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8 new albums you should listen to this week

This week seems deeply marked by Fela Kuti with a tribute by his son and grandson, Femi and Made Kuti, on their two respective albums that are brought together in the Legacy + box set. David Walters also refers to the pioneer of afrobeat in his album Nocturne. As for Joeboy and Black Coffee, these two trailblazers never fail to thrill on infectious, unbridled rhythms. Elsewhere, the dazzling, politicized tones of Archie Shepp and Jason Moran give a boost to the jazz landscape alongside Voilaaa and KOKOKO!, who have delivered the wild and fresh sounds of modern pan-Africanism.

Stop the Hate
Femi Kuti

Femi Kuti‘s album, Stop the Hate, is a tribute to his father Fela Kuti, the legendary creator of Afrobeat. Indeed, in “Pà Pá Pà,” the artist criticizes the powers that be: “We must face the government.” He also adds: “They can’t give us electricity, they can’t give us good health care, they can’t give us clean water to drink.” Moreover, he defines his song, “As We Struggle Everyday,” as follows: “It’s about those who work hard every day to make ends meet and are reduced to voting for corrupt politicians who belong in jail.” Pleased to play alongside his son, Made Kuti, Femi is especially happy that their two albums are released on the same day, together in a box set entitled Legacy +, via the label Partisan Records: “It’s spiritually soothing and exciting to live this new chapter with my son.”

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Made Kuti

Playing all the instruments on his album For(e)ward, Made’s new project is a true ode to freedom, perfectly illustrated by the title “Free Your Mind” or “Your Enemy,” in which he denounces “police brutality.” Made Kuti, as well as his father, have been very present within the #EndSARS movement against police violence. Made explains: “I learned a lot from my father – politically, socially, philosophically and musically – and I know that this is only the beginning of a new common adventure.” His album and his father’s are included in the Legacy + box set, a tribute to Fela Kuti’s soul and political engagement.

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Somewhere Between Beauty and Magic

Mr Eazi’s protégé is amazing listeners via his debut album Somewhere Between Beauty and Magic, a true ode to love. This master of Afrobeats and R&B often shows himself madly in love in visuals, as in the video for “Lonely,” in which he is overwhelmed by loneliness in the absence of his loved one. He also proves how attached he is to African traditions in the festive and beautifully colorful video for “Celebration,” where we see beautiful outfits from Yoruba culture. Joeboy said it himself: “I wanted to pay tribute to my origins.” But there are also new features on this album, like the Spanish guitar in “Runaway” and the afro-house in “Oh.” It marks a real breath of fresh air in these difficult Covid-19 times.

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David Walters

David Walters has released a fantastic new project, Nocturne, in the company of Vincent Ségal on cello, Ballaké Sissoko on kora and Roger Raspail on percussion. This album is the fruit of the singer-guitarist’s meditations during the lockdown. The singer’s voice has never been so sensitive, a result of his not wanting to disturb his family at home, and it reflects his inner journey as a man and artist. Walters also delivers a deeply intimate message in favor of freedom of expression on “Freedom,” a track he composed in the wake of the demonstrations against police violence. He refers to Fela Kuti: “Music is a weapon.” The name of this album is also a tribute to the eminent composer, Chopin.

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Let My People Go
Archie Shepp & Jason Moran

Both Archie Shepp and Jason Moran have concocted a real gem with their album Let my people go, a project reminiscent of the lightning success of “Go Down Moses,” a track interpreted by Louis Armstrong in his time, and a real symbol within the African-American music landscape. The eighty-three-year-old saxophonist Archie Shepp has never ceased fighting racism in an incredibly poetic way. A central figure in the Black Arts Movement, he dazzles on this splendid new album, which is bolstered by the pianist Jason Moran and influenced by jazz, classical music and hip-hop. Two generations unite in a grandiose musical symbiosis.

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Black Coffee

There are some pleasant surprises to be found in Subconsciously, the new album by this South African DJ. This master of house defines his objective as follows: “That’s what music should do, it should divide barriers and unite us under this one universal language.” As usual, the DJ injects a mix of different types of music. He begins on a dance piste via the frantic rhythms of “Wish You Were Here,” sublimated by the sweet voice of the South African singer Msaki. The vibes continue on “Drive,” which is composed alongside the famous French DJ David Guetta and the young British singer Delilah Montagu. The presence of Celeste, a new queen of English soul, also unspools a soothing soundscape on “Ready for You.” The album is enhanced, too, by contributions from Pharell Williams and Usher.

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These geniuses of afro-funk and disco have released a dazzling new project with their album Voiciii. It is defined as follows: “That’s how Voilaaa makes its albums: with sand in the machinery and imperfections greeted with honors.” Following a tour in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria, the group has been inspired by funk, highlife and makossa, connecting with funaná rhythms from the Cape Verdean diaspora in Senegal. They commented: “Voilààà had contacted the brass spirit of the Lion of Cameroon.” Always discreet, the group also added: “Sarcastic lyrics with a barely hidden meaning in English, French, Creole, Bambara or Frafra seep out from the turntable undetected to regions stifled by political and military censorship.” This is a resolutely pan-African new release.

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Fongola (Instrumentals)

The Congolese collective KOKOKO! has released the betwitching album Fongola (Instrumentals). Recorded in Kinshasa during a neighborhood party, the collective brings together Makara Bianko, better known under the nickname of “Lingwala devil,” musicians from the Ngwaka neighborhood and dancers from the Lingwala neighborhood. A truly innovative project, this collective creates its own contemporary sound aesthetics using recycled materials such as metal, cans and plastic found in the streets of Africa’s third largest capital city. These musicians thrill us with their fast rhythms, forming a melodic illustration of their difficult daily life in Kinshasa, as government-imposed power cuts interrupt life’s fun and joy.

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