trio of Teezee, BOJ and Fresh L were outliers. Sort of like the famous hip-hop collective, Odd Future, they did things on their own terms, disregarding the norms and the conventions back then. As a collective, they saw ahead of their time as they stood out both in music, fashion and in the all-round experience they offered. The music, however, was most important as it served as an anchor for everything they did.
In 2012, gearing up for their first official release as a group, they dropped the hip-hop infused LXIX which saw them flex their greatest strengths. Teezee and Fresh L delivering smooth and witty verses while BOJ provided the hook in his famous baritone voice. A few days later, they dropped the DJ-Caise produced Toyin which took a different sonic direction from LXIX. Toyin is less hard-hitting than LXIX but more infectious, melodic and groovier, incorporating some Afropop influences. Shortly after, they dropped the EDM-influenced Selecta which features a guest appearance from the Julie crooner, Shank. This run of singles not only highlights their indubitable range and versatility but also their artistic freedom and desire not to be boxed in.
As a collective and individually, the group went on to drop singles like Amebo, Crooked Love Story, Mirrors and Mrs Officer. These songs fuse different genres together ranging from Hip-hop, RnB to Afropop. Musically, they refused to be pigeon-holed and this also reflected in their lifestyle as a whole. Their fashion and aesthetics as a group had a different complexion to what most people were used to. Their concerts and parties also had a different aura to it. They were the cool kids on the block and while most people might have thought of them as outlandish, they began to develop a loyal following who embraced them for what they were.
DRB Lasgidi had always been different and they never failed to acknowledge it. Back in 2014, BOJ released a song called Paper where he sang: “the ladies like me because I’m an alté guy.” The word “alté” has been floating around ever since becoming a buzzword of sorts. To clear things up,
Teezee explicitly explained in a tweet what alté means. According to him: ‘’Alte: when something is different from the norm, original, an alternative to what is expected. Originated by (Teezee & BOJ 2010).”
Their originality has always been rooted in their desire to be different, to stand out and this has ultimately influenced a community of creatives which a lot of people have now come to know as the alté scene.
Their inclination to always portray an alternative way of expression, especially in music has now turned to a major source of inspiration for a whole demography of people. Odunsi The Engine, a major proponent of the alté community released his disco-influenced debut album 一 rare 一 two years ago. Releasing an album with heavy elements of disco in the current Nigerian musical space is both a rarity and a major risk. He, however, pulled it off successfully, touring different cities and getting major co-signs along the way. Also, acts like Cruel Santino, Lady Donli, WANI, PrettyBoyDo, Tems and several others who closely associate with the alté community have all shown a similar desire to be different, most especially in their music, as they all release music which fuses and covers a diverse range of genres.
In May of 2020, after several years of anticipation, DRB Lasgidi finally released their long-awaited debut album, Pioneers. The album is filled with the kind of eclectic, refreshing and vibrant sound, covering a diverse range of genres which we’ve come to expect from them as a group. The album, however, goes beyond that. Pioneers is a coming-of-age album which not only captures the sound and aesthetics present in the current alté culture but it also stakes their claim as the founding fathers of this community. However, as earlier mentioned, the alté scene is a community of creatives and therefore transcends just music-making. A lot of visual artists, writers, creative directors, fashionistas and other creatives in general proudly identify with this community. The artistic freedom and expression which DRB Lasgidi has shown over the years in their music-making and in other aspects has also inspired young people in diverse fields.
As a collective, DRB Lasgidi understands their contribution and influence in the community which they helped kickstart, and they play their part in ensuring its growth. Individually they also play vital roles in amplifying, strengthening and guaranteeing the progress of the community as a whole. For instance, Teezee is the co-founder of NATIVE, a music, pop culture and lifestyle magazine which aims to identify, analyze and champion the new culture. Their mandate is to create a constant dialogue between the underground and the mainstream, thus reshaping the face of pop culture. They also organize an annual music festival known as NATIVELAND which helps showcase some of the finest musical talents in the country and in the diaspora. Also, Fresh L is the founder of Alté Daily, a media platform that focuses on showcasing alternative African culture to the world. They are largely interested in bringing awareness, educating and celebrating alternative African culture through the various stories they share.
While there might still be a lot of conversations and controversies surrounding the alté community, one thing is always clear, they have unbridled freedom of expression, most especially with the music. The music coming out of this community is catholic, unorthodox and refreshing and the role which the Double R Boys played in this is difficult to overstate.