Grandson of Kenyan independence music great Joseph Kamaru, KMRU chose neither benga nor gospel, but rather ambient. Composed in the fervor and joyous disorder of his American tour with Austrian electronic composer Fennesz, Epoch is the sound artist’s new album. Last April, the 3-track EP Limen in collaboration with Parisian Aho Ssan was darker. It evoked chaos, destruction, and resurrection. But while the world is going crazy, caught in a frantic rhythm, this opus invites you to slow down, to take time and to listen. The colors of this new solo project are much brighter. The nine tracks sound like an awakening. They call for silence, idleness, and appeasement. The producer’s recording techniques, such as field recording, plunge us into a contemplative meditation, in harmony with nature and its sounds.
Pretoria-born lyricist and Amapiano preacher Focalistic is back with a new sermon. Ghetto Gospel is the rapper’s fourth solo project, but the congregation is crowded. As always, the album is full of A-list guests such as DNB Gogo, Pabi Cooper, and even French rapper MHD. It also welcomes newer attendees, like the rising R&B gem Elaine. Ghetto Gospel gets a slower, solemn start with “Dipuo” (featuring Sjava and Herc Cut The Lights) but quickly goes off. By the time you get to the fifth track and single “Tabela Hape”, Kabza De Small, Mellow & Sleazy, Myztro and M.J put you in a trance. The pressure comes down on the spiritual “Bothloko”, but don’t go sit down now. Focalistic doesn’t disappoint in the second half of the album, with diverse productions and a wavy finale.
Heart Of The Heavenly Undeniable
Heart Of The Heavenly Undeniable is a surprising gem by Nigerian act Somadina. It’s punk, rock, alté, electro, rnb, pop, old school and futuristic all at the same time, and fits in a short but very complete 11-track project. Somadina manages to cohesively gather guests from different horizons on an impressively well-thought-out project. Naija’s highlife finest The Cavemen blend seamlessly with her sound on “Small Paradise”, also featuring alté innovator Odunsi (The Engine). And rising talent L0la offers quality bubblegum rock on “WDYWFM”. The opus is definitely risky and unconventional, but “Imagine Giving a Fuck” (the title of her feature with neo-soul vocalist Chi Virgo). Somadina obviously has a vision and a plan. The talent and range beaming from this EP is undeniable.
Recording at the heart of Ivory Coast in summer of 91, Kel Tinariwen (from the name of the desert inhabitants) is the Tinariwen band’s first album. Thirty years after its release, the group dusts off a project only transmitted from hand to hand, amidst the beautiful chaos of K7 exchanges in Northern Africa. Voicing Tuaregs’ hope and sufferings, the piece speaks for all the marginalized Berber people in the Sahara. The eight titles composing Kel Tinawiren recount, in French and Tamasheq, stories of fights and struggles led by an exiled population fleeing from armed conflicts. “À l’Histoire”, the first song on this now digital opus, is a hymn to resistance and resilience. These powerful messages are transmitted through call-and-answer chants, and sweet guitar notes resembling 80’s new wave.
Wau Wau Collectif
The unclassifiable union between Swedish producer Karl Jonas Winqvist and musicians from the Toubab Dialaw village in Senegal returns with a second album which expands on the theme explored in their debut.“I just think that education should be offered to all young children in an equal way. It shouldn’t just be young kids learning from old people. It can work the other way around, also.” Winqvist’s statement is made clear in the single “Xale” in which children are given the central role. The track is constructed with the children’s song, around which other supporting sounds are gradually introduced, first thumping hip-hop beats, then the guitar, then the synth’s keys, as if the players were learning from the children’s voices.
Straight out of Kenya, self-proclaimed “shrap god” Boutross delivers again with Mawingu, his sixth project in the span of four years. The prolific rapper never stops, but this time, it’s no 25-track long opus. Mawingu is 21 minutes. Enough to appreciate the lyricist’s charismatic voice, witty lyrics and versatility on bass-heavy, dark beats like “Wizo Man”, or more danceable, dancehall inspired tunes like “Can’t Wait”. Through the eight tracks, Boutross is self-assured, flaunting and a ladies-man. The album includes six features : Dope-I-Mean, viral act Trio Mio, Mandee on the bouncy “Rich Rich Man”, Juicee Man on the club-ready “Angela”, as well as Savage and Bee Vee on the sensual finisher “Dapa Dapa”.
More Love, Less Ego
After a year of teasing and waiting, Wizkid’s highly anticipated follow up to the already classic 2020 album Made In Lagos, is finally here. The Nigerian afrobeats icon came up with a foolproof formula, and More Love, Less Ego is up to par: smooth mid-tempo rhythms, rich, whine-ready melodies, witty, enticing lyrics and 6 guests. Starboy is all about love, love, and love. More Love, Less Ego gets sensual and sexual. Solo tracks like “Deep” and the single “Bad To Me” showcase Wizkid at his highest level of slow afrofusion. Tracks like “Slip N Slid” featuring Caribbean hit-makers Shenseea and Skilibeng explore more foreign sounds. Of course, Wizzy uses his secret ingredient, enlisting acclaimed producer P2J. The Nigerian beatmaker was already the main cook behind his Grammy nominated fourth album. He’s joined by Juls (“Special” feat Don Toliver), P.Priime (“P. Priime”), KDaGreat and Kel-P (“Balance”), and Sammy Soso (“Everyday”).
Soot El Share3
Last April, PAM released a film directed by Arthur Larie and Bastien Massa telling the story of young electronic producer Molotof and his life in Cairo following the Arab Spring. Since, he has not exactly slowed down. On the contrary, he has been riding the tide to expand his musical projects and build his artistic persona. After a prolific year and an album just last month (Gabal Ahmar), he now releases Soot El Share3, a Mahraganat project blending rap, dark electronic sounds and the echoes of Cairo’s busy streets. This opus is richer in features, including Shobra El General, Tamer Nafar, Karem Rush, Eyad Elkady, Sobeh El Fahd, Besh, The Synaptik and Cheen’s impressive vocals on “Mesahebni”.
Where I’m Meant To Be
Following their 2019 first album You Can’t Steal My Joy, the British quintet is back with a lively, refreshing project: Where I’m Meant To Be. “Everybody would think that I’m gonna be playing jazz like the Americans. No, I’m gonna be playing jazz my way,” says Nigerian jazz icon Tony Allen, quoted from an audio sample on the album. And Ezra Collective plays in its own unique style. The band, created by Gorillaz’s drummer Femi Koleoso, taps into an impressive diversity of sounds. Bossa-nova, afrobeats, hip-hop, reggae… The group’s jazz is eclectic, modern, and international, with guests like Sampa The Great, Kojey Radical, Emeli Sandé, and Nao’s fairy voice on the last title “Love In Outer Space”, référencing legendary musician Sun Ra.
“You have to keep rapping, just keep feeding them the rap. That’s why right now, I feel like if there’s a rap conversation, my name has to come up”. Since his rise in 2016, PsychoYP has indeed been feeding the people with high-quality rap. After three EPs, the first part of the three YPSZNs made it to every Nigerian rap aficionados’ playlist. With the follow-up YPSZN2, the Abuja rapper became a staple and a mandatory reference on the scene. In 2020, he explored Afrobeats with Apex Village (his label) signee Azanti on the Yp & Azanti, Vol.1 tape, followed by the album Euphoria in 2021. Now he’s back to the trilogy with YPSZN3. This new project is YP at his best: bass-heavy trap, killer verses, some drill-infused beats, and very diverse productions. YPSZN3 includes 11 features, including of course Odumodublvck and Azanti.