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5 albums to discover this week

This week, Mahalia explores the complex nature of people's relationships with their exes, the Buruklyn Boyz's change of repertoire, Kwaku DMC tries on a minimalist approach to drill, Shabaka guides us through a meditation and Alune Wade recounts the sultan's life.

Letter to Ur Ex

Mahalia

The British singer of Jamaican descent unveils a new 5-track EP in which she explores the complex nature of people’s relationships with former partners. Mahalia shares her ambivalent feelings on Letter to Ur Ex using her deeply-moving voice to convey her heart wrenching message. A deeply personal work as Mahalia said about her latest EP : “I wrote ‘Letter To Ur Ex’ the morning after me and my guy had had a really bad argument due to a text that had been sent by his ex partner the night before.”. In it, the singer from Leicestershire makes good use of soft and sweet melodies with discreet guitar riffs to highlight her powerful singing ability. Letter To Ur Ex stays faithful to the artist’s previous work with the same R&B soul inspired tracks to listen to when you’re feeling a little melancholic.

Listen here.

EAST MPAKA LONDON

Buruklyn Boyz

Kenya’s Buruklyn Boyz show a softer side to their drill up-shot on EAST MPAKA LONDON. Mpaka is the name of a street that cuts through the Buruburu estate where the Buruklyn Boyz made their come-up. Tracks like “CONFESSION” (everything all caps) have the gnarly drill undertone, but much of the project takes a smoother, r&b inspired melody like on “NISKIZE” with r&b singer Maya Amola or “NOTHING BUT LOVE”. The 16 tracks play through with a single concept and can often blend together, a sign of a well-established universe and worthy accomplishment for a rap debut. Now it will be up to the leaders of the drill and rap scene in Kenya to continue to guide its future, whether it’s the heavy bass and gang signs inspired from the UK, or the sensitive and groovy wave of r&b, we’ll be looking the the Burukulyn Boyz to see what’s next.  

Listen here, here and here.

Road to the Jungle

Kwaku DMC

One of Kumerica’s originals, Kwaku DMC just dropped his third album moving from the Trap House to the Jungle. Taking a minimalist approach to the drill aesthetic and letting the music rely on his voice and flow, Kwaku has trailblazed his own brand of Asakaa, earning him a wave of local support as a standout figure of the burgeoning scene. Road to the Jungle features fellow Kumerica compatriots including O’kenneth and Reggie on “Agree” where the gang cries “Asakaa” on the spacey opener. There are also some newcomers on “Allah” where Kwaku gives the mic to Xzone, Thywill and Maswud JR who have yet to appear on streaming platforms. Known for breaking Kumerica artists, Road to the Jungle is a testament to Kwaku DMC’s own skill and determination as one of Ghana’s lead rappers.

Listen here.

Afrikan Culture

Shabaka

Shabaka Hutchings returns with a new solo EP entitled Afrikan Culture. It is quite a departure from what the artist has been known to produce with the Sons of Kemet or with Shabaka and the Ancestors but this EP still has the same distinct feel peculiar to the British virtuoso. A qualifying term not easily given but which perfectly suits Shabaka who plays all the instruments in this EP, including traditional African ones such as the mbira and the kora. Dilip Harris used his skills as producer and mix engineer to help the artist in his endeavours as well. Afrikan Culture was composed, as the title song “Black meditation” suggests, to serve as an accompanying sound for meditation. It feels otherworldly with the ethereal tinkling sounds and the diaphanous shakuhachi flute noticeable throughout the whole record in which Shabaka explores “a new technique of creating”. “I’ve been experimenting with layering many flutes together to create a forest of sound where melodies and rhythms float in space and emerge in glimpses”, he explains. 

Listen here.

Sultan

Alune Wade

Senegalese bass player Alune Wade just released his fifth album entitled Sultan. In it, he revisits his journey as a travelling musician with his futuristic afro-jazz touch. “Brazilians, New Yorkers, North Africans, Ethiopians, Cubans, French, Austrians… I’ve met many people. The further you go, the more you grow musically. All those I met, all that I listened to fed my reflection,”Alune Wade told PAM. Indeed, the artist placed a lot of importance on having many of his former collaborators featured in this album including Cuban pianist Harold Lopez-Nussa, Moroccan singer Aziz Sahmaoui, the Americains Lenny White et Bobby Ray Sparks, the Tunisian singer Mounir Troudi and the Mauritanian singer Noura Mint Seymali. “This record is ultimately the sum of all the experiences I’ve had over the last ten years”, the artist says to explain why he used the figure of the sultan : “This sultan is a man who travels with his knowledge, his family, his experience…

Listen here.

This week we also listened to:

  • Transitions by Faizal Mostrixx
  • Gnawa Soul by Moktar Gania
  • Obi Baa Wiase by A.B. Crentsil’s Ahenfo Band
  • Hermeto (1970) by Hermeto Pascoal
  • Different by Studio Bros
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