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9 albums you should listen to this week

This week, Little Simz and Drake open up to us each in their own way, while Analog Africa tells us about Yaoundé in the 1970s. Aymos and Scratcha DVA hybridize contemporary South African music, Nyege Nyege drops a Soundcloud bomb and Ria Sean reveals her irresistible Afropop. In the middle of all these bangers, ESINAM and the label Mushroom Hour Half Hour offer us two tender and jazzy projects.

Sometimes I Might Be Introvert

Little Simz

Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, a reverse acronym for the British-Nigerian rapper’s first name, is the fourth album from an artist slowly being recognized as a national treasure. While she has already reached incredible heights by connecting with artists like Kendrick Lamar and Lauryn Hill, this project represents the moment where many more people will hear her music, driven by self-reflections and questions and torn between the rapper Simz and Simbi, on tracks like “Standing Ovation.” The album also tackles subjects like absent fathers on “I Love You I Hate You.” With musical gems like the glorious “Introvert” or “Point And Kill” alongside Obongjayar, the rapper blends her introverted side with big energy tracks. 

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Shapes in Twilights of Infinity

ESINAM

Built on futurist flute, elaborate rhythms and delicate melodies, Shapes in Twilights of Infinity unfolds like a dreamlike carpet into an unparalleled musical universe. The songs are deeply rooted in grooves and global sounds, from “New Dawn” with its poetry and pulsating beats and the soulful jazz vibe of “Lost Dimensions,” to the ethereal melodies and mesmerizing vocals of South-African featured artist Sibusile Xaba on “Flowing River.” ESINAM delivers nothing less than a profound patchwork full of musical connections, where traces of house, trip-hop and hip-hop intertwine with tones from traditional sounds, blues and psychedelica.

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Cameroon Garage Funk

Analog Africa

In the buzzing Yaoundé of the 1970s (the capital of Cameroon), a certain church sound engineer named Mr. Awono decided to record musicians in clandestine sets on his premises. Half a century later, Analog Africa tells this amazing story via a new compilation: Cameroon Garage Funk. The project’s 16 tracks, composed both by famous and unknown veterans of the Cameroonian scene, reflect the buzzing atmosphere of a city and a time when, despite countless difficulties, the music was in full swing. 

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Yimi Lo

Aymos

Aymos is a South African sensation with 12 months of consistent and explosive hustling behind him. His unique take on amapiano, imbued with gospel and Afro-pop soul, has earned  him two nominations for the South African Music Awards. His debut album, which features heavyweights like Major League Djz, Focalistic and Kabza Da Small, confirms the young artist’s refined talent. Speaking about the process behind Yimi Lo, which translates to “this is who I am,” Aymos says, “The music on this album is inspired by my years so far in the industry and all the ups and downs I experienced to get here. Holding on to who I am, and my values is what this album is about. My album embraces love, warmth, and the spirit of Ubuntu, and of course good vibes!”

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Certified Lover Boy

Drake

The Canadian superstar is in the midst of a highly publicized feud with music giant Kanye West. His sixth studio album, produced by longtime sidekick Noah “40” Shebib, is a “combination of toxic masculinity and acceptance of truth, which is inevitably heartbreaking.” Its 21 tracks see the rapper opening up about his relationship with women and success, and unveiling an impressive guest list (Jay-Z, Travis Scott, Future, Young Thug), which also features the singer Tems and the Congolese/South African artist TRESOR

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On Our Own Clock

Mushroom Hour Half Hour

During the first wave of COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, groups of musicians from Johannesburg, London and Dakar met for a day of intense recording in their home cities. The aim was to create something to send to their musical comrades across the seas. They returned to the studio a month later to respond to the music they’d been sent. The result is On Our Own Clock, a sonic testament to steadfast creativity and a collaboration between South African label Mushroom Hour Half Hour and Total Refreshment Centre. The album highlights singles “Dune Dance,” a gorgeous groove written in Joburg; “Ngikhethile” (an isiZulu word which translates as “I Have Chosen”), a salutation to powerful optimism and “Be The Light,” which draws deeply on the Senegalese kora. 

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Fluid

Ria Sean

Carried by hits like “Money Bag” and “Lemonade,” Ria Sean makes a remarkable entry into the bubbling Afropop industry. Her first EP, Fluid, demonstrates the singer’s talents on six tracks. Her languid Afropop sound, which testifies to a remarkable artistic maturity, also draws on highly infectious RnB melodies and grooves. The project showcases the solo talents of one of the Nigerian revelations of the year. 

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Afrotek EP

Scratcha DVA

The London-based producer returns to Hyperdub to continue his exploration of both South African and British dance music, taking it in evermore exciting directions. On the frantic “Flex,” the spirited “Bless The Earth,” the dreamy instrumental “Sleeper” and the dark “Afrotek,” Scratcha revisits gqom and amapiano in UK style. The EP also features guest appearances from Baltimore’s 3:LON, the South African producer Mxshi Mo and the Nottingham native MC Mez. 

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Music for the Eagles

Nyege Nyege

Music for the Eagles is the result of a collaboration between Nyege Nyege and Soundcloud, which aims to explore East African underground music for the SCENES short documentary. With 14 never-before released tracks from emerging scenes on the continent, the project features local heroes such as Nairobi-based rapper Boutross, traditional harp master Otim Alpha and Tanzanian singeli producer Jay Mitta. Up and coming talents like Kenyan future-pop artist KABEAUSHÉ, Ugandan grime master MC Yallah and dynamic rapper Ecko Bazz also get a platform. Beyond East Africa, acts like Durban’s Phelimuncasi, with their signature style of Gqom, are represented as well as razor sharp Nigerian rapper Aunty Rayzor and many more from a diverse range of underground scenes.

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