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5 albums to discover this week

This week, Simi delivers sweet afropop, Jinku & Karun carry the East African Wave, Séketxe drop an intense debut, Nancy Mounir revives marganlized Egyptian codes and Dice Ailes marries afrobeats and reggaeton.

TBH (To Be Honest)

Simi

The Nigerian afropop singer Simi returns with her fifth studio album entitled To Be Honest, featuring fellow Nigerian singer Fave and producers Pheelz, Blaise Beatz, Ozedikus, P. Prime, and AYK Beats. It contains 11 tracks in which she contemplates love, gratitude, and betrayal. In the opening track “Story Story”, Simi speaks about her transition from gospel to secular music. She invites husband Adekunle Gold on the track “Balance” about life’s unpredictability. Her daughter also has a small part in the very similarly thematic “Easy” about enjoying life as it comes. Overall, this new album is about Simi’s positive take on the world.

Listen here.

Passenger 555

Jinku & Karun

NuNairobi pioneer, Jinku whose music collective East African Wave came onto the scene in 2015, teams up with RnB musician Karun to deliver a 7-track EP entitled Passengers 555. It is a story about relationships in all of its complexities through the sonic backdrop of a space opera. The project is meant to be appreciated in two different ways. In the intended order, it is “a story of a love that is wavering” whereas backwards, it “presents a tale of a faltering love being reignited”. Still on the topic of relationships, this specific musical partnership seems well-suited as Karun’s afropop vibes offer an interesting take on Jinku’s alternative electronic sounds.

Listen here.

FUNJADA (KANDENDUE KALUANDA)

Séketxe

Enigmatic Angolan rap group Séketxe have a new full length album in all caps FUNJADA (KANDENDUE KALUANDA) that matches their high octane energy. Made up of six members, supposedly from Luanda, Murtalha, Djamberão, Rasgdo, Layfado, Black Kokaina, Banzelo make a big statement for Angolan drill and hip hop. The raspy vocals that scream as much as they flow, this time adding a sweet melody and chorus such as on “NGASSAKADILA” make for a potent mix of fresh Lusophone hip hop. The 8 track 30 minute album is dense and intense, making for a heady listen that leaves other rap feel soft and liquid. Surely a group to follow who’s been nailing their new brand of fiery street rap since early 2021 and whose debut album doesn’t disappoint. 

Listen here.

Nozhet El Nofous

Nancy Mounir

Cairo-based violinist, producer and composer Nancy Mounir has taken an interest in Egyptian singers from the 1920s, tracing their musical lives and learning about tuning systems outside of the dominant scales in the Arabic mainstream. “I first started researching their music, because I deeply connected with what these artists were singing about”, says Mounir.  After six years, she released her debut album Nozhet El Nofous (نزهة النفوس – Promenade of the Souls) that revives the work of forgotten Egyptian singers before the introduction of western-style notation system as the norm. In it Mounir pays tribute to artists, such as Mounira El Mahdeya, Hayat Sabri or Fatma Serry, who were not invited to the Congress of Arab music that took place in 1932, the aim of which was to make Arab music more palatable to western ears.

Listen here.

Ladies First

Dice Ailes

Shasha Damilola Alesh better known as Dice Ailes, invites Ladies First, the title of his first EP. It’s more of the smooth low-key afrobeats that has made Dice Ailes a ladies man in his lane. However the EP shows another dimension to the artist, notably on “Rosalia” where Dice introduces afrobeats long lost cousin, reggaeton, into the mix with an homage to the flamenco superstar Rosalia. It’s a mix that we rarely see but a fan of either genre notices is a few BPMs and conjugations apart. The rest of the EP continues the crooning, picking up the energy for the closer and lead single “Hold Me” featuring the one and only Tiwa Savage. 

Listen here.

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