Songs Of The Day: New Music From Zinoleesky, Tekno, Simi & More

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 Naira Marley, Mannywellz, Masterkraft, Fally Ipupa and more. Lock in!


In recent times many a fan has been clamouring for Zino to switch up the style. Amapiano has long formed the bedrock of the musician’s sound, sometimes sounding overwrought. “Personal” is the most energised Zinoleesky has sounded, a late-year affirmation of his strength while seeking the assurance of his parents’ blessings. Combining a prayerful tone with assured flows, the BabyBeats production pulls beautifully under him to create a serenade. Yet it’s a record you can bop to as well, its introspection not getting in the way of its quality to move the body. It’s a strong release from Zinoleesky, and a timely reiteration of his prowess going into the new year.


Christmas SZN is upon us and Simi has just the perfect groove. We haven’t seen many mainstream musicians dabble particularly in Christmas records, making Simi’s record very welcome at such a time. Sparking the awe and glitter of our earliest celebrations, this Blaise Beats-produced record exudes a similar warmth. Over sweet notes and mellow percussions, Simi takes the cherry route, reminding listeners of love and the need to forget one’s worries. With a touch of her signature storytelling, it’s a beautiful record which should grow on listeners as the date pulls closer.


In october, diaspora-based Nigerian artist Mannywellz released the emotive ‘Unwanted,’ establishing a sparse, spiritual edge over his established R&B sound. He follows up now with “My Heart,” a record that sounds cut from the ethos of the previous EP. Unfurling his deepest convictions over a solo piano and soft-rising synths, he addresses the song to negative presences in his life and, given the scope of his lyrics, perhaps the society in general. Though it’s barely two minutes long, the weight of his writing enriches it with great replay value. “I’m moving in silence, I’m moving with God,” he signs on the opening lyric, “You’re moving with violence, and moving with guns”.


Although a proven icon of Francophone African music, Fally Ipupa has been putting in the work all 2022. Today sees the release of the Congolese musician’s new album. ‘Formule 7’ is a sprawling body of work, comprised of three sections which combines for over 3hours of listening time. The titular record combines the rhythmic guitar-playing and chanted sections of rhumba. Through its eight-minutes runtime the musician curates an expansive groove, switching tempo with assured mastery.


Frequent collaborators Masterkraft and Tekno have never been known to miss on a record. For their latest, the duo references the humorous language of sports betting, a language that’s increasingly influenced the motions of popular culture. The revered producer’s Amapiano-laced beat manages to sound novel, excelling through its weight of percussion and the disco-esque keys which swirls around it. On his part, Tekno sounds the freshest we’ve heard him in a while, his lyrics delivered in a whisper-like tone which perfectly mirrors the usual disposition of someone who’s won a huge bet.


It’s been a while since we got new AD music but he surely makes it count on the new single. “Dangerous” is a breezy record lined with colourful production and the musician’s famous songwriting skills. Detailing the head-spinning highs of a relationship, he employs a mellow edge to his vocalisation which leads to a tender, even if humour-laced appraisal of the central lady character. No doubt a fine return from one of Afropop’s more distinctive musicians.


Not long ago, the duo of Hermez and Tim Lyre collaborated on the sparkling “Lucid Cruise 2.0,” combining their distinct musical characteristics for an eternal slapper. For such a fine record, it’s only right attendant visuals would be in the works. Now released, the Jordan Margolin-directed video seamlessly captures the chill vibe of the song, placing the artists in sea-evoking scenes while playing up tropical elements like wild flowers. With a number of beautiful vixens also making the cut, it’s a quintessential representation of a get-together moment, warm with intimacy and rippling with the excitement of things yet to come.


While he starred on The Voice, Kpee’s warm interpretation of Afropop and Western classics took him to the finals, his star potential obvious to anyone who saw him perform. He’s been polishing his skills ever since, bidding his time to make his claim on the ever-ascendant movement of Afropop. “Jolly” is a fine demonstration of his prowess, a groovy cut lined with the vocal awareness common within ballads. Grasping the nuances of space, Kpee effectively balances experimentation and experience, giving this record great potential as we enter the festive season.


Olamide has some of the greatest ears in Afropop and that’s on fact. From Fireboy DML to Asake, the YBNL boss has been known to tap distinct talents and overseeing their development to astounding levels. Sometime ago, he announced Senth as the latest addition to that esteemed cast. To announce his presence, the artist has just put out the EP titled ‘Senth Of Her’, and “So Fine” is a sparkly standout. Built on stuffed pads and nostalgia-inducing keys, an element of bedroom pop permeates the record, even though Senth’s writing is aware of pop culture lingua. A memorable, heartfelt song, it sounds like nothing YBNL has put out before. Surely, Senth is an act to look out for going into the new year.


Marlian Records CEO Naira Marley has been putting in the work all year. From his debut album ‘God’s Timing The Best’ to the Backroad Gee-assisted “Vawulence,” he’s been everywhere. Just in time for the December festivities, he’s put out what is his most hit-ready record this year. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” takes the drums of Amapiano but slows the tempo, Naira Marley unfurling electric flows within its seams. He curates the hair-down groove, playing down the intensity of heated conversations while giving the all-pass to having fun and having funds. A simple man, Naira Marley.


After years working as a video director, Uax is expanding his scope in the music industry. “Safe” is his first official single, but there’s an intimate and assured vibe one gets from listening to the record. Over soft, skittering percussions, he sings lovingly about a woman’s love, promising to treat her right while engaging salacious references. Quite an affectionate affair, exuding such warmth on first try surely indicates there’s great potential for Uax in the scene.