Ish Kevin feat. YCee – “Clout”
Rwanda and Nigeria
We talked about him a few weeks ago, Ish Kevin is the King of drill back in Rwanda where he made a name for himself as one of Africa’s best rappers. The title “Clout” which features afrobeats Nigerian star YCee is taken from his excellent Trappish II. In the song, both artists denounce the need to run after fame, exacerbated by social networks, and its effects on the youth. From the first shot, we have the usual codes of hip hop music videos, with focus on the band outside and inside a car, and motocross footage. You can recognize several rappers from the Loud Sound crew including Kenny K Shot, Logan Joe, OG2Tone and Trozzoe Nonety Six, all Rwandan artists you absolutely need to know. These scenes shot in Kimironho and Gikondo Rebero, two neighbourhoods in Kigali exude great power. For the footage with YCee, shot in Nyamata in the country’s south-east, Ish Kevin chose to highlight his country’s culture. We see the Nigerian singer surrounded by Intore warrior-dancers, easily recognizable by their spears and mane-like headgears. Ycee wears clothes from the Moshions, a Rwandan high fashion brand founded by designer Moses Turahirwa, often quoted in the lyrics of local rappers. Ycee’s sweater features two figures that sport the amasunzu, Rwandan hair art.
Black Sherif – “Kweku The Traveller”
Since the release of “First Sermon” and “Second Sermon” in 2021, the Ghanaian rapper based in Konongo, east of Kumasi, the Ashanti part of the country, has experienced an extraordinary rise to fame and has now embarked in a string of international collaborations. Last February, a remix of “Second Sermon” with the Nigerian Burna Boy was unveiled, as well as a featuring with Nigerian rapper Darkoo “Always”. Also nicknamed “Blacko ” in Ghana and Nigeria, his talent also appeals to artists beyond the continent’s borders, such as the British ArrDee who came to Lagos to record a remix of his hit “Come & Go”. But the 20-year-old Ghanaian rapper has also been working on his solo catalog. At the end of March, he dropped “Kweku The Traveller” in which he looked back on his journey, his success but also the mistakes along the way he might have made (“Of course, I fucked up. Who never fuck up? Hands in the air, no hand?”), both in English and in Twi. The music video for this new track was released in May and was directed by the Ghanain David Nicole-Sey, who was also the one behind “I Like It” and “Fancy” with the singer Amaarae. The different scenes (press conference, a ritual with some women, a chase with the police) are filled with symbols and could be the object of several interpretations.
Lomerica Gang – “Molédjafor”
This past year, all eyes have been turned on Kumasi, Ghana and its drill scene but Togo is worth the detour as well. Local drillers led by Folidjanta, Beatpovelo and Conii Gangster are making noise in Lomé. Not unlike the Lomerica Gang with the irresistible banger “Mouledjafor”, released last April. The band formed by Lil Kopp and Yara Boy, both Agbavi natives, were later joined by Junior Pharelle, from Avepozo. Onspired by the American rap crew Migos, the Ghanaian drill influence is easily noticeable in the gimmicks and in the voiced tone. The name comes from the contraction of “Lomé” with “America” which evokes the nickname “Kumerica” given to the city of Kumasi. In the title “Moulédjafor”, which in Mina means “something hot”, is a way for the trio to tell the world they are here to have fun. Given the power of the track, we’re inclined to believe them. The music video was shot in different Lomé neighbourhoods: Avepozo, Hédzranawoé and Caisse.
Dimoh Hady – “Tchoula”
Republic of Guinea
Moving on to Canakry, Guinea, to meet Dimoh Hady, a member of the Gnamakalah trio. His band, currently on a hiatus, was formed back in 2013 in Sangaredi, in the country’s north-east. It has been ruling the Guinean rap scene these past years. Now 27, Dimoh Hardy is launching his solo career with the title “Tchoula”, a drill track he and beatmaker Joker wrote, in which blafon and drum samples can be heard. “Tchoula is an idiom in pulaar which refers to a black ant that protects the big African forests, and which are known for their cunningness and their attack ability”, explains the rapper. “I decided to pay tribute to them to express my skill in the scene and to allude to my fans’ determination who are ready to teach some lessons to all of those who might decide to attack me”. A bit of trivia, the night time scenes shot with the crowd in the music video have blocked the traffic in Kipé Centre Emetteur Commune in Conakry. Then, it is worth mentioning that the colour blue present throughout the video, in Dimoh Hady’s outfits, is a tribute to the brotherhood he has recently joined. The dancers that appear in the video are part of the Pokémon Gnakry company. Finally, Thiird, one of the members of Gnamakalah, has recently released his own excellent single “Journal”.
This past month of Senegalese rap have also been marked by the release of the music video “Califat” by king Dip DoundouGuiss, but PAM has chosen to showcase the young, up and coming and socially involved rapper. Magui is 25 years old and she is from Yeumbeul, located in the suburbs of Dakar. In 2021, she released a series of tracks including “Guiss Mbaax” which means “menstruation” in Wolof, through which she chose to speak about women’s emotional feelings during their periods. It’s a way to spread awareness around the subject matter considered taboo and impure in Senegalese society. In the series, the artist also speaks about rape, conflict between generations and the obstacles young women must face to succeed. In this new series “Classroom”, Magui returns to her roots as she discovered the rap scene back in 2016 with her classmates as they did freestyles during breaks. Each music video, shot in a classroom, sees some of the new hip hop Senegalese generation discuss social issues. The third episode, released back in May, entitled “Porta potty” is a reference to a recent scandal about prostitution in Dubaï. It condemns how certains men take advantage of their power to abuse women. On this occasion, Magui called on Gun Mor and Wizaby, two Flow UP winners, one of the biggest jumping start to the Senegalese hip hop scene in which she was a finalist in 2021.
SilversTone Barz – “Doin It Major” feat. Buruklyn Boyz
We have often told you but the Nairobi scene is one of the most exciting there is. Spearheaded by the Buruklyn Boyz who recently dropped their much awaited East Mpaka London on May 20th. One of the most notable tracks is “Last Air Bender” which features the rappers SilversTone Barz and Big Yasa, aka the best of the best in this new Kenyan hip hop scene. A few days before, SilversTone Barz had released “Doin It Major” which also featured the Buruklyn Boyz. Here, we’re dealing with a banger. SilversTone Barz’ English stanzas and those in Sheng, Niarobi slang derived from swahili, by Ajay and Mr.Right, flow one after the other and surge in our ears. In the music video, the underwater scenes illustrate Barz’s line about the power of her flow (“heavy ocean flow, you know it’s wavy”). Another collaboration coming from Nairobi worth mentioning is Wangecho and Wakadinali’s “Romantic Rivals”.
Lesky – “Djinzin”
You might not have heard of him but Lesky is a true phenomenon back in Ivory Coast. This 20-years-old artist, based in Yamoussoukro, is topping the country’s music charts, ranking above some well established artists. His concerts are drawing big crowds, with almost no media coverage. He belongs to L’organisation, an innovative underground label led by producer Koffi Monsta, in which we find the list of Widgunz and LM. His first mixtape “Le vrai cabri”, released in June 2021, featured French artists of Ivorian descent including Jok’Air, Cheu-B and Le Juiice, which remained Number 1 on the national Top 10 for the past two weeks. The young rapper, with his whimsical style, just released his first album entitled Ouwoboy, in which he has produced ten of the eleven tracks himself. The song “Djinzin” is a blend of rap and coupé-décalé. To fully understand the meaning behind the title’s name, a small introduction to nouchi, a dialect from Abidjan. The word “djinzin” means “it’s happy, it’s hot, it’s spoiled” and the lyrics are about partying and invites women to remove their wigs to better enjoy themselves. An explosive vibe which the music video perfectly carries. It was shot in Abobo, a popular neighbourhood, where much of Lesky’s fanbase lives, and in Dokui streets. The wigs fly in every direction, arguments, a heavy arrest, a delirious crowd: welcome into Lesky’s world!
Sam Djul – “Mode Sennin”
Watch out for this other phenomenon, this time coming from Bamako, with Sam Djul, 23, from the Bagadadji neighbourhood who now resides in Baco-Djicoroni. Saying he’s been quite the prolific rapper would be underselling it. He released no less than 15 music videos since the beginning of his career in January 2021. Thanks to his beatmaker, he has been able to maintain this frantic pace. Indeed, Cheick Trap Beat has been producing most of his tracks. The announcement of his first concert at the Palais de la culture in Bamako, earned him the support of Iba One, the boss of Malian rap. One of Sam Djul’s latest songs “Mode Sennin” is taken from his EP Hokage and is a reference to the Japanese cartoon Naruto. In the lyrics, sung in Bambara, the most spoken language in Mali, the rapper speaks about life in working class neighbourhoods. The music video was shot in Siby, a village near Bamako where Sam Djul is seen wearing the traditional Moorish white garment, an outfit which was given to him during a concert in the desert at Nioro-du -Sahel. The dancers which appear in the music video are doing the sabar, a popular dance in Senegal.
Khtek – “Zero Limite”
Khtek has established himself, these past few years, as one of the leading figures in the Moroccan rap scene. Originally from the city of Khémisset, the rapper begans writing in 2016. In 2020 she collaborated with the most esteemed rappers in the country; “Hors-Série” with ElGrandeToto, Don Bigg and Draganoc and “Fratello” with Tagne and Stormy. It propelled her to the scene’s forefront. Each of her releases is treated as an event in Morocco, both by the success met and the reach of themes tackled in her lyrics. On May 27th, she was featured on “Salina” released by ElGrandeToto, which brought together twelve rappers on one track that lasted almost nine minutes: a great way to discover noteworthy Moroccan artists. In her latest music video “Zero Limite”, released at the end of June, Khtek encourages women to dream and to push their limits, no matter their social or physical status. The shots and framing emphasize the power and dignity of the women appearing in the video. The extras are well known in Moroccan public, being famous influencers like Alwa7cha who promote sports and spread awareness about mental health issues, Sabah Benchouikh who showcases life in the countryside, and Najwa Awane, the wheelchair tennis champion.
Louckim – “Street Dance”
Finally, we end our tour of the continent with Madagascar, never mentioned before in this Top Rap. The perfect occasion to focus on Louckim, a young rapper who excels in drill gasy, aka drill in Malagasu, the national language of Madagascar. PAM had already noticed his aggressive flow and impeccable aesthetic in “La Tess” back in 2021. After a streak of solid tracks (“Tazomy”, “Zôrô” and “Grr Pa”) Louckim goes further with the excellent “Street Dance”, a new drill track sampling “Bam Bam” from Sister Nancy. The music video is ingenious and refreshing. It was shot in Antsirabe, a city in the Central Highlands of Madagascar.
Find our selection in our playlist Pan African Rap.