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5 albums to discover this week

This week, Phelimuncasi stings like a bee, Obongjayar reflects deep, Bachir Attar leads a Jajouka trance, Kendrick Lamar makes his return and Groundation provides a reggae staple.

Ama Gogela

Phelimuncasi

Socially-aware trio Phelimuncasi stays true to their debut album 2013 -2019 which took the gqom scene by storm thanks to their nervous style which combines the dark house music inspired by kwaito with the toyi-toyi. As a reminder, toyi-toyi is a powerful dance accompanied by protest singing that was used during anti-apartheid demonstrations to intimidate police and security forces. Indeed, Ama Gogela – the title making reference to a ferocious South African bee – has been designed to leave you restless, just like after having been stung by the insect. It is imbued with the same distinctive energy which made the success of their first album and that draws on South Africa’s ancient theatrical and storytelling traditions. The album also features an impressive range of diverse talents with the return of DJ MP3 and DJ Scoturn, already present in their first album, with the addition of locals DJ Nhlekzin, DJ Ndakx, amongst others. They all give credence to the dynamism of Durban’s globally prestigious gqom scene.

Listen here.

Some Nights I Dream of Doors

Obongjayar

Obongjayar explores coming of age in his debut album entitled Some Nights I Dream of Doors. In it, the Nigerian-born artist based in London dwells on coming to terms with his family’s expectation and his own limitations as an adult, understanding his childhood dreams are not sensible. He delves into other themes as well such as the self-centeredness of our politicians. A full length-album with afrobeats, hip-hop and soul influences in line with his previous project, Which Way is Forward?, in which Obongjayar questioned his own identity and position in the art world. The track “Try”, which was unveiled back in February, showcases the surreal universe of Obongjayar, dressed as a sort of neo-African viking, to serve as a backdrop to his elaborate lyrics and musical qualities.

Listen here.

Dancing Under the Moon

The Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar

The Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar are releasing a deeply hypnotic and intense album entitled Dancing Under the Moon. Recorded in 2019 in the Rif mountains, it contains nine tracks, most of which exceed the 10 minutes mark, that captures the varied style of their ancestral village, Jajouka where the legendary musicians came to be known. It is indeed in the Jebala foothills of Northern Morocco that this community of Sufi trance makers find their roots within the Ahl Serif tribe. They have made their mission to spread Jajouka’s musical tradition, the origins of which dates back one thousand years. This album is the band’s latest testament to the mystic enchantment and spiritual worth of Jajouka.

Listen here.

Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

Kendrick Lamar

Highly anticipated, the new album of Kendrick Lamar is finally there. The track “The Heart Part 5” and the deep-fake clip only acted as a foretaste for Mr. Morale and The Big Steppers. In it, the Campton-born rapper dwells on many social issues such as racism and poverty. It is split in two volumes of nine tracks each. There are big expectations for this latest installation which follows Kendrick’s previous album, the Pulitzer-winning Damn. It features many A-listers including Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, Summer Walker, Ghostface Killah, Thundercat, Baby Keem, Sampha and producers such as Pharrell, Duval Timothy, the Alchemist, Beach Noise, Boi-1da, Sounwave, Dahi, FNZ, J.LBS and Bekon. It will probably be highly scrutinised in the following days…

Listen here.

One Rock

Groundation

A true milestone as Groundation’s tenth album, One Rock, sees the return of the reggae band. It contains nine tracks with intricate arrangements and moving melodies in which the band continues to to evolve their music and legacy. This new album features other reggae staples such as the trios Israel Vibration and the Abyssinians, both featured in the track “Original Riddim”, along with the Congos, featured in the eponymous track “One Rock”. A pure reggae product that will most probably delight the genre’s aficionados.

Listen here.

This week we also listened to:

  • Finish the Sun by Shane Cooper
  • Brasil Novo by Various Artists
  • Kabar jako by Kabar jako
  • Stay High by Yanis Odua
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