Afro Jams of the Week: February 9, 2023

Leonel's Afro Jams of the Week continues with its latest edition featuring a triple feature from Cabo Verde, the return of an Angolan diva, and two masterpieces from Ethiopia and Nigeria.
By    February 8, 2023

Elida Almeida/Instagram

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African music never sleeps, and neither does Leonel.

Cubita – “Mais Nada”

From Angola: A tune for wounded hearts, with the unmistakable pettiness of the recently abandoned, but with a reflective horizon that demonstrates a lot of maturity. Cubita is still among the best in the Lusophone world to make this type of song, and “Mais Nada” serves as a great introduction to her music.

Jennifer Dias – “Petit Bisou”

From Cabo Verde: Jennifer Dias knows the perfect balance between tender and seductive, and “Petit Bisou,” where she alternates between the Caboverdian and French Creole, gives us one of the sweetest, warmest vocal performances of her career.

Supa Squad x MC Zuka – “Branca Preta”

From Cabo Verde, Brazil: Baile funk is still one of the most puzzling genres that exist in dance music; On the one hand, it exudes a kind of nastiness that can be excessive for the most conservative listeners, but it also has arguably the most contagious rhythmic pattern of them all. “Branca Preta” finds Carioca-scene hero MC Zuka and the Caboverdians Supa Squad, with a beat that marries baile with the latter’s trademark Afrohouse, masterfully produced by Mr. Marley. A fusion that simply makes sense.

Elida Almeida – “Bedjera”

From Cabo Verde: With a tasteful mixture of zouk, takamba music from Cabo Verde, and some r&b vibes, “Bedjera” announces Elida Almeida’s new era; a more mature, decidedly more musically ambitious side that explores deeper themes. The production highlights this confessional aspect from her, putting the focus on her voice and the spacious arrangements.

Seydou Chée – “Chambre 8”

From Mali: Malian guitar music goes surprisingly well with the afrobeats drums, making attack-heavy beats with sharper edges, but Seydou’s vocal smooths things out and gives some melodic depth. The dual guitar arrangements complement his heavily-autotuned pre-choruses.

Aster Aweke – “Temeles”

From Ethiopia: One of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard from Ethiopia in a long while. “Temeles” builds up slowly, from subtle percussion and acoustic guitars, to pianos, horns and keyboards that adorn Aweke’s dulcet croon. Each instrument gets space to hang around the main melody, engaging in sweet conversation.

Asake – “Yoga”

From Nigeria: “Yoga” is a masterful implementation of Fuji Desert music into modern production; that choral, call-and-response structure, hovers over the 6/8 rhythm as Asake’s authoritative voice takes the main role, keyboards and strings taking turns joining the choir. A true African blues spiritual, and an early candidate for Nigerian single of the year.

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