Afro Jams of the Week: February 15, 2023

Leonel's Afro Jams of the Week returns with alt-pop from Kenya, afro soul from Cameroon, Angolan zouk, and an electro-drill-décalé fusion from Cote d'Ivoire.
By    February 14, 2023

Chelsea Dinorath/Instagram

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African music never sleeps, and neither does Leonel.

Kevin Chambala x Bokra Djoman x Bebi Philip – “Pouyou Paya”

From Côte d’Ivoire: The indisputable banger of the month; this ingenious mixture of coupé décalé, drill, older trap, electro and traditional log drum music feels like its own beast, as if a new sub-genre is being born right in our ears.

Lydol x Cysoul – “Ndolo Bobe”

From Cameroon: Two of the most unique voices in Cameroon join souls for “Ndolo Bebe,” an atmospheric love letter. Pianos, airy synths, and gospel-like harmonies set the stage for their tender exchange. It feels like sweet talk.

Ko-C – “Deux Oeufs Spaghetti”

From Cameroon: The militaristic pace of coupé décalé meets the melodic clarity of the makossa universe. Ko-C’s flow takes a sonic palette that, in lesser hands, would come off as menacing, and turns it into a very lovely, fun song about food and family.

Oneens – “La Go est Zoo”

From Níger: It is common that afropop musicians have a two-keyboard, two-guitar strong group in their live performances, but this is one of the few recordings that justify that setting without any doubt. “La go est zoo” is brimming with exciting synth and guitar arrangements that enrich the duo’s soaring melodies.

Sho Majodzi – “Chalé”

From South Africa: Sho Madjodzi is an amapiano superstar, and she proves it with this remarkable exercise in freedom and flow. What’s most impressive is the way she projects her huge personality and charisma; it draws you into her world effortlessly.

Eko Dydda – “Gas”

From Kenya: Eko Dydda is one of the most interesting discoveries in Kenyan music lately; his approach goes beyond genres, and his lo-fi DIY ethos results in some exciting tunes, such as “Gas,” which finds Dydda’s heavily-autotuned, expressive drawl over a beat that feels like a lo-tech, synth-punk tune taken from a DAW session out of early Dean Blunt’s computer. Brilliant!

Chelsea Dinorath – “Unfollow”

From Angola: Zouk wunderkind Chelsea Dinorath has an uncanny ability to create lovely hooks and memorable melodies, and the way she incorporates the guitars into her flow makes her one of the new leaders of the genre in Angola. “Unfollow” feels like a continuation of her charting smash “Sodadi,” but this time, she takes the tension up a notch with pointier lyrics and a deeper melodic scope.

Mayatime – “Tuachane”

From Kenya: Young upstarts Mayatima have a penchant for rapping over unusual gengetone beats; here, the bubbly snares and the hard-hitting bass gives the tune an aura similar to bounce music, but the cadence and the call-and-response choruses are pure genge.

Exray Tania x Masauti x Daddy Andre – “Cinderella”

From Kenya: It’s rare to hear the mighty Exray Taniua going a melodic pop route, but his effervescent baritone feels right at home in “Cinderella”’s beat, courtesy of Byron the beat god (the ‘Ay papi’ tag is one of my favorites in producer world). And what better way to complete this trick than with hot verses and hooks from Daddy Andre and the finest melodist in Kenyan pop, Masauti.

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