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The Pan African Music Magazine
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5 albums to discover this week

Our week's selection includes Malian diva Oumou Sangaré's fusion album, Pierre Kwenders' hommage to Papa Wemba, KMRU & Aho Ssan reveal an explosive album, Congolese rumba is revisited under an experimental rock lens and Okmalumkoolkat takes a hip-hop detour from gqom.


Oumou Sangaré

Malian diva Oumou Sangaré just released Timbuktu, her thirteenth album to add to her already impressive discography. The LP is imbued with different cultures, having been recorded between France, the United States and Mali. It is therefore no wonder that her new project is a mix of different genres, blues, folk, rock and traditional Malian music. The pop-infused single “Sarama” is a great example. Released for the album announcement, it mixes the warm voice of the icon with kamele n’goni (typical Malian lute), djembe and blues guitar. The themes explored are reminiscent of her debut album Moussolou (her thoughts on her country, the mysteries of existence, and the condition of African women). “I put my life into this record – this life in which I knew hunger, the humiliation of poverty and fear, and from which I now draw glory.”

Listen here.

José Louis and The Paradox of Love

Pierre Kwenders

PAM had already written about one of the tracks on Pierre Kwenders’ new album, “Papa Wemba”. As the name suggests, the track is a tribute by the co-founder of the Montreal collective Moonshine to the great Congolese rumba figure. Having been surrounded with the legend’s music during his childhood in Kinshasa, Pierre Kwenders wanted to dedicate this track to him. A rather personal take from the Afro-futurist, it didn’t prevent him from making it a collaborative project. He invited the Zimbabwean multi-instrumentalist Tendai Maraire, with whom the artist is accustomed to working with, as well as the Portuguese DJ Branko from Buraka som Sistema, the American-Canadian Win Butler (Arcade Fire), the Haitian DJ Michael Brun (known for his collaboration with J Balvin on “Positivo”) and the American DJ Uproot Andy (Poirier), amongst others.

Listen here.


KMRU & Aho Ssan

KMRU was the focus of one of PAM’s recent articles, grandson of the Kenyan folk titan of the same name, who has taken over the Nairobi ambient scene has teamed up with electro composer Niamké Désiré, aka Aho Ssan, under the impetus of Berlin Atonal where they have been invited for the 2021 edition of the festival (Metabolic Rift). The title “Resurgence” is the direct result of this commission. The sound is more explosive and saturated than KMRU’s usual work. A sentiment shared by Aho Ssan, who says he has “never made something so extreme“. Limen has the same post-apocalyptic intensity as its album cover.

Listen here.

Where’s the One

Congotronics International

Where’s the One is the result of a unique collaboration between legendary Congolese bands Konono N°1, Kasai Allstars and nine musicians from the experimental rock scene – Deerhoof, Juana Molina, Wildbirds & Peacedrums and Matthew Mehlan (Skeletons). A PAM favourite is the track “Banza Banza”. In it, Congotronics International revisits Congolese rumba with a proto-punk touch. It is a strangely well-suited mix that sees ten singers, five guitarists, three likembe players, two bassists and three drummers – who were originally brought together in 2011 for the Congotronics vs. Rockers tour – combining the electrified traditional music of the Congolese artists with the experimental avant-rock styles of their Western compatriots.

Listen here.

uShukela eTiyeni


Gqom master Okmalumkoolkat takes a hip-hop detour with new album uShukela eTiyeni trying to reconcile the older generations with the new. “I have people who are in their late forties who listen to my stuff, but I also have teens and 20-year-olds bumping my music. That’s also where my stage name comes from. I’m always in the middle of two generations—like a cool uncle”, he explains. “Hip-hop detour” is a bit reductive however, as always, Okmalumkoolkat mixes a varied list of divergent sounds: kwaito, gqom, trap, chillwave and amapiano…

Listen here.

This week we also listened to:

  • Ibtihalat by Safa
  • Stay True Sounds vol.4 by Kid Fonque
  • Cape Town Radio 2 by KashCPT
  • Umlando EP by 9umba, Toss & Mdoovar
  • WEMA by WEMA (Penya, Msafiri Zawose, Photay)
  • Jazz is Dead Vol.11 by Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad
  • April Showers by Tobi Lou
  • The Chronicles of a Caterpillar: The Egg by V.C.R