The best of 2019: halftime edition

As we reach the midway point of 2019, here is a top 60 of the year’s best albums so far.

Graphic Illustration by Julie Jargeais

This first half of the year has been a very fruitful year for music with a lot of high-profile releases to relatively underground releases. We’ve rounded up our favorite new albums of the year so far listed certainly not by any kind of preferential ranking. Dig in!


Lee Scratch Perry Rainford

Lee Scratch Perry 
Rainford

The 82-year-old Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry returns with 9 brand new tracks recorded with longtime friend and collaborator Adrian Sherwood. Recorded in Jamaica, Brazil and London the album title, Rainford, refers to Perry’s birth name. “It’s the most intimate album Lee has ever made,” Adrian Sherwood said of the project in a statement. “But at the same time the musical ideas are very fresh. I’m extremely proud of what we’ve come up as a piece of work.”

Order here.


Angélique Kidjo
Celia

After reworking the Talking Head’s cornerstone album Remain In Light, the three Grammys laureate now turns to Celia Cruz. The artist was the leading figure of salsa, a music genre invented in-between Miami and New York by the Cuban and Porto Rican diaspora. Kidjo seeks tracing up to the African roots of this music born through complex cultural exchanges, injecting her powerful voice and energy inside them.

Listen: Apple Music / Spotify 

Abdullah Ibrahim
The Balance

Abdullah Ibrahim has always sought for balance between his diverse influences and he proves it again with his new opus. This new album entitled The Balance – who follows his last LP The Song is My Story – embodies this visions of jazz. “We push ourselves out of our comfort zones. So that we can present to the listener our striving for excellence. So that we can engage with our listeners without any barriers of our ego. It’s not jazz. For us, it’s a process of transcending barriers.”

Listen: Spotify / Apple Music


Yugen Blakrok Anima Mysterium

Yugen Blakrok
Anima Mysterium

Six years after her first mixtape Return of the Astro – Goth and an acclaimed contribution to Black Panther’s original soundtrack, Yugen Blakrok is back with a transcendental album. More emotional than the former one, Anima Mysterium features rebellious texts as well as Kanif the Jhatmaster’s dark productions. With this album, Yugen definitely becomes one of 2019’s hip hop biggest revelations. A must hear!

Order on Bandcamp here


Blick Bassy
1958

Four years after releasing Akö, the singer and songwriter Blick Bassy Presents 1958, a tribute album to Ruben Um Nyobé, leader of the independentist movement in Cameroon who was executed in 1958 by French Colonial Forces.

In this poignant album, Blick brings up the hero and proves he is able to reinvent himself, straying further from the bluesy sounds of his former album and heading towards more subtle sounds, full of grace and inventiveness. An album to thaw the heart and sharpen the mind. Although its focus is specific, its themes – the bondage of neo-colonialism, the need for heroes, the relevance of history and the search for true identity – are universal.

He uses a wide palette of emotions, going from softness to rage, to convey his noble political message. 1958 urges the new generations to reconnect with their culture and History, to be able to shape a future for themselves that is actually fit for themselves. The release of the album was accompanied by a spectacular music video shot in South Africa.

ListenSpotify / Deezer / Apple Music


GoldLink 
Diaspora 

The 26 year-old D.C native d’Anthony Carlos, aka GoldLink, releases his second studio album, Diaspora. Following 2017’s At What Cost, this new effort features several collaborations with heavyweights such as Wizkid, Tyler, The Creator, Jay Prince and Maleek Berry with Bibi Bourelly. From rap, afropop, R&B, Afrobeats to reggae, Diaspora is an ambitious album, maybe the best one of his career.

Stream it here.


Mdou Moctar
Ilana: The Creator

Ilana: The Creator is Mdou’s first true studio album with a live band and certainly the most ambitious record to date. Accompanied by an all-star band like Ahmoudou Madassane’s (Les Filles de Illighadad) lighting fast rhythm guitar, Aboubacar Mazawadje’s machine gun drums, and Michael Coltun’s structured low-end bass, Mdou reaches back into Tuareg folklore for inspiration riffing on the hypnotic loops of takamba griots.

The album was driven by lots of spontaneity – Mdou’s preferred method of creation. Recorded in Detroit at the tail end of a US tour the band lived in the studio for a week, playing into the early hours. For Mdou, this style is to draw on both modern and traditional sources and combine elements into new forms.

Listen: Spotify / Deezer / Apple Music


Flying Lotus
Flamagra

For his first studio LP in five years, Flying Lotus gathered a whole bunch of renowned collaborators. His follow-up to 2014 LP You’re Dead ! features Solange, Denzel Curry, Thundercat, George Clinton and Little Dragon among others. Once again, this new release makes us dive into the artist’s rich and unique sonic universe.

Order the album on the artist’s website.


Ezra Collective
You Can’t Steal My Joy

London quintet Ezra Collective is one of the most exciting bands of the new English Jazz scene. Drawing from Afrobeat, Latin music, as well as from Hip-Hop and Grime – their unique blend and inclusive approach to music has seen them break out way beyond the thriving UK Jazz scene. Following their acclaimed debut EP, their first album, You Can’t Steal My Joy matches its expectations. It features friends and fans, among which Loyle Carner, KOKOROKO and Jorja Smith (on the song “Reason In Disguise” released last year), as well as a cover of Sun Ra’s “Space Is The Place” and a tribute to Fela Kuti.

Stream the album here.


Tyler, the Creator
IGOR

Tyler, the Creator’s new album IGOR  is the follow-up to 2017’s Flower Boy. The 28-year-old musician fifth studio album features Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Santigold, Playboi Carti, and more.  Tyler Okonma said in a post on Twitter: “Don’t go in expecting a rap album or any album”. It’s definitely a lot different from its other stuff, maybe that’s what’s making it so great. IGOR is experimental with an intimate narrative and the production creates an atmosphere which couples perfectly with the story of the record. After the sublime Flower Boy, everyone had high hopes. And after listened to it a lot, we are still impressed.

Listen on Spotify Apple Music / Deezer 


Beyoncé

Homecoming 

Following the release of the HOMECOMING documentary, showcasing Beyoncé’s live performance in Coachella in 2018, she just released an eponym live album by surprise. The 40-track project features a handful of exclusive tracks, in addition to her full live set, among which a recording of Blue Ivy singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and a cover of “Before I Let Go” by Frankie Beverly and Maze. From “Crazy In Love” to “Baby Boy”, the live show features the singer’s greatest hits among more intimate songs, all intensified by the brass ensemble following her on stage.

Listen: Apple Music / Deezer Spotify 


BCUC
The Healing

In less than three years, the Soweto U.F.O BCUC (Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness) skyrocketted to under the spotlights. Blurring style barriers, they take their inspiration from South African music, be it traditional or urban and contemporary, from free jazz to hip hop, from punk to kwaito. The Healing is the third of a triology started with Our Truth, and features collaborations with Femi Kuti and Saul Williams.

Order The Healing on Bandcamp.


Santi
Mandy & The Jungle 

Following a slew of highly rated singles like, “Rapid Fire” and “Sparky”, the fusion artist Santi is now releasing his very first album titled Mandy & The Jungle. The contemplative 16 tracks-album features artists like Kida Kudz, Shane Eagle, amaarae, GoldLink and DRAM. Speaking about the project, Santi said: “This is the most important moment of my life. New chapter, new universe”
With Mandy & The Jungle Santi keeps proving he is the one to look out for in the ever growing new generation of Nigerian acts.

Order the album on the artist’s website

Jamila Woods
LEGACY! LEGACY!

Chicago-based soul singer delivers a mature and poignant album, conveying a critical yet poetic glance of the American identity, as well as on her identity as a black woman and a black artist. Each song title is a tribute to a personality, from Frida Kahlo to Basquiat. Her strong lyrics and soft melodies lay down on Slot-A’s inventive beats, channelling hip-hop, funk and electronic influences into an innovative and groovy blend.

Stream and order the album on any platform.


Raashan Ahmad
The Sun

Raashan Ahmad is consistently evolving, pushing the boundaries of live performance, studio recording and collaborations crossing borders and boundaries by fusing elements of hip hop, soul, jazz, world music, funk and more.
The record finds elements of what Raashan has been—soulful, socially aware and focused on self-discovery—while adding elements of the broader world.
Asked about the album, Raashan said, “I couldn’t create another record that sounded like what I’ve already produced. Being exposed to so many new sounds, ideas, and cultures combined with the state of the world pushed me to a place I am beyond excited about.”

Order the album on Bandcamp.


Grupo Pilon
Leite Quente Funaná de Cabo Verde

Grupo Pilon: Leite Quente Funaná de Cabo Verde follows Ostinato’s Synthesize the Soul, a compilation of electronic music during 1973 – 1988. A period where the archipelago musicians incorporated electronic instruments into the local production, in a blend that gave birth to Cape Verde’s own version of electronic music, echoing the euphoria of a newly-gained freedom.
Grupo Pilon represents the second generation of musicians who contributed to one of the most lush periods of cultural innovation by immigrants in Europe. In Luxembourg, in 1986, a group of teenagers formed the largely unknown (outside of Cape Verdean circles) but consistently brilliant band named after the blunt instrument used in the islands to pound corn for Cabo Verde’s national dish, cachupa.

Stream and order it here


Koffee
Rapture EP 

New sensation Koffee is leading the new wave of young talent in to take over reggae music with her refreshing spin on the genre. The 18-year-old jamaican artist made noise with her two songs “Toast” (followed by “Throne”),  an infectious tune of classic roots-reggae lyrics and a more contemporary sound that reflects the genre’s direction.

As “Toast” continues to rise, (the video counts more than 17M views) Koffee shares her debut Rapture, a five-song EP via Columbia UK Records, including 2 new songs and the already famous ‘Throne’, “Raggamuffin” and “Toast “

With Rapture EP, Koffee is sending a message to the new generation : “I want to make a better world for the generation that’s coming up,” Koffee writes, “to promote love and peace, and even though I’m young, I feel that God has blessed me with talent and wisdom to get the job done.”

Listen


KOKOROKO
KOKOROKO

One year after the release of their debut track “Abusey Junction”, that went over 20 million plays on Youtube, the Londoners issue their first EP KOKOROKO.

Lead by trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey, the band is formed by leading lights from the London jazz community. It draws as much from the nightlife energy, the musical influences of West African Pentecostal churches, than from references such as Ebo Taylor, Pat Thomas, Fela Kuti and Tony Allen. Throughout its 4 tracks, the project offers a broader vision of the band’s singular universe, deeply inspired by soul and afrobeat. It takes its roots in West Africa and incorporates it in a very london’s jazz aesthetic.

Listen: Spotify / DeezerApple Music


Ibibio Sound Machine
Doko Mien 

After Uyai, Ibibio Sound Machine are back with a new album Doko Mien. Fronted by London-born Nigerian singer Eno Williams, Ibibio Sound Machine is a clash of African and Electronic elements inspired in equal measure by the golden era of West African Funk, Disco, and modern Post-Punk and Electro. Evocative Nigerian poetic imagery set against an edgy Afro-Electro soundscape gives the band a unique space within the wave of modern Afrocentric sounds sweeping the globe.

This third album alternates more words in English, like “Guess We Found a Way”, and in ibibio, translated in the booklet. It sounds a little different from the previous ones: “There is always Electro and Highlife, but we tried to capture a live sound, playing live in the same room,” explains Eno. “We always have a lot of influences, says saxophonist Max Grunhard, like Liquid Liquid, Talking Heads, 80s disco, Nigeria disco 70’s compilations, Kiki Gyan…”.

Listen


Lafawndah
Ancestor Boy 

The debut full- length album from Lafawndah, ​Ancestor Boy,​ is a bracing statement of intent, heralding an artist unbound in scope, scale, and intensity. Previous releases (such as the Tan EP and her collaboration with Midori Takada, Le Renard Bleu) plotted a highly personalized map of influence, shaping club-focused compositions and popular songs into thrillingly unresolved, ultramodern erotics.

Crafted with the aid of fellow travelers Nick Weiss, Aaron David Ross, and L-Vis 1990, Ancestor Boy’​s maximalism – its overflow of details, of feelings, of ideas – serves to amplify a frequent lyrical motif: the sensation that one body, one lifetime, isn’t big enough for what you’re feeling.

The album’s devotional pop and widescreen body music is further brought into vivid relief by an array of comrades and kindred spirits, including John Hassell, Bonnie Banane, Emily King, Jamie Woon, Gaika, Julie Byrne, Kelsey Lu, Patrick Belaga, Valentina Magaletti and Joao Pais Filipe.

Listen


Angel-Ho
Death Becomes Her

As an already established DJ and producer, Angel-Ho began to tease the internet towards the end of 2018, revealing in succession three brilliant and surgically precise instrumentals. From there, she has elevated her music to a new level, bringing out her pop diva outfit, to release her debut album Death Becomes Her. She enters the fold of the rigorously curated Hyperdub camp, whilst also at the same time running her own label, NON Worldwide.

Drawing inspiration from badass women like Lady Gaga or Missy Elliott, she manages to avoid the easy neo-pop labelling and tells us specifically the dimension she wants to share with her album: “I would define my sound as ‘a gigantic pop musical, both cinematic and narrative’. My songwriting skills have been pushed to the forefront of this record.” Read our interview here

Listen:  Spotify / Deezer / Apple Music


Que Vola  
Que Vola?

Que Vola? “What’s up?” That’s what Cubans like to say when they greet each other. They
like it so much that the expression has become a kind of verbal gimmick in the heavily
musical Spanish spoken on the island. Que Vola? is also the name of this unique musical
project that brings a French jazz septet, assembled by Fidel Fourneyron, together with three young and highly-skilled Cuban percussionists who are as brilliant at the art of summoning Afro-Cuban divinities as they are at vibing up the clubs of La Havana, where they play their raucous rumba. The albums is like a journey as if it was a ceremony, whose trajectory brings you closer and closer to the beating heart of this musical encounter. It opens with a prologue (‘Kabiosile – saludo a Changó’) in which brass and wind ‘sing’ a salutation to Changó, god of lightning. And it finishes with ‘Resistir’, an epic piece that seems to go back over the long history of the Afro-Cubans, a history strewn with light and shadow, with chains and tears broken by the resilience of a people, opening up the pathways to its own liberty through music. Between them, the journey.

Listen:  Spotify / Deezer / Apple Music


Lee Fields & The Expressions
It Rains Love

It Rains Love is Lee Field’s fifth album with his band The Expressions. The godfather of New York’s Soul pays tribute to love – his favorite topic – in this new effort, and mainly to the love he has been sharing with his wife for the last 40 years. His powerful and unique voice vibrates on the almost erotic harmonies composing this new album. The songs exhale mastery and authenticity, while taking us through a romantic journey in 1970’s New York.

Listen:  Apple Music Spotify / Deezer 


Nihiloxica
Biiri

Nihiloxica blends traditional rhythms from former Bugandan Kingdom and electronic pulsations coming from two young British producers. Biiri strays further from afro-electronic clichés where the kick is prominent and structures sprinkled percussions samples. The band’s sound rather relies on the drums’ complex and heady polyrhythmics, as the tempo shifts, following the natural rhythm of the musicians. Electronic effects and drones create a dark and progressive atmosphere. Gloomier than their first EP, these tracks are road hardened constructions that demonstrate the evolution of the band, and the conversation between two cultures.

Listen here.


Solange
When I Get Home

Two years after the notable A seat at the Table, Solange Knowles is back with a new album. The new project, titled When I Get Home, was released at midnight during the night of the February 28th to March 1st. Right during the transition between the “Black History Month” and the “Women’s History Month”.

The album features several prestigious collaborations such as Dev Hynes, Sampha, Pharell and Tyler the Creator. Recorded in 2018 between Jamaica, New Orleans and California, it cleverly blends Jazz, Funk, Hip Hop and R’n’b.

Listen: Spotify / Deezer / Apple Music.


Georgia Anne Muldrow
VWETO II

Los Angeles-born and grown singer, songwriter, and musician Georgia Anne Muldrow is known for her ability to channel the greats from decades past in soul, R&B, and jazz to create a subversive, forward-thinking sound. Following Overload, her most accessible and r’n’b album, Georgia goes back to her roots and delivers a highly psychedelic jam, lost somewhere between the 1970s and the distant future. Hip hop and g-funk influenced beats blend with cosmic synths in a colourful jazzy universe

Stream it and order it on Bandcamp.


Ifriqiyya Electrique
Laylet El Booree

Ifriqiyya’s music was never composed for a Western audience in the first place, rather it is a contemporary and unexpected hybridation, that the band calls a “post-industrial ritual”. “Laylet el Booree” translates as the “Night of the Madness” and refers to the last part of the annual gathering of the ritual from the Banga of Tozeur, the night when the spirits actually take possession of the bodies. Formed by European post-punk musicians Gianna Greco and François R. Cambuzat as well as three members of the Banga community (localised in the Tunisian desert) – Tarek Sultan, Yahia Chouchen and Youssef Ghazala, the band delivers a blend of Banga ritualism and Noise Rock sounds in a powerful album.

Listen


Minyo Crusaders
Echoes From Japan

Echoes From Japan, debut album from Tokyo based big-band Minyo Crusaders is much more than a proof of concept. They manage to blend japanese traditional min’yō music with cumbia, afrofunk and ethiojazz in an unexpected and refreshing way. The idea of this unforeseen mix comes from guitar player Katsumi Tanaka: “To Japanese People, min’yō is seen as a traditional music and thus, intellectuel. But it’s actually popular music, work songs, songs for dancing and drinking. I wanted to give these song their literal meaning of songs for the people.”

Stream the album here.


Jay Mitta
Tatizo Pesa 

Tanzanian producer Jay Mitta released his debut album, Tatizo Pesa, via Nyege Nyege Tapes on January 11th. The producer hailing from the famed Sisso Studios in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, combines frenetic Tanzanian singeli – a style we can compared to super fast-paced kuduro and shangaan electro – and Swahili rap styles. He introduces Dogo Janja, a 14-year old singeli MC, on his title track.

Listen: Spotify / Bandcamp


Kel Assouf
Black Tenere

Produced by the band’s keyboardist Sofyann Ben Youssef, the mastermind behind the highly touted AMMAR 808, the new album strips things back to a power trio lineup and focuses on the crackling, forward-looking energy of Nigerien front man Anana Ag Haroun’s next level Kel Tamashek (Tuareg) rock songs.

Kel Assouf’s musical journey has flowed seamlessly from the well-spring created by Ishumar desert rock pioneers Tinariwen – that Haroun first encountered as a young musician in Niger – towards sonic horizons that include the rock classicism of groups like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Queens of the Stone Age and the club beats and astral ambiance of European electronic music. On Black Tenere, the band pushes these different textures and influences towards a persuasive, raw-edged crescendo. Ag Haroun see’s the path to the new album and its new sound this way.

Listen:  Spotify / Deezer / Apple Music


The Comet Is Coming
Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery 

London-based trio keeps on furthering its psychedelic explorations releasing a new Cosmic-Jazz album. After being nominated for Mercury Prizes for their acclaimed debut Channel the Spirits released in 2016, The Comet Is Coming maintains the almost cult-like mystery surrounding them with a new burst of organic Free Jazz.

Their second release, Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery is all about the idea of “finding a meaning in the ungraspable and believing in a primordial energy”.

Listen


Tshegue
Telema

After their acclaimed EP and singles, Tshegue are back with a new EP. Despite having been confined to hybrid genres such as afro-punk or afro-pop, Tshegue never stopped evolving and surprising us. Telema is even more creative and energic, on the EP, traditional music meets electronic music, hip hop, blues touareg guitars and drums. Telema is about vices : money, sex and drugs…

Stream and order it here


Kwesi Arthur
Live From Nkrumah Krom Vol II: Home Run

Fast-rising Rap sensation and youngest Ghanaian artist to have a BET nomination Kwesi Arthur released his much anticipated debut album studio, Live From Nkrumah Krom Vol II: Home Run. A 9 track album which features, Mr Eazi, Shatta Wale, Nasty C, Sarkodie, Stonebwoy and production made by MOG Beatz, KaySo and Uche.
Kwesi was discovered through the Tema-based music platform Ground Up Chale,
which gives people access to studio time and support. “Ground Up is my foundation,” he says to Okayafrica.
Kwesi raps in both English and Twi (a dialect of the Akan language spoken in southern and central Ghana), his music is a reflection of his life and to ghana’s history and Nkrumah heritage.

Stream the album here.


Tiken Jah Fakoly
Le Monde est chaud

In 25 years of career the Ivorian artist proves he is very committed. He has made the continent the main topic of his music, whether in terms of productions, adding koras, ngonis, sokous, balafons and djembes, but also in his words, denouncing the injustices and stigmas of neocolonialism. With Le Monde est chaud his twelfth album Tiken Jah raises alarm on global warming and shows his constant commitment through his music.

Order Le Monde est chaud here.


K.O.G
Wahala Wahala

Under the guidance of the outrageously talented Ghanaian force of nature Kweku Sackey, aka K.O.G, and the whirlwind of energy that is Jamaican rapper Franz Von Song, the Afro-fusion 8-piece band K.O.G & the Zongo Brigade deliver an infectious, high-energy West African grooves drawing on afrobeat, soul, funk, rock, hip hop and reggae which has fast gained recognition in London and all over the UK. K.O.G’s signature mix of high-energy songs, raps and operatic vocal effect.
With a backdrop of African rhythms that include electric brass, thunderous percussion and sharp-edge guitar, ‘Wahala Wahala’ takes possession of the body as the words excite the mind. Racism, rejection, inequality, exile – the subject matter is always serious but the delivery irresistibly upbeat and rhythmic, guaranteed to get the feet moving because in every pain, there is also joy. It’s music from our soul telling stories how we were told growing up and merging grooves and African rhythms to exhibit the spirit of AFRICA in relation to where we are in the diaspora”, says K.O.G.

Stream the album here.


Burna Boy & DJDS
Steel and Copper

Afrofusion artisBurna Boy teams up with Los Angeles production duo DJDS to release their new collaborative EP via On A Spaceship/Our Bad Habit/Atlantic Records/Loma Vista. Steel & Copper marks the first collaboration between the two, as the duo seamlessly enmeshes Burna’s velvety vocals into their world of eclectic production that bridges pop, trap and global sounds, introducing both sets of fans to a new sonic experience.

Steel & Copper marks the latest in a number of collaborations for DJDS, who worked with The Dream, Khalid, Empress Of and more on their genre-bending 2018 album Big Wave More Fire. They also worked with Kanye West on his The Life of Pablo.

Listen: Spotify / Deezer / Apple Music


Nkisi
7 Directions

Alongside her work as a sonic activist and in curating and managing the NON Worldwide collective beside Angel Ho and Chino Amobi, Nkisi will release her first full album on Lee Gamble’s UIQ. 7 Directions is rooted firmly in the African Cosmology of the Bantu-Kongo and in particular the writings of Kongo scholar Dr Kimbwandende Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau.

When we hear before we see, voice and sound waves interplay between consciousness and hallucinations. Allowing the rhythmic to experiment with conditions of perception, disrupting predetermined expectations…Through manipulating rhythm, we create movements of energy… this energy determines collective behavior and allows for new ways of producing knowledge…when we hear before we see, we can think about predicting the future and the manipulation of imagery that happens. through visionary possession we are renewed from within, in a system of systems… the pattern of patterns in being, it reaches and remains forever incomplete”

Listen:  Spotify / Deezer / Apple Music


Nubiyan Twist
Jungle Run

Nubiyan Twist are a 10-piece London-based collective blending elements of jazz, soul, hip hop, African styles, Latin, dub, hip hop and electronics in a flow of thought-provoking and life-affirming music

Released on Strut, Jungle Run features several tracks with vocalist Nubiya Brandon, saxophonist Nick Richards and Ghanaian star K.O.G, afrobeat originator Tony Allen and Ethio-jazz inventor and legend Mulatu Astatke features in “Addis to London.”

“Conceptually, “Jungle Run”; is all about connecting different people and cultures whilst exploring the journey of individuals. This album is the pinnacle of everything we have done to date and to collaborate with the godfathers of Afrobeat and Ethio Jazz and celebrate their music in a modern context was very humbling.”  says producer and orchestrator Tom Excell.

Listen: Spotify / Deezer / Apple Music


Steel Pulse
Mass Manipulation

Manchester Reggae band Steel Pulse releases their first album in 15 years. Mass Manipulation marks the great come-back of the reggae giants, who originated a good bunch of classics, among them their 1978 debut album Handsworth Revolution. In this new release, the band now formed by merely singer David Hinds, synth player Sidney Mills and guitar player David Elecciri, the band tackles a wide range of hot topics with its critical yet optimist eye. From traffic to global warming, as Hinds says it himself : “We can’t abandon the futur our ancestors fought for”.

Order the album here


Hama
Houmeissa

After a first  EP released in 2015, with Houmeissa, his first album, the Nigerien Hama, known as “Hama Techno” presents a groundbreaking album of traditional electronic desert folk songs, hovering somewhere between early 90s techno and synthwave.

Private driver of a rich expatriate, Hama received his first synthesizer from a neighbor. And when he was not driving his employer through the streets of Niamey, Hama was revisiting traditional desert songs, unknowingly beginning to develop a singular style. Quickly, the multi-instrumentalist begins to arrange his own melodies with the means of the edge, but especially with passion. From nomadic herding ballads, ancient caravan songsHoumeissa and sci-fi soundtrack, Houmeissa is a spontaneous and convincing record that promises to open doors far beyond Niamey

Listen:  Spotify / Deezer / Apple Music


Ekiti Sound
Abeg No Wex

Ekiti Sound’s debut album Abeg No Vex is a starkly original record, built up of layered musical histories, fragmented and unified all at once, cohesive in its celebration of difference. “It’s a way of paying tribute to where I come from,” Leke says. “It will help circulate this name which represents the energy that my parents gave me.”

Abeg No Vex clatters the bass frequencies of UK soundsystems – from drum & bass to dubstep and funky house – with the styles and traditions of Nigeria. Ekiti Sound spearheads a new musical dialogue between London and Lagos.

Stream the album here.


Ethnic Heritage Ensemble
Be Known: Ancient/Future/Music

Led by renowned drummer and percussionist Sir Kahil El’Zabar, the band is acknowledged throughout the world as one of the leading figures of spiritual groove and afrofuturistic jazz. Their compositions rely on a will to “combine concepts of African American music with its earlier roots in traditional African music, to produce new motifs and sounds true to their origins yet firmly pointed in a new artistic direction”. Celebrating 45 years in music, Chicago-based Ethnic Heritage Ensemble just release Be Known: Ancient/Future/Music, a new album that stays true to the band’s legacy.

Order the album on Bandcamp.


Octavian

Endorphins

London-based rapper and producer Octavian is back with a new mixtape, Endorphins. Following his 2018 mixtape SPACEMAN, the 12-track project see him collaborate with heavyweights such as Smokepurpp, Skepta, Jessie Ware, A$AP Ferg and Theophilus London. The visuals for “Feel it”, the single featuring the later, has already been released as weel.

Stream it here


Dona Onete

Rebujo

Following the critical success of her 2017 album Banzeiro, ‘Queen of the Amazon’ Dona Onete returns with her third album Rebujo. With a poignant voice Onete channels high energy bangues as well as a cumbia, brega and samba. “Rebujo” is a local slang for the currents in the Amazon river that carry silt and nutrients from the river bed into the water, feeding its inhabitants and giving the river it’s muddy colour – however, as it gives, it also takes, and the rebujo can easily overpower even the most experienced swimmer.
Onete is now one of Brazil’s most in-demand touring artists with a packed schedule throughout Brazil and an increasing global profile that has seen her perform at some of the most respected international music festivals such as Roskilde, Womad, TFF Rudolstadt, Rainforest World Music, FMM Sines and Chicago World Music.

Listen to it here


Baloji
Kaniama: The Yellow Version

Following his album 137 Avenue Kaniama, Baloji just released a new mixtape Kaniama: The Yellow Version along with a self-directed video clip, Zombie. Both take us in a futuristic Kinshasa, between hope and distopy, where they question our relationship with technology. The mixtape features a revisited version of the former album in one hour-long track, following the narrative of the short, as well as two exclusive tracks “Spotlight & Miroir” (Feat. Marshall Dixon & Poison Mobutu) and “L’hiver Indien”featuring Gael Faye.

Read our interview with Baloji.

Stream and order the mixtape here.


Angel Bat Dawis
The Oracle 

Recorded using only her cell phone in various locations, from London UK to Cape Town RSA, Angel Bat Dawis debut album The Oracle has been created entirely by herself. She’s performing overdubbing & mixing all instruments & voices on her own.

Signed on the excellent Chicago’s label International Anthem, “The Oracle” is a vibrant free-jazz album exploring black experiences nowadays. The clarinettist, composer and vocalist Angel delivers a unique and spiritual album.

Listen:  Spotify / Deezer / Apple Music


Guts
Philantropiques 

French national, Ibiza resident and intrepid beach digger Guts, has readied here something very special indeed. Now five albums deep into his recording career, he’s built a loyal fanbase and following from his early days as a beatmaker. Guts’ initial spirit of sampling, sequencing and programming still remains but it has now morphed into something of a full-on musical opus.  

‘Philantropiques’ is an experimental yet sunny outing, comprising longer tracks that open up into carefully considered arrangements. A tropical afrobeat LP if you like. Afro trance, Brazilian jazz funk and frantic percussion are all explored over this 13 track offering. Lead singles ‘Kenke Corner’ and ‘Mucagiami’  step effortlessly between the dancefloor to ballad, the latter featuring a stunning vocal performance from Angolan vocalist, ‘Vum Vum’.

Listen:  Spotify / Deezer / Apple Music


Ahmedou Ahmed Lowla
Terrouzi

Terrouzi is a standout entry in synth music from the Sahara, a future vision of Mauritania WZN. Indulging the digital keyboard for all its plastic sounds, accompanied with the thump and clash of programmed electronic drums, Ahmedou’s style is difficult to place. Ahmedou Ahmed Lowla plays instrumental electronic keyboard in a style known in Mauritania as WZN, or in Arabic simply “music.” Born into a musical family tradition (his father is a renowned tidnit player from Traza), today Ahmedou Ahmed Lowla is one of Mauritania’s most premiere keyboard performers. With Terrouzi, Ahmedou leans heavily into outernational pop music, creating anachronistic pieces that veer from 90s slow jam R&B, to bass heavy boom bap and minimal trap.

Stream the album here.


Fokn Bois
Afrobeats LOL 

Ghanaian duo FOKN Bois are celebrated for their most unconventional way of entertaining with ingeniously tasteful shock lyrics, revolutionary performance art & indulgent progressive afro sounds.
Afrobeats LOL is a collaboration with the emergent Hip-Life Accra scene like Mr Eazi, Medikal, Sister Deborah, Dex Kwasi and also high-life icon Gyedu Blay Ambolley.

They like to disturb, as shown in their name, ‘Fokn Bois’ being an old slang for ‘little rascals’. The name of the album embodies the duo’s identity as well: it’s a witty gibe to those who tend to gather all African music underground the “afrobeats”catch-all genre

Listen: Spotify / Deezer / Apple Music


Puto Tito
Carregando A Vida Atrás Das Costas

Lisbon-based music collective Principe has done a lot for the local electro-kuduro scene, shaping what is now known as the “sound of Lisbon” and helping export the music from the suburbs, made by the African diaspora, to the world. They’re back with a new double EP made of tracks from young producer Puto Tito, salvaged from his old Soundcloud account. Composed when he was 14 years old, “this album is testament to the fierce, uncompromising vision of a bedroom producer learning his way with minimal resources and simultaneously laying down some of the most distinct music [they]’ve heard in years.”

Listen to Puto Tito in our Afro Club Exp. on Spotify and Deezer.

Order the album on Bandcamp.

Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba
Miri

Miri means “to think” in bambara. This new album, composed partly in his village of birth in his self-built home studio is a musical journey to his roots. The n’goni virtuoso delivers a very personal album, with a tribute song to his mother who passed away. Calm and powerful at the same time, the n’goni maestro tels in this album his concern about the situation in his country.

Listen:  Spotify / Deezer / Apple Music


Sauti Sol 
Afrikan Sauce 

Sauti Sol’s Afrikan Sauce LP as a collective of “lushly produced tracks fusing African music’s tendency towards electronic music with acoustics”.
The aforementioned group, a band of four, was formed in 2005 by the vocalists Bien – Aimé Baraza, Willis Chimano and Savara Mudigi. A guitarist, Polycarp Otieno, later joined what was previously a three man a cappella band. From the onset, it is clear that these men are artistes of a certain vision, whose egos or personal interests couldn’t get in the way of the best possible interpretation of that vision. From the beginning, Sauti Sol had been a collaborative effort.

Listen:  Spotify / Deezer / Apple Music


Spaza
Spaza

Mushroom Hour Half Hour sees itself as a space for experimentation pushing forward the effusive local jazz scene of Johannesburg. Spaza was recorded in one take in the garden of the SPAZA Art Gallery, by a never-before-assembled group of musicians from Johannesburg. This experimental, DIY approach is characteristic of the label’s vision. Drawing its name from South African informal neighbourhood stores, the LP is an ode to improvisation and DIY spirit, deeply rooted in South African culture.

Stream and order it on Bandcamp.


Simi
Omo Charlie Champagne Vol.1

Similola Ogunleye, Nigerian songstress better known as Simi, rolls out her 3rd studio album Omo Charlie Champagne, an album dedicated to her father. Omo Charlie Champagne follows Simisola, which went on to win the ‘Album of the Year’ award at the 2018 Headies. The album contains 15 tracks, four of which have been pre-released and features the likes of Adekunle Gold, Falz, Patoranking and Maleek Berry.

Listen: Apple Music / Spotify 


Various Artists 
Jambú e os míticos sons da amazônia

It took Analog Africa six years to elaborate their 28th compilation, Jambú e os míticos sons da amazônia. It tries to tell the story of Belém, the birthplace of a myriad of new musical genres, such as carimbó, samba-de-cacete and siriá. Being at the intersection of Amerindian cultures, Caribbean sounds and rhythms as well as from Colombia, Surinam and Guyana, the Belém was also known as the “Caribbean Port”. Just as the Amazonian that gives its name, Jambú is an euphoric travel into Brazilian culture, with a long-lasting aftertaste.

Stream and order it on Bandcamp.


Falz
Moral Instruction

In the early hours of Tuesday, Nigerian rapper and pop star, Falz released his fourth studio album, Moral Instruction. Few days ago, he released a viral single, Talk and followed it up with the release of the art cover for Moral InstructionMoral Instruction is more than an album, it’s a movement, it’s a re-education, a re-orientation. It is us learning and unlearning some things… 
The album contains nine songs with guest appearances from Demmie Vee, Chillz and producer/friend Sess. To buttress the subjects in Moral Instruction, Falz sampled three of Fela’s songs in the album, he said, “it was a lot deciding whether to do the samples but I wanted the elements of the original Afrobeat, that was one of the main reasons I wanted us to sample and it was a lot of ‘wahala’ to clear the samples.

Listen:  Spotify / Deezer / Apple Music


IAMDDB
Swervvvvv.5

Urban jazz trailblazer IAMDDB releases her new album Swervvvvv.5 on Union IV recordings, the final installment of ongoing EP series. Born Diana Debrito, the 22-year-old from Manchester – via Portugal and Angola –combines timeless soul and jazz in the tradition of Nat King Cole and Erykah Badu.
Swervvvvv.5 goes from laid-back jazzy tracks fusing vocals with trap beats, in an overall cloudy and chill-out universe.

Listen: Spotify / Deezer / Apple Music


Theon Cross
Fyah

Tuba player and composer Theon Cross’s part of a thriving family network of young London-based musicians who have regularly supported one another in stretching and re-shaping the boundaries of the jazz genre. Having made a name for himself both as a member of the Mercury-nominated and award-winning quartet Sons of Kemet, Theon Cross returns with, Fyah, an impressive debut record who captures the sound of some of London’s most prominent trailblazers at the top of their game

It’s heavy, utilising the tuba in place of electronic basslines, whilst also making it a principle point of focus by merging the instrument’s traditional use with his own modern sensibilities. The album encapsulates the culture and influences that have surrounded Cross growing up in the city,incorporating elements of Caribbean music, hip-hop, grime, jazz, club and electronic music.

Listen:  Spotify / Deezer / Apple Music


YoungstaCPT
3T

South African rapper YoungstaCPT’s 3T is a 20-track long journey into the lives of Cape Coloured people. Colonialism, gangsterism, drug abuse and daily struggles of Coloured people are part of the topics he tackles in this project.

The songs are bound between eachother by CPT’s conversation with his grandfather, who details the history of Cape Coloured people, and gives his take on issues such as the apartheid and the current government’s corruption. The juxtaposition of these points of view depict an intriguing picture about the past and future of South Africa and its communities.

Listen: Spotify / Deezer / Apple Music


Charlotte Adigery
Zandoli

Born in Ghent, Belgium, Charlotte Adigery mixes traditional music from her martinican ancestors with a synthetic-electronic aesthetic, warmed-up by her soulful voice. She channels a blend of vivid story telling, catchy choruses and a quirky universe in this new EP. The understated dancefloor-filler “Paténipat” and the quirky pop ode to synthetic wigs “High Lights” attest to the artist’s versatility and talent.

Listen:  Spotify / Deezer / Apple Music 


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