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9 albums you should listen to this week

This week, Ballaké Sissoko returns to his roots while Common continues the struggle. Dominican singer Navy and Vegas rapper Baby Keem release their first projects, while AKA and Costa Titch team up for a new EP. Elsewhere, Nigerians Killertunes and OluwahSoft conjure dance-worthy efforts with Brazilians Deekapz and Bruna Mendez joining the party. 

A Touma

Ballaké Sissoko

Following the success of Djourou, the Malian virtuoso returns for a close tête à tête with his kora, exploring Mandingo traditions, family history and Malian legends on eight tracks. The three tales are profoundly intertwined, resulting in an intimate project where the instrument is the core speaker. “A Touma” means “the time has come”: “I’m over fifty now and when you get older, you know that one day there are certain things you won’t be able to do any more, and I’d like the younger generation to be able to listen to them,Ballaké explains. 

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BLEU, Vol. 1

Navy

It will come as no surprise that Navy’s influences are as wide ranging and as eclectic as her sound. The Dominican singer and her band, Taste of Pluto, have always looked up to the likes of diverse artists such as Stevie Wonder, Beenie Man, Shabba Ranks, Patti Labelle and Oasis. These inspirations are all present in the artist’s debut solo EP. Throughout the eight tracks, she outlines a neo-soul and jazzy atmosphere that reflects who she is as an artist, one with ever-present references to the 90s, a period she has deep affection for: “I like the colours, I like the freedom of the music back then, the dancing, and the fashion is very significant,” she told us recently.

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A Beautiful Revolution (Pt 2)

Common

This new album from the Chicago rapper deepens the message of the excellent A beautiful revolution Vol. 1, released last year. Advocating for a gentle revolution based on soul, conscious hip-hop and jazzy influences, the eight tracks of the project make for a soundtrack of revival and a hope as well as the struggle for social and racial justice. Seun Kuti’s nervous saxophone on “When We Move” and Marcus King’s flayed voice on “Poetry” embellish the Common‘s fierce flow.

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You’re Welcome

AKA, Costa Titch

Known for his American-inspired rap approach, AKA changes strategy with You’re Welcome, a collaborative EP with young rookie Costa Titch. Although full of classic egotrip, the project also draws from the South African repertoire, using the notorious amapiano log drum on “Static” and infusing trap with kwaito rhythmics on “Super Soft” and “Monate C.” Costa Titch, as usual, raps in isiZulu, Sesotho, English and Afrikaans, bringing an unmistakable Mzansi flavour to this short project. 

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The Melodic Blue

Baby Keem

Throughout his debut album, The Melodic Blue, 20-year-old Vegas native Baby Keem sounds like a combination of his biggest influences (Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Kendrick Lamar). What other MCs don’t have, however, are Keem’s dedication to airing out multiple flows over the course of a single track, his gift for spellbinding non sequitur, or the fearlessness with which he approaches song-making. Aside from his cousin Kendrick Lamar, the album’s only other guests are Travis Scott (“durag activity”) and Don Toliver (“cocoa”), leaving the emerging MC room to speak on  romances, his “scars” and even “south africa.” 

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KillaXtra

Killertunes

Taking the reins on production for the sensually cool 13-track LP, KillaXtra sees Killertunes stepping out from behind the scenes to add his own vocals to tracks like “All Night” and “The Vibe.” A prolific beatmaker project, the album also features collaborations from the cream of the crop of the Afrobeats scene across Africa and the UK including Odunsi (The Engine), Kida Kudz, Midas The Jagaban and Sha Sha as well as tropical Caribbean flavour courtesy of Walshy Fire to create a melodious, thought-provoking body of work. 

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Poly

Deekapz

Named after the assemblage possibilities of the Polly Pocket Doll, brazilian duo Deekapz’s new project cleverly showcases their multi-faceted production approach and their diverse range of musical influences. “CROMA”, that we wrote about, serves as the model for the EP, which will feature tracks that all contain more than one type of genre – moving from tropical bass and house to chill baile, trap and more.

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BOSS (Blowing Off Some Steam)

OluwahSoft

It was only last summer that Toronto-based Nigerian afrobeats artist OluwahSoft burst onto the scene with his infectious debut single “Body”. His body of work, BOSS (Blowing Off Some Steam) EP, showcases his remarkable vocal, melody and songwriting skills. Speaking about the inspiration behind the EP, OluwahSoft says, “Thematically, the songs all come from love and hate. Some of the songs speak to my idea of what a love story could be like ‘Sweet 16’, while some others, such as the title track ‘B.O.S.S’ come from a quite dark place, with the song addressing all the fake energy, faux love and envy around me at the time.”

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Corpo Possível (Deluxe)

Bruna Mendez

Following releases that reflect the current Brazilian scene, the 180g and Disk Union labels have joined forces in an effort to export Bruna Mendez’s second album, two years after its domestic release. Far from the usual Brazilian standards, the young artist here offers an organic groove coupled with ethereal melodies on a sweet and futuristic soundscape. Her elegant electronic textures, deep vocal timbres and funky accents differentiate this project from Pra Ela and O Mesmo Mar Que Nega a Terra Cede to Sua Calma

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