The Cavemen Want To Make Us Happy With Their New Album, “Roots”

August 24, 2020

Nigerian music is ever evolving. Over the past few years, there has been a wave of young Nigerian artists  reaching deep into their cultural roots, finding a connection, and converting it into music that transcends generations.

The Cavemen are a brother duo who are doing just that. Over the past few years, they have grown in popularity for their highlife style of music and ability to collaborate with other musicians seamlessly. Now, they’ve dropped their own album titled “Roots”, and we spoke with them about it and their music.

What’s your first memory of playing music together as brothers?

It has to be one day in church when we were really young. We played the keyboard and the drums for the offering and everyone danced so much. My dad called us after church and told us he was proud of us. That was amazing.

We grew up around a lot of music. Our mum was the person who was interested in a lot of gospel music, while our dad was more secular. The driver was the high-life guy and the security man was the reggae DJ. So, we would go to his house a lot to listen to music, because he had an endless collection of CDs. Our uncles also played music. Growing up in Lagos, we had a lot of music around us. 

There’s a general belief that most Nigerian parents are not open to the idea of their children becoming musicians. How did that play out with two brothers?

We’d probably have to speak differently because we both had different experiences with our parents. 

For me (Benjamin) there were really no complaints.  After secondary school, I told our parents I wanted to play the drums, and that’s exactly what I did. I’d always been playing the drums, so it didn’t come as a surprise to anyone.  

It was different for me (Kingsley), because I’m the first born. There are expectations that come with that and being a musician is not one of them. I studied Law and went to Law School, but I don’t practice. When I was done with that, I told our mum I want to do music. She resisted at first but now she’s fine with it.

So when did you guys start making music professionally?

That was 2018 and I think the first song we produced was “Oge,” which is on the album. It was a nice experience.

Were you trying to make music professionally because of the vibes or because you wanted to be musicians?

Everybody makes music for the vibes. But in that journey, we found out that something could come out of it. So we grabbed that and ran with it. We obviously started for the vibes but seeing people all over appreciate our music just makes the work rewarding and satisfying. 

What kind of music do you make? 

Because we can make all kinds of music, we call our genre “Highlife Fusion”. It’s a term we came up with because at the root of all our music, there’s Highlife. So we take Highlife and add Afro Pop, or Hip-Hop or Rap to it. And you have Highlife Fusion.

Where did the name ‘Cavemen’ come from?

Kingsley – It came from a period in Law School (in Kano) when I was disconnected from what I was used to in Lagos. I experienced a new reality that I didn’t know was so close to me, and everything around me reminded me of primitiveness. I was walking to class on a hot afternoon, in deep thought, when the name “The Cavemen” came to me . Bingo! I didn’t even know we were going to be playing mainly Highlife. I told Benjamin and he loved it. So we stuck with it. 

Where does the inspiration for Highlife come from?

The inspiration comes from our ancestors that have been doing it before us. The likes of Rex Lawson and Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe. They inspire what Cavemen, 

You’ve collaborated with other artists and played at shows. What is the value in that? 

What I’d say about those experiences is that they are key to what we are now as The Cavemen. As musicians, we decided not to focus on one thing when we can be excellent at a lot of things. So those experiences, playing with Aramide, MI, Lady Donli, Teni The Entertainer at Nativeland, etc helped us discover our sound better. 

Let’s talk about the Roots album. Would you say it’s the biggest project you guys have worked on together?

Definitely. We worked on it for two years, and now we’re finally glad it’s out. 

What should people who haven’t listened to the album expect?

Expect a revelation of The Cavemen, who we are, and what we stand for. Expect happiness. The album brings happiness.

Who are the people you’ve collaborated with on this album?

 Just our mum. 

Did the pandemic affect the release of your album?

The pandemic affected everything including the release of the album. We were also meant to travel to  Eastern Nigeria to connect with the culture and get some footage. But we could not travel. We move, though. It’s out now and we’re grateful. 

Would you say you’re famous?

Sort of. People see us and scream “Hey Cavemen!”, but that’s it. It’s always a nice experience. Maybe once in a while, people try to take pictures. 

I’d like you guys to ask each other questions about this album. 

Kingsley: “What do you want the fans to feel?”

Benjamin: “Everything; sadness, happiness basically everything we felt while making the album. The album is one for every mood. The album is for people who want to be happy, dance, meditate, have sex, forget about worries, just anything.”

Benjamin: “What are your expectations from the album?”

Kingsley: “I expect positive feedback. The album is a journey for us. The end is very far, but it’s going to be an interesting journey.”  

At what point do you think you’ll reach the destination?

We don’t know, but we know we are on our way there. And that we are on the right path.

Listen to the Roots album here.

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