New Music Friday: New Project Recommendations From Kwesta & Kabza De Small, Yemi Alade & More

Another packed Friday for must-hear projects

2022 has been a year full of eccentric releases from star-studded and underground artists. While it has been a rollercoaster, artists have worked overtime to ensure splendid music is continuously rolled out to their fanbase continuing the thrilling narrative of Afro-Pop to the world. Whether it’s the raging Amapiano synths or the sultry R&B numbers there are times an album is so perfect, so great from start to finish that simply listening to the few tracks that made the radio is a complete disservice. There are albums where every song could be a single. While our Songs of the Day column highlights some of the hottest new releases through the week, New Music Friday gives you the perfect album recommendations to get you through. Whether you pledge your allegiance to Spotify or Apple Music, here are the albums you have to listen to this weekend.

Yemi Alade – ‘African Baddie’

Mama Africa, Yemi Alade has been on a streak of single releases. Last month, she released “Baddie” as the promotional record for her next album. Arriving today is her most recent body of work, ‘African Baddie’. The album features artists such as Phyno, Zlatan, Spice, Lemar and more and sees the artist focusing on matters that include leveling up, being a newer and more refined version of herself. The project cuts across many different genres including afropop, reggae, dancehall and amapiano. In usual Yemi Alade style, she plays with many different sounds and sonics and ties it all together with stellar production. 

M.anifest – ‘Madina to the Universe: The E.P.ilogue’

In late 2021, revered Ghanaian MC M.anifest flossed his lyrical mastery over a selection of polished beats. ‘Madina To The Universe’ bore the indication of a musician engaging fresh sounds and finding new ways to sketch their trajectory. More than a year later he’s now following up with an epilogue, not surprising given the authorial verve his catalogue embodies. The mood is similarly thoughtful and boisterous, checking off incredible subject material while moving a narrative with its production. M.anifest is joined by four guests on six songs, one of those being Nigerian rap savant M.I Abaga.

‘EMPIRE Presents: Where We Come From, Vol. 1’

In 2020, American distribution company and record label EMPIRE made clear their intentions in staking a place in Africa’s music market when they signed with various acts on the continent and engineering the release and distribution of Fireboy DML’s “Peru” remixes with Ed Sheeran, 21 Savage and Blxst, KiDi’s “Touch It” remix with Tyga, Olamide’s ‘Carpe Diem’, Wande Coal’s ‘Realms’ and Kizz Daniel’s ‘King of Love’. In February, EMPIRE opened its Africa division in Lagos, with its operations including music markets in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Ivory Coast.

In March, EMPIRE gathered its African signees at a writing camp in San Fransico and the result of that expedition is the 15-track compilation project ‘Where We Come From, Vol. 01.’ Preceded by Kizz Daniel’s “Cough (Odo)” and Wande Coal’s “Umbrella,” the project features other acts like Olamide, Asake, Tiwa Savage, BNXN, Bad Boy Timz, Black Sherif, Fireboy DML and Yaw Tog, among others. It is a showcase of the label’s growing impact on sub-Saharan markets and the musical qualities in their arsenal.

Kwesta & Kabza De Small – ‘Speak N Vrostaan’

Kwesta’s reverence for Kwaito is well-documented. From “Ngud’’” to “Spirit”, a lot of his biggest and best songs carry clear influences from the most important genre in urban South African music. Kwaito itself remains an eternal source of inspiration, most notably as an integral part of the most popular SA Dance subgenre at the moment, Amapiano. With all this context, it makes sense that Kwesta has teamed up with ‘Piano superproducer Kabza De Small for a new joint project, ‘Speak N Vrostaan’. Tagged as a Kwaito project on Apple Music, the album balances Kwaito sonic with Amapiano infusions and rap’s vocal cadences, with Kwesta’s deadpan drawl anchoring its themes, alongside features from Sizwe Alakine, Toss, Young Stunna, DJ Tira and more.

Breeder LW – ‘Vibes & Ting’

Breeder LW has been operating as one of the most dynamic rap artists in Kenya for the last few years. A young OG, he’s earned a reputation for being a potent mic scorcher and a hit-making artist. Today sees the release of his third studio album, ‘Vibes & Ting’, his first project release since the well-received ‘Bazenga Mentality’ consolidated his star power. Unlike the semi-sprawl of his last album, ‘Vibes & Ting’ is far more succinct and features much fewer guests, with eight songs clocking in at less than the half hour mark, and just two appearances from Maandy and Masauti.