The most striking thing about NSG is the six-piece’s fluid nature—their collective ability to bounce bars between one another, and to shape-shift. “We’re all leaders in our own right,” Papii Abz told Apple Music. That the UK rappers’ acronym isn’t an entirely settled matter is perhaps a good case in point. Depending on whom you ask—whether within the group or outside it—it’s Non Stop Grinding, No Sleep Gang or Nigeria Slash Ghana (a nod to NSG’s evenly split West African heritage).
For Abz (born Abdul-Jalaal Adeyinka Arowosaye in London, 1995), together with Kruddz (William Awotwe-Mensah, London, 1995), Mxjib (Ayodeji Mujib Shekoni, Nigeria, 1997), Mojo (Matthew Temidayo Ojo, London, 1994), OGD (Dennis Awotwe-Mensah, London, 1997) and Dope (Patrick Jim Brew, Ghana, 1995), retaining their individual voices while leaning on a bond forged at North London’s Arts & Media School Islington brokered their steep ascent. The original line-up comprised as many as 15 members, connected through school, but their numbers would streamline as the overall focus of the group shifted towards performing. “It’s come from years of doing everything together since school,” Abz said. “The chemistry was built from there. We’re not fighting it.”
Producer Jae5—aka Jonathan Mensah, the brother of OGD and Kruddz—has proved another key ally in the group’s success. He nudged them towards bolder experimentation and had a hand in their breakthrough tracks: 2017’s “Yo Darlin’” paired bashment breaks with an Afrobeats flow and set the stage for NSG's defining moment, “Options”, which spent most of 2019 climbing various charts, thanks not least to its massively popular viral dance. While hype was only building for the group, they patiently waited to release their debut mixtape, Roots, until mid-2020. “We had the songs, we had everything. But we knew it was all about the timing,” Abz said. “We take our time with things, but it’s always a group decision.”