Songs of the Day: New Music from Olamide, Elaine, Kwesi Arthur & more
Some of the most essential releases in recent days
Some of the most essential releases in recent days
Much as we’d like music drops to slow down and give us a chance to catch up with the unique tunes that are sprouting from across the world, the reality of the music business in the post-2010 era is very much different. With amazing songs dropping at an unrelenting pace, it is not always easy to cut through the noise and sheer volume of it all to find the music that will accompany our melancholy, inspire our next creative breakthrough, tether us our loved ones more securely, or take us to a place of unencumbered elation.
In line with our goal of curating content for our community, our “Songs of the Day” column curates some of the most essential recent releases for your reading and listening pleasure. After a short break effected by the Eid public holidays, we’re back to put you on some of the best releases around. Today’s curation includes new drops from Olamide, Elaine, Yemi Alade, Kida Kudz and more. Dig in, enjoy and you’re welcome.
Over a decade into his legendary career, Olamide is still as prolific as ever. Just over six months after his acclaimed last album, ‘Carpe Diem’, the rapper is getting set to drop a new full-length, ‘UY Scuti’, named after the largest star in the universe. Ahead of its mid-June release, he’s shared its lead single “Rock”, a romantic cut where he bares his affections to a love interest. Singing over groovy but relatively mellow production, Olamide lets his tender side shine, reminiscent of classic love songs in his catalogue like “Melo Melo”. The accompanying video hones in on the dance-ready elements of the song, focusing on a dancer pulling off energetic moves before going on to join Olamide at the end of the video as the love interest being sung about.
South African rap superstar-in-waiting Blxckie is gearing up to release his debut full-length, ‘B4NOW’, this Friday. Ahead of the project, he’s shared a few singles, and he recently added the highly anticipated Nasty C-assisted “Ye X4” to the line of pre-release drops. Named after Blxckie’s signature adlib, the two rappers combine for an ultra-boastful banger, lauding their varying levels of prominence in SA’s rap scene and sending out cutthroat bars to unbelievers. Over spacey piano synths and a thunderous bass pattern, Blxckie raves about his rising worth and Nasty C growls of his unimpeachable star power.
On the back of her lauded debut project, ‘Elements’, and its blockbuster single, “You’re the One”, Elaine emerged as the latest bright beacon in South Africa’s current, creatively thriving R&B space. In the eighteen months since, the singer has been quiet on new music front, but she’s clearly readying her next project. On her new single, “Right Now”, Elaine is at her most assertive yet, waving off an unfaithful partner and choosing to end things permanently rather than entertain any emotionally manipulative moves to patch the relationship up. In the accompanying video for “Right Now”, Elaine is seen living her best life alongside her girlfriends, capturing the self-sustaining energy of resonant lyric lines like, “I’m in my bag right now/I can’t afford to lose right now”.
For an artist who’s scored multiple big singles and has been a staple of Kenyan rap for a minute, Femi One’s debut album can be described as overdue. She’s gearing up to release her first LP, ‘Greatness’, and while there’s no definite release date set just yet, she’s already dropped its lead single. “Adonai”, with its obvious religious reference, is a celebratory song where Femi One attributes her life and fortunes to the guidance of the Higher Power she defers to. While she exclusively raps in Kiswahili, and the hook is sung by Bern Mziki, her spiritually reverent motives are palpable in the performance.
Vic Mensa’s visits to Ghana and South Africa spawned several collaborations with artists in both countries, the strongest of them is arguably his feature on Ghanaian rapper Kwesi Arthur’s “Winning”, a brash drill thumper where both rappers state their commitment to constant success. Kwesi Arthur leads the way with a repetitive hook and an exuberant verse touting the achievement of himself and those around him. Vic Mensa follows with a fiery rap verse, bragging about being financially secure and disrespectfully dismissing those who don’t mix with his driven lifestyle. The accompanying video captures the song’s frenzied energy, showing both rappers spitting their verses in dimly lit settings.
Following the release of the music video for “Shahumba”, South African singer/rapper Sho Madjozi has shared the video for “Jamani” as the latest promotional drop for late last year’s ‘What A Life’. On a project that leaned into Jaar Electronic and Gqom, “Jamani” was something of an outlier, being the only Amapiano song but it’s grown into a fan favourite. The video, shot in Kenya, highlights the song’s suitability for dancefloor purposes, showing Sho Madjozi and backing dancers as they pull off vibrant dance moves at a buzzing hangout spot at night.
In support of her fifth studio album, ‘Empress’, Yemi Alade has been dropping music video for select songs off the project. The latest is a set of visuals for “Dancina”, an up-tempo song where the singer performs snappy catchphrases over an Afro-House beat and generally encourages listeners to dance and live in the moment. “Dancina” continues Yemi Alade’s known preference for packing her visuals with energetic, choreographed dance moves and colourful outfits, as she and her cast of backup dancers capture the song’s light-hearted verve.
On paper, Kida Kudz and Bella Shmurda seem like a great match; on wax, they actually are. “Ball Till We Fall”, the new collaborative single from the pair coins in on the visible similarities in their delivery styles, which blend Fuji-inspired melodies, rap cadences, street-smart lyricism and catchy songwriting to varying levels. On the song, they flaunt their affluence and street cred, linking it to the most obvious Afropop cliché: their desirability amongst women. “I got something wey go make your head burst/dem other guys can’t do it like us”, Kida sings on his verse, setting the tone for Bella Shmurda to sing about groupies wanting to fly out with no visa.
Last September, Abuja-based polymath Suté Iwar released ‘Colors’, an impressive EP delving into the intricacies of romantic situations. Later this month, he’ll be following up with the release of a new album, ‘199X’, and he’s already building anticipation with lead singles. “Swayy”, the third single over the past three weeks, features brother and fellow polymath Tay Iwar. On the groovy self-produced song, Suté only shows up for a handful of lines, ceding the floor Tay’s ever immaculate vocals as he ruminates on self-worth and betting on himself instead of adhering to the lies “they” told him. “If I told you all the lies they told me, would you think I’m moving in the right direction?” Tay questions, ultimately relishing the scenic path he’s travelled over the course of his career.
@dennisadepeter is a staff writer at the NATIVE.