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Nyashinski – “Properly” (feat. Femi One)
From Kenya: It’s always amazing when a track reunites several currents in African Music and doesn’t come off as pastiche, but as an original invention. “Properly”’s house-based production jumps to the ear right away (the way the bass is sequenced especially), but you can hear the typical tresillo clave of Afropop, keyboard motifs and log drums that reference amapiano, and even some benga-inspired guitars, but feels like it’s own unified formula. Nyashinski’s melodic opening verses are particularly refreshing (that Dorian major sure contrasts sweetly with the dark beat), and Femi just goes nuts on her verse, engaging in direct conversation with the secondary percussion.
Singleton – “Rogbodo”
From Guinea: A few weeks ago I championed Stonebwoy’s “Greedy Men” and the way he just gave a small reboot to an old-school reggae tune, just adding the 808s. But sometimes if you want to go back to the source of a genre, you gotta go all in and do it how it was done. Singleton’s “Rogbodo” is nothing but a loop and a very classic tumpa tumpa beat, and it sounds wonderful; what actually makes it a big standout is Singleton himself, dominating the uptempo proceedings with a flow that can make Shabba himself very proud. Classics are classics for a reason.
Lamine TPJ – “Allons avec ça” (feat. Debordo Leekunfa)
From Ivory Coast: Not even New Orleans bounce work as well as hype music as coupe décalé, let alone when it sounds this anthemic. Lamine TPJ is one of those artists who make sure in each single to say everything they need to and get the party going at the same time, which is also reflected in the production, which sounds busy and intricate as all fuck, but never misses the groove or the intensity. The ndombolo guitar/ choir combination in particular feels like a kind of gospel music I’d never be tired of hearing.
Soft – “Comot Body”
From Nigeria: With production from the great 1da Banton, Soft returns with “Comot Body” a tune that melds an afro house beat, latin horns — listen to the brass hit at the end of every bar —, juju guitars, and a rumba clave for good measure. Yes, that musical combination is impressive, but way better is the execution; everything makes perfect sense, but my favorite elements is that i-vii chord progression and how Soft just moves like Usher in the verses. Stellar performance.
Marcus MC, Lady Du & Khanyisa Jaceni – “Bheka Mina Ngedwa” (feat. Tsiki XII)
From South Africa: Let’s close the argument once and for all: melodic amapiano > shouty, blaring amapiano. Proof? How about this incredibly deep, ethereal track from Marcus MC and Co., with some of the finest vocal work in the game, courtesy of the great Khanyisa. She dominates the whole song, offering slow vibes, faster runs, and two hooks the size of cathedrals, and sounds so lovelorn you can’t help but send a message to your significant other just letting them know how happy you are for having them around. Also, the synths sound like old-school Faithless — you can’t never go wrong with that move.
Blanche Bailly – “DouDou” (feat. Fanicko)
From Cameroon: Oh man, I truly adore when afropop songs have chord progressions that immediately bring memories to me. “DouDou” has the irresistibly jazzy ii-V-I-vi circle, which lends itself perfectly with tender melodic runs, and instrumental flourishes like pianos and organs, but on top of this, there are two really capable singers that exude all the chemistry in the world. It really feels like two lovers exchanging pleasantries with each other.
Loved the column? Here’s a Youtube playlist of this week’s Afro Jams with some bonus tracks.