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GEMS: A list of the best songs released this week

Every Saturday, The NATIVE Will Put Out A List Detailing The Best And Most Enjoyable Songs Released During The Week. With The Scope Widening And Music Dropping At An Immeasurable Pace, It’s Easy To Miss Out On A Lot Of New Drops, So We’ve Decided To Help Out, By Collating A List Of The Best Hip-Hop, Pop, R&B Song From All Over The Continent. Our Main Goal With This List Is To Make Finding Great Music Of The Moment Easier For You.


Semi Tee – “Lockdown” (feat. Xman)

In an increasingly saturated Amapiano space, Semi Tee is establishing himself as one of the best within the subgenre’s ranks. Following a string of popular singles, including the smash breakout “Labantwana Ama Uber”, the South African producer/DJ dropped his debut album, ‘I’M ONLY TWEENTYONE’, last week, providing an impressive look into his chops as a beat-maker and project curator. In its hour-long, Semi’s debut has its fair share of proper bangers, including the final track, “Lockdown”, which also stands out as the timeliest of the bunch.

While Amapiano’s rise to dominance has been powered by its suitability for dancefloors, “Lockdown” is an example of the subgenre’s adaptability to the current times where large gatherings are discouraged. With Semi’s droning strings, heaving piano riff and the floating synth pad bounce, the song is very much dance-oriented, but the accompanying message is to sweat it out in the safety of our homes. “Wash your hands, stay safe”, featured artist Xman bellows, straddling the line between plaintive warning and playful command. Amapiano has received criticism for being overly carnal in the past, but with a banger like “Lockdown”, no one can say Semi Tee and his colleagues are insensitive.

Kasien – “All I See”

Kasien is gearing up to the release of his debut project, ‘I Found Paradise In Hell’ and has just given us a taste of what’s to come with the lead single, “All I See”. As suggested in the project’s title, the rapper has clearly made it out of a tough situation by making his way through it, and “All I See” gives clear indication of the direction it’s headed in.

Rapping in his most confident cadence against a thumping, bass-heavy drill beat, Kasien touches on protecting his mental space, overcoming his hard times, chasing the bag and more in one fell swoop. “Bad vibes I ain’t tryna hear that, if it ain’t black I ain’t tryna wear that”, he raps, maintaining the entire song’s A B B A rhyme scheme to ride the wave of the thumping beat. Kasien’s self-assuredness makes reference to the current times, which is bringing symptoms of the world’s ill to the forefront, and will only amount in forward motion. This again reflects upon the title of his upcoming EP, which from the sounds of “All I Need”, is indicative of Kasien’s journey through the mud.

 

Rema – “Alien”

With “Alien” Rema shows exactly what he’s capable of, which is… a lot.  In just over a year since his debut on the scene, he has become an omnipresent, omni-talented entertainer. 

Coming off of the dance-driven banger he dropped earlier this month, “Ginger Me”, “Alien” shows off Rema’s range, where he delivers a captivating melodic rap performance over the synth-led Level-produced beat Level which samples Jay Z’s “Dead Presidents II”. While the beat and his gunshot adlibs are a dead give away that he’s influenced by America’s hip-hop scene, the sentiment behind his lyrics cover themes all teenagers around the world can relate to; drugs, love, and feeling misunderstood. 

As a true child of the internet, Rema has been able to hop between cultures and draw them together. From the videos of him performing the song during his All-Star Weekend set to the convenient reference of the trendy #Don’tLeaveMe challenge, “Alien” is primed to capture any audience from around the world. It’s effortlessly cool and relatable, which means it ticks all the right boxes of what makes a good pop song become a summer anthem. It’s also slightly raw too, as he expertly details the heady lows inside the highs of being rich and famous; “Hating ass niggas looking at me/ I don’t even think they understand me/ I’m an alien”. 

Nasty C – “Steve Harvey”

Nasty C is a top tier rapper—that’s it, that’s the tweet. This week, he made history as the first African rapper to drop a mixtape hosted by an American DJ, and he did it in impressive fashion. If there were any high stakes attached to ‘ZULU’, you’d barely know it from the way Nasty C confidently runs through the 11-track set. A strong highlight of this is “Steve Harvey”, where his trademark bravado shines over a beat which sounds a lot like Future’s “Fuck up Some Commas”.

“Autograph a bitch so much I walk ‘round with a sharpie”, he quips at the beginning of the song, leading the way for a flurry of quotables that peaks with the instantly catchy chorus: “The cash, I must stash (moustache), Steve Harvey”. ‘Zulu’ is mostly meant to drum up hype for Nasty C’s major label debut, ‘Zulu Man with Some Power’, but it contains its moments of loose brilliance, and a song like “Steve Harvey” could very well go on to become a huge fan favourite, much like the song it’s clearly inspired by. “I feel like Pluto”, he proclaims on the opening adlib. Regardless, if “Steve Harvey” is any indication, it looks like we’ll be in for a hell of a ride when the proper album drops.

Tomilola – “Let Go” featuring The Cavemen

For her debut single of the year, afrofusion singer/songwriter Tomilola (formerly known as Atawewe) taps into the groovy sounds of the Cavemen for a confessional, open wound number on which she airs out a number of frustrations in her life. 

Over prominent afropop drums, Tomilola fuses silky r&b melodies with soul elements, as she gives an honest look into the life of a young artist and the fears that keep her up at night. Her soulful voice questions why we try to “Carry Things Too Heavy For (Us)”, a question I’m sure we have all asked ourselves at some point. She encourages listeners to live their lives freely and let go of things they’re struggling with “Cause No One Knows Tomorrow” and we have to make the most of the present. 

The encouraging number was inspired by her decision to move back home and pursue music full time, a move which pressured her to try to make things all fall in line at the same time. In a time where we are surrounded by so much uncertainty, it is always encouraging plugging into the sounds of artists who just simply get it and express what we’re all collectively feeling. 

Prettyboy D-O – “Wetin You Smoke” featuring Olamide

Prettyboy D-O has been teasing his latest project ‘Wildfire’ since the beginning of the year, and we’re beyond thrilled that the wait is finally over. The rapper/singer’s brand of ‘organised’ anarchy and rebellion has endeared him to an army of stans that continue to grow each passing day. ‘Wildfire’ shows Prettyboy D-O’s continued resistance against the haters, naysayers, the government, and pretty much anyone who dares stand in the way of what is his.

On standout track ”Wetin You Smoke”, Prettyboy D-O teams up with Olamide for a catchy and upbeat banger that celebrates the many joys of smoking weed. Over pounding afropop drums, and a frenzy of percussions, D-O and Olamide sing about the many joys of smoking weed. Their incredible synergy is felt as they effortlessly bounce between English and Yoruba on the track. ‘No bring yawa come my door, I get problems on my head/ chop and smoke my ganja, it helps reduce the stress’ D-O sings on the hook, reinforcing the overarching hedonistic message. He just wants to smoke and enjoy life without the stress, who wouldn’t?

Speaking to the NATIVE, Prettyboy D-O shared ‘You know how in the book of Revelations, a wildfire just comes and cleanses the earth and the new world is born? This wildfire project is cleansing the streets for ‘Pretty World’

‘Wildfire’ is definitely Prettyboy D-O’s cleansing, and we can’t wait to see what comes next on the debut album.

Burna Boy – “Wonderful”

Being a Burna Boy fan is a bit like being on a rollercoaster- though he’s constantly getting bad press for his ‘gangster’ antics, he keeps fans entertained with a generous supply of quality music releases. Last year, he followed up 2018’s critically acclaimed album, ‘Outside’ with ‘African Giant’ which went on to earn a Grammy nomination. But despite last year’s incredible run which includes features on Dave’s monster hit, “Location”, Beyoncé’s ‘The Lion King – The Gift’ and Stormzy’s number one single, “Own It”, Burna Boy has shown no signs of stopping or resting on his laurels. He announced his upcoming album, ‘Twice As Tall’ with a new single titled “Wonderful”

“Wonderful” has a groovy reggaeton baseline that Telz produced to cajole listeners to dance and it inspires a rhythmic set from Burna who never misses an opportunity to brag about his earworm melodies; “You no go believe wetin wan happen/ No disturbance when the gbedu catch you/ As the gbedu don start (won jo)”. He fluidly switches from English to pidgin to Yoruba lyrics and reminds listeners of his Afropop dominance as he alludes his music’s compelling quality to magic; “Nkan be like jazz”. 

With crossover success after crossover success, it’s hard to argue with the African Giant. Though his world tour was affected by the pandemic, he hasn’t allowed that to stop him from creating more songs. In fact, “Wonderful” shows he’s still in a celebratory mood and we look forward to what’s to come from the ‘Twice As Tall’ album expected to come out later this year.

GEMS: A List of the best songs released this week

Every Saturday, The NATIVE Will Put Out A List Detailing The Best And Most Enjoyable Songs Released During The Week. With The Scope Widening And Music Dropping At An Immeasurable Pace, It’s Easy To Miss Out On A Lot Of New Drops, So We’ve Decided To Help Out, By Collating A List Of The Best Hip-Hop, Pop, R&B Song From All Over The Continent. Our Main Goal With This List Is To Make Finding Great Music Of The Moment Easier For You.


DAP the Contract – “Love the World”

DAP the Contract’s consistent streak with releasing new music is matched by his flair for lived-in and substantial thematic content. Two months ago, the rapper/producer opened his account for the year with an EP, ‘Powers, Vol. 1’, and he recently updated the project with a deluxe edition that adds three new tracks. The additions are mainly a reflection of the grimness that has enveloped our world in the past month, and on the standout cut, “Love the World”, DAP lets his world-weary feeling roam free on wax.

Unfiltered and honest without being overbearing, “Love the World” finds DAP untangling the madness of injustice, racial and otherwise, adding a conspiratorial edge to his observations (“that iPhone close your third eye till you see none”) and letting us in on his relationship with the concept of a higher being. Amidst all of this, he makes a resolution to love the world while dealing with all its craziness, because that’s the best we can do lest our outrage push us into total darkness and nihilism. DAP’s careful optimism is matched by his gently propulsive flow and radiant boom bap production.

 

Ictooicy – “Attitood”

Ictooicy has been teasing her loyal following with her fourth drop for a while now and it’s finally here. ‘Lavish’ was rolled out earlier this week and impressively shot up to the #4 spot on Apple Music Alternative charts within hours of its release. With features from Fasina and 234jaydaa, who contribute sonically to her youthful tales of romance and chaos, Ictooicy delivers her most adventurous drop yet. 

The closing track “Attitood” is probably the project’s most enjoyable number, boosted by its airy synths and vivid percussions, Ictooicy apologises to friends for switching up when her moods get sour.  The track seems a bit like a dialogue, as she talks and sings over the beat, explaining the process behind landing such a great beat and proclaiming it the best Icy song ever.

“Please don’t hit me up when I’m not in the mood/I don’t really like giving you that attitood” she sings, reinforcing the song’s title as she pleads to be left alone even though she has two phones – one for the text, one for the road. Bad moods are like an itch that just becomes worse the more you scratch, and communication tends to be a bit harder when there are mood swings involved. We love to see Icy being emotionally intelligent and taking space when she needs to, in order to communicate better.

Preye – “Man in the Wind”

The legendary reggae singer Bob Marley famously sang, “Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights”. On her new reggae-infused single, “Man in the Wind”, Preyé taps into the spirit of Bob Marley’s sentiment without mentioning his name or invoking those particular lyrics. Burning with a righteous anger toward the myriad of unjust acts that are unravelling society, the singer charges listeners to go beyond digital activism and take to the streets in order to ensure change happens at a faster pace.

These past few days, outrage has been the common denominator in our existence, with many people taking to the streets to protest and more people expelling their disdain through social media platforms. While the latter has been integral to heightening awareness, educating more people and fostering a communal sense of moral responsibility, Preyé is far more enamoured with the boots-on-the-ground approach since it’s far more radical—and radical might be what we need most right now.

“Nothing gets better if the trespassing is punished by another man’s sin”, she sings over the assortment of whirring guitars and marching drums. For the most part, she’s not invalidating the efficacy of activism through social media, but she justifies her stance through the contagious annoyance and defiance she puts into her delivery.

Urban Village  – “Izivunguvungu”

South African band, Urban Village, have just released a new song, “Izivunguvungu” and it builds on the traditional appeal of their powerhouse match-up. The 4-man band have continued to develop their reputation for performing acoustic melodies rooted in traditional Zulu sounds. 

Given the unpleasant state of the world today, “Izivunguvungu” plays out like an escapist antidote with the enchanting mix of the synths, drums, horns, percussion and otherworldly vocals, which reenact the spirit of a community whose history is marked by their fight against apartheid. 

The band described the song as “Inspired by the Zulu traditional music genre called Isicathamiya, a male opera style of music that Zulu migrant workers performed together. “We blended the rural traditional music with a modern sound. It’s a song about striving to overcome the storms and hardship of life, about the promise of the return home,” the band mentioned in a press release. Like other South African songs which have crossed over to the rest of Africa like “Khona”, “Izivunguvungu” is enchanting enough to convey the song’s message clearly enough.

Dolapo – “It’s Alright”

British-Nigerian singer, Dolapo is definitely an artist you should be paying attention to. The talented singer has been rapidly making her way up the music scene in the UK owing to her smooth blend of r&b and afrobeat melodies. She’s incredibly gifted at delivering relatable lyrics about love and life, sure to resonate with anyone who’s been through similar struggles.

Her new single “It’s Alright” is the latest object of our listening obsession. Dolapo offers a startlingly modern take on r&b with colourful vibrant vocals that are reminiscent of artists like SZA and H.E.R. “You ain’t never had someone to change your life/make you wanna upgrade put that shit behind” she sings, speaking her truth about unworthy past lovers on top of harmonies and melodies that seem to swell and shimmer with each notable lyric. Get into her latest this weekend, her buttery smooth vocals make for an overall gratifying listening experience that reveals something new each time it’s revisited.

Skiibii – “Banger” feat. Reekado Banks 

In 2018, Skiibii‘s career grew from publicity stunt acclaim to nationwide cool after his song, “Sensima” featuring Reekado Banks dominated DJ sets and radio airwaves. He followed up the song’s success with “Daz How Star Do” featuring Falz and Teni but his subsequent releases, “Omaema” and “Big Engine” slowed his momentum as they didn’t receive much attention from fans. Skiibii’s debut single for 2020, “Banger” is set to get him back on the track he started out with, as he reunites with Reekado Banks to deliver another unforgettable track. 

Much like “Sensima”, “Banger” brings out Skiibii and Reekado Banks’ confidence in their craft. Produced by RhymeBamz, the party-driven beat serves as the perfect backing for singers to woo their love interest with adoring lyrics with groovy allure. The pair dedicate most of their lyrics to singing their lovers’ praises, “Baby girl your body is a banger”, confident that they can secure a hit song by merely singing about their beauty.

Asides Skiibii’s lyrics, “To ba ri mi ninu Bentley/ Mo mope o fe ya selfie. When you see me in a Bentley/ I know you’d want to take a selfie”, the singers’ superstar status is hardly acknowledged as they remained focused on celebrating their muses. Though it’s still too soon to call “Banger” a hit song, it shows Skiibii at his finest and proves that we’d be talking about him for some time to come. With vulnerable yet heroic lyrics like “Let me be your sugar dad”, “Banger” is the sort of song that lingers with listeners and prompts you to think wistfully about your crush. 

Featured image credits/instagram


Words by Dennis Ade-Peter, Tami Makinde and Debola Abimbolu


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