Nigeria is currently shining on the world music scene thanks to the talent of its artists, but we mustn’t forget that the country’s musical heritage is much older. And this month, Soundway Records is making sure this heritage is remembered with the release of Ayo Manuel’s 1983-1990 compilation. The artist, a pioneer of Nigerian DIY, composed large parts of his albums on his own. Soundway has selected and compiled sounds from his albums Love Candidate and Party Time, a fine way of seeing the evolution of Ayo Manuel’s work. From a very disco-funk, synthesizer-laden starting point to a more balanced, afropop finale, a pleasant mix of 90s productions talking drums. Each sound on the compilation has its own identity, such as “Gboro Mi Ro”, which is closer to Fela Kuti‘s Afrobeat tones, and “Sojourn (Ajo)”, reminiscent of American productions but retaining the spirit of Nigerian rhythms. An album that brings us back into the turbulent world of one of Nigeria’s leading artists.
ALÊM DO FIM
Angola’s rap most powerful voices return with their second album, ALÊM DO FIM. A little over a year after FUNJADA, SÉKETXE are back to make their mark on rap. And the 6 members of the group (Murtalha, Djamberão, Rasgdo, Layfado, Black Kokaina, Banzelo) have not lost an ounce of talent. The energy that has characterized them since the start of their career persists, and the group has no hesitation in venturing into less well-trodden musical terrain. The Luanda-based rappers had already given a glimpse of their melodic talent on sounds like “NGASSAKADILA”, and they go one step further on “MUITO OBRiGADO”, with its danceable production and sung chorus. But if ALÊM DO FIM leaves its mark on the mind, it’s above all for the group’s flows: no two sounds are alike, and each new track offers us a new vision of this group, which has not finished making a name for itself.
À table !
The meal is served, and it’s the Haitian rapper who invites us to it with his feverish album À table !. More than a year after his Ekstrateres project, MechansT makes his comeback, and it’s fair to say he’s pulled out all the stops. Equally at home rapping and singing, À table ! alternates between calm, danceable and darker moods. The rapper proves that he can handle a trap instrumental as well as a zouk production with “Sa’w Tap Fè? and “Apa’w Tounen Gangster?”. This musicality is not uncommon in Haitian hip-hop, but MechansT stands out with the addition of particularly powerful backing vocals on tracks such as “Pa kriye” and “Nou VIe VIV”. And even if the artist is a true Swiss army knife of krèyol rap, he invites other big names from the Haitian scene such as Roody Roodboy. An aural feast that immerses you in a rising hip-hop scene.
Itamar Klüger takes us back in time with the unpredictable Five Seasons. The artist composed the album over the course of the seasons, and each track captures the energy of the season in which it was born. A successful first solo album for the leader of the band the Şatellites. Funk and rock intermingle while sailing through an extremely broad sonic universe. Levantine dabke music meets Persian wedding bandari, Turkish folk is not left out, and there’s still room for an ounce of afrobeats, a dash of Saharan blues and a zest of indie rock. Five Seasons is a vast field of experimentation that carries with it the direct soul of the time in which it was born. The project takes listeners from the crowded streets of Jaffa to the desert dunes, without forgetting to stray into Jamaica. An album filled with sublime nostalgia.
Immy Owusu takes us on a dive into his Ghanaian roots with the vibrant Lo-Life!. In a style the artist has named “Afrodelik” – to encompass his Afro sounds and psychedelic rock rhythms – he revisits Ghanaian highlife and palm wine. A fusion in the image of the singer, who grew up with rock in Australia but comes from an illustrious family of Ghanaian artists, notably his grandfather Koo Nimo, a great name in highlife. The result of this union is the album Lo-Life!, which Immy sprinkles with an ounce of Afrobeats to create this sonic jewel. He is accompanied by musicians from Surprise Chef, Karate Boogaloo and The Senegambian Jazz Band. A psychedelic, lo-fi ode to highlife, carried by Immy’s twi lyrics that will make you reach elevation.
Marzipan (Habibi Funk 023)
Journey to the heart of Beirut with Charif Megarbane and his album Marzipan. Released under the Habibi Funk label banner, it marks the first contemporary album release for the label specializing in the reissue of albums from the Maghreb and the Middle East. A groovy journey in a style Megarbane calls “Lebrary”, a contraction of Lebanon and library music, the kind of background music composed to accompany films, documentaries and broadcasts. Charif Megarbane has thus composed an album with the air of a sunny soundtrack. A delicious oriental funk guided by the tide of instruments on the album, which accompany each other to perfection without any of them overpowering the others. With Marzipan, the Lebanese artist creates a contemplative, contemporary album without abandoning the “habibi” side that has made the Berlin label’s reputation.
The rapper comes back with Osapa London, an 8-track project. In it, PyschoYP explores popular musical genres such as amapiano, afrobeats and dancehall, without losing the musical identity of his rap. A more than successful attempt to reach the general public. The project is also supported by a top-notch cast, with Odmodublvck, Teni and Laime bringing a freshness to PsychoYP’s verses. This alchemy is felt throughout the EP, with the saxophones and juju ambience of “AnyGaddamnTime” guaranteed to get your hips moving, the dose of emotion provided by “Stand Attention”, and “This Country” opening the album and setting the scene. Osapa London is complete in sound, and that’s certainly what makes it so easy for everyone to find their way around.
PANICO NO SUBMUNDO
What if Brazilian baile funk met horrorcore? Two seemingly opposing worlds that DJ K proposes to unite on his evocatively titled new album PANICO NO SUBMUNDO (Panic in the Underworld). DJ K pushes “Bruxaria” – a genre born of baile funk with a darker ambience and saturated drums and synths – to the limit by infusing it with horrorcore. The meeting of Brazilian dance rhythms and the soundtrack to the film Halloween. An album that could be that of the apocalypse, with its thundering alarms, pounding bass punctuations and rhythms distorting as you listen. An energy not unlike that of the phonk that has been reviving on social networks for some time now. PANICO NO SUBMUNDO is a gigantic, organized chaos, a sonic madness filled with details that, contrary to what one might think, are meticulously arranged.
Tony Allen JID018
The Jazz is Dead label, founded by Ali Shaheed Muhammad (member of the jazz group A Tribe Called Quest) and producer Adrian Younge, continues to restore jazz to its former glory. For the release of this 18th installment, the late, great Tony Allen takes center stage. The artist, renowned for his talent as drummer in Fela Kuti’s group Africa 70, visited the Jazz is Dead studios to record this new opus. The result? An album imbued with that unmistakable sound that helped lay the foundations of Afrobeat. Tony Allen moves between jazz and funk, afrobeat and Nigerian highlife, with an energy that seems to revive the emblematic sounds of Africa 70. The artist is on bass, electric guitar, keyboard and marimba, all that was missing was brass, flute and organ, and here’s the full recording! Jazz is Dead takes us on a psychedelic journey into the Yoruba realm. A powerful project that contributes to the legacy left by one of the world’s greatest drummers. One thing is certain: Tony Allen has left a lasting mark on the world of music, and will continue to influence musicians the world over.
When The Dust Settles
Balimaya Project made that floating moment before change palpable, that apnoea before entering the water, on the moving When The Dust Settles. PAM has been following this collective for a long time, with their music rooted in Mandingo culture and English jazz. This new album is a fine continuation of Wolo So, a musical harmony that explores ever-changing terrain. The drums call, the saxophones answer and the kora intertwines in this ensemble. Led by Yahael Camara Onono, the collective welcomes the voices of Afronaut Zu, Obongjayar and Fassara Sacko for an album that has already made its mark on the year. The emotion is present from the first track to the last, the rhythm is West African, the energy is English. Take a seat and savor When The Dust Settles.