Small X – « Price » (prod. Yo Asel et MW)
We start our tour strong with Small X. The Moroccan rapper who became known as part of the duo Shayfeen. Last year, he took off solo by releasing the album Phoenix. He kicked off the month of March with the release of “Price”, a track with an old school feel and co-produced by Moroccan beatmakers Yo Asel and MW. For the black and white clip of “Price”, Small X worked with his friend and director Idlane, with whom he had already collaborated on the video of “XXL” in 2021. It shows young people with ropes hanging around their necks, getting into a truck brandished with the artist’s logo which appears on the cover of Phoenix. “It represents the stress, the pressure that young people in Africa feel about the future. I come with a truck and it’s like an artistic space that I bring. I bring people into my world, and I take the strings off in the truck. Art, music, is the only space where people can be free. With the actors in the clip, I wanted to give an image of young Moroccans today. There are plenty of stylish people in Morocco.”
Mc Artisan feat. Didine Canon 16 – « Glock » ( Prod. Croww & Exyth)
Staying in Maghreb… Rarely discussed, the Algerian rap scene is one of the most booming on the continent. The drill track entitled “Glock”, which brings together the rappers Mc Artisan and Didine Canon 16, is breaking all records. The video for the track, released in early March, has exceeded 20 million views in three weeks. We are truly witnessing a phenomenon. Not surprising when you know the popularity of these two artists in Algeria. Mc Artisan is a 33-year-old rapper from Souk-Ahras, in the east of the country. He has risen to the top of the game since 2015 thanks to “I.D.G.A.F.“, “Fairytale” or more recently with “Redlights“. For his part, Didine Canon 16 is a well-known rapper and actor, also since the mid-2010s, thanks in part to the political and social dimension of his lyrics. The final key to success of this powerhouse meeting is the unstoppable chorus of “Glock”. We warn you, you will have it in your head for a while!
Black Hoodie Club – « TGV » (prod. Johnsix et Kiev Beats)
We are now heading to Tunis to meet a new crew that has been making a lot of noise this last year. The Black Hoodie Club brings together the rappers 4lfa, Ta9chira, Brotherhood, Ktyb, Stou, the rapper Koast and the producer Johnsix. “We share the same principles and objectives, the same artistic direction,” explains Brotherhood, a 24-year-old rapper from the city of Kasserine. “But what brings us together goes far beyond music. In our daily lives, we spend a lot of time together, and that’s where our inspiration comes from.” This collective released a first album last year entitled Rise of a Gang, with notable success, and stands out thanks to an alternative and artsy aesthetic, like the video clip of the song “Requin” (a reference to the famous sneaker that has become an emblem of street culture). The track “TGV” is an experimental drill track featuring 4lfa, Brotherhood and Ta9chira. “We called this track like that because we feel that we are far artistically compared to what we see on the market,” says Brotherhood. If you do not know Tunisian rap yet, the Black Hoodie Club is the best gateway to discovery.
Marwan Pablo « Barbary » (prod. Hany Moamer)
Egypt has also been a shining light for a few years thanks to its futuristic and vaporous trap. Marwan Pablo is one of the main representatives, even the godfather, of this scene. After a year of silence following the release of the EP CTRL, the rapper from Alexandria is back with “Barbary”. This new track was produced by Hady Moaner, a young beatmaker from Luxor, also known under the pseudonym of Jean Blue, and who recently made a name for himself by working with American rappers Drake (“Pipe Down”) and J.Cole (“Heaven’s EP”). On a production that uses rhythmic elements of Mahraganat music, the rapper talks about his status as the leader of Egyptian rap and compares himself to a barbarian in an arena. The other Egyptian track that should not be missed at the beginning of the year is “El Bakht” by the rapper Wegz.
Big Yasa feat. Kombat – “Mazza” (prod. Amari)
In Nairobi, rappers are mixing Sheng slang with British drill codes, following in the footsteps of Buruklyn Boyz. Among them is, Big Yasa, a 21-year-old rapper from the Madclan crew in Kibera. For the past year, his popularity has been growing thanks to solo tracks (“Cold”) or in a band, with the Buruklyn Boyz (“Bad Boyz Club”) or the Spoiler Gang (“Smart Kwa Street”). For his latest single, “Mazza”, Big Yasa has teamed up with Portuguese rapper Kombat. This artist has lived in London for several years, you can hear it in his flow, and met many rappers of African origin, hence this feature. The production of the track was signed by Amari, based in Sweden, and includes a sample of Bulgarian polyphony. An international collaboration in short.
Bushali – « Kivuruga » (prod. Ghanaian Stallion)
In Rwanda, rappers mix the poetry of the Kinyarwanda language with the sounds of rap, and this gives the genre called kinyatrap. The main representatives of this scene are Ish Kevin, B-Threy and Bushali. Bushali is one of the pioneers of this movement in Kigali. In 2021, he released the EP Kivuruga, in which he evokes with vulnerability the personal challenges he faces while evolving in the music industry as a rapper, but also the difficulties that the youth of his country undergo. The entire project was produced by German-Ghanaian producer Ghanaian Stallion, whom he met at a concert in the Rwandan capital, and explores different styles (hip-hop, Afrobeats, trap, highlife). The track entitled “Kivuruga”, which opens the EP, is part of what could be described as “kinyadrill”. In it, Bushali talks about everyday heroes. “There are people in the world who have accomplished things and are called heroes,” he explains. “I would say that everyone is a hero when they care about what they do and can be a role model for others and motivate them.” Like the lyrics, the video was shot amidst youth and workers who cut sugar cane or recycle rubber tires.
Dope Saint Jude – « Home »
Catherine Saint Jude Pretorius aka Dope Saint Jude is originally from Cape Town. After studying political science and founding South Africa’s first drag-king collective in 2011, this feminist activist studied sound production and released her first solo project Reimagine in 2016. Her second EP Resilient, released in 2018 and recorded in London, sees her tackle themes such as social, racial and sexual equality. “Home” is the first single from Higher Self, her upcoming EP, an introspective project written in the midst of a pandemic in London. It’s a song in the form of a declaration of love, halfway between rap and r&b, and is about “finding a place of comfort in the embrace of a lover.” The video questions the female body, in this case two women, in a world of image and celebrates the couple that the rapper forms with her wife Roxanne. The color red, which evokes passion, is very present, and the styling of the video is partly inspired by the aesthetic of BDSM.
Sory L’Officier – « Poco a poco » (prod. Momo Beatz)
Senegal is undoubtedly the African country that has best embraced the new trend of hip-hop, drill, by adding traditional percussion such as the tama drum, mixing it with the national mbalax and drawing inspiration from the different Senegalese cultures. The emblematic crew of this new movement is Akatsuki SN, from the Parcelles Assainies district in Dakar. Its members (Talla BTB, LMN Xél Niar, Xhalil, and Sory L’Officier) have conquered the Senegalese public thanks to the hit “Weredi” and the album P.A. Universal. But the rappers of the group also know how to manage on their own, the proof being “Poco a Poco” by Sory L’Officier. For this new perfect example of Senegalese drill, the rapper decided to talk about how he builds his career little by little. In the clip, which was shot with the children of his neighborhood, he chose to highlight the culture of the Diola ethnic group, which represents the majority of the population of Casamance, in the South of the country. Among the symbols of this culture are the Diassi machetes. But above all, the rapper is surrounded by the sisal kankourang, initiation masks entirely covered with agave fibers, and which play the role of protectors in the Mandingue villages in Senegal and in Gambia.
Ghettovi feat. Writing Écriture – « Chapeau noir »
In Togo too, the drill is making noise through a new generation of artists (Folidjanta, Beatpovelo, Lomérica Gang or Conii Gangster) who have taken hold of this new sound. For his part, Ghettovi is also starting to drill but he was not born yesterday. 33 years old and from Atakpamé, the city of seven hills, he is one of the best rappers in the country. He raps in the Mina language and has established himself in a hardcore style. He calls himself the “Vodou King”. “This nickname is because I am 100% animist,” he said. “I respect my ancestors and I am faithful to the African culture and traditions.” This attachment to the voodoo cult is particularly evident in the song “Chapeau Noir” in collaboration with his colleague Writing Écriture. “I made this song to honor our deities and our ancestors. The title refers to a Nigerian movie where if the hat lands on your head, it’s the end of you. It’s just to tell our persecutors to watch out for us.”
Pappy Kojo feat. O’Kenneth et Reggie – « Koobi » (prod. Skonti)
Well, since we are talking about Ghana, let’s finish our tour in this country. The rap and drill scene in the city of Kumasi has been booming for a little over a year with figures like Jay Bahd, Yaw Tog, and more recently Black Sherif. For his part, Pappy Kojo, who hails from the coastal city of Takoradi, made a name for himself as a rapper and entertainer in Ghana back in 2014 and released Logos 2, his debut album last year. “Koobi” is a single from his new EP Logos Hope. The track is the name of a Ghanaian dish of dried and salted fish, but it is most likely a metaphor for cannabis here. For this track, the man known as Fante Van Damme invited rappers O’Kenneth and Reggie, two of the hottest elements of Life Living records, the Kumasi label at the heart of this new Ashanti drill sound called asakaa. The good news is that Pappy Kojo is back, and with him in such good company, the Kumasi drill still has a lot to offer.
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