Afro Jams of the Week: August 12, 2022

Leonel's Afro Jams of the Week returns with an all Lusophone edition, featuring an Angolan legend, bedroom sounds from Cabo Verde, and a Gen Z anthem from Guinea-Bissau.
By    August 12, 2022

Photo via Yola Semedo/YouTube

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Yola Semedo – “Nós Dois”

From Angola: Yola Semedo is the rare artist that gets better, her message more impactful and her presence more appealing with age. Her wise, hearty tone provides any song with a full dose of gravitas and relatability, the kind of which you don’t easily get with younger artists, and a song like “Nós Dois” is the perfect proof. With lyrics about the passage of time and how it affects a relationship that has already gone through so much, Yola’s performance makes every word heavier, every sentence feel like gospel.

Ary – “Bolingo Ya Motema”

From Angola: I’m a total sucker for modern tunes that clearly draw from earlier, more traditional styles; in the case of Angola, any references to semba and tarraxinha in pop or kizomba are welcome, but it is in the execution where Ary’s “Bolingo Ya Morena” shines brightest. The bounciness of the beat, itself drawing a little from rumba as well, is perfectly complemented by the highlife guitar lines, which in turn accentuate Ary’s sultry-but-fun vocal. It all sounds excellently packed, everything in place for maximum enjoyment.

Cíntia – “No Stress No Money”

From Guinea-Bissau: This is poised to become the new Gen Z anthem in the Lusofonia — also, the phrase “no stress no money”, in English, is quite telling by itself —, but what has completely captured me is Cíntia pivoting to melodicism. The way she sings here, filled with both melancholy and ennui, is a great encapsulation of the feelings of an entire generation that has been anesthetized by technological isolation. And the auto-tuned vocal production is simply superb.

Loony Johnson x Djodje – “PAKE”

From Cabo Verde: Despite the millions of attempts coming out literally everyday, portraying sensuality in music is actually quite hard, especially coming from men, but where “PAKE” succeeds is in the vibe of it all. Those bubbly synth backdrops and electric piano lines are evocative of the bedroom experience, and Loony and Djodje’s voices provide all the smoothness necessary to enhance that vibe. And having Jennifer Dias, Cabo Verde’s most beautiful woman and an amazing artist herself, dance in that video, makes the more sense.

William Araujo x Sos Mucci – “VIBRA”

From Cabo Verde: I was initially sold when I heard the guitar work — that melodic direction is always well-received here — but once the accordion accents, the clicking percussion and that undeniable hook kicked in, I knew it belonged here. ‘Vibra’ is fun and refreshing, but there is still some saudade in the hook, exemplified by Araujo’s dynamics right at the moment of harmonic tension. It’s so well-rounded and yet so immediate it’s scary..

Bonus Jams:

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