There’s a blatant gap in the music scene where afro music needs to be heard – not the cheap rip off versions by artists who take parts of a culture and use it make it bank – for authentic afro music. Hip hop exponent Unchained XL’s ‘The Migrant Mind’ EP is a perfect example of something that can fill that very gap.
Crafted, created, mixed and produced by Nigerian Kiwi Unchained XL (aka Hugh Okechukwu Ozumba), the one thing that comes through clearer than anything is his drive, almost an urgency, for people to hear what he has to say. And more so, that Afrocentric music should become a normalised genre in NZ. Pushing the traditional influence in his music, he says he wants to coin the term ‘afro-roots hip hop’ as a way to distinguish himself and his music.
Lyrically fast-paced with extensive use of instruments and collaborations this five-track EP is a strong body of work. An energetic amalgamation of different influences, it is without a doubt, unlike anything you will have heard before. There’s a lot of highs on this EP, Na Wetin Dey No being one to mention, a funky hip hop beat with horn section and commentaries from UK rappers Magugu and Skunkadelic layered over the top.
My Only Home (featuring Genesis Elijah and Femi Ashuru) clearly shows that producing a genuine popular banger is not beyond his reach. A part of what makes Aotearoa’s music scene so rich these days is our immigrants. Unchained XL is one who we should be giving a bigger platform to.