Songs Of The Day: New Music From Black Sherif, Mr. Eazi, Nasty C & More
a run-down of the best records released today
a run-down of the best records released today
We’re more than halfway through 2022, and it’s been an eventful year for Afropop. There’s been a torrent of great new music, spawning a massive stack of inventive smash hit songs. From Highlife-infused Ghanaian pop, to the unrelenting force that is Nigerian street-pop, to South Africa’s indomitable Dance scene, to tantalising Drill explorations in East and Central Africa, and much, much more, we’re living through abundant and musically expansive times.
Every week, many songs from African artists make their way to digital streaming platforms, and wading through them can be intense. That’s where The NATIVE’s Songs of the Day column comes in to help. We go through as many new releases as possible, spotlighting them here, two to three times every week. This Friday, enjoy new music from Elaine, Blaq Jerzee, AKA, Majesty Lyn and more. Dig in!
Vulnerability has always been a strength of Blacko. His records, even when anthemic in sound, tend to cut into the core of one’s psyche and spirit, at every point referring to his trajectory. “Soja” continues that vision, formed of minimalist drums and brooding keys which set the scene for Black Sherif’s Highlife-dented flow. Here he pensively considers the opinions of naysayers and how that can accelerate one’s own anxiety. “No make them catch you off-guard, don’t let them touch your skin o,” he raps in the chorus, affirming his dedication to staying above the noise and all of that. With an album expected later this year, Blacko is surely keeping us at attention.
Sonic trends aren’t usually the focus of Mr. Eazi, but on “Patek,” he takes the much-travelled Amapiano route. He’s joined by Mozambique’s DJ Tarico of the “Yaba Buluku” fame and Joey B, who’s a frequent collaborator. The signature log drums are amplified with festival-esque synths, and Eazi stays easy with his flow, charting the excesses of his popstar lifestyle. “Any money wey I get I dey flex,” he sings in the catchiest sections of the record. And though that might not make for sound financial advice, it does bang in the ears. An absolute bop here, and a solid return for Eazi.
A warm record suffused with Highlife influences, “Chele” is another demonstration of Blaq Jerzee’s singing talents. His lyrics are lightly-handled and his flow in tandem with the ebbs of the percussion, brought to sound with a live-centric urgency. “If I leave baby girl say na taboo,” he sings in the exaggerated humour of Afropop musicians, his vocals sunny and alert.
There’s an undeniable Amapiano vibe on here but the direction is more soulful than you’d expect. With the signature log drums paired with moody notes, the vocals are unfurled in their simplicity and splendour. It’s a totally vibey record, with different musicians taking turns at switching up the flow, not unlike a gathering among friends catching a good time. “Miss Universe” still has love at its center, and the tenderness that sticks throughout the record is owed to this thematic choice.
Cassper Nyovest has grown to become a much-debated cultural icon in his native South Africa, but at the heart of it the man remains a credible rapper. His latest release takes stock of his wins, as he spazzes over shooting synths with a Kanye West-esque edge. “I used to pay for these snares and these kicks, now I am selling them,” he raps with great affection in one line, then following up with, “that’s a double entendre, I got player money I’m a monster”.
The year has been quite productive for Majesty Lyn. The uNder alum had earlier released “Notice,” a sizzling bop which highlighted her unique vocal strengths. Just recently, she’s followed it up with “Stop Dancing,” off her latest EP, ‘Things On Things’. Svelte tones match with a fiery message, propping “Stop Dancing” as a quietly catchy record that would do great things for the storm that is Lyn. The song’s assured pace also flows into the other four songs on her tape, marking out Majesty Lyn as an artist in control of her vision.
In earlier days, Tito Da Fire formed part of iconic two-man group Gent2Men, who produced the “Majekaja“ hit. Tito flies solo now and has done well for himself over the years, releasing his sophomore album ‘One Kiss’ in 2019 to critical acclaim. Earlier today, the musician who was recently inducted into the Recording Academy released ‘OSG (On the Shoulders of Giants)’, his third album. A standout is this warm ode to the African woman, attended by lovely lyrics and Tito’s serenading vocals.
Ahead of his forthcoming album, legendary Ghanaian rapper Sarkodie has released a new single. “Labadi” is a groovy number intended to lit up spaces. He features the sunny vocals of King Promise, and together they court a beachside ambience, Sarkodie’s zesty raps meeting the suave calm of KP. It’s a very promising song, and the colourful beauty and assured splendour of its Capone-directed visuals would resonate even more.
Vocals drenched in psychedelia and purpose. Known for his exploratory ideals, Hermez makes good on that vision on his new record. “Part2” sees him collaborate with the Ugandan artist MauimØon and the result is this spacey record, one dripping with sensuality. With bumping chords and sharp, seductive synths, the set mood is very ambient and yet present, the words relatable as well. Everything fits.
The children of emo are everywhere around us, and New World Ray might be one of them. Well, he’s less moody and more triumphant on “Shooting Star,” his new record. The song however sounds straight from the stars, the sometimes substance-fueled introspection and paranoia. All of that is present in the sound, but New World subverts the lyricism and opts for a simpler perspective on being a pop star. Quite the song, this one.
South African musician Elaine is known for her smooth R&B vibe, and on “Deja Vu” she reinforces those strengths. She charts the troubled tale of a relationship, conjuring images with a focused pen and sharing her own perspective. As usual she sounds electric over the stirring production, with lyrics like “How I love to see you leave me dry, cos that’s the only thing you know how to do right”.
A soulful feel permeates the bones of this record. Nobhule has one of the most scintillating voices in South African music, and here she calls up even more mastery in the figures of Caiiro and Kenza. “Indlela” benefits from this naturally allied collaboration, offering a sweet take on the Dream House genre. With the right supply of drums and a flutey sound playing on loop, the record makes for an enchanting listening experience.
Sierra Leonian musician The Therapist has released the remix of his fun street banger “Nack”. He calls up the sweet-talking skills of Mayorkun on the heavily percussive record. “My head, my neck, my waist, but I still wan nack” is such a line, but the smooth rap skills of Therapist and his “a la la, o lo lo” chant even diversifies the hotspots in the record, one which should become more popular in Nigeria in the coming weeks.
No matter how long he doesn’t release music, one thing is consistent with AKA’s return: a hit. He’s not had it this great very often, how smoothly he combines with Nasty C on “Lemons”. It’s a very fun vibe, and quite adept with his singing, he lays the ground skillfully for Nasty C for delivers a stunning verse to close out the record. Visuals are very much on point too, packed full of happiness, activity and creative synergy on colourful display.
The party-starting qualities of Amapiano have resonated with a lot of Nigerian musicians, and Starmix Chizzy is the latest of those. On “Kasake” he references 2022’s breakout star Asake on the chorus, verbalising his desire to live life to its fullest and without regrets. The voices meld quite well, and the chorus voices adds even more flesh to the record. I wonder would Asake would think of this one; it’s quite impressive.
Off his just-released EP ‘Chico Amante,’ is this highlight. “Kila” is formed with soft percussions and the affirming lyrics of the musicians. A woman is centered on the record’s chorus, provided by L.A.X in a chill but evocative style. Idowest’s verses and the sprinkle of Yoruba is a great infusion as well.
Not long ago, the uber-skilled South African rapper Nasty C released his ‘Iverson Army Tour Mixtape,’ a collection of songs birthed from collaborations with other musicians. A stellar addition to that is this Trap-heavy record with Nadia Nakai and Tellaman, musicians he’s worked with in the past. Sharp synths are devoured in the unique styles of the artists, but they all maintain the sensual direction, polished with an effortlessly urban vibe.