Category: Afro pop

New Video: Toronto’s 148 Share Flirtatious and Feel Good Bop “Topeka Vibe”

Nigerian-born, Toronto-based indie pop duo 148 — Tudo Bem and McQueen — spent their formative years watching MTV, which allowed them to embrace a multitude of genres and styles of music. Their willingness to explore and play with genre conventions, as well as embracing their own vulnerability in order to take risks, learn and improve upon their songwriting is at the core of their sound and approach.

As a group, the duo is rooted in a simple principle: a belief that we all should strive to be who we truly are, rather than view ourselves through the lens of others.

The duo’s recently released full-length effort, Sampati derives its title from an old Hindu tale of two brothers who challenged each other to see, who could fly closest to the sun: The elder brother Sampati ends up risking his life to shield his younger brother, Jatayu from the sun’s flames. While Sampati’s sacrifice costs him the ability to fly, it also saves Jatayu’s life — and Jatayu goes on to a play a crucial part in the grand scheme of things. For the duo, the story brings up a number of questions. including: if you knew that there was a high possibility of failure, would you attempt the impossible? According to the duo, they’d always answer yes. Failure brings the opportunity to learn — and with the help of friends and family, the potential of a speedy recovery. The duo add that the album is the culmination of everything they’ve learned over the past six years or so.

Sampati‘s latest single “Topeka Vibe” is a breezy and slick mix of R&B, hip-hop, Afrobeats, Afro pop, dancehall and soca centered around glistening synth arpeggios, skittering beats paired with a soulful horn solo as a silky Quiet Storm-inspired bed for McQueen’s easygoing and flirtatious bars and Bem’s gently autotuned crooning for the song’s infectious hook. Managing to be both club and lounge friendly, “Topeka Vibe” is a summery chilled-out bop that’s one-part balling out at the club ’cause you just got paid — and one-part, chilling out with that pretty young thing that you just can’t resist. But just under the surface, there’s a subtle bittersweet sensation: the realization that nothing lasts forever, perhaps?

Directed by 148’s Tudo Bem, the cinematically shot, accompanying video is split into several sequences set in and around Topeka Drive, just outside of Toronto: we see the members of 148 in a local playground flashing cash and goofing off. We see the duo flirting with and hitting on one of the most beautiful sisters I’ve seen in some time. And we see the duo playing in a club. It’s playful yet endearingly sweet.

New Audio: Mariaa Siga Shares a Swooning Ode to Motherhood

Mariaa Siga (born Mariama Siga Goudiaby) is a Senegalese singer/songwriter, who can trace the origins of her music career to winning a local talent show and catching the attention of acclaimed Senegalese act Joan of Arc. Joan of Arc’s frontperson mentored the young Goudiaby, helping her refine her style and further develop her musical skills. Shortly after that, Goudiaby landed a role in Mon Réve, a film which aired on RDV

As a musician, Goudiaby was long accustomed to the traditional rhythms of the Casamance region of Southern Senegal; but her curiosity led her to discover and experiment with Western styles including the blues and jazz, which she incorporates into her own work. 

In 2016, she was one of the winners of the Festival des Vielles Pirogues‘ Tremplin competition. Building upon that momentum, she released two singles the following year, “Ya sama none” and “Asekaw.” Building upon a growing profile, the Senegalese artist performed in her native Casamance for the first time with a set at 2018’s Kayissen Festival. That same year, Yoro Ndiyae featured Goudiaby on his Sunu Folk compilation. She capped off a big 2018 with a French tour that November.

Goudiaby’s full-length debut released her full-length debut Asekaw (which translates as “woman” in her native Diola) back in 2019. That year, she won Baco Records‘ One Riddim Contest, which led to sets at Morocco’s Festival MarcoFoiles, France’s Midem Festival and to an invite to play Quebec’s Festival Mondial des Femmes d’Ici et d’Ailleurs

I’ve previously written about “Lagne Boote,” which in Goudiaby’s native Diola translates to “back to basics.” Recorded at Vagh and Weinmann Studio in Salernes, France — with the support of the African Culture Fund, the breezy and infectious “Lagne Boote” was centered around shimmering and looping acoustic guitar, shuffling African polyrhythm and Goudiaby’s gorgeous and expressive vocal. The song manages to incorporate sounds across the African Diaspora including Afropop, soca, roots reggae and more. But at its core is a powerful and simple message imploring the listening to never forget their roots.

The breezy and infectious “Lagne Boote” is centered around shimmering and looping acoustic guitar, shuffling African polyrhythm and Goudaiby’s gorgeous, expressive vocals subtly hints at sounds across the African Diaspora, including Afropop, soca, roots reggae and others. But at its core is a powerful message to listeners imploring them to never forget their roots. “When you get lost and don’t know where you’re going, go back to your sources,” Goudiaby explains. 

Goudiaby’s latest single “Sama Nene” is a deeply contented sigh centered around a shuffling reggae riddim produced by Artikal Band‘s Asha D paired with the Senegalese’s gorgeous, expressive vocals singing lyrics in Wolof and French. Written and recorded while she was pregnant with her son, “Sama Nene” the song details the excitement and love she feels for her child.

The rising Senegalese artist wants to show women that it’s possible to lead a life as a woman artist — and as a mother, without having to give up her career and her dreams.

New Video: Mariaa Siga Shares a Surreal and Playful Visual for Infectious “Lagne Boote”

Mariaa Siga (born Mariama Siga Goudiaby) is a Senegalese singer/songwriter, who can trace the origins of her music career to winning a local talent show and catching the attention of acclaimed Senegalese act Joan of Arc. Joan of Arc’s frontperson mentored the young Goudiaby, helping her refine her style and further develop her musical skills. Shortly after that, Goudiaby landed a role in Mon Réve, a film which aired on RDV

As a musician, Goudiaby was long accustomed to the traditional rhythms of the Casamance region of Southern Senegal; but her curiosity led her to discover and experiment with Western styles including the blues and jazz, which she incorporates into her own work.

In 2016, she was one of the winners of the Festival des Vielles Pirogues‘ Tremplin competition. Building upon that momentum, she released two singles the following year, “Ya sama none” and “Asekaw.” Building upon a growing profile, the Senegalese artist performed in her native Casamance for the first time with a set at 2018’s Kayissen Festival. That same year, Yoro Ndiyae featured Goudiaby on his Sunu Folk compilation. She capped off a big 2018 with a French tour that November.

Goudiaby’s full-length debut released her full-length debut Asekaw (which translates as “woman” in her native Diola) back in 2019. That year, she won Baco Records‘ One Riddim Contest, which led to sets at Morocco’s Festival MarcoFoiles, France’s Midem Festival and to an invite to play Quebec’s Festival Mondial des Femmes d’Ici et d’Ailleurs

“Lagne Boote,” which in Goudiaby’s native Diola translates to “back to basics” was recorded at Vagh and Weinmann Studio in Salernes, France — with the support of the African Culture Fund. The breezy and infectious “Lagne Boote” is centered around shimmering and looping acoustic guitar, shuffling African polyrhythm and Goudaiby’s gorgeous, expressive vocals subtly hints at sounds across the African Diaspora, including Afropop, soca, roots reggae and others. But at its core is a powerful message to listeners imploring them to never forget their roots. “When you get lost and don’t know where you’re going, go back to your sources,” Goudiaby explains.

Directed by IMAGEMOTION, the accompanying video for “Lagne Boote” follows the radiant Goudiaby as she walks barefoot through the forest, following an unspooled line of yarn, and encountering surreal sights including a contortionist, a fire eater, a psychic with a crystal ball, an elaborate costumed dinner party and so on.

New Video: N’Faly Kouyaté Teams Up with Tiken Jah Fakoly on a Socially Relevant Banger

Throughout his lengthy musical career Guinean-born, Belgian-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist N’Faly Kouyaté has bridged the modern and the ancient, and Africa and the West: Kouyaté received a very traditional and rigorous Guinean musical education. He eventually relocated to Belgium, where he received conservatory training.

Inspired by Aretha Franklin, Harry Belafonte and a long list of others, the Guinean-born, Belgian-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has managed to collaborate with an eclectic array of acclaimed artists including Peter Gabriel, William Kentridge, Phil Manzanera, Ray Phiri and others. But he may be best known for his work with groundbreaking, genre-defying and Grammy Award-nominated act Afro Celt Sound System.

The acclaimed singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist will be releasing a new album — and that album sees Kouyaté developing a new genre, Afrotonix, which mixes polyphony, electronic production and traditional African instruments like the kora, the balafon and percussion. The album’s first single “Free Water,” which features a guest spot from Tiken Jah Fakoly is a slick synthesis of the modern and traditional: modern electronic production featuring wobbling, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and traditional Guinean instrumentation paired with a vitally necessary message — water is life for all of us.

The accompanying video reminds then viewer of water’s importance to all of us — from drinking, bathing, our food and so on. But it also gives the viewer a glimpse of daily life in beautiful Guinea and scenes from the studio.

New Video: Guiss Guiss Bou Bess Teams up with ISS814 on a Heady Mix of African Diaspora Music

Sabar is a beloved and traditional folk music, played with a sabar, a traditional drum, generally played with one hand and a stick, throughout Senegal and The Republic of The Gambia. Most often you’d hear the style at weddings and other special celebrations.

Guiss Guiss Bou Bess—Mara Seck, Aba Diop, and Stephane Costantini — is a Dakar, Senegal-based act with some bonafide credentials:

  • Mara Sack is the son of beloved griot and musician Alla Seck.
  • Aba Diop is a rising sabar percussionist, from a family with a deep lineage with the instrument.
  • Stephane Constanti is a producer with extensive knowledge and experience in electronic music and drum ‘n’ bass.

Since their formation, the Senegalese trio have attempted to modernize the ancient and beloved sabar style, creating what they’ve dubbed Electro Sabar, a mix of ritual percussion, trap, dubstep, UK garage, drum ‘n’ bass, bass house, Afrobass and kuduro that manages to simultaneously respect Senegalese traditions while being inspired by the bustling, exuberant, working class neighborhoods of their hometown.

Back in March, opposition Ousmane Sonko was arrested for rape allegations. His arrest led to ongoing mass protests, demonstrations and riots across the country, which has left more than 13 dead. Mackay Sall, Senegal’s President has responded with restrictions to Internet, social media and other other forms of expression and communication as a way to curb protests.

Coincidentally, the Senegalese trio’s latest single “Sunu Gal (La Pirogue)” off their album Set Sela manages to be remarkably timely: Featuring Senegalese emcee ISS814, “Sunu Gal,” as the band explains was written for their homeland’s young people: Partially written as a loving ode to Senegalese culture and values, the song sees the collaborators calling for their homeland’s young people to peacefully protest, while demanding that the government respect and honor the rights and concerns of its people.

Sonically, “Sunu Gal (La Pirogue)” is a heady and slickly produced mix of traditional rhythms and instrumentation, skittering trap hi-hat, tweeter and woofer rattling beats, dialogue, traditional chants and some fiery and dexterous bars delivered in French and local dialects — presumably Wolof. While obviously being a meeting across the African Diaspora, the song is a powerful reminder that hip-hop is the lingua franca of young people across the globe.

Directed by Jean-Baptiste Joire, the vidoe for “Sunu Gal (La Pirogue)” is a gorgeously shot glimpse into daily life in Senegal with a playful and fantastical bent, before heading to the club, where we see dancers doing a mix of traditional and modern steps to the song.

New Audio: London’s Blue Lab Beats Teams up with Accra, Ghana’s Killbeatz and Fela Kuti on Dance Floor Friendly “Motherland Journey”

Rising, London-based Jazztronica production duo Blue Lab Beats — producer NK-OK and multi-instrumentalist Mr, DM — had rather humble origins, as bedroom producers, who remixed tracks by the likes of Dua Lipa, Rag ‘N’ Bone Man and others. The duo’s sound quickly morphed to incorporate jazz, soul and hip-hop influences while staying true to their British/London roots. Since the formation, the London-based duo have quickly exploded into the national and international scenes: they’ve played played Glastonbury — and they’ve opened for the likes of the legendary Roy Ayers and Thundercat. They’ve also contributed a remake of Bobby Henderson‘s Blue Note Records‘ classic “Montara,” which appeared on last year’s Blue Note Re: imagined compilation. And adding to a growing profile, the duo’s work has amassed over 25 million streams to date.

2021 has been a busy year for the rising British production duo: They’ve released a handful of critically applauded singles including “Dat It,” “Blow You Away (Delilah)” and “Sensual Loving,” which have seem them collaborating with the like of Stones Throw Records affiliate Kiefer and Afrobeats star Ghetto Boy. And as you may recall last month,I wrote about “Labels,” which featured a  J. Dilla meets The Midnight Hour-like production centered around soaring strings, boom bap beats and a sinuous bass line.

The production serves as a lush and mesmerizing bed for thoughtful and lovelorn verses from London-based emcee Kofi Stone that find him questioning the need for labels to define what his romantic relationship is to others. The song also features a soulful hook by London-based vocalist Tiana Major9.

Those four singles will appear on the duo’s long awaited new album and Blue Note Records full-length debut Motherland Journey. Slated for a February 25, 2022 release, the album is a result of two-and-a-half years of work that celebrates pushing boundaries, taking risks and overcoming adversity. Starting out with over 70 demos, the duo meticulously whittled them down to the final 17-track album.

“This album took us two-and-a-half years to finish, our longest process to make an album, but it was so worth it,”the members of Blue Lab Beats say in press notes. “On this album you’ll hear many fusions of genres and inspirations that we gathered throughout that time frame and especially to work on so many of the songs during the first lockdown it was a test in itself. We had to figure out so many different ways to achieve what we exactly wanted sonically and having Blue Note to help us achieve that was an absolute blessing. Many of the vocal features and instrumentalists on this album are great friends of ours and it’s just so amazing to have family on this album.”

Motherland Journey‘s fifth and latest single, album title track “Motherland Journey” features Ghanian producer KillBeatz and the vocals of the late Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. Co-written by the duo and Killbeatz in Accra, Ghana, the song was blessed by the estate of Fela Kuti. Featuring a warm, dancehall meets Afrobeat-like production, featuring a looping and shimmering guitar line, skittering beats, regal horns, “Motherland Journey” is an upbeat, club friendly bop. But underneath those dance floor vibes, the song suggests that Africa is the future — and for some, it’ll be an introduction to the legendary Kuti and the sounds of Africa in a crowd-pleaisng fashion.

New Audio: Emerging Artist Mighty Koba Releases a Summery Club Banger

Mighty Koba is an emerging and somewhat mysterious Cameroonian-American singer/songwriter. His latest single “Whine Poko” sees the emerging artist seamlessly bridging multiple cultures and styles with a slick and breezy dance floor friendly production featuring elements of Afrobeat, Afropop, reggae, dancehall and soca paired with an infectious, razor sharp hook.

With the temperatures dropping a bit here in the Northeast as we push further into Fall, “Whine Poko” at the moment is simultaneously, a nostalgic blast of summer and the sort of song you want to wine down with that pretty young thing at the club.

New Audio: Acclaimed Kinshasa-Based Collective KOKOKO! Releases a New Banger

Led by Makara Biano and prolific French producer débruit, the pioneering and acclaimed Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo-based DIY electronic collective KOKOKO! is fueled by growing spirit of protest and unrest among their hometown’s young people. And much like young people across the globe, Kinshasa’s young people have begun to openly question centuries’ old norms and taboos, and they’ve openly begun to denounce a society that they perceive as being paralyzed by fear — namely,. the fear of inclusiveness and much-needed change.

The collective and their local counterparts have done this with a fearless in-your-face, punk rock sort of ethos. This isn’t surprising: the acclaimed Congolese collective’s name literally means KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK! — with the collective viewing themselves as the sound and voice of a bold, new generation defiantly banging on the doors and walls, yelling out “OUR TIME IS NOW!”

The Kinshasa-based collective’s creative processes are centered around the notion that poverty and the desperately urgent need to survive often fuels wild creativity. And unsurprisingly, they operate in a wildly inventive DIY fashion, creating self-designed and self-made instrument made from recycled and reclaimed flotsam and jetsam and recovered junk. They even built a recording studio out of old mattresses, reclaimed wood and an old ping-one table.

The collective exploded into the national and international scenes with their critically applauded, full-length debut 2019’s FONGOLA was a forward-thinking, urgent effort featuring a difficult to pigeonhole, global orientated sound with elements of disco, post-punk, hip-hop, reggae, retro-futuristic funk, Afro-futurism and the region’s traditional folkloric sounds. The end result, was a sound that seemed to come from an alien yet familiar, near-dystopian future like our own, where the ghetto and the club where one and the same.

The Kinshasa-based collective’s latests ginned “Donne Moi,” is the first bit of new material since their full-length debut. Featured on the soundtrack of FIFA 22, “Donne Moi” sees the act expanding upon their forward-thinking, sound: while still pairing their handmade instruments with electronic production, the new single is a percussive, house music leaning club banger centered around chanted and shouted call and response vocals, rousingly anthemic hooks.

“We recorded ‘Donne Moi’ in Brussels just before the pandemic hit, and we are happy it’s finally seeing a release. The song is about giving back. Giving, as well as receiving, shouldn’t be always one way.”

The collective is currently working on new material, which is slated for release next year.

New Video: Rising Burundian-Tanzanian Artist Young Spit Releases a Summery Banger

Niyomwungere Eric is rising 24 year-old Burundian-Tanzanian singer/rapper, whose family emigrated to the States when he was a child. Best known to the world as Young Spit, the Burundian-Tanzanian artist rose to prominence with the release of his first two singles “Shanna” and “Cinderella,” which appeared on his full-length length debut, last year’s Era 257. Those early singles and his debut found the young artist quickly establishing his unique sound, a mesh of Afro pop, Caribbean music and hip-hop paired with lyrics that draw from his personal experiences.

Clocking in at a smidge under three minutes, Era 257’s latest single “Uwanje” is a summery banger that’s both club and radio friendly — while drawing from an eclectic array of influences: the song manages to mesh trap, contemporary pop and R&B and dancehall as it prominently features twinkling synth arpeggios, skittering tweeter and woofer rocking beats, brief blasts of squiggling horns, a scorching guitar solo and the rising Burundian-Tanzanian artist’s gently Autotuned yet expressive vocals. But underneath the glossy swagger, the song is actually a tender and very sweet love song that gives it a subtle Quiet Storm vibe.

Directed by the rising Burundian-Tanzanian artist, shot by 21G productions and edited by Easy.Cuts, the recently released video for “Uwanje” is part behind-the-scenes-like footage of a photo shoot with the rising artist and some beautiful women split with footage of Young Spit rocking out to the song. The video has a playful charm that’s as infectious as the song itself.