GEMS: A list of the best songs released this week

Songs you must hear from $hadow, LunaLovesYou and 234jaydaa, Fireboy DML and many more

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.

“Tattoo” – Fireboy DML

We’re a few days away from the arrival of Fireboy DML’s sophomore album ‘APOLLO’ and with each new pre-released single, we’re infinitely more excited to hear what he gives us this time around. For his latest single, “Tattoo”, Fireboy DML is switching the romantic lover boy flows from previous releases like “New York City Girl” for a more audacious sex-positive track, where he welcomes his sexual inclinations and encourages you to do the same.

He sings: “Make I be like tattoo for your body/when you need that bamboo just call on me” on the hook, and in his usual fashion, melds afropop and r&b perfectly and uniquely with salacious verses to set the tone for his explicit charm. The mid-tempo beat led by keys and heavy bass, sets the cosy bedding for his melodic visuals as he continues to lay out his desires, ‘I dey see your pure desire/make you no go try deny am’ he sings, encouraging his muse to own her carnal desires as they are a natural part of the human experience. 

Growing up in Nigeria, sexuality was demonised, from the church, to the family home, and even in schools where the curriculum harmfully excludes sex education, thereby not leaving room for teachings about consent and rape culture from teachings. This is what makes it so important for artists to cover these topics in their songs, and normalise talking about them so that their listeners are encouraged to explore that side of themselves more confidently. With “Tattoo”, Fireboy DML has shown that he’s got the range on lock and he’s an artist with a whole lot more to say.

“Gotta” – Kiienka featuring SGaWD

Since the release of his sophomore project ‘Spaceman 2.0’ back in May, Port Harcourt-based rapper, Kiienka has shown he’s got the right elements to be one of the best young voices from these parts, and we can’t get enough of his impressive lyrical chops and his rapid-fire punchlines.

For his first solo offering since the project, Kiienka has just put out a two-pack single titled ‘Grateful’, however, it’s on “Gotta”, the single featuring Abuja-based rapper SGaWD that we truly witness his unfiltered confidence and clever wordplay. “Came out the mud, I had dirt on my shoes/Grateful For Life ‘Cos I Never Thought I’d Make It This Far” he raps, addressing his success so far, sending a clear kiss-off to the naysayers who doubted his abilities. Kiienka is in celebratory mode; despite where he’s come from, he’s done immensely well for himself and no one can take that from him.

The second verse is taken by Fresh Meat alum, SGaWD, who is known for her immense talent as both a rapper and singer. For “Gotta”, she’s clearly singing but with the confidence of your favourite emcee, “Hella rich niggas be texting my phone/even your homie try to hit on the low” she coos teasingly, as she demands to know if she’s still wanted, ’cause she’s got a phone full of admirers she’s kept at a distance. It’s come correct or get replaced for SGaWD – we love to see it.

“Fàyá” – Mo’Believe 

Our first introduction to Mo’Believe’s Yoruba folk music portrayed him as a cheerful artist who also knew about struggle and perseverance. On his debut tape, ‘Ariwo Èkó’, he split the time between singing about palm wine induced festivities and the suffering from living in poverty. Two years later, after growing more recognition from performing in concerts, including the annual Gidi Fest, the singer looked set to cross over to more mainstream audiences. Though he lost his studio to a fire accident in February, Mo’Believe has remained positive on his follow-up tape, ‘Big Daddy Mo’. The 6-track offering of upbeat songs made it clear that he wanted to push beyond the setback and focus on his ascendence to a place of comfort. 

Mo’Believe is not pretending he wasn’t fazed by the fire incident, releasing a new single, “Fàyá”, narrating his experience dealing with the loss. Jay Blakez produced the song with a percussive beat that mimics the groovy ambience of a live band set. The blissful harmonies and backup singers serve as the perfect backdrop to Mo’Believe’s Yoruba lyrics as he expresses joy at the fact that the fire wasn’t worse than it was; “Irin ise lo jono. Ina o gbe orin lo” (only tools were burnt/ my talent is intact). Mo’Believe‘s traditional brand of Afropop  tends to retain some contemporary elements of the present times, but on “Fàyá”, his celebration of life comes across as spiritual and would fit right into the testimony period at church services.  

“Do Me” – Crayon

Crayon’s flow is arresting. When he opens his mouth, he deploys words with effortless precision and assertiveness of a seasoned veteran. Though the 20 year old singer from Ebonyi state is a relative newcomer in Nigeria’s music scene, he has remained a constant feature on Afropop playlists all year round with his impressive work rate allowing him to release 7 new singles this year alone. 

His latest single, “Do Me” continues his penchant for making romance themed bops. Thanks to expert production from Baby Fresh, “Do Me” is primed with the right drum riffs and overall percussion to serve dance floors. And though the pandemic has not been encouraging for our dance floor antics, Crayon’s opening lyrics, “Show me your waist work/ I go give you the moonwalk/ We fit do am for TikTok” suggests the next best alternative: that your cool dance moves can earn you clout on social media.  

Beyond serving our need for partying, “Do Me” is romantic song with an aggressive edge as Crayon delivers a warning call to anyone that tries to get between him and his love interest. He comes out swinging at “Amebos” and “another man”, threatening to “Kpa Kpa ti tan mental”. Though it’s not clear to me what exactly “Kpa Kpa ti tan mental” means, it doesn’t sound pleasant for the person on the receiving end. Crayon’s confessions of undying love for his muse are hard to dispute after hearing him cuss out his haters in those unintelligible words.

“White Nose Shit” – $hadow 

An ode to that beautiful inhalable snow, $hadow’s “White Nose Shit” is a transparent confession of his fancy for the classy Class A. Boasting that he’s on the drugs that do actually ‘show for face’, $hadow needs no company – especially if it’s from the opps – except maybe a girl who can match his high at 4am. Repeating the chantable chorus twice, $hadow takes us all the way to the halfway mark before he delves into his one and only verse. Here, $hadow retains his no nonsense attitude, firing through a bunch of “don’t like”s before opening up about his association with the trap life and the glamorous jewellery that coms with it.

Paying most attention to the chorus of the song – rightly so because it’s outlandish, provocative, catchy and basically everything good in a hook – the best thing about $hadow’s latest is that there is all the right focus and emphasis on its most alluring elements. Coming in at just over two minutes, “White Nose Shit” isn’t unnecessarily prolonged, but the upbeat track still finds time to shine a light on the moody production that transports us eagerly into the void fashioned by $hadow on his latest body of work, upon which “White Nose Shit” sits.

“First Time” – LunaLovesYou ft. 234jaydaa 

Premiering on DJ Femo’s No Signal radio show, Welcome To Chaos LunaLovesYou brings back the soft guitar chord-opening that I fell in love with on my first introduction to the starry singer, “Dear V, I’m Sorry” – so instantly, “First Time” hits the mark for me. “First Time” takes us through the painfully familiar feeling of loving a fling a little too much, confessing through song on her opening verse, “I know I haven’t seen you lately, that’s cos we never dated/I don’t know why I treat you like my lover“. As if the mellow R&B instrumentals weren’t emotional enough, “First Time” takes a turn for the even deeper at its sensual chorus, where the song’s title comes into play. Remembering the “first time I laid up on you“, LunaLovesYou justifies why she’s holding onto something that she knows isn’t real. Hand on heart, I feel that.

Passing the baton to 234jaydaa for verse number two, “First Time”, evolves from being a typical sex-driven R&B song (I’m reminded of Trey Songz’s “Dive In” and “I Love Me Some Him” by Toni Braxton) into an dreamy and dynamic record, thanks for 234’s unique singing and her new found affection for rapping, which she throws into the mix on here as well. Everyone with good sense is paying attention to these two singing voices – 234jaydaa and LunaLovesYou – so this collaboration came off the back of some pretty high expectations. Did they disappoint? Me thinks not.

 “Apala Drill” – Terry Apala x Major Bangz  (feat. AO-The Machine)

Terry Apala’s entry into the mainstream was characterised by the unique use of his Fuji-indented cadence, retooling it to fit into contemporary sounds without coming off as gimmicky. It’s been over four years since “Champagne Showers”, and Terry hasn’t quite reached the heights many predicted for him, however, he still has the magic touch that made him riveting when he was first introduce. With little pre-release hype, he’s dropped a new collaborative EP with ace producer Major Bangz, ‘Major Vibes’, and the tape finds Terry gliding across several sonic styles, with his voice as the unifying element.

Of the 6 comprising tracks, “Apala Drill” showcases Terry at his sharpest, making full use of his knack for innovation for a song that sounds very cutting edge. Co-opting the drill subgenre, Terry zones out in a fit of bravado that find’s the balance between drill’s innate tilt towards aggressiveness and his carefree persona. Assisted by AO-The Machine’s instantly memorable hook, and Major Bangz’s sinister and rumbling production, Terry adopts a speedy flow, zooming across each of his lines with the same uninhibited energy. His boastful raps are not the most inventive (“This is not gambling, I’m very good at it/very soon we taking over, Apala music to the world”), but he delivers them with a bulletproof conviction that’s difficult to overlook.

“Amanikiniki” – MFR Souls (feat. Kamo Mphela & Bontle Smith)

Even though it primary blew up on the back of its readiness for dancefloor purposes, practitioners of Amapiano have made it a duty to showcase and continue to explore the many dimensions to the South African house subgenre. As their name indicates, production/DJ duo MFR Souls mostly operate on the soulful, lusher side of the Amapiano spectrum. They’ve just dropped a new album, ‘Musical Kings’, an expansive listen that doubles down on already established traits and pushes them further into other spaces within the Amapiano confines.

Lead single, “Amanikiniki”, is something of a declaration that MFR Souls can do overtly clubby jams with the best of their colleagues. In previous features and on their debut album, ‘The Beginning’, the pair often looked to balance the propulsive nature of Amapiano with emotion-invoking quirks, however, they completely embrace the former to ensure their intentions with “Amanikiniki” is unmistaken. On the song, featuring chuffing synths, sparkling piano riffs and a bouncy bassline, Bontle Smith and Kamo Mphela deliver charismatic vocal performances, dovetailing around each other for chemistry and exuding a thousand watts worth of energy.

Although all their lyrics are in isiZulu, there’s enough references to “blessers” to infer that Bontle and Kamo, two increasingly prominent women in a very male-dominated Amapiano scene, are touting the spellbinding effects their bodies have on men. Whether you understand the words or not, “Amanikiniki” is a dance cut that expertly combines the attributes of its collaborators into a phenomenal whole.

Words By Tami Makinde, Debola Abimbolu And Adewojumi Aderemi