Best New Music: “Lokoto Riddim” expressively colours Juls’ forward-facing sonic vision
Best New Music: “Lokoto Riddim” expressively colours Juls’ forward-facing sonic vision

Best New Music: “Lokoto Riddim” expressively colours Juls’ forward-facing sonic vision

Continuing the revered producer's foray into new sounds

Towards the mid-2010s, the soundscape of Afropop was being stretched thin. In the countries of Nigeria and Ghana, the irreverent groove of party-ready bops were the dominant sound, but all that changed when Mr. Eazi got on the scene with the seminal Skin Tight.” With a sonic palette as richly structured as it was emotionally moving, he was able to churn out an impressive number of hit songs in relatively little time, therefore imprinting his name and that of the producer, Juls, in the pantheon of influential Afropop musicians who positively transformed its trajectory.

Although he started in the crucial role of orchestrating the sonic backend, Juls would move into the scene’s centre in the coming years. As popular songs eased onto slower beats and were carried by the coastal embellishments associated with finding one’s peace, the originator of the groove was more readily mentioned. Last year, the Ghanaian-born Juls successfully dug into the candy pot of his networking and collaborating years to release ‘Sounds of My World’, his celebrated debut album. More than anything, the project highlighted the various ebbs of contemporary expression his signature palmwine music flowed into, whether it was laidback rap appearances or soulful R&B-type singing.

When The NATIVE caught up with Juls to discuss his debut album, the producer suggested he was moving past the sure-fire qualities that had accorded him his catalogue of hits. “I’m used to creating certain vibes,” he said, “and now it’s like the end of an era and now I am trying to do something new. I was really eager to get this album out, and then re-group again and try new things from a creative perspective.” 


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Throughout the first half of this year, Juls has made good on that desire. The duo of Ready and a Zikomo remix of Summer in the Ends were highly collaborative, allowing musical input from the likes of British acts BenjiFlow and Jaz Karis and taking Juls’ music into broader sonic plains. In May, he released Jamestown Riddim,” a track that’s noticeably boisterous. With the brazen overtones of Afrobeat-style horns, it was clear to see that Juls wasn’t just approaching a new phase of his storied music making: he was already there, waiting as always for others to catch up to what he was doing. 

“Lokoto Riddim” is the latest of his protean flourishes, released over the weekend to little fanfare. Afropop is a genre in which the pidgin-spiced lyrics and vocal deliveries form a great deal of its commercial appeal, it’s dazzlingly magical how Juls keeps the listener grounded in the three minutes of the record’s runtime. Situated at its core are the urban Highlife percussions Juls has masterfully interpreted throughout his career, but on the closer listen the song is more layered. 

There’s an assortment of original sonic choices like a breathing rasp which functions here like a snare would, some few sections carried by birdsong, sensual guitar licks and of course a child-like vocal sample that says “eh eh eh eh” in a quite strange way, as though caught in a peculiar pain. Still, the most dominant parts of the song are groovy parts where these all collide into an exhilarating body-shaking vibe. It hasn’t been long since producers began staking out their own releases but we’ll surely agree—for our own sakes, after all—that the future of African music is carried in the shifting inspirations of their talented hands.

Even with a distinct touch and a recognisable brand of groovy minimalism that leans into rustic inspirations, Juls is firmly situated within the class of future-facing producers in African and diasporic black music. “Lokoto Riddim” is a blistering highlight of his sonic vision.