Fresh Meat: Best New Artists (October, 2021)
Featuring K.Keed, DaisyFirecracker and more
Featuring K.Keed, DaisyFirecracker and more
Staying true to our mission reshape the face of African popular culture, The NATIVE team curates a monthly list to spotlight the best and most exciting new artists on the continent. Some of these artists have dropped songs to some regional acclaim, while others are brand new on the block, working towards their first big break. Tune in to what’s next. Click here for September’s Fresh Meat.
Afropop is currently witnessing one of its most defining moments. This year alone, the genre has soared unlike ever before, taking on new life as it fully goes global with frontrunners such as Wizkid, Tems and CKay. We are witnessing history in the making as the genre and its youngest proponents shatter glass ceilings that previously set them back from worldwide fame.
The most interesting part of all this lies in the fact that their success is setting a vast tone for where the new vanguard of Afropop hitmakers are able to take their music next. Now, more than ever before, the world is interconnected and looking for its next superstars and Afropop has positioned itself at the apex of this search. What’s difficult, however, is sieving through all the noise, and finding all the diamonds in the rough. That’s where the NATIVE’s Fresh Meat column comes in to make sure that good music isn’t being slept on.
Now entering its 19th edition, this month’s Fresh Meat packs in a punch as it features some of the hottest emerging artists on the continent. From Nigerian Rap newcomer DaisyFirecracker to South Africa’s Young Stunna, here are the artists you need to be listening to right now.
In the last few years, some of the most innovative R&B music coming out of Africa has sprung from South Africa. From Shekhinah’s wispy neo-soul to Bonj’s song of angst and melancholy, the sounds from the Rainbow Nation are in sync with the global sound of contemporary R&B. The singer known as Hunter Rose is rooted in that culture of fluid expressionism, calmly detailing her feelings about life, love, and despair over featherlight beats attuned to her diminutive voice. Hailing from Cape Town, the singer first came to attention through a series of The Weeknd covers that translated the distinct mirth of the Toronto singer’s smoky lyrics into her optimistic worldview.
Her first single, 2019’s “Hot,” pushed her art in new directions, casually subsuming the electronic thrum of house music into her soul core. A broader showing of her capabilities was given on Slow Summer, a joint project with Clap Cotton and Loop Schrauber, where the singer’s voice mapped out the stretch of the project. On the project, Hunter plays the role of reassuring her listeners about going through tough times on “Just Fine,” infusing the single with a shoegaze essence, while “Goody” captured her exuberant spirit over a jazzy instrumental.
Hunter’s debut album, Love & Trust, melds the storytelling of Slow Summer with an insistent desire to express her wants in friendships and romance. On “Let Me Go,” with Ile Saadiq and Meek, Hunter sings about potentially being the one causing the obstacles in her romances, asking her partner to let her go. That rare feeling of optimism is dissolved on the titular track where she sings about making it with a partner, crooning about love and trust being all they need. These complex feelings come to a head in the final stretch of the project where the relationships Hunter holds dear teeter on the edge of collapse, leading to anguish-filled tracks like “Lose Control” and “Goodbye (Outro).” On her latest single, “Get It,” the singer reunites with Clap Cotton, displaying the majestic sense of pacing that makes her music a wonder.
20-year old FELICIA might be relatively new to the music scene but her voice demands attention. Committing to music in 2019, the self-taught singer, songwriter, producer and audio engineer took it upon herself to improve her craft throughout the lockdown period in 2020, and the results were immediately evident. In August 2020, she released her debut single “So There’s That,” a track that finds the artist flexing her distinctly smoky vocals over the solemn, guitar-led production.
Music always seemed to be the goal for FELICIA When she was only 10 years old, she began writing her own original music and taking piano lessons, giving her the perfect foundation for what she is today and what she’s preparing to grow into. Drawing heavy influences from R&B/Soul, FELICIA has shaped her sound in such a way that it has undeniably become hers. In February 2021, she released her debut EP ‘1:50AM’. The 5-track self-produced solo tape shows off the artist’s vulnerability from the melancholic production to the poignant lyricism, all tied together through her purposeful artistry.
In just slightly over a year, she’s garnered quite the attention as she has been featured on a number of editorial playlists including Apple music “Alte cruise”, “Afro-soul Mix”, “R&B Now” playlist and Spotify’s “New music Naija” playlist. And she’s not slowing down anytime soon. Already, one of her singles “I Won’t” has earned her new levels of recognition as it hits the 100k stream mark.
FELICIA’s infectious voice especially coupled with her preference for an eclectic and altogether soulful soundscape is definitely something to speak on. Although she hasn’t been in the scene for so long, FELICIA has a promising music career right in front of her and we’re rooting for her.
In the past few years, Big Brother Nigeria has emerged as one of Africa’s most viewed and most discussed reality TV shows. Last year’s lockdown season, in particular, proved to be a very entertaining season, grabbing viewers’ attention with remarkable individuals to root for. It also embellished how the show has become a place for emerging artists to reach and hold the attention of a wider audience, not only for its eventual winner but also for its other contestants. This is particularly so for Veeiye, who’s advancing her career as a singer right before our eyes.
Born Victoria Adeyele, and performing under the moniker Veeiye, Vee is a British-Nigerian singer and songwriter singing about poignant and relatable stories. Her music career dates back to long before her run on the Big Brother 2020 Lockdown season, with a few singles and low-key support appearances, including backup vocals on UK rapper Not3s’ single, “Aladdin”. With a rangy, honeyed and agile voice, Vee’s potentials as a singer were evident before she entered the Big Brother house, and it shined on several occasions in the house, setting her on a potentially fruitful path when she rejoined the outside world.
In that time, her musical growth has been measured and meaningful as she’s improved upon her skill. Earlier this month, a year after gracing screens across the continent, Vee released her debut EP ‘Young & Reckless’, a 5-tracker that features Mavin rapper Ladipoe and close friend Laycon. The 13-minute listen is a short yet dynamic set ruminating on matters of love, sex, affection, intimacy and more. With an undeniably unique sound, she introduces listeners to her sound and gives a well-rounded view of her youthful world.
Fusing Afropop with R&B and her brand of bold writing, Vee’s artistic inclinations are convincingly well-worn. Even with her short catalogue, the singer is on her path to stardom, leaving no room for doubt with her powerful and audacious voice.
It’s not every day you uncover a footballer turned fast-rising artist. Abubakar Abdulahi popularly known as Dagizah is a Nigerian rapper and singer whose music can be described as a fusion of both foreign and local sounds. Starting off his professional career, the rising star made the change to music when he ran into financial difficulties at Samba FC, the football team to which he was signed to and played.
Over time, with the influence of his elder brother who constantly would buy him CDs of his favourite artists such as Usher and Saheed Osupa, he soon uncovered his passion for making music. “I came about Dagizah in a funny way when I was trying to create an email years ago and that was what came to my mind first. Ever since then, I have been going by the name, DAGIZAH,” he explained of his chosen moniker in an interview with Vanguard news. After Dagizah made the conscious effort to pursue his music, he began putting out music and performing in minor school events until he got the chance to perform alongside the likes of Danny S in 2018 and Zinoleesky in 2019. Along the way, he caught the attention of Chippy Muller, the CEO of Chippy Records, to which he’s now signed. As he advanced in his career, he also went on to receive a co-sign from industry powerhouse and Grammy-nominated artist, Bankulli.
As he advances in the game and improves upon his craft, Dagizah aims to show the world what no other can bring to the industry as he releases a slew of singles including “Cashless” and “Oyojo Reloaded” as well as his debut EP titled ‘Zero Your Mind.’ He has found a way to merge genres from all spectrums, mixing Drill music and Fuji music, alongside Amapiano laced with a trappy and textured melody. Dagizah clearly has so much more in store and can’t wait to show the world.
Adekunle Olawashina Abdulateef also known as Zamorra is a 22-year old Nigerian Afropop artist who caught our attention after he engaged in a viral Twitter trend. During the time, his hype reached a fever pitch shortly after he made a song that compared two similar subject matters and determined which was more important. While this was one of the most defining moments of his career, Zamorra has actually been making music since he was young. His love for music began from his days in church before he started writing music professionally in 2015.
With his success in the “importanter” song challenge, Zamorra also scored a befitting remix with Small Doctor followed by a vibrant music video for the song which trended and went viral nationwide, cementing him as a talented newcomer. In 2015, he was signed to Fox Records where he dropped an array of singles such as “Better De Come”, “Deserve Better”, “Run Away” and many more. He recently debuted his first-ever EP entitled ‘Storms and Rainbows’. The 8 track project entails his life experiences from moving to Lagos from Ondo state, those who have shaped his life and everything else in between.
The main message Zamorra wishes to share with listeners comes into full display on the standout track “Timeless” where he speaks on the uniqueness of his journey and his timeless, no limitations approach to making music. He pushes back on those who compare his journey to his counterparts who may have gained more success and popularity in the industry, choosing instead to focus on his singular vision to improve his craft. With the future still ahead of him, it’s clear that Zamorra is barely getting started on his plans for world domination.
Amapiano is a gift that keeps on giving. This is not only true for the countless hits that keep surfacing but evident through the talents the genre keeps unearthing. 21-year old Young Stunna is the latest breakout star. With his unmissable voice, clever lyrics and catchy melodies, the South African vocalist/rapper first made a splash earlier in the year on Dzo 729’s “Baxolelela” and on Dlala Regal’s “Dlala Captain.”
Hailing from Daveyton, Johannesburg, Stunna started writing music at a young age. His deep love for music was shaped by his family, who played a lot of Hip-Hop, Kwaito and R&B during his upbringing. Drawn towards the former, Stunna was impressed by how impassioned the artists expressed themselves, and by the early-to-mid-2010s, he started recording and performing as part of a rap group in and around his township.
Delving into Amapiano in February, an invite to a studio session with pioneering producer/DJ Kabza De Small would prove to be a necessary catalyst to his burgeoning career. After recording “Camagu” together, the superproducer was so impressed by Stunna’s prowess that he promptly signed him to his Piano Hub label. Within a space of a few months, Stunna’s trajectory significantly shot up, thanks to his show-stealing features on songs like the chart-topping “Bopha” and “Sgija”.
His recently released, star-studded debut album ‘Notumato’ (Beautiful Beginnings), opens with the highly-anticipated smash hit “Adiwele” (which has been subject to leaks and viral moments). In the song, Stunna confesses that a new life filled with fortune is calling upon his name, while also expressing gratitude towards Kabza for his contribution, and for opening doors for him. While on “Shaka Zulu,” Stunna speaks of his explosive arrival, comparing it to that of a warrior. He details how he has fought to be where he is today, being able to take care of loved ones and doesn’t have any desire to go back to his old life. On the 16-track LP, Stunna explores different themes with equal authenticity. His ability to make groove-centric bangers, as well as broadly relatable Amapiano tunes, attests that the vocalist is on a path to superstardom.
When Daisy raps, she sounds as if she has a point to prove; the words that burst out of her mouth are rapid-fire bars after bars, delivered with a fierceness and confidence that commands attention. The Nigerian rapper, who is an indigene of Okija in Anambra State, didn’t have the smoothest ride into the music scene. Her search for a better living took her away from her family home and into the big city of Onitsha and then more than 3000 kilometres from Nigeria into Guinea-Bissau. But a spot in front of a microphone was always Daisy’s true home.
Now signed to Dreamspace Entertainment, Daisy put out her first single, “Straight Ahead,” early this year. The track, which is produced by respected Nigerian producer Major Bangz, is rife with thumping drums. Daisy matches the vigour of the production with her high-energy delivery and braggadocious lyrics. Her fortunes improved when she appeared twice on Nigerian artist/hypeman Slimcase’s Instagram Live show. On both videos, which went viral, Daisy freestyled in her characteristic rap style of Igbo and Pidgin English, wowing audiences with her peppy lines and infectious composure. She also appeared on Nigerian disc jockey DJ Jimmy Jatt’s Jimmy’s Jump Off.
About a week ago, Daisy released her debut EP ‘Fire Cracker’. On the nine-track project, whose title is another pseudonym Daisy bears, the rapper displays her range and versatility. On songs like the title track and “Who Dey Zuzu,” which has roots from one of her freestyles on Slimcase’s show, Daisy offers the side of her artistry that her fans know: chest-thumping lines backed by a ravenous delivery. She turns on her softer, lover girl side on cuts like “Lemon and Juice” and the R&B-tinged “Fantasize,” which features MaynEvent. On those songs, she combines rapping with laid-back singing that doesn’t feel out of place but complements her romance-filled intentions. She goes a step further and becomes a relationship counsellor on “True Love,” as she advises couples to remember that hard times are part of the fabric of a long-lasting relationship.
There is also the street anthem, “Ima Kosi,” on Fire Cracker. Here, a street smart-Daisy shouts out different regions in the eastern part of Nigeria as she reiterates that hard work and dedication are the foundations to enduring success. She also takes shots at her detractors on “No See Road” and “Rest,” reminding them that she cannot be stopped. She samples Astrapiia’s “Can’t Quit You” on “Never Quit,” which is a reminder to herself to never let go of her dreams of rap stardom. Although Daisy operates in a space that never adequately rewards the talent of female artists, most especially female rappers, “Never Quit” is a promise to herself and her fans: she is here to stay.
There are a few intangibles that you pick up on when you hear a budding rap artist in the first few times. Presence is one of those, an ambiguous function of the artist’s natural cadence and a convincing oomph to their delivery that instantly defines how they will be received by your ears. The same way size can’t be taught to aspiring basketball players, it’s almost impossible to teach presence in rap – at worst, the artist just doesn’t have it; at worst, the artist can grow into it. South African rap upstart K.Keed has IT, in abundance. Presence is a preternatural part of her skill-set, dating all the way back to the very first song you’ll find on her SoundCloud page – released in 2018.
“Murder,” as the title suggests, is a bruising song where Keed tears through the web of naysayers and unbelievers, a pre-emptive gauntlet thrown down ahead of any doubts about her potential as a rap star. On that song, every line is as impactful as the one before it, each couplet landing with the loud thump of a giant’s step and every clever line slicing through with the sharpness of a samurai’s sword. Even though her voice is naturally honeyed, it’s effortlessly contorted into a delightfully stinging weapon, setting the precedent for an artist who easily sounds compelling and whose swagger will consistently be unchecked.
In 2017, K.Keed began rapping at the nudge of a friend; she took a beat from him, went home to write to it in 30-minutes and it unlocked a part of her she scarcely knew. It frames what she currently is in her default mode: a dead-eyed lyricist with an inclination to incinerate any beat she encounters. But you’d be wrong thinking that’s all she is. ‘Concepts’, her brief 2019 collaborative tape with producer Lay Lay, teased out more range from Keed, both as a melodic vessel and versatile songwriter. By last December’s solo debut EP, ‘R E L I G I O N’, a clearer vision of who Keed wanted to be as an artist became clearer. The EP is filled with lyrically intricate bars, breezy melodies, and enveloping trap beats, resulting in a definitive statement of artistic self wrapped into infectious bangers.
Earlier this year, Keed got her biggest mainstream look yet, spitting the instantly memorable hook on “Spazz,” headlined by friend, fellow Cape Town rapper and NATIVE Fresh Meat alum, Dee Koala. However, to truly appreciate where she’s headed, you have to take into account all of her drops this year, which have been mostly freestyles, a format she clearly uses as a showcase. One of those freestyles is “Goblin,” where she combines simple chants with biting raps, over a bubbly trap beat, into one of the most enjoyable rap songs out this year. There’s also a blistering freestyle over the soul-sampling beat for Drake’s “Lemon Pepper Freestyle,” and a rough but enjoyable lyrical exercise over the classic beat of The Notorious B.I.G’s “Mo Money, Mo Problems.”
Last month, she shared ‘Tx3’, a 2-pack drop with a woozy trap banger and a springy, hyphy-inspired song. They are experimental iterations of the supreme confidence K.Keed has in her abilities, and it will make you believe she determines where she goes next on the road to becoming a hybrid rap superstar.
Featured image credits/NATIVE
Written by Ada Nwakor, Dennis Ade-Peter, Uzoma Ihejirika, Madoodiwa Miya, Wale Oloworekende and Wonu Osikoya