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8 albums to discover this week

This week, Omar Sosa, Seckou Keita and Orquesta Akokán put Cuba on the map. London's Nubya Garcia and Angola's Ikoqwe remix their album and Young Stunna showcases his amapiano. Finally, Kandy Guira and Obeka pay tribute to their Burkinabe and Bermudian roots. 

16 Rayos

Orquesta Akokán

As well as being Daptone Record’s first Spanish album, Orquesta Akokán’s eponymous 2018 debut quickly garnered a very eclectic and eager audience. The Cuban-American ensemble is now back with 16 Rayos, an album recorded in the famous Egrem studios in Havana (Buena Vista’s spot). It is comprised of 10 original songs that illustrate all the magic and creativity of this unique combo. Driven by a sense of limitless possibility, the Cuban-American ensemble continues to explore the island’s rich palette of rhythms and repertoires, pushing the boundaries and drawing on folk and religious traditions.

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SUBA

Omar Sosa, Seckou Keita

Though they share an ancestral connection to Africa, the respective birthplaces of piano virtuoso Omar Sosa and kora maestro Seckou Keita, Cuba and Senegal, are separated by the Atlantic Ocean. Recorded during lockdown, the pair’s second album, SUBA, is a hymn to hope, to a new dawn of compassion and real change in a post-pandemic world. The album title means “sunrise” in Mandinka, Seckou’s native language, representing his favourite time of day and a moment of freshness and hope. Joining Omar and Seckou in the studio, and for live performances, is the inimitable Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles.  

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Move Like So EP

Obeka

Young DJ and producer Obeka is one of the standard bearers for the Afro-Caribbean identity in England, where he has been living since he was 16. Based in Manchester, he has absorbed the carnival ambiance and sound system infrabasses, pulled by the ever-changing UK club scene, always ahead of its time. When these blend with Obeka’s roots, the mixed influences result in the Move Like So EP, released on the Polish label Basy Tropikalne. You might have already listened to “Duppy Drum” on PAM.

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SOURCE + WE MOVE

Nubya Garcia

London-based saxophonist and composer Nubya Garcia released her debut album, SOURCE, last year. The project met with considerable critical success and was even shortlisted for the prestigious Mercury Prize. The musician now returns with a remix album, SOURCE + WE MOVE. The reworked versions of the original tracks preserve the composer’s musicality, which blends jazz and other influences, while introducing a more rhythmic and electronic dimension. Guests include Dengue Dengue Dengue, Kaidi Tatham, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Moses Boyd and more. 

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Nagtaba

Kandy Guira

With Nagtaba, which means “together” in the Moorish language, Kandy Guira has released her very first official solo album. Having accompanied the continent’s greatest artists for a long time, this project marks a new beginning for the singer, who brings African pop, electro and a hint of local rhythms to link her two homelands, her country of origin Burkina Faso and France, her adopted country. “It’s an achievement, after all the time we’ve taken to work, it’s a kind of musical maturity,” she said in our interview with her.

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Falta Muito?

Ikoqwe

Following up on release of their debut album on Crammed Discs, the fictional extraterrestrial duo Ikoqwe drops Falta Muito?, an EP composed of tracks culled and remixed from the album. The title track was created in collaboration with South African maestro Spoek Mathambo. Next comes a remix by Lagos and London-based artist Ekiti Sound, who reinterprets elements from “Vai de [email protected]@” in a deep, bass-heavy context. The third track is the Ekiti Sound Dub of the same remix. We are then treated to a rework of “Makumba” by Sunken Cages, aka Indian-born, New You based producer and drummer Ravish Momin, who explains that he wanted to “channel inspirations from Alice Coltrane and rhythmic heat from the streets of Mumbai, Durban and Chicago”. The EP is rounded off with a hypnotic instrumental version of “Quarantena”.

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Notumato

Young Stunna

Amapiano is known to be a fast burning genre with a new hit dropping every second day, but Young Stunna’s “Adiwele” is probably here to stay. The track first dropped on the street and had everyone begging for it at every party. After becoming a popular anthem, big Youtube channels and TikTok challenges took over. The track is the fire and fuel behind Notumato, Young Stunna’s new album. Having recently signed with Kabza De Small’s Piano Hub label, the artist has enlisted some of the best in the South African music industry such as Big Zulu, Black Motion, Blxckie, DJ Maphorisa, Daliwonga, Felo Le Tee, and Mellow & Sleazy just to mention a few.

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The Landlord

De Mthuda

Producing amapiano since the mid-2010s, Thuthuzeli Khoza aka De Mthuda releases his third LP with The Landlord. Preferring a private school amapiano ambiance, and deferring to producer Da Muziqal Chef to create a sense of musicality, The Landlord is a downtempo must for any amapiano library. While the album manages to turn up the temperature with features from Focalist and Njelic on “Jaiva”, the project truly shines with the Sophiatown jazz on tracks like “Mhlaba Wonke” and lead single “Jola” with vocals from Sino Msolo. The album opener “Emlanjeni” is also an easy standout, with Sir Trill setting a rich soulful vibe right from the jump. 

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