New Music Friday: New Project recommendations from Focalistic, Ria Sean & more
A packed day for must-hear new projects.
A packed day for must-hear new projects.
For any music enthusiast, Friday is your favourite day of the week and understandably so, because no other sees such a high volume of releases. As we close out of yet another eventful year in Afropop, our favourite talents continue raising the stakes with a massive stack of innovative, tasteful numbers. From the incessant force that is Nigerian street pop to the intoxicating sounds emanating from South Africa’s dance scene and much more, we are witnessing an expansive pool of output from the music landscape in these parts. While our Songs of the Day column highlights the some of the hottest new releases through the week, here is a list of new projects out today that you should be listening to.
Focalistic, born Lethabo Sebetso, with a slew of releases under his belt can be considered an Amapiano heavyweight redefining the sounds emerging from those parts. If his hit song “Ke Star” later remixed with Davido doesn’t ring a bell, Ckay and Davido assisted “WATAWI” and “Champion Sound” with Davido certainly will. This year alone, Focalistic has released a over ten singles with some standouts including “Zula Zula (Hub Way)” with uNder alumni Khanyisa, Acutedose and Villosoul, “Banyana Ke Bafana” and “Your Body” with Musa Keys and Cyfred.
In the later parts of last month, he released “Tabela Hape”, lead promotional single for his highly anticipated his 5th studio album, ‘Ghetto Gospel.’ The mid-tempo bass infused track, featuring Kabza de Small, Mellow and Sleazy, Myztro and M.J was just the preparation we needed for the project. For ‘Ghetto Gospel’, Focalistic enlists some of South Africa’s best on the 15th track project. The all star cast includes inventive producer duo Mellow and Sleazy on seven of the fifteen tracks. With Pabi Cooper on “Tsela Tse Nyane”, superstar DJ DBN Gogo on “Timana” and a plethora of others the project presents as a promising one sure to deliver electrifying productions and catchy hooks that transcend language barriers.
Despite being fairly new to the scene and formerly signed to one of Nigeria’s premier labels, Aristokrat Records, Ria Sean continues to forge a name for herself as an artist with unique contributions to Afropop. Since the singer-songwriter released her debut EP, ‘FLUID’—a delectable collection of self-assured songs—Ria has continued to reaffirm herself and taken her spot as a one of the artists speaking their truth and disrupting the status quo. With a few releases this year including “Punani” featuring Coyote Jo Bastard, “Thai food” and a feature on “NGANDA” off Théodore’s ‘ASWAD’, Ria Sean is out with another EP titled ‘Love Station’.
Late September, she drew us further into the world of the project with the release of the promotional single “Uptown Girl” which serves as the second track on the project. ‘Love Station,’ six track EP features Yseult and Mavins Record starlet Ayra Starr. In her wonted R&B path, the project features a series of soft drums and evocative strings paired with Ria’s mellifluous vocals delivered as sleek as usual.
Street pop singer and songwriter, T.I Blaze, has showed no signs of slowing down since his debut EP, ‘The Fresh Prince of Lagos’ featuring standout track “Sometimes” and a remix version like YBNL label boss, Olamide. The six track EP also featuring Barry Jhay, Blzckie and Rasaqi NFG. After some standout releases his year, including Rexxie-assisted “Overload (Kala)” and an appearance on Steve Adeoye’s “Ali (Remix)” with Portable, T.I Blaze began prepping for the release of his debut album ‘El Major’, encapsulating his career and wins over the last year.
From “Kilo”, which featured Skiibii, to a slew of singles including “Lock Up”, “My Life” and “Good Life”, T.I blaze continues to show his unique perspective within Nigerian street-pop as he regularly employs pidgin, Yoruba and English to deliver his memorable bars. He taps into fellow Street-pop heavyweight, Bella Shmurda on “Alone” as the pair reflect on the cloistered nature of man. On “Frenemies” a mashup of friends and enemies, T.I reflects on some failed friendships that ended as a result of the betrayal while expressing the value of meaningful friendships and keeping a tight circle on “Benefit”. Other appearances on the album include Fave, BackRoad Gee, Camidoh and LADIPOE.
Since stellar debut collaboration with PsychoYP on ‘YP & Azanti, Vol.1’, an expressive project that boasts of a infectious blend of sweet sounding R&B and Afropop numbers, Azanti continues to standout as a genre bender stretching the limits of his sound. In 2021, he released his debut, taking centre stage on the self-titled EP featuring 8 tracks. His unmistakable voice left a lasting impact on listeners with his sweet-sounding delivery on a collection go love songs. Following this, he delivered a memorable intro verse on high tempo Amapiano influenced track “Be My Luv” with Mut4y and DJ Tunez.
Azanti continues to cruise on greater heights with his debut album, ‘Heart Parts & Nostalgia’. He taps into Odeal and The Cavemen for “TWiST & TUrN” and “jULie”, respectively. After signing with Def Jam Records, the Abuja-based singer released “Getting Hot”, an instantly memorable track accompanied by his melodious vocals and over the sunny beat. The 11 track project serves as a solid entry fuelled by assertive storytelling showcasing the artists skilled penmanship. Azanti’s smooth vocals and catchy hooks coupled with his eccentric production brings a fresh approach to the scene, drawing him nearer the superstar status he is capable of achieving.