NATIVE Selects: A list of the best songs this week
Featuring cuts from Minz, Suspect 95, Shatta Wale & more
Featuring cuts from Minz, Suspect 95, Shatta Wale & more
The tide of new music never stagnates. All across the continent, artists are releasing new music at a breakneck pace, whether to build their following or satiate the appetite of teeming fans. With our Songs of the Day column, we have consistently curated lists of exciting new music from Nigeria and around the African continent.
This week, we are debuting NATIVE Selects. Here, our editorial team will share new music (from the past 10 days) that they are excited about and want you to pay attention to. On our inaugural edition, we have scoured music from across the continent including Nigeria, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Uganda and Jamaica. Featuring cuts from Minz who updates his single “Wo Wo” with a remix from Afropop stars, BNXN and Blaqbonez, Juls who delivers his first offering since his debut album, ‘Sounds of My World’ and Suspect 95’s hard-hitting new single.
Nonso Amadi has hit foot firmly on the gas. Since his return to the scene, he’s been churning out experimental sounds rooted in his R&B leanings. His first offering this year “Ease Up” is a necessary call to chill out. From the Malian chant at the beginning of the song to the references to Lagos weather and lyrics about letting life run its course, he creates a memorable and relatable number to kick off the new year. Nonso’s new experimental style is exciting to see as he’s shaping himself into his own type pf star in real time.
Minz has orchestrated many eclectic Afropop productions since his debut on the scene. Sorely overlooked for his cool vocal style which weaves in, over and through beats, he’s kicked off his new year with a hunger to etch his name in the minds of listeners across the continent. On “Wo Wo (Remix),” he calls on smooth crooner BNXN and Choc City rapper, Blaqbonez to deliver a mid-tempo track with familiar Nigerian references. Gliding over the intoxicating beat with lyrics that feel like feel-good flexes, Minz and his collaborators deliver their verses in a slow rolling cadence ushering listeners into the hazy Harmattan sunset.
Ivorian rap is enjoying a period of abundance. One of its protagonists is Suspect 95, a dynamic veteran that embodies technical brilliance as a lyricist without sacrificing the importance of ear-holding song-making. For his latest single, “Société Suspecte,” Suspect delivers a snarling manifesto. Joined by Youssoupha, the pair run wild over a minimalist, thumping beat with an ominous melodic atmosphere, making rebellious proclamations entirely delivered in French. With sharp-tongued bars and a commanding, charismatic presence, the energy is palpable on this one.
There’s an obvious deference to ancestry in Msaki’s music. While she’s widely known for her numerous collaborations with House/Electronic producers, the South African singer leans more towards modern Folk arrangements in her music, which she’s gearing up to display more on ‘Synthetic Hearts’, her upcoming full-length with Tubatsi Moloi. On the latest promotional single, “Zibonakalise,” the duo successfully reach into an otherworldly plane of spiritual joy, chanting within an acoustic frame with rustic orchestral flourishes.
With two previous EPs ‘Baby Steps’ and ‘Watershed,’ Joshua Baraka is a talent to watch out for in 2023. “Nana” is an anti-love anthem about longing for someone whose heart can’t be trusted. Opening up with swelling keys, hypnotic flourishes, and ragga-infused instrumental, Joshua adorns his muse with praises and adoration while coming to terms with the inevitable.
Ghanaian-British act, Juls is notorious for repeatedly blurring the lines between producer, DJ and musician. He makes a note-worthy return with his first release since the deluxe version of his debut album, ‘Sounds Of My World.’ Very well within his signature groovy catalogue, his new release “Sade Riddim” offers a wordless composition of dreamy harmonies layered over a slow tempo drum beat. Met with the instantly calm intro of crashing waves, Juls plays into a slew of instruments, creating a perfect cross between the hypnotic saxophone chords and light shakers.
Ghanaian singer and songwriter Shatta Wale is one of the most charismatic music personalities . For his first offering this year, he’s turning the focus back on the music with the release of new single “London Bridge.” The guitar strings coupled with the mid-paced drum pattern allow the record to come together nicely. Shatta Wale might just have another hit under his belt as “London Bridge” is set to start the year nicely.
Fresh off his ‘JAMZ’ project, Ghanaian rapper Sarkodie kicks off 2023 with a cross-continental collaboration with the legendary Bob Marley & The Wailers on new single, “Stir It Up.” This latest version retains the Reggae feel of the original while injecting a modern Hip-Hop-inspired bounce into it. In his native tongue of Twi, Sarkodie raps about the softer and more romantic side of life as he makes promises to his lover. The accompanying music video, shot in Accra, Ghana, portrays the love and positivity of the song as lovers and friends party along the shores of a beach.
Ghanaian artists have always embedded the unique strain of their culture into the sonics. Although drawing often from R&B, Camidoh embodies a pristine sensuality in this new record with G.D.S. With recognisable percussions from Hiplife, he waxes soulfully over the mid-tempo number, engaging an array of vocal embellishments as the song coasts further. G.D.S takes a supporting role, lining his vocals with her striking svelte tone, a fusion which results in an exciting high reminiscent of classic duets.
Off her ‘Stay Gone’ project, this sombre record highlights the immense potential of Nigerian singer, Onyinye. The understated production comes alive with wobbly elements enlivening the background while Onyinye’s vocals assume an alert sensitivity. Conversations about mental health have increasingly shifted into the centre of Nigerian music and Onyinye’s record forms part of that discourse, a uniquely alive song which aims to reclaim her autonomy from the pressing weight of the world around her. Although a romantic interest hovers above her writing, the sonic direction is amorphous and could fit into several life situations.
Kenyan artist mau from nowhere has been heavy on our radar for a minute. To open his tab for the new year, mau has updated his 2022 single, “Ghost” with a lush video. Directed by Chebeni, the video for “Ghost” is a compelling visual that finds the singer performing his verse against a dusty pink backdrop while firing off verses that sound like catching feelings on the breeziest summer day.
Featured image credits/NATIVE