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5 albums to discover this week

Our week's selection includes Smallgod's collaborative project, Toxicated Keys's debut album, Ibeyi's bewitching return, Leyla McCalla's politically engaged work and Jess ETA's afro-pop infused album.

Connecting the Dots

Smallgod

Connecting the Dots is the newly released project of Ghanain artist Smallgod, featuring acts like Headie One, Darkoo, Stonebwoy, Major League DJz and EFYA. In it, Smallgod expands on his previous album Building Bridges released in 2021, along the same Afro-pop lines, trying to link different cultures together. As a true all-rounder, Smallgod has dabbled in many different fields, having worked as an artist manager, publisher and connector. He now tries to put this experience to good use by promoting the work of other African artists such as in “Falling” where he takes a backseat in the clip, allowing KiDi and Darkoo to shine. As such Connecting the Dots is above all, a collaborative project.

Listen here.

Thultwane to the World

Toxicated Keys

The young duo just dropped their debut EP entitled From Thultwane to the World, which was announced with the release of the single “Zaka Zaka” back in February. The two producers, Mokwele and Thaban Makhafola, aged respectively 17 and 19 years old, are from Mamelodi, a township in Pretoria. Their rough amapiano, a term which they themselves helped coin, combines the soulful ambience and warm layers of what usually constitute the genre with harder beats and darker bass lines. The title-track “Zaka Zaka” – ‘money, money’ in Tsotsitaal, is a blend of several South African languages, perfectly showcasing this new raw sub-genre and successfully fulfils its purpose: to get people dancing. A very promising group to follow closely.

Listen here.

Spell 31

Ibeyi

The Franco-Cuban duo Ibeyi just unveiled their latest album Spell 31 as bewitching as its name suggests. While managing to incorporate folk, r&b, electro, soul or jazz twists, the twin sisters continue to promote their ancestral culture through their track “Sisters II Sisters” in which features a very specific Yoruba rhythm. It is an ode to their sisterhood and their immutable complicity, perfectly showcased in the clip. The rest of the album is culturally transcendent as well. In it, the daughters of Cuban percussionist Anga Diaz (member of Buena Vista Social Club) engage against racism and other contemporary issues in English, Spanish, Yoruba and in French throughout the album.

Listen here.

Breaking the Thermometer

Leyla McCalla

Haitian-American singer-songwriter Leyla McCalla just released her latest politically engaged project entitled Breaking the Thermometer. The album’s name is derived from a Haitain proverb which was used to describe the spirit of Haiti’s marginalized poor in the face of violence and political oppression. It was coined by Jean Dominique, the owner of Radio Haiti-Inter, Haiti’s first privately owned Creole-speaking radio station. He was assassinated in 2000 and his murder remains unsolved. McCalla used audio archives from Radio Haiti-Inter mixed with her composition of traditional Haitian songs. 

Listen here.

Playing with Fire

Jess ETA

Abuja-based Nigerian singer Jess ETA, aka The Architect, releases his second album Playing with Fire, two years after the release of Balance. His new afro-pop infused project features fellow Nigerian artists including Buju, Azanti, Gemini Major and Psycho YP who plays a major role in the track “Paralysed”. Having won the Audiomack x Afrochella Rising Star Challenge back in 2021 thanks to his hit single “Body in fire”, Jess ETA, who described himself as a “afro and R&B fruit mix,” seems to have risen past his emerging artist status, since his “Aphrodite” debut, to become an essential player of the Nigerian afro-beats scene. 

Listen here.

This week we also listened to:

  • African Lullabies Part 2 by Various Artists
  • Monologues by Ogi
  • Tichazomuona by Dumisani Maraire
  • La Ñapa by The Bongo Hop
  • Outlaw by Victony
  • PI$TOL POP by Money Badoo
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