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Leonel is Telling Us Something Good.
Esther Chungu – “Healing”
From Zambia: Gospel remains one of the biggest genres in the music of Africa, especially in the Southern region, where Worship musicians share concert bills and chart success with afrobeats and rap stars. This has enabled the emergence of interesting fusions and variants; case in point: This breezy amapiano jam, where Chungu sails through the summery beat with clarity, her velvet tone weaving melodies and assurances. The spacey production recalls more traditional forms of house music, which lends itself to communal experiences like this kind of sermon.
Santrinos Raphael feat. Bebi Philip – “Kitibo”
From Togo/Ivory Coast: I love it when every percussion hit, every sound choice and clave metric work together to construct hyper-complex but undeniable beats; such is the case with “Kitibo” where Santrinos and Bebi Philip interchange melodies (listen to their full-octave harmonies) to a rhythm that gets bouncier and bouncier the song progresses. That start/stop part at the beginning of the hook, and the way it breaks into a marvelously hot beat slays. It immediately turns a good song into a great one, and the duo’s voices never get in the way of the groove; they know pretty well where the focus of the track is.
DJ Phil Peter feat. Marina, Fireman, P Fla, Aime Bluestone – “AGAFOTO”
From Rwanda: Rwanda’s music scene seems to be divided between the influences of two of its neighbors: Kenya’s Afropop/Genge universe, and the plethora of rhythms coming from the DR Congo (the historic French influence helps a bit as well). But of course, as Amapiano completes its conquering run of East Africa, the top Rwandan producers also incorporate it to create all sorts of fusions. “Agafoto” contains traces of all the above, which is perfect for crew tracks, as every performer can simply add their spin and take their verses into their comfort zone. It is the banger to unite them all, pleasing everyone while becoming their own thing.
Sira Bintsi – “Soninké”
From Mali: Oh yes, this is the OG stuff, pure unadulterated Malian popular music. Sira Bintsi’s riveting “Soninké” is a display of busy instrumentation (just listen to that dual guitar showdown), and a melodic flow that recalls of groovier days in Bamako pop. These sounds are classic for a reason, and Sira’s vocal slides and catchy choruses honor that tradition, and if you’re a bassist or a drummer, this can be a fun one to learn as well.
Nissah x Eiji Beatzkilla – “Genesis”
From Cape Verde: “Genesis” is only billed as a Nissah track, a presentation of sorts, but this is all about the legendary Eiji Beatzkilla’s impressive production. It’s all about those sinister beats, complete with the spooky chromatic percussion riffs and orchestral synths, and Nissah rides them with a performance halfway between sensuality and bravado. That batida pattern in the last chorus, where everything explodes after a couple minutes of sober restraint, is incredibly satisfying.