New Music Friday: New Projects from Amaarae, Tay Iwar, Bloody Civilian & more

7 must-hear projects from this week's packed slate

In a singles-dominated market, putting out projects feels like an act of faith. Faith in the attention span of the contemporary human mind, but also in the expansive vision of projects, the linkage of different parts to create an immersive experience. As such, projects are highly celebrated by The NATIVE and that’s what New Music Friday embodies. Being the prime date for new music releases across the Afropop soundscape, it’s only right we launch you into a befitting weekend, carried on the distinct, complex thrills of the albums and EPs that’s been put out. On this week’s New Music Friday, we have collated projects from around the continent, each boasting sounds that are bound to keep you sonically alert.

Amaarae – ‘Fountain Baby’

Nearly three years ago, Amaarae released her debut album, ‘The Angel You Don’t Know’, to instant critical acclaim and rousing commercial success. Depending on who you ask, it’s a classic. Regardless of who you ask, it ushered her into a realm of superstardom that celebrates the Ghanaian artist as a boundary-pushing auteur who also makes great pop music. Today sees the release of her long-awaited sophomore album, ‘Fountain Baby’, and going by first impressions, it’s one of the must-hear releases of this year.

Tay Iwar – ‘Summer Breeze’

Tay Iwar doesn’t miss. It’s a fact with credence that dates all the way back to his first mixtape, ‘Passport’, released when the Nigerian singer and producer was still a teenager. In the two years since releasing the pandemic-themed EP, ‘Love & Isolation’, he’s been quite busy as a collaborator, working with Nigerian pop heavyweights Wizkid, Tiwa Savage and Omah, British-Ghanaian producer Juls, American rap artist IDK, and more. Staying busy but with a focus on headline material, his new EP ‘Summer Breeze’ continues to show why Tay is one of the most exciting R&B artist anywhere in the world, continuing to dig poignantly into the nuances of human connection. Juls, Twelve XII, IDK, Knucks and Kojey Radical are the guests.

Seyi Vibez – ‘Vibe Till Thy Kingdom’

Seyi Vibez may have surprise-released his new project but the signs were there. Upon returning to social media about a month ago, the Lagos-raised singer has been in rabble-rousing form, stoking his rivalry with Asake and entering a new beef situation with Zinoleesky. He also released “Hat Trick” and “Amdallah” as singles, both which appear on ‘Vibe Till Thy Kingdom Come’, a 10-song project that features his usual profound, stream-of-consciousness quips in Yoruba. Nigerian singer Young Jonn, South African rap artist Focalistic, and American rapper Russ make guest appearances.

Baaba J – ‘Okay Baby, Let’s Do This’

Ghanaian singer Baaba J has been, slowly and steadily, reaching ears and turning heads for the last couple of years. Earlier this year, the uNder alum debuted with the soulful single, “Ole,” setting listeners up for the sonic possibilities she could unleash this year. Her new project, ‘Okay Baby, Let’s Do This’, continues down that line of emotive performances over lushly arranged production, with vivid folk influences giving the music its gorgeous sheen.

Bloody Civilian – ‘Anger Management’

Bloody Civilian is an artist to be excited about. The Nigerian singer and producer broke out (again) with last year’s delightfully punchy single, “How to Kill a Man,” following up this year with the Jersey Club-influenced “I Don’t Like You,” a sweltering banger with a combative stance. Her anticipated debut EP, ‘Anger Management’, is out and the entire project is just as intoxicating as the pre-released singles. Bloody Civilian is heady in her quest for self-determination, and it makes for one hell of an introductory body of work.

Nviiri the Storyteller – ‘Inside Out’

Premier Afropop band Sauti Sol might be going on an indefinite hiatus very soon but the seeds for lasting impact is already blooming. Sol Generation, the imprint founded by the group, has just heralded its second major release, following the March release of Bensoul’s ‘The Lion of Sudah’. Today sees the drop of Nviiri the Storyteller’s long-awaited debut LP, ‘Inside Out’, and the Sol Generation signee keeps on delivering like he’s done in the last few years since his introduction. An exuberant project, it shows the Kenyan singer as an artist capable of introspection and being the life of the party. It’s the worthwhile showcase.

Lordkez – ‘Testament’

Since debuting with the 2019 EP, ‘Revenge Season’, lordkez has been one of the most exciting auteurs in South Africa’s R&B scene. After four EPs, the NATIVE Fresh Meat alum finally released her debut album, ‘Testament’, a project heavily influenced by her spirituality. With a musical palette that balances contemporary R&B and Neo-Soul, the singer creates a deeply immersive experience where her ruminative approach is buoyed by resonant couplets and her gorgeous, siren voice. She’s joined by American-Sudanese rapper Bas, South African singers Shekhinah and Mars Baby, and more collaborators.


7 must-hear projects from this week's packed slate