The Cavemen: Highlife Merchants
Open roof, vibes, groove and pure traditional vibes are things you can imagine when you’re plugged into this flawless project because the Sounds from the Cave will run chills down your spine and release endorphins to give you that inner therapy your soul craves.
A body of work with an impeccable crescendo as each song raises the bar for the other and like an ecstatic feeling, leaving you to figure out how to deal with the good addiction of the excellent and satisfying music your ears and soul have been exposed to. Oh how interesting.
The Cavemen have certainly outdone themselves with their sophomore album and have cleared many doubts that ROOTS was just the beginning. Love and Highlife is complete, compelling, captivating and above all, entertaining. Enjoy the sounds from the cave.
Benjamin and Kingsley Okorie are an exciting duo. The synergy between the pair rivets between every strum of Kingsley’s Guitar and every tap of Benjamin’s drum sticks. Their music is fresh, and their style is a throwback to fun times. Their music takes you back to your father’s VBoot when the air in the car smelled of the perfumed doll hanging off the ceiling. The man played Oliver De Coque and Osita Osadebe. Mike Ejeagh’s music was a constant. It was soft but powerful with rural philosophies espoused. The rich eternal flavours of a live band bring the music to life. The Cavemen. are bringing this sound back, and it is awesome.
Love and Highlife is a classy sophomore record that builds on their first album. The album postulates about love, friendships, relationships and is a beautifully-curated canvas of highlife iridescence. Love and Highlife gently sways you into its luminescent groove. It is a feel-good piece that caresses, condoles, and commemorates a style of music that elicits precious memories. The album is a few songs too long and nearly becomes monotonous, but it manages to pull off many good songs, and they are enough to overwhelm the fillers.
The album begins with the reverberating “Show me how to love”, a song that speaks about living in peace with one another. The band started doing pop fusion, and they bring elements of that sound to this song but overlay it with their new highlife sound. It is a dynamic, idiosyncratic, courageous, and magnificent record. “New Pammy” is the soft wooing of a man whose heart has been stolen. The overarching sound of the track is cliche but timeless, and we appreciate its playfulness. ‘I nwere uche, I ge ekwere nwanne’ The Cavemen. declare on “Biri” with Made Kuti. The Kuti grandson accompanies with his boisterous trumpeting. The song infers the live and let live mantra, one of the primary ethos of the early highlife musicians. Did you know that The Cavemen. Were at Oliver De Coque’s wake keep? The man may have died, but his highlife sensation is still alive.
“Kpokom” feat longtime collaborator Etuk Ubong is a strange upbeat record that is unremarkable, but the album picks up immediately after with “The One”. The song is a soft embalmment of joyous melodies with lyrics quavering for joy, peace, happiness, and bliss. “Stranger” is also calm, a soft coo over rich Igbo sounds that go sawa sawa sawa. The first single from the album “Selense” is a bit cliche and unimaginative, but they manage to pull off what they are going for. “Brother’s Keeper” incorporates uptempo sounds born from the chords of King Sunny Ade but it is immersed in a wonderful touch of glossy Igbo. “Ihunanya” then comes with its tender musings. “Nkari” is a beautiful convergence of instrumentals while the duo’s soft le le le le climaxes on the record. “Love and trials” is another basic but fine record, while “Azana” feat PC Lapez is a fuck you to the haters. Azana means do not answer them, and the song borrows from Ogbogu music of Ukwani, Delta State. Highlife is back, and it is back on steroids.
“Ugo” is a brilliant offering layered with instrumental mastery, the sound is delicate, but they play with it to show they know what they are doing. They are masters of their sound. “Were Kushin” is a nice track. It is supposed to be a playful Igbo way of saying were cushion which means sit down. You no be God, sit down. “Udo” means peace. It is a song about moving in peace. It is unremarkable, just like “Dance like Cavy”. “Alright with Mama” is their mother’s prayer for the pair. Akachukwu n’edu unu, she declares. The pair affirm the prayers the only way they know how to. The album ends with “Good People” even though it should have ended with the previous track. The song asks people to hold on to the ezigbo mmadu (good people) in their life.
The Cavemen. walk back in time to recapture, and distinctly innovate the magic of old potions. Since their breakthrough single “Osondu”, they have been ever present and they prove that they have years of highlife gospel to spread in this game. Love and Highlife is a quality project, a magnificent reprisal of the golden days of highlife music. It is a terrific and distinct project. It is layered with the ethos of highlife; enjoying oneself, living in peace, a clean mind, and happiness from within. The Cavemen. avoid the sophomore slump with a wistfully brilliant and creative LP. It is one gem of a project and one of the best releases of the year. Love and Highlife does its roots proud.