New year, same agenda. Last year, the NATIVE created the ‘Songs of the day’ column as an avenue to curate some of the best and biggest songs from around the continent. In the time since its creation, the column has served as an avenue discover music from niche, rising acts, while also spotlighting releases from the biggest artists. As music industries around the continent have begun kicking into gear, it’s only right that we return to pointing you towards as much great music as we can.
Having brought you some of the best releases you might have missed during this festive period, our latest curation includes new singles from Femi Kuti, A-Reece, Yung L, SirBastien and more. Dig in, and you’re welcome.
Femi Kuti – “As We Struggle Everyday”
Since going out on his own in the late ‘80s, Femi Kuti has continued to uphold and evolve Afrobeat’s legacy as a distinct, socio-politically-inclined genre. On February 5, the musician will be releasing ‘Stop the Hate’, one side of the double album, ‘Legacy+’, with his son, singer and talented multi-instrumentalist Made Kuti. Ahead of release, he’s shared a second pre-album single, “As We Struggle Everyday”, on which he laments the double-sided nature of our existence as Nigerians, where we push through societal obstacles while still hailing the inept leaders in power. With radiant and punchy instrumentation to match, Femi remains as poignant as ever, continuing to serve as the voice of reason and optimism.
Skillz 8Figure & Twitch 4EVA – “4 Life”
Last year, Skillz 8Figure and Twitch 4EVA emerged as two of the best nascent stars coming out of Ghana. Both former Fresh Meat alumni, Skillz and Twitch dropped their debut EPs, ‘Gangsta Luv’ and ‘Lost’ respectively, with the former making it on to NATIVE’s year end list for the best projects. Opening this year, both singers have teamed for the collaborative cut, “4 Life”, a breezy song that flaunts their prowess at making groovy, lightweight afropop tracks. With the hook sung by Twitch and Skillz delivering the sole verse, they deliver a finely tuned and catchy romantic set, which is befitting of the beach-themed music video that accompanies the song.
Yung L – “Yaadman”
Afro-Caribbean artist Yung L is getting set to release his sophomore album, ‘Yaadman Kingsize’. Few days after letting us in on the details of the drop, he’s shared the intro cut, “Yaadman” as the third pre-release single. Backed by springy drums, bass guitar lines, eerie piano chords and blaring horns, Yung L prints a self-assured image of himself on wax, swinging between patois-indented delivery and a typical trap cadence as exalts himself with lines like, “Marley be the fire, Marley be the heat”. It might sound a bit stock, but his conviction is evident and quite infectious.
A-Reece – “The 5 Year Plan”
A-Reece pulled off one of the best feats of self-introspection in African rap music last year with “Residual $elf Image”. That release heralded the build-up to an upcoming project, which he’s now officially announced. ‘Today’s Tragedy, Tomorrow’s Memory: The Mixtape’ is set to drop in late March, and to stoke anticipation for its release, Reece has dropped the second single, “The 5 Year Plan” featuring Wordz. Over an ominously swinging beat, both rappers reiterate stacking up paper as their main priority. Opting for a straightforward approach, the song is hook-driven, ensuring that the clarity of their intentions isn’t remotely misunderstood. “I’m about to break the bank/still got nobody to thank/my pockets is full like I’m robbing a bank”, Reece repeatedly proclaims.
Zaire – “Shotti”
“My niggas gang members, but we no gangbangers/had to summon all of my strength from the ancestors”, UK-based, Congolese rapper Zaire spits at the top of the second verse of his newly released official single, “Shotti”. Those two bars centre the theme of the song and gives an even peek into Zaire’s persona, a young man who’s lived a rugged life and remains tethered to his African roots. In the accompanying, striking video, there’s frames of him dressed as African royalty, as well as in the midst of mean-mugging crew holding up guns. “Shotti” is a remarkable introduction to an artist getting set to unfold his coming of age story.
SirBastien – “Girlfriend (feat. Naya Akanji)”
Across his short and increasingly impressive catalogue, SirBastien has shown his ability to take quotidian romantic sentiments and put them in a precious light. “Girlfriend”, his first single since last year’s ‘Mango Island’, is exactly what you’d guess from the title, a plain-stated ode to a significant other. Rather than come across as cloying, “Girlfriend” is quite the exquisite listen, with SirBastien singing words of reinforcement and skating over a self-produced beat that blends R&B harmonies with a Caribbean pop bounce. Fellow Fresh Meat alumnus Naya Akanji joins in with a brilliant verse, with her sweetly sounding vocals emphasising the delicateness of the chosen theme.
So$avelli – “Drive By”
Drill music in Africa is picking up steam. While the community in Kumasi, Ghana is getting most of the attention, there’s quite the amount of drill purveyors in pockets across the continent. For his latest release, Nigerian rap artist So$avelli has dropped a cover of “Drive By”, Fivio Foreign’s hit song from last April. Taking a cue from the original, So$avelli details his fast and rugged lifestyle over the rumbling beat. “My niggas ready for violence, boy they not scared ‘bout the sirens”, he raps with his deep voice, a declaration that’s easy to believe when you see him and one of his guys aiming the scope of their guns at the camera of the accompanying DIY video.
Offica & Dbo – “Take It (Yuck)”
Since snagging his first major hit with “Naruto Drillings” in 2019, Irish-Nigerian rapper Offica has been quite prolific, building his reputation as one of the prominent voices of Ireland’s burgeoning drill scene while also slowly and steadily impacting the UK. Last year, he reached back to his roots with “Opor (Remix)”, featuring Ajebutter22 and Ladipoe, attempting to widen the reach of his audience ahead of a potential, career-boosting year. To kick-off 2021, he’s dropped “Take It (Yuck)”, a high octane banger featuring fellow A92 affiliate Dbo, and it continues his inclination towards infusing Nigerian pidgin slang into his effusive bars about making money and tackling his opps.
Dennis is a staff writer at the NATIVE. Let me know your favourite the Cavemen songs @dennisadepeter