'Non Stop Grinding', 'No Sleep Gang', 'Never Stop Growing', 'New Sound Group'. In many ways what NSG stands for doesn't really matter, however you choose to translate the acronym. What's more significant is the impact the group has had on the UK's fusion of Afrobeats, dancehall, and rap music in just a few short years.
Consisting of six members -- namely Kruddz, ODG, Papii Abz, Dope, Mxjib, and Mojo -- and backed by the powerhouse production abilities of JAE5 (who happens to be the elder brother of Kruddz and ODG too), they've been referred to as "the first boyband of UK Afrobeats." Their rise to prominence has been driven by a potent combination of contagious pop hooks, viral dance crazes, and a feverish social media following.
And, as they detail on their newest single Ourself, they've done it largely off the back of their own hard work: carving out a singular lane in the UK's blossoming rap scene.
With a hotly-anticipated full-length project on the horizon, we're chronicling how they got to where they are today -- through 10 essential tracks
1. Whine & Kotch (Afrobeats Remix)
Longtime NSG supporters will already be familiar with the group's earliest hit. Arriving in 2013, NSG’s take on Whine & Kotch -- itself already a popular dancehall track by Charly Black and the late J Capri -- sparked chatter with its upfront combination of Afro-rap and bashment, and helped to establish the newcomers as pioneers in this nascent movement.
2. Jo (feat. SKOB)
The years between 2013 and 2015 served as something of a trial-and-error period for the group, as they experimented with different member combinations before settling on the six-piece lineup recognised today. The track's title, Jo, means 'dance' in the West African languages of Yoruba and Ga, and -- with its lyrics and video referencing a whole range of different moves -- foregrounded the importance that viral dance moves would have on the group's explosion a few years later.
3. Love & Affection
A bouncy, pop-leaning dancehall-via-Afrobeats singalong, Love & Affection quickly established itself as a summer anthem for youngsters in the capital in 2015. But its influence extend beyond the sunny months -- as noted by Radio 1Xtra tastemaker DJ Kenny Allstar when he included the track his look back over the past decade in UK music.
Similarly, before JAE5's producer tag became synonymous with UK bangers, the "jay-oh-ay-tee" tag at the beginning of a beat (a nod to the JOAT production group he worked under) was a strong indicator of quality music to come -- Love & Affection being a good case in point.
4. We Dey (feat. Kilo Keemz)
Something of a slow burner, and an underrated gem of the NSG back catalogue, We Dey would later be included on the Afro B-curated MOVES: The Sound of UK Afrobeats -- helping to establish the group as influential players within the scene.
5. No Jamo Full Ghana
Back in 2015, there was a small rivalry brewing between NSG and another Afropop group, called CXCV. It mostly played out on social media, fuelled by commentators comparing the two groups and noting their similar sounds, the fact they comprised multiple members, and were from the same area. With so many apparent similarities, there were bound to be comparisons. However an interview with 'Uncle Rafool' -- an internet personality and music scene pot-stirrer -- in which he introduced CXCV as NSG lit a fire under the feud.
The clip in question features at the beginning of NSG's video for No Jamo Full Ghana, which was itself recorded as a riposte to CXCV's Daddy Lumba-sampling Half Jamo Half Ghana. The added boost of this minor controversy helped spur the track on to clock up hundreds of thousands of views within weeks of being released, and NSG began to realise the power of their dedicated following.
6. Yo Darlin' (feat. Geko)
This link up with Manchester singer/MC Geko was arguably the track that pushed NSG over into the mainstream consciousness. With an irresistible hook and pounding JAE5-helmed beat, the track has racked up tens of millions of views on YouTube and saw the East London group grace stages at Notting Hill Carnival, Wireless Festival, and on their very first UK tour too.
7. Options (feat. Tion Wayne)
Following the success of Yo Darlin', the group put out a steady stream of hits -- including the Not3s-featuring Pushing Up, late summer bop Natural Disaster, and even a collaboration with former One Directioner Liam Payne. But it was Options that took the group stratospheric. The track peaked at number seven but, thanks to its catchy hook and a viral social media dance craze, spent 24 weeks in the charts. Singing about rich lifestyles and living without stress, the track mirrored NSG's ascent from zero to one hundred.
8. OT Bop
The success of Options was always going to be difficult to follow up, but NSG delivered with their formula of one-liners fit for aspirational Instagram captions ("Saving is boring, so I might go Harrods") and a new dance move for fans to master. Rumours that Drake was going to feature on the track helped too, and the video clocked a million views on YouTube within a day of arriving on the platform.
9. Trust Issues
NSG closed out their decade with the OT Bop tour and the arrival of Trust Issues -- the latter offering straightforward, feel good music and vibes. And of course, despite riding on a more laid-back beat, the crew still managed to work in an accompanying dance step for their followers to imitate. "Drip is confirmed!"
Ourself sees the band flitting between Ghana and the UK, maintaining their effortlessly cool composure as they bust moves and brag about the riches they've amassed off their own hard work. And, with a line that's been batted around all over social media since the track dropped, they set out their world-beating ambitions for the coming year: "NSG, not One Direction."