Songs Of The Day: New Music From Burna Boy, Pappy Kojo, Smada & More
some new records to get into
some new records to get into
2022 is winding down 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. Today, enjoy new music from Smada, Erigga, Kelechief, Ejoya and more. Lock in!
On his ‘Love Damini‘ project, the Afrofusion superstar Burna Boy included “Whiskey”, a riveting record about the dangers of environmental pollution in his native Port Harcourt. Poignant as it was revealing, the song was indicative of Burna Boy’s long-shared desire to blend sociopolitical messages into unmissable bops. Now released, an accompanying documentary of 16minutes delves into this phenomena, speaking with health professionals as well as everyday residents of PH City who’ve been exposed to this carbon pollution. It’s full of stark imagery which complements the song’s enduring message, again etching Burna into the larger narrative of his people.
Exactly a week ago, multifaceted Nigerian creative Smada released his debut record “Ye Anthem” under the newly-founded NATIVE Records. With sharp electronic influences, the record was an eccentric appraisal of a lady’s captivating ways, the artist utilising fun-streaked lyricism to espouse on that familiar feeling. On this remix with the acclaimed producer duo Mellow & Sleazy and electro pop savant DJ YK Mule, the fun is established in more sprawling ways, the synths swapped for crowded Amapiano-dented drums. Smada’s delivery is as affectionate as ever, flowing over the beat remarkably and effectively.
Concerning the recent discussions of rap quality in the country, it’s quite fitting Vector and LADIPOE are releasing the visuals to this joint now. “Clowns” is a cheeky rebuttal to seekers of beef, both rappers employing relatable puns to demonstrate their mastery. The visuals capture the minimalist energy of the record, a black-and-white montage expressing pure rap chemistry.
Known for going viral with technical, relatable raps on social media, Kelechief is primed to release a new album. To accelerate the journey, the US-bred Nigerian rapper has shared a new single with the scintillating Amaarae. “Fine Wine” is a sensual record which compares the goodness of a lover to the intoxicating highs of wine. Kelechief’s warm vocalisations meet the breezy allure of Amaarae impeccably, resulting in an enchanting ode to love.
A mellow base sets the direction for “Ohema”, the new single from South African-based Nigerian singer Zaga. It is produced by Young C Beats, warm percussions portending the perfect soundscape for Zaga’s affectionate singing to emerge. Much like the Ghanaian term it is named after, there’s a brooding sense of tenderness permeating the three minutes of this record. “Ohema, girl make you calm down,” he sings in the chorus, “when the money, we go run town”.
Ghanaian rapper Pappy Kojo knows his way around a slow paced beat and “Frass” sees him staking out in that direction again. His laidback approach brings an intimate house energy to the record, with the feature of Larusso introducing a spritzy Dancehall edge in its latter parts. Ultimately it’s a groovy bop, a result of two talented artists making way for their distinct skills to shine.
For a while now, the gospel of Kold AF has been circulating my timeline, an apparent release in the works. Today, the musician makes her entry into the space of Nigerian music. With her project ‘Kold SZN’ she introduces her skillset in very exciting ways. Svelte vocals and aware songwriting finds the crucial balance of capable production, qualities which are instantly bare on “Wasted”. Lush percussions and brooding elements contribute to the song’s tension, while Kold AF sings about being caught in the excesses of debauchery. So confident is she, that in its latter parts the beat switches and she maintains her impressive tempo, seamlessly going from confessional R&B diva to sensually exciting Ragga purveyor.
In September, veteran rapper Erigga released his third album ‘The Lost Boy’. It was a project which solidified the rapper’s tendency to line heartfelt stories alongside brazen takes on social issues. He’s now shared a deluxe of the well-received project, including four new records to extend the LP’s ethos. Though the songs were largely enjoyable, “The GOAT” is a stirring standout: humour-laced bars provides the rapper ample space to proclaim his legacy while taking clean shots at detractors, pulling in stories from his life to supply narrative sheen.
Carried on the heels of a TikTok challenge, “Peka Peka” is carving its place in the world. With eccentric percussions taken from the soundscapes of Amapiano and Gqom, the record captures an hypnotising party groove. The Botswana music star curates an expansive-sounding record wrapped with urgent movements, and going into a weekend, there’s no doubt many will be jamming to its jumpy rhythms, for a long time most likely.
Port Harcourt-bred musician Boy M.A wields the stylistic quirks familiar among acts from the region. His latest single “WTD” bares these qualities, his excitable vocals floating over bubbly production. A lady’s affectation inspires his teary delivery, pleading and promising the world for her acceptance. The language is surely catchy, but M.A’s utilisation of background lulls infuses a layered edge to the record.
After months of teasing the 2022 version of their yearly compilation albums, Ejoya has finally released it. Perhaps the most anticipated project among connoisseurs of new school Afropop, the project more than delivers on its promise. It boasts a stellar line-up of established and rising artists, their strengths meeting over eclectic, assured production. A stirring highlight of the project is “Ajoke,” a warm, sensitive record lined with pleasant vocals which flow into the ears with the creaminess of milk. The titular lady is presented in variant ways by the artists, but their songwriting is delicate and thoughtful all the same, with references to artists like Sarkodie and Asake etching a pop culture lean to the record. Cue in the polished, string-suffused production and you have sonic gold, a fine demonstration of the mastery Ejoya achieves throughout the album.