Afro Jams of the Week: July 20, 2022

Leonel's Afro Jams of the Week is back featuring two gems from Angola, a rhythmic assault from the Ivory Coast, Afro house from Congo-Kinshasa, and Mejja.
By    July 20, 2022

Photo via Pérola/YouTube

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African music never sleeps, and neither does Leonel.

Pérola x Cubita – “Não Vai Lá”

From Angola: This is by far one of the most exciting Lusophone songs of the year so far; this combination of kizomba bounciness, sophisticated chord progressions, synth-flutes that betray some Latin American influence, and the glorious melding of Pérola and Cubita’s voices, make for a stimulating audio experience. And the production choices — the spacing and the vocal layering in particular — enhance this miraculous encounter of musical ideas.

Edgar Domingos – “Uma Chance”

From Angola: “Uma chance” is such a vibe, such a mood. This slice of exuberant, atmospheric kizomba — complete with 808s that click like a mukindo — feels right at home in alternative R&B playlists. That use of rhythmic layering, and the 80s-but-really-futuristic synth leads work so well with Edgar’s serene baritone; he makes it work like a zouk Frank Ocean.

Samarino x Rebo Tchulo – “Epesi Pasi”

From Democratic Republic of Congo: Both Samarino and Rebo are known in their homeland for their mastery of modern soukous — boundary-pushing productions led by artists with a true understanding of rhythmic schemes, all impossibly catchy — but “Epesi Pasi” is a little bit different; rather than work in their usual soukous bell patterns (the typical Congolese metric), this one moves around the 3-2 clave, you know, the Afrohouse and kuduro scheme, and it feels like a late-night Angolan DJ set track — but Samarino and especially Rebo know better and, instead of cold rapped phrases, they go for melodic toasting.

Ramses Tikaya x Mix Premier – “Enjaillment”

From Ivory Coast: These guys somehow always find exciting new ways to present their brutal bursts of dance energy. “Enjaillment” is more than just a banger; is an assault of pure rhythm, and because these two are masters of the form, they built it around a distorted electric guitar playing something that feels like either Tishoumaren or like a wicked metal/décalé hybrid. Brilliant.

Mejía – “Kanairo Dating”

From Kenya: I mean, of course — this is Mejja; at this point, everyone who reads this knows he’s among the best to ever rap over Gengetone beats. But in “Kanairo Dating” he spices things up a little. Rico Beats production dresses these rhythms in breezy, summery synths that give it a soca vibe (or even like a Bad Bunny tune), and Mejja just goes over it with his classic jester attitude, as he talks about his bad luck with women — always with hilarious results. Mejja never misses.

Bonus Tracks

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