One essential process that keeps modern music moving forward often gets overlooked. Technology might have widened the scope of music-making potential, and social media has undoubtedly added previously unattainable levels of connectivity with the audience. But for my money, it is the world becoming smaller and the movement of people, their creativity and cultural traditions that drive musical evolution. As separate cultures brush up against each other, as their ideas and sounds, thoughts and art merge and mix, wonderful juxtapositions and new opportunities are created.
It is why you can walk down a street in London and hear Punjabi-infused rap or find European-style rock emanating from the back streets of Singapore. It is why artists such as Nigerian-based Xcent OD are taking the western world by storm with inventive and accessible, Afro-beat sound. Genre is no longer governed by geography.
Never Say Never Guy is his latest four-track EP, a deft and dexterous collection of songs that blend Afro-Beat’s heady sound with the accessibility of pop and dance music.
The recent single, Joy Is Coming, opens the record and sets the tone perfectly as sweet guitar licks dance over slow but addictive grooves as Xcent OD sings of a better future and Ambulance is similarly soulful and understated, here he seemingly duets with some delicate guitar work.
What Are We Now? picks up the beat slightly, wrapping itself with additional musical textures as it goes and the title track is a clever mix of the artist’s Afro-Beat traditions and a base sound powered by skittering trap beats and referencing some classic and nostalgic music along the way.
There was a time when such an artist and such a sound would be seen as being a purely African concern. Thankfully, such music is making its way across the world through the connectivity mentioned above but largely because of the sheer force of its infectiousness and popularity. And Xcent OD is leading that sonic charge.
Listen to NSNG on iTunes – https://music.apple.com/ng/album/nsng-never-say-never-guy-ep/1628991733