Mali: BBG feat. Galy Bandit – “Chicago”
We start with the rising stars of Malian rap. The group BBG, acronym of Bandz Boys Gang, has been making news all over Bamako for a little over a year. Last July, the trio even filled and set fire to the Palais de la Culture. Their latest track “Chicago”, taken from the Bandz 2 mixtape, caught our ear. The title refers both to the birthplace of drill, a genre in which the group excels as evidenced by the first two verses of the song, but it is also the name of a nightclub in the Malian capital. For the third verse, BBG invited Galy Bandit who is also one of the most prominent rappers of the moment. His concert in July at the Place du Cinquantenaire in the Quartier du Fleuve was also one of the events of the summer season in Bamako. We recommend listening to “Santana Gang“, his latest single.
Egypt: FL EX – “Logan”
The 21 year old rapper FL EX is one of the revelations of the year in Egypt. He made a name for himself featuring with artists from the Maadi Town Mafia label he is also part of: first on “Shayateen” with Husayn and then on “Khamsa” with Wingii. Egypt has taken trap to a stratospheric level, making it deeper and more soaring than anywhere else, thanks to producers like Molotof and rappers like Marwan Pablo and Wegz. The track “Logan,” off FL EX’s excellent Mesama3een EP, shows that history repeats itself with drill. Beatmaker Rally has composed a dark, heavy and eerie instrumental track with huge bass and a traditional flute that makes it even more epic. It’s the same scary atmosphere in the black and white video. In it, FL EX roams Cairo with his band for hours until the chilling discovery of a body lying on a sidewalk.
Rwanda: Ariel Wayz feat. Sagamba, Soldier Kid, Bruce The 1st & Kivumbi King – “Demo”
The young Rwandan artist Ariel Wayz knows how to do everything, and she proved it this year. She sings wonderfully on tracks that mix Afrobeats, Afropop and r&b like on “Good Luck“. In the same style, the track “Bad” has absolutely nothing to envy to Nigerian productions and is the perfect soundtrack to drive at night on the illuminated hills of Kigali. But she is also an excellent rapper, as proven by the track “Demo”, on which she invited four rappers of the new generation. Among them, there is Kivumbi King who does the last verse. He is easily recognizable thanks to his elegant traditional hairstyle, the asunzu. He is the prince of Kigali. He can compete with WizKid thanks to his smooth voice and his sense of melody (“Nakumena Amaso“), and rap on trap (“Ntacyo Nzaba“). Bruce The 1st, meanwhile, is one of the first rappers to have distinguished himself in the register of drill in 2020 in Rwanda with “Tugende” (featuring Ish Kevin). This collaborative track also allows us to discover two new Rwandan talents: Sagamba and Soldier Kid.
Ivory Coast: DRE-A – “Skinny” ft. Tripa Gninnin
In Abidjan, Didi B is still sitting on the throne of Ivorian rap and this isn’t going to change given the success of his latest release “En haut“. So we decided to highlight a young rapper that we have noticed for a little over a year through a series of singles (“Comportement même“, “Focus“, “On peut faire ça” in collaboration with Apocahuero); and who is the pride of the city of Bouaké. The artist who still splits her time between studies and music is making a place in the heart of Ivorians thanks to the freshness of her tone and her ability to handle words with humor. While waiting for the release of his first project, Dre-A released “Skinny” in July with Babi’s coolest rapper, Tripa Gninnin. It’s been a great year for the young artist who capitalized on the release of his Bomboclaat project at the very end of 2021 to further climb the ladder. The artistic direction of the video is, as usual, done by the talented Young Nouchi who plunged Dre-A and Tripa in a pink, pop universe that fits with the light tone of the track.
Togo: Sethlo feat. Conii Gangster, Lomerica Gang & Mic Flammez – “Woèkpô”
Lomé has been dancing the last few months to the sound of amapiano, which is particularly well represented locally thanks to artists Chief One and Talakaka. Drill music is also particularly strong and popular in the country thanks to a new generation of artists. The sounds of the Mina language blend perfectly with the rhythm of this new music. Just after recovering from the madness of “Molédjafor” by the group Lomerica Gang, we get another slap in the face with “Woèkpô” by Sethlo, who is far from being a newcomer after almost ten years in the game. What makes Ghanaian and Togolese drill music special is the way it is sung and the choruses performed by alternating soloists and a choir. The melody sung by Sethlo here on the chorus is simply irresistible. For “Woèkpô”, he invited the Lomerica Gang and Conii Gangsterr, who is also part of this new drill scene. The song closes with a verse from Mic Flammez, a rapper as experienced as Sethlo.
Senegal: Bilou XIV feat. Zo flame – “Fatal ma fofou”
The influence of mbalax, the sounds and cadence of Wolof and the long-standing use of traditional instruments in the productions make Senegalese hip hop special. In recent years, the rapper Samba Peuzzi has pushed the experimentation of these elements in tracks like “Lou Yaka Yawa“, “Tama” and “Ndongo“. The rapper Bilou XIV went even further with the innovative “Fatal ma fofou”, the hit of the summer in Dakar. The instrumental, which he produced himself, consists of only drums and percussive elements. A process he had already used for his first single “Touch du Bois“. The only perceptible melody comes from a tama, an armpit drum with variable tension that is often heard in Galsen rap. Zo Flame, who was invited for this song, became known a year ago thanks to “SNK #3“. We can only advise you to listen to his “Wreew” released in July with “Fatal ma fofou”.
Tunisia: Mouka – “Karaka” ft. Ka3bi
In the mid-2010s, MHD’s Afrotrap had created copycats in Spain and a whole scene was formed with artists like Afrojuice 195. For the past two years, it is the very recognizable style of the instrumentals of the French rapper Jul that is massively taken up in Spain, and especially in Barcelona. Morad is the Spanish rapper who has made this sound his own, adding his own personal touch. Check out “Pelele” or “Cómo Están?“. He also collaborates regularly with Jul. He is one of the most popular rappers in Spain for the last two years and proudly represents the Moroccan diaspora. Through him, Jul’s sound is spreading to Maghreb. In the track “Karaka” of the young Tunisian rapper Mouka, we strongly feel the influence of Jul and Morad. In fact, the beatmaker who produced the track, Martin Ruts, is from Barcelona like Morad, and he produced the Spanish hit at the beginning of the year “Vida Loca” by Aiman Jr and Omar Montes. Last May, Mouka released the beautiful “Mala Ena“, his biggest hit to date. The song “Karaka” is a collaboration with the rapper Ka3bi with whom he already worked with a year ago for “Vroom“.
Morocco & Italy: Baby Gang – “Come te”
We were just talking about the Spanish rapper Morad and the way he is the voice of the youth for North African immigrants. In Italy, his equivalent is the rapper Baby Gang, also of Moroccan origin. In fact, the two rappers met again in 2021 on the track “Casablanca“. Baby Gang often claims his Moroccan identity in his lyrics (“Marocchino“) or by collaborating with Moroccan rappers like ElGrandeToto (“Come Va“). In the clip for “Come to me”, he pays tribute to the city of his heart, Casablanca.
Nigeria: Erigga – “Vawulence”
Erigga is a rap legend in Nigeria. Since he began his career in 2009, he has become the king of pidgin rap, an uncompromising style made for Nigerians, not Westerners. One might think that only the cities of Lagos and Port-Harcourt count in the musical landscape, but Erigga has put the city of Warri, in Delta State, on the map for Nigerian hip hop, and it is often the setting of his lyrics like in “Welcome to War“. “Vawulence,” or how Nigerians pronounce “violence,” is the first single from his new project The Lost Boy Album, released in early September. In the video, Erigga appears as a gang leader who is part of a group of inmates who are to be transferred by bus to another prison but on the way are freed by a commando. The main sequence of the video was shot in front of the Book Shop House tower, one of the oldest skyscrapers in Lagos, on Lagos Island.
South Africa: Fakaloice – “Ooh Aah” Ft Riky Rick & Cassper Nyovest
We end with “Ooh Ah” by Fakaloice, a track that became an instant classic of South African hip-hop as soon as it was released. Fakaloice is a young rapper from Verulam, a city north of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, so he represents the north coast in the label Ambitiouz Entertainment. He mixes English and isiZulu and defines his style as “zunglish trap”. He is heavily influenced by Canadian rapper Tory Lanez and you can hear on “Ooh Ah”, which he produced himself, in the way he changes his register and octave between rapping and singing. In the first sequence of the clip, which corresponds to his verse, we see Fakaloice being enthroned as a village chief. We recognize the traditional houses, the clothes, the shields and the spears of the Zulus. A sequence that is reminiscent of the clip “Y3 Y3 Dom” of the Ghanaian driller Jay Bahd released in 2021 and in which we saw Ashanti warriors preparing for war. The second verse of the track is by Riky Rick, a South African rap legend who sadly passed away last February. The artist ended his life after a long battle with depression. This verse was recorded in 2020. In the clip, this sequence is announced by a message written on the back of a T-shirt: “We Never Die, We Multiply”. These are lyrics by Riky Rick from the remix of the track “Nkalakatha” by rapper Costa Titch, released in 2019. It is strangers on the street and his friends who rap his verse here and pay him a collective tribute. The third verse is rapped by the legend of legends, Cassper Nyovest. South African rap fans have been waiting for years to get Riky Rick and Cassper Nyovest on the same track. Cassper Nyovest takes his time to get on the beat before completely devouring it. He came to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. He takes a shot at the music industry and other rappers. He reminds us that he has survived all the trends (house music, gqom) and that he has inspired everyone including Focalistic, one of the most prominent rappers in recent years. In the video, he appears as the supreme leader of hip-hop and as the head of the army. After a verse like that, who could argue?
Find our selection in our playlist Pan African Rap.