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10 albums you should listen to this week

This week, Buena Vista Social Club celebrates its 25th anniversary, while Nigerian artists Wavy The Creator, OG Emmy and Moroccan rapper Dollypran drop their very first projects. Nyege Nyege’s Duke and British-Ghanaian duo Onipa unveil futuristic sounds whereas Malawian BlackFace Family are preoccupied with our present. Finally, UK rapper Pa Salieu, Senegalese kora player Maher Cissoko and Nigerian sensation Tems all pay tribute to their West-African heritage, each in their own ways. 

Buena Vista Social Club (25th Anniversary Edition)

Buena Vista Social Club

For the legendary project’s 25th birthday, World Circuit reissues a remastered version of Buena Vista Social Club with previously unheard tracks from the original 1996 session tapes, including “Vicenta” and “La Pluma.” The album is a monument, which changed forever the lives of the musicians involved and the standing of Cuban music in the world. Arranging its singular recording in La Havana’s Egrem studios, the record’s producer Nick Gold remembers these extraordinary sessions in our interview with him: “The Egrem studio sounded beautiful. You’d walk around the studio and Eliades would be sitting and playing some amazing guajira from Santiago, with a guy next to him playing congas, you’d walk a bit further and you’d hear Ruben playing some amazing bolero on the pianoAll of these little pockets of things were happening. And then, we just started recording.”

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Sounds of Pamoja

Nyege Nyege Tapes

For their second singeli-focused project following Sounds of Sisso, Nyege Nyege Tapes highlights recordings from Duke’s Pamoja Records. With production mostly handled by Duke, the MCs push the project to the next level, capitalizing on the vitality of Dar es Salaam’s musical landscape as they trade bars, switch flows and somehow keep up with the lightning-fast beats. Some of these talented emerging local artists (20 year old Pirato MC, 19 year old Dogo Kibo, 20 year old MC Kuke…) have been interviewed in NTS’ documentary about singeli, released alongside the EP. 

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Tapes of Utopia

Onipa

Afro-futurist sensations Onipa unleashed their debut album We No Be Machine on Strut Records in March 2020, meeting an immediate critical success. Their new mixtape Tapes of Utopia is in its same vein, showcasing their crossover appeal, full of danceable grooves alongside political lyricism. “It was written over lockdown and we’d both had a really hard time with the impact of lockdown for creatives,” Tom Excell, one of the band’s frontrunners, tells us in an upcoming interview. “And the thing that got us through was listening to loads of music and dancing in our studio. We were just digging through our collections and this was the thing which really gave us the most therapy and hope to carry on with writing. It was like a mixtape but a kind of healing process for us to compile these different flavors and sounds without thinking too much. And the vision of utopia that came out is of imagining being in a freer place and time and using music to find our way.”

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Nthena

BlackFace Family

BlackFace Family (BFF) comprises Jah Face, Venom, and Twiggy, all from Mzuzu, Malawi. Their music is encrusted into a dense sound substance made from self-produced beats, but also radically remixed fragments of Congolese, Tanzanian, Nigerian and Haitian songs, with a profound dancehall flavour. Their second album Nthena’s title means “that’s the way it is”, a phrase used as an expression of acceptance of the state of affairs. The project, however, sees the MCs revolt and denounce the disintegrating state of the world, criticizing local politics on “Politition” and paying tribute to victims of the civil war in DR Congo on “DRC”. 

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Cissoko Heritage

Maher Cissoko

Maher Cissoko is half of the successful duo Sousou & Maher Cissoko. Following his solo debut Kora Fo, he experiments and brings to life the griot tradition on his second album Cissoko Heritage. Inspired by Afrobeat, dancehall, reggae, Afro-pop and mbalax, he creates his own Mande fusion, with his acoustic improvisational kora playing meeting his electronic soundscape and beats. The album culminates in the creation of a new form of griotism and popular music with meaning and roots. 

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If Orange Was A Place

Tems

Nigerian sensation Tems delivers five exclusive tracks on the quasi-surprise EP that is dedicated to her closest fans. Over five tracks, the singer opens up, singing about seduction, hope and romantic deboirs. Her mellow Afrobeats and neo-soul cocktail blends perfectly with her singular vocals, which express nostalgia and desire in a unique way compared to the Afropop standards.

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Afrikan Rebel

Pa Salieu

Following his excellent debut album Send Them To Coventry, the new UK rap prince comes back with a mini-EP celebrating his Gambian heritage. On three tracks, joined by Tay Iwar, Zlatan Ibile and Obongjayar, the rapper explores Afroswing, amapiano and hardcore rap with his typical flamboyance. “A Rebel has no goal but rewriting fuckery & standing straight!,” he says on social media about his project’s title. Pa Salieu will play at Le Guess Who? festival in November in Utrecht. 

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P.S. Thank You for Waiting

Wavy The Creator

Active in the Nigerian Alté sphere for years through singles and photography, Wavy The Creator finally unveils her debut EP P.S. Thank You For Waiting. The project is “an expression of myself and all the different types of love I have experienced over the years,” Wavy explains. “I am opening up in ways I have never done before in the past. I speak about love, lust, infatuation, heartbreak and feeling like I’ve been omitted all in one body of work.” With a sound incorporating elements of hip-hop, Afrobeats and electronic dance music, the EP features Nigerian top artists WurlD, CKay, Tay Iwar and Ghanaian singer Efya on seven super sensual songs. 

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Traitement

Dollypran

After a series of singles, the Casablanca rapper releases his first EP in the explosive vein of Moroccan trap. On thirteen tracks, Dollypran demonstrates his talents as a powerful performer, the whole wrapped up in a macabre pharmacy aesthetic. Known for his trap skills, the rapper also explores drill music on tracks like “Gaza” and “Napoli”. He is accompanied by his compatriots Small X and ElGrandeToto, as well as his diasporic counterparts 3robi, based in the Netherlands, and Dimeh, an ambassador of Swiss rap. 

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Sipping Remy – EP

OG Emmy

Born and raised in Rivers State in Nigeria, OG Emmy has been cultivating and building his music repertoire since he was the age of 14. His debut Sipping Remy EP opens with the infectious afrofusion track “Trouble”, which sees OG Emmy extolling the virtues of a trouble-free life, before flowing into the summer-ready “Remy N Chill” with its chill party vibe, and OG Emmy’s first official single and ode to black women titled “KitKat.” The rest of the EP features the posse cut “Remy Money”, which sees Emmy and a few of his artist friends enjoying themselves on the celebratory track, and the EP’s title track “Sipping Remy,” which sees OG Emmy reveals his rap-influenced alter ego.

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