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9 albums you should listen to this week

This week, Nigeria’s DJ Neptune brings together an allstar cast on Greatness 2.0 (see interview), Irish-Zambian rapper Denise Chaila blends a poetic sensitivity with stoic activism, and R2Bees go Back to Basics for a wild tour of juju highlife, hip hop, and electronica. We also have two new deluxe edititions from Blaqbonez with Sex Over Love and L.A.X’s ZaZa Vibes. Finally, a new project from South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, Egyptian rock pioneer Omar Khorshid, Danitsa’s followup to Ego, and Daedelus & Joshua Idehen’s mechanoid lamentations.

Greatness 2.0

DJ Neptune

Greatness 2.0 clocks in at 27 features, some names familiar and some new. Mr Eazi, Yemi Alade, and Patoranking are among those back for another taste of greatness. However, this project has gone further to include new collaborators, notably South African amapiano mainstay Focalistic.

PAM spoke with DJ Neptune for the album release who had this to say, “There’s amapiano vibe for the South African audience, there’s ‘Gaza’ for the Ghana dancehall audience, there’s ‘Cash’ for the Drill Kumerica market, and then there’s afrobeats for the afrobeats audience. And I also had my brother (Harmonize) from Tanzania on ‘My Woman’ for the East African market.

In short, there’s something for everyone, whether it’s Mr Eazi’s love ballad on “Do and Undo” or the hip hop rewind on “Rise Up” with Laycon, Waje, and Ladipoe. Greatness 2.0 is a perfect looking glass into Nigerian pop, and the rising African music tastemakers.

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It’s a Mixtape

Denise Chaila

Denise Chaila is back with a 5 track “Mixtape” that’s a hard slap for the artist-activist. Leading off with “061” where Chaila raps, “you came to the 061, we’ll show you how to get things done,” the track goes on to encourage listeners to write their MP and clears “arians out of your area” with a ruthless flow. This combination of politically conscious lyrics and bossy bars blooms in this latest project, though we find space to breathe the poetic and spoken word background of the artist in “I A M (Interlude)” that weaves in affirmations from a variety of tunneled out voices. “I will not be insecure because you are not comfortable with my confidence,” is one of the stronger takeaways from the bold and brash project. “Energy” is also a touching ode to Denise’s mother performed for the PAM team before our interview at Pitchfork Paris (feature coming soon).

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Back to Basics

R2Bees

R2Bees, made up of Omar Sterling and Mugeez, are a Ghanian hip hop duo who have been making music since 2007. They’ve shared the scene with figures like WizKid, DaVido, and Wande Coal among others and now they’re out with a 15 track album that invites Mr Eazi, WizKid, Joeboy, King Promise to execute a sweet melange of juju highlife and afrobeats hip hop. The project is full of feel good energy and desire, but stands out on tracks like “Get Get No Dey Want” or “Odo Nti” where the duo test new production terrain peeking their head into electronic music. “Sure Banker” is a seamless blend of highlife and amapiano that we have yet to see, and the heavy bars laid on top make for a totally original reinterpretation of both genres. Finally, “Formation” with DarkoVibes is a perfect afrobeats dance floor bounce. Back 2 Basics is a worthy listen A to Z.

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ZaZa Vibes (Extended)

L.AX.

Nigerian singer, songwriter and recording artist L.A.X comes around with a deluxe version of ZaZa Vibes almost a year after its initial release. The album, now a mainstay for Nigerian pop, with tracks like “Commando”, “Sempe”, and “Go Low”, all massive hits that have been spinning since last summer, is a testament to L.A.X’s keen hit-making sensibilities. The extended deluxe invites new titans to the fray including Mr Eazi, Simi, and Tiwa Savage to reinterpret some of the album’s most contagious tracks. We also get a brand new cut “Ayaya” feat. Bella Shmurda that is sure to make a similar impact. Overall the deluxe is a welcome revisitation to a classic album of 2020.

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Sex Over Love Deluxe

Blaqbonez

Sex Over Love, Blaqbonez’s latest album, was a creative pivot from the heavy battle raps that defined his come-up. Instead, he sought to redefine his style to accommodate a larger audience, with big ambitions for superstardom. “I’ve made a decision that it’s always best to evolve rather than try to please the same people. At the end of the day, nobody wants to keep hearing the same exact song over and over”, he told PAM in an interview. Nigerian music’s official bad boy now releases five new tracks in a deluxe version of his recent album.

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Solotude

Abdullah Ibrahim

Following his critically acclaimed 2019 record The Balance, the legendary South African pianist and composer now returns with Solotude, an album recorded at his latest concert at Hirzinger Hall, Germany. Due to lockdown restrictions at the time of recording, Ibrahim decided to record a solo piano performance instead of the annual concert that he normally plays to celebrate his birthday. On this new album, he explores modern jazz styles, reinterpreting well-loved songs and recent album tracks, as well as some new compositions such as “In-Tempo,” “Once Upon A Midnight,” and “Signal On A Hill.”

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Giant + Guitar LP reissued

Omar Khorshid

Born in 1945 in Cairo, Omar Khorshid pioneered an Egyptian brand of rock in the 1970s, a sound full of musical experiments, particularly when it came to the guitar. Following the reissue of his mythical album With Love last February, Wewantsounds now turns to Giant + Guitar. Recorded by renowned Lebanese sound engineer Nabil Moumtaz, the album features the sound of Khorshid’s unique electric guitar playing mixed with Arabic melodies over beautifully psychedelic arrangements.

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SYCLE

Danitsa

Of Congolese, Chadian, Serbian, Spanish and French descent, Danitsa’s music is an explosive blend of her different cultures and influences. Four years after the release of her first album Ego, critically acclaimed, she releases todat her new album SYCLE on the Island Records label. SYCLE is “an immersion in Danitsa’s artistic world and a synthesis of these last four years of experience, between international tour and travel”. With this new project, the singer showcases how she has found herself artistically, to offer us a mature and accomplished set of songs.

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Holy Water Over Sons

Daedelus & Joshua Idehen

Having collaborated with Madlib and sampled by Drake, Daedelus is a pre-eminent and influential beat creator, joined here by rising poet Joshua Idehen. On Holy Water Over Sons, powerful yet vulnerable poems contemplating life as a black man are accompanied by otherworldly, future electronics. Its eight tracks of minimal mechanoid lamentation and ethereal electro-blues pulsate under meditations of race, depression, identity and grief. “We are living in a dark timeline”, Joshua says. “It felt dishonest not to speak on what I was feeling, watching everything unfold in the UK and US at the time.”

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