Songs Of The Day: New Music From CKay, Rema, Lady Donli & More

start the weekend with new jams

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, tonnes of 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 releases from Chike, Ogranya, DJ Tunez and more. Dig in!

CKAY – “you”

After announcing his debut album ‘Sad Romance’ few days ago with riveting visuals, self-styled emo-Afrobeats savant CKay has released the first single from the project. “you” mildly follows the template of previous single “Watawi,” adapting the breezy pomp of Amapiano’s log drums. The newer record is however more stripped and sensual, as ambient elements from Jazz are beautifully infused in this tale of love, lust, and a sprinkle of the brooding toxicity which usually permeates CKay’s records.


Afropop has become so big, A-list foreign artists getting our records are considered normal. And in terms of individual acclaim, few names are as big as Rema. The Mavin wunderkid’s ‘Rave & Roses’ continues to oil the motions of a global tour, while Rema has also proven eager to release new music. With the remix of the smash hit “Calm Down” featuring Selena Gomez now released, Rema’s entry into the nucleus of (Latin) American pop culture is all but completed. And how did Ms. Gomez fare? Very well, for a first timer to the genre. Some people might even enjoy this a bit more than the original.


Nigerian Pop undoubtedly owes a lot to Street Hop, and that movement owes a lot to Zinoleesky. His hopeful incursions into pop have birthed records with a relentless and often playful spirit at their core, and “Call of Duty” ranks among that category. The production is handled by frequent collaborator Niphkeys, and has the bubbling percussions Zino favours coasting over. However the mood is light, as Zinoleesky unfurls innuendo-spiced lyrics with hearty exuberance.


Earlier today, DJ Tunez released his ‘Cruise Control Vol. 1’ project, featuring five songs and a host of musical collaborations. A standout is obviously the star-studded “Majo,” a warm record led vocally by Tunez’s frequent collaborator Wizkid. He’s the force behind the record’s hypnotic chorus, while the other singers build around him with groovy intent. This one was made for a Friday.


Yesterday, Chike followed up on his classic ‘Boo of the Booless’ debut album with ‘Brother’s Keeper’. If you know anything about this particular singer, you’ll know he’s heavy on the art side of things, and there’s no doubt this new album would be quite an experience. If there’s any doubt about that, Chike clears them early in the project with “On The Moon,” the kind of joyous, Amapiano-inflected number you’ll expect from a musician who changed his life with one project. His vocals are bright as ever, coating this record with unique hit prospects.


She’s been away for a while, but Donli’s return was never in question. On her just-released record she continues the ethos of her cult classic ‘Enjoy Your Life,’ titling this one “Soft Life” so you know just what you’re getting. On the record’s start, she adapts the ‘o mukele’ chant from Ruff Rugged and Raw’s “Wetin Dey,” before layering her glossy vocals over other parts of the record with trademark lightness. The production recalls her live music-inspired takes on neo-Highlife and, in all, portends quite a lush, luxuriating mood.


After winning this year’s Henessey VS Class, PDSTRN has been one of the most acclaimed young rappers in the country. His moves were eagerly awaited though the rapper did well in taking his time to release work which showcases the full range of his abilities. Thus a record like “No Home Training” is a perfect move; over a thumping bassline borrowed from Dancehall, the artist sings about detractors in the comic style mastered by rappers. On streaming platforms, you’ll find a prelude of the same track, where he raps head-on and stakes his name as belonging in the conversation of top-tier MCs.


Prolific is the word which best describes Ogranya. Few weeks pass by when the alt-leaning artist does not release a song, and how rare that he makes such beautiful music! Today he shared his latest project, ‘Festival of the Sun’ and this warm, bubbly bop with Johnny Drille is an immediate standout. Mr. Drille has the uncanny potential of transforming any record and with the sweet toned vocals of Ogranya alongside him, it’s no surprise that the union births such sonic bliss.


Glittering synths form the sonic backdrop of “Only Fans,” the latest record from British Nigerian artist Kagedimes. A steady drumline infuses a distinct feel of Afro Swing, as the artists sing about a lady interest with snapshots into places where they’ve related. The diverse vocals and lyrical direction, as well as the scintillating groove of the production, all renders the record enjoyability while extending the sonic relationship of Nigeria and the UK.