Welcome to another Cultural Connection, this time between Nigeria and the UK’s largest cities, Lagos and London. These cities share more than the same initial, having a history rife with colonialism and conflict. While certain issues still exist today, the long-lasting history between Nigeria and the UK has only contributed to the rich joint-heritage between their major cities. In this instalment of Cultural Connections, we’ll be exploring the impact that the Lagosian diaspora has had on the creative scene in London and how individuals have created an artistic tie between both.
London and the wider UK has found the spell of British-Nigerian artists for many years. Sade, lead singer of her eponymous band, sent waves through the UK with their original ‘cafe-jazz sound’. The Nigerian born vocalist, created a melodic sound that resounded through Nigeria, the UK and quite frankly throughout the globe from the eighties until today. Skepta, another Nigerian artist who defined a musical sound in both cities. His iconic grime sound inspired many grime artists, transcending the UK and creating a new genre of rap.
Tiwa Savage, global sensation and collaborator with veterans such as Brandy the Queen Beyoncé herself, ventured into the British music scene at an early age with her 2006 X-factor audition. Subsequently after this she returned to Lagos where she actively contributed to the Nigerian music scene, making music that Nigerian and African youth can relate to and enjoy. One of 2020’s afrobeat anthems came from none other than Darkoo with their track ‘Gangsta’ featuring One Acen. Peaking at number one on the UK Afro beats charts and at number 22 on the official singles charts, the Lagos born, South London bred artist combines their drill background with vibey afrobeats in order to create a smooth blend for both cities to enjoy.
More recently putting their Midas touch all over London, we’ve seen fan-favourite Midas the Jagaban. Appearing on the London music scene just over two years ago, Midas has managed to create a distinct Afro-inspired sound despite being bred in London. The elusive artist brings strong afro beats to both London and Lagos with her music videos and attire more-so resembling that of a grime artist, Midas’ music is enjoyed in both cities, found in any party and afro-rave playlist worth attending. This artist is one of the modern day musical bridges between London and Lagos.
Cult-favoured fashion designer Mowalola Ogunlesi is no stranger to bridging the gap between London and Lagosian youth culture. Her designs and musical career appeal to and draw from both, focusing on the wilder more underground subcultures in both cities and bringing them to the runway. Her CSM graduate collection was a direct portrayal of this spirit bringing the energy and eccentricities of the 70’s/80’s Lagos petrol heads to London with her ‘Psychedelic’ collection.
Ahluwalia World (also featured in our Dehli x London edition), designs keeping her British, Nigerian and Indian heritage in mind. This triad of inspiration leads to a colourful combustion of culture and inspiration.
Chi-Virgo and Deto Black also London/Lagosian creatives have influenced many young Nigerian and British fashion lovers with their afro-futuristic styles, their loyal and growing instagram followers gain insights into their it-girl lifestyles both in London and Lagos whenever they visit.
Contemporary artist Yinka Shonibare CBE and photographer Akinbode Akinbiyi both combine the historical and modern aspects of London and Lagos culture, through their chosen art forms. With Akinbuyi exploring the urbanised aspects of both cities in an attempt to understand both cities and Shonibare, touching on the colonial and post-colonialism of both countries, there’s no shortage of artists sharing stories of both cities.
A cursory glance around London today and you’ll be sure to find plenty (but never enough) Nigerian and Afro-Fusion restaurants scattered around London. Papi’s Grill in New Cross where you go to chop to your heart’s desire!
While there’s no shortage of food, drink in London that mimic the Nigerian feel, London especially has a plethora of clubs that are refined and yet somehow emote the guttural and wild Lagosian nightlife. Afrofusion club Cococure in London, however aims to give you your nightly dose of Nigerian night-life, with charting and nostalgic nigerian and afrobeats on rotation.
The amalgamation of cultural and artistic ties between London and Lagos presently is only a sign of the defiance of Nigerian-British youth and predecessors. Refusing to let Nigerian culture be defined by its colonial ties to the British Empire and instead curating and paving a new path that instead sees them defining many of the apparent trends in British culture today. The current batch of youth no get any wahala that’s for sure!
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See also: CULTURAL CONNECTIONS: DUBLIN X LONDON