In today’s era of instant gratification and a collective low attention span, it might be tempting to question an album’s relevance and place within music and more generally, popular culture. While singles give artists a bigger chance at increasing their popularity, an entire project is what gives an audience access to what they’re really about. It’s also a great way to establish an emotional connection, and in these times, we’ve seen that music is the medicine, and it’s just as important to listeners as it is to the artists themselves.
This week in music releases has made us realise how much we need to get out to enjoy all the music we’re getting in the correct setting. From KiDi experimenting with 80’s disco sounds on “Next Time I See You” which will induce a toe tap to two, to Odunsi, Amaarae, Gigi Atlantis and Deto Black’s twerk-ready “Body Count”, it’s important to consume music in the right setting. So, in order to ensure that people are enjoying these projects the way they need to, we’ve put together a list of all our favourite albums which have been released in the past week, with the aim to give listeners an extra layer to the music we’re getting and all enjoying.
Here are our 8 essential albums this week:
WurlD – AFROSOUL
With the release of AFROSOUL, WurlD refines his penchant for airy romantic meditations. The 7-track EP opens with the jazzy, and groovy “National Anthem/ Growing Wings”, where WurlD calmly reaffirms his immunity to sabotage and encourages listeners to persevere in tough times. WurlD’s love for cross-continental blends is made evident by the different elements of Shizzi’s composition, and the driving bass gives a Zouglou texture, combined with dancehall inflexions makes the song a petri-dish of African textures.
Throughout the album, his vividly emotive vocals give listeners the impression that he has been done a grave wrong, and coloured by his exciting vocal finesse and innate musicality, the project gives him the room to express emotion against catchy and inviting beats. With his usual air of confidence, WurlD is determined to succeed on his own at any cost on “Ghost Town”, where he says ‘you only gonna get one chance/so you better hit the bullseye, or you gon’ end up in the ghost town’. The pre-released “Love Nobody”, is a sparse mid-tempo EDM banger, where WurlD gleams as a man enthralled in a mutually selfish romantic affair. TMXO reimagines the afropop/ EDM hybrid that once captured clubgoers early in the 2010s with the kind of minimalist, intoxicating patterns that binds one to the dancefloor.
AFROSOUL shines it’s ability to convey emphatic passion. Whilst the listening experience is delicate, sparse and smooth, the content is deep-seated but graciously delivered through WurlDs airy ruminations. With a rich palette of sounds, the project is an eclectic journey into the heart of young man going through the various stages of love.
KiDi – ‘Blue’ (EP)
The rollout for KiDi’s debut album, ‘Sugar’, was quite an elaborate affair. To accompany the album, the Ghanaian singer shot and released a full-length film of the same title, the type of unsubtle flex not too many artists around these parts really ever attempt. By comparison, KiDi’s new EP, ‘Blue’, is a low-key drop, and that doesn’t quite undermine the quality of the actual music it houses. Coming in at five lean and infectiously mean songs, the EP puts a magnifying glass on KiDi’s best traits as a singer and songwriter.
Unlike his debut LP which was studded with A-list guest appearances, KiDi mostly goes the EP’s short distance alone, giving him ample room to strut his ability as a conjurer of instantly striking melodies and a writer with a flair for the vivid. Perfectly matching KiDi’s charm and charisma, a revolving door of sounds culminates into the bright and groovy sonic backdrop on ‘Blue’. The project’s opener, “Say Cheese”, is carried by a shoulder rolling swing, emphasised by the presence of a talking drum. Another noteworthy track, the Adina-assisted “One Man” chugs along to a folky rhythm, while “Next Time I See You”, our pick for this week’s Best New Music is propelled by a viciously catchy disco swing.
Kiienka – ‘Spaceman 2.0’
Kiienka understands the appeal of mainstream dancehall music in Nigeria. Earlier this year, he teamed up with Veen for ‘Star’, a highlife fueled afropop project celebrating love and romance. His sonic shift to trap on his new EP, ‘Spaceman 2.0’ shows that he’s capable of greater emotional range, with psychedelic trap beats which amplify his observations of youth culture and gang life on the streets of Port Harcourt.
The 8-track tape of infectious bops shows us what’s going on in Kiienka’s head, while highlighting the diversity of Nigerian music in today’s self-publishing era. Hip-hop’s evolution from conventional boom-bap raps to a multi-genre sound has opened new paths for new voices. While Kiienka’s auto-tuned raps about drugs and turn up moments can still be seen as a branch out into more obscure markets in Nigeria, Veen’s production and collaboration with PsychoYP makes ‘Spaceman 2.0’ primed to encourage even the most sceptical listeners to accept the new and unconventional sound of hip-hop.
The image of Kiienka holding up a lighter, while wearing a face-mask like a thief on the cover art perfectly captures the project’s mood. “Pull up the glock and you rest up in roses” he threatens over the thick guitar basslines, synths and heavy drums on “Gvnz and Roses”. He shows off his druggy-lifestyle on the braggadocious track, “Fast Lane”, and compliments a woman he’s courting on “L.A Girls”. On the r&b track, “Bonnie & Clyde” featuring Libianca, he lets us know that he’s smitten, singing “Fuck with my Bonnie then it’s over/ Pull up on you in a rover”. Whatever mood he chooses to show off on the tracks, it’s compelling and it gets the people going.
Odunsi The Engine – Everything You Heard Is True
Earlier this week, Odunsi the Engine released a surprise EP ‘Everything You Heard is True’ where we see him taking off his training wheels and diving deeper into a more experimental mode than we’ve ever seen from him before. The 7-track collection finally made his sought-after collaboration with Maison2500, “wicked, sexy” available to the public, and it’s everything we’ve been wishing for.
While each song sees him in his deeply reflective bag, as usual, he explores many different sonic styles as both producer and artist, preparing listeners for what to expect on his next album. Whilst more exciting tracks like “body count” clearly aim to make a statement beyond the sonic quality, songs like “nu finesse” and “airplane mode” take us into his deep, dark mind, giving us more insight to him as a person which in turn explains the music we’re hearing better. Odunsi knows the winning formula, and he’s not about to let go of it anytime soon.
Mōnki Bznzz – Banana Peel Vol. 1
Mōnki Bznzz is an EDM collective, led by Mōzzy the monkey producer. Having released a string of unique mixes, including a remix of Efe Oraka’s “Wondaland”, Monki Bznzz highlight their technical ability in making contemporary afro-EDM blends, with energetic & expansive reimaginations. On their debut project, ‘Banana Peel Vol. 1’, Mozzy and the rest of his crew, stretch the horizons of original cultural blends even further, and introduce us to their vibrant and eclectic world of afro-house, designed to make you dance your sorrows away.
The project opens with the oxymoronic “Lights Out”, with sombre piano chords which lead the record, yielding to uptempo electro notes. In the midst of scattered acapella beatbox inflexions from Mon Lee, the track crescendos into a complex array of driving drums, groovy synths, and pacey hi-hats. Elsewhere, tracks like “Broken Glass” meld EDM with elements of r&b and hip-hop in a transparent, fluid mix, in a similar fashion to the EPs closing track, “Shrine Love”. ‘Banana Peel’ ditches the anxiety and pacing thoughts you get at the start of the party for epic chants and celebration, as you get loose to the groove, bringing the project full circle.
The entire project shines as a vibrant, polished and colourful playground, with striking compositions, and subtle messaging that grounds the project to reality. Despite the situations the artists find themselves in, they rise to their duty, with an optimistic outlook that energises their efforts. The positive projections and melancholic recounts coupled with the diverse sonic range of ‘Banana Peel Vol 1’ make the entire project a vivid, and immersive rollercoaster of emotions.
Lioness – Wish You Were Here
A week ago, Namibian rapper, Lioness unveiled her third studio LP ‘Wish You Were Here’, a 12-track project cementing her growing catalogue as a young female artist who is navigating the African hip-hop scene. Speaking to the NATIVE, the doctor and rapper credited Mr. Eazi as being an influential part of the LP, as his invaluable advice to expand her artistry to singing as well as rapping gave her the confidence to expand her sonic influences.
The result is a stunning body of work on which she fuses r&b and hip-hop tropes with dancehall and amapiano-inspired sounds, where she reflects upon her life in the bid to achieve some catharsis through her art. With honest lyrics and a cadence which you don’t typically see women embody in music, the project is important especially now when music is the medicine for the cabin fever we’re all feeling. Lioness is joined on the album by Ghana’s J. Derobie, Ogranya, Dizzo, South African DJ/producer Young DLC and more.
popsnotthefather – ‘NNNN’
South Africa boasts of a stacked r&b scene, which is stylistically diverse – from the auto-tuned Trapsoul of Tshego to the earthy, neo-soul influences of rising star Elaine. Adding a striking new dimension, popsnotthefather dips his music into an experimental sea which pulls elements from psychedelia, hip-hop, prog-rock and more. The result of this, as shown on his debut project ‘NNNN’, is a trippy, immersive and sometimes mind-bending universe, which vacillates between floating and drowning.
The most impressive thing about ‘NNNN’ is that pops uses this plethora of sounds to emphasise himself as the main attraction, keeping the balance by technologically contorting his voice in ways that amplify the emotions on display. Across twelve songs and in less than half an hour, the singer explores romantic vulnerability and bodily pleasure with the same level of devotion. Over the hypnotic sirens of “BREAKYOUOFF”, he conveys the intensity of his sexual desire by seeking consent, while acoustic guitars surround his heartfelt confessions on “DOWNONMYKNEES”.
Dr Sid – ‘The Interesting EP’
Dr Sid has something to prove. It’s been 10 years since he released his debut album, ‘Turning Point’ which saw him make the transition from a rapper to a pop star. Though hit songs like “Pop Champagne” and “Surulere” from his 2 previous projects confirm that he’s a beast when it comes to making club bangers, he has been relatively quiet since then. His newly released EP, ‘The Interesting EP’ shows that he spent his time honing in on his craft in the sidelines, and is now determined not to get lost in the shuffle again.
‘The Interesting EP’ was released on Mavin’s 8th anniversary and each of the 5 tracks celebrate his teammates, love and party lifestyle. The opening track, “That’s Interesting”, features label boss, Don Jazzy who already teased the song on his Instagram two years ago. The love song highlights the timeless groove of highlife music as they both take turns singing their appreciation for their love interest over the lightweight beat produced by Don Jazzy with a banku bounce. The effortless chemistry between Dr Sid and Don Jazzy is a testament to years of working together since as far back as the Mo’hits era.
He gets boastful on the M.I-assisted “Lifestyle”, where they both reminisce about their humble beginnings in the industry and how far they’ve come since. Elsewhere, he teams up with labelmate, Ladipoe for 4-20 anthem, “Lit”, while Ozedikuz provides the breezy afropop beat for “Carry Go”, featuring Cameroonian singer, Eyango. The pandemic we’re currently experiencing has kept us from experiencing these club-driven songs on the dance floors they were designed for, but Dr Sid is prepared to ignore all that and enjoy the good life his music career has given him.
Featured image credits/CapitalXtra
Words by: Dennis Ade-Peters, Tami Makinde, Debola Abimbolu, Djaji Prime