Even at the age of ten, Jerican knew he was destined to make music. Despite moving between Jos and Benue before finally settling in Abuja, one thing was constant for the youngster: Writing lines and jumping on free beats every chance he got. By the time Jerican got his hands on the real stuff around the end of University, he was addicted.
2 years spent living in Abuja was just as revolutionary for his musical outlook, he tells Shitoto. At the time Jerican was creating what one might consider to be Rap, but he quickly found that he still needed to stand out musically. He began fusing the Afroswing of his heritage with the pop and Rap he grew up with, tapping into Nigeria’s burgeoning Alternative scene in the process. You can hear that unique swagger in his most recent drill single ‘Catch Ma Cruise’, released on the 3rd of March, amid the fluttering melodies and woozy psychedelia.
Drill’s ascendancy to become a truly global form is one of 2021’s most potent music developments. Beginning as a niche style in Chicago before taking hold in New York, the sound’s UK centric evolution has been followed by tandem developments in Nigeria and Ghana.
Jerican’s alternative music direction has seen him gather a cult fanbase, with more and more people locking into the Alternative sound.
The Alternative music scene in Africa, encapsulates the young rebellion against the more traditional stylings of Afrobeat. Alté stars like Santi and Odunsi (The Engine) embrace their musical heritage, but have grown tired of the standardised sound heard in the mainstream. Like all great young creatives, they forged fresh takes on it by adding elements of R&B, dancehall and rap. Jerican calls Alternative an example of “the young generation’s idea of versatility as, for many, all they’ve heard is Afrobeats or commercial music”.
Alternative is a genre that rewards creative freedom and joy. But why, then, is this alternative sound not being picked up as quickly as other sub-genres like Afroswing? Jerican reasons that it’s not for everyone. “Not many people know about Alté, but long-lasting music has to withstand the test of time”, he says. “The music [of] now doesn’t stay around for a long time, but our music will because as you mature, you’ll find a song that’ll resonate with you at some point. If you’re genuine, you’re good”.
A proud Nigerian, Jerican’s music encompasses his Nigerian identity by mixing the quintessential cockiness of British grime with the Afrobeats he loves. His ear, he believes, isn’t like many others.
Aiming to immortalise his pioneering sound by becoming one of the Nigeria’s breakout Alternative stars, what does the future hold for Jerican? His answer is blunt: “Make good music – scratch that – great music. We’re taking it out of Nigeria. We’re going worldwide with it.”
Having started off in his bedroom asking producers for beats before eventually making music himself that sounds worldly, Jerican understands that “it doesn’t matter where you start – as long as you get to that end goal”. He’s still making music in his bedroom today, attempting to redefine what Afroswing, or Afro-fusion, sounds like in Nigeria. With the help of his friends and collaborators, Jerican could finally move the needle.
Below is ‘Catch Ma Cruise’ by Jerican. Produced by Hcien.