Gems: A list of the best songs released this week

New songs from Lady Donli, Yinoluu, Amaarae, dnd section & more

Presenting our first ever Gems, a nod to the most exciting releases from the 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. 

Odunsi (The Engine) & Maison 2500 – “wicked, sexy”

For our chosen Rap Song Of The Week, Odunsi & Maison make the perfect pairing on the long-awaited “wicked, sexy”. While the mosh-inducing track benefits from Odunsi’s groovy and charismatic beat demands aggressive head bops coupled with Maison’s smooth delivery, the most exciting element of the song Odunsi’s phenomenal verse.

Odunsi’s catalogue is filled with deeply introspective songs, which give anyone listening a good idea of who he is as a person. Every so often, he’ll strip back the vulnerability to chuck his middle finger up to anyone who gives him grief for being himself, much like he did on “alte cruise”. Sporting a sassy and self-assured cadence, Odunsi’s verse manages to include both these elements, by telling us exactly where he’s at in life and what he wants for himself moving forward. ‘I ain’t playing games, I’ve been playing too long/Niggas Worried ‘Bout Me, Worried ‘Bout The Wrong Things”, he raps to drive this message home very clearly and make a great case for one of the hardest lines we’ve heard all year.

dndsection – “Darling”

The last time we heard from dndsection with “Bestie”, we saw him in full savage mode where he declares that if a girl doesn’t want him, he’ll move to her best friend. He seems to have flipped the script and with his new song “Darling”, where he’s teamed up with Chrystel for a romantic confessional and promises a lover heaven and earth.

Against a syncopated beat, which switches smoothly between mid to up-tempo to suit both artists’ flows, dnd and Chrystel set their intentions for each other very clearly. Where Simi & Ladipoe’s “Know You” presents a tale of coy lovers, dnd & Chrystel go right in for the kill, with amorous lyrics and bold declarations. While their synergy definitely makes the song what it is, dnd switching up his usual cutting edge rap for a more melodic tune shows off his range and is the star of the show.

KiDi x Adina Thembi – “One Man”

From the gently powerful combination of Odunsi (the Engine) and Tems to Ladipoe self-described isolation soundtrack with Simi, afropop has seen a few memorable male-female collaborations this year, and we can now add KiDi and Adina’s “One Man” to that list. Off KiDi’s excellent new EP, ‘Blue’, the song is a phenomenal showcase of synergy between the two Ghanaian singers, as they use interplay and occasional harmony collision to great effect.

“You are the woman that I need, I be the one man that you see, you set my heart on fire”, they sing on the delightful chorus, capturing the burning affection between two lovers committed to each other. Backed by a robust, mid-tempo folk groove, “One Man” is a stunning duet suited for wedding playlists and people in relationships looking for a song to personify what their partners mean to them.

Phlow x Tomi Owo – “Energy”

Phlow is redefining her perception of what it means to be a female rapper in Nigeria, and her new EP, ‘Marmalade’, is symbolic of this evolution. While the entire EP is a reset button of sorts, the final track, “Energy” is a clear statement track from the rapper. With all the personal turmoil and career bumps she’s had, Phlow is letting everyone know that she’s only interested in good vibes—nothing more, nothing less.

In a recent chat, Phlow admitted to the integral role Tomi Owo plays on “Energy”, saying that she made the song what it is. Tomi’s mellifluent vocals brings colour and a zen energy to the song, laying out the song’s premise with clarity and charm. Don’t sleep on Phlow’s raps, though. “Blessings in the rain coming down, so we set sail/give me room let me breath, I don’t like mess with that bad energy”, she raps with a confident aura, coasting over Alpha’s jazzy and bubbly production.

Davido ft Shizzi & Wale – “Won Le Ba”

Our Issue 002 cover star, Davido is currently on the victory lap he started in 2017, and he’s bringing all the trophies home. While we had to wait nearly 7 years after his debut for his sophomore album, his next album coming this July won’t be taking that long. Earlier this week, he gave us another taste of what to expect with a new Wale-assisted, Shizzi produced cut, primed for the dancefloor we can’t access right now.

Davido & Shizzi have shown great synergy since the beginning of Davido’s career, and with a mid-tempo mix of afropop and afrohouse, he lays the perfect bedding for Davido’s vocal delivery. In his usual fashion, he’s flexing about being cut from a different cloth, singing in Yoruba that he can’t be touched and that the small-minded won’t understand his success. Wale joins him also maintaining his usual form, wearing his love for Nigeria on his sleeve, as usual, throwing in the odd Yoruba word without sounding like he’s trying hard.

Odunsi ft Amaarae, DETO BLACK & Gigi Atlantis – “body count”

Immediately the song is played, “body count” arrests listeners with Gigi’s incredible hook against the bouncy beat – Odunsi’s only contribution to the song. A few months ago, we discussed how much we need the ultimate girl’s anthem to make a mark for the paradigm shift women in music are experiencing, and the indelible “body count” does this in more than one way.

Lyrically, each featured artist is operating outside of the space carved out for women in music, who are typically more encouraged to perform sexuality to be viewed rather than for themselves. From the hook to Amaarae and Deto’s incredibly well-written verses, the message is driven home with no confusion, with DETO stealing the show with her cadence, body and sex positive lyrics and general BDE. Uniting all the bad bitches all over social media from Tik Tok to Instagram, body count is more than a bouncy track, it’s also a moment for young African women.

Yinoluu – “Birthday” featuring Amaarae

Producers are an invaluable part of the music community, providing some of the best sounds from the continent at the moment. Since his stellar production on party-starting anthem “alte cruise” which a marker for the alte sub-culture at the time of its release, Yinoluu has proven his talent time and time again. 

To start off the year, he has just released a new EP ‘Lost Files’ which he’s enlisted some of the most talented names in the game. Featuring Ghanaian neo-soul princess, Amaarae to Psycho YP, AYLO, Mafeni, Remy Baggins and Barelyanyhook, the project housed many great songs, with one of the standouts being the Amaarae-assisted “Birthday”.  

Amaarae has always embraced and presented sexuality in her music, opening up more honest conversations for young African women experiencing the same feelings. Over heavy chords and hazy production, her bedroom-pop drawl draws listeners in, with which she delivers sensual lyrics saying: ‘You make me feel like it’s my birthday/You know I want you like in the worst way’.  

As emphasised by Jeremih back in ’09 and Rihanna soon after, the song is another addition to the notion of ‘birthday’s’ being a definite day for some action. 

Lady Donli ft. Darko Vibes “Wonda Wonda”

Romance has always been a mainstay in contemporary afropop, with artists everywhere using the universal language of love to connect with fans and followers, who have probably also experienced the highs and lows of dating and relationships. The minister of ‘Enjoy Your Life’ has never shied away from expressing her romantic inclinations in her music, and she has continued with a twist on her latest drop.

On “Wonda Wonda”, Lady Donli is subverting these themes of romance, and delivering a groovy anti-love anthem featuring La Meme Gang’s Darkovibes. Over a groovy highlife-inspired beat laced with afropop drums and smooth sounding percussions, Lady Donli sings about needing distance from love interests, which will definitely feel familiar to anyone who has taken some time in isolation to get rid of a stale relationship.

‘For this your matter, causing too much wahala’ she sings over the song’s infectious hook admonishing all the potential suitors and turning down their advances as subtly as she can. Darkovibes joins her on the song with catchy adlibs that always seem to land at exactly the right spot. Rather than flex his familiar rapping skills, the Ghana-based artist opts for more smooth sounding melodies, putting on his best lover boy persona.

Featured Image Credits: Instagram/

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Words by: Tami Makinde & Dennis Ade-Peters 

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