Music
AKA. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

The Best South African Music Of The Month

SA songs and releases we loved this month.

While other genres are relatively quiet in the first month of the year, hip-hop has already fucked up 2018 in South Africa.

Here are the South African songs that caught our attention this month.


Ms Cosmo "Ay Baby"

Ms Cosmo gathered three of the most charismatic rappers in SA—Rouge, Moozlie and Sho Madjozi—for a modern take of Hurricane Chris' crunk hit "Ay Baby Bay." The song's recent music video just gave the it new life.

Lua Preta Quero Mais/ Somnilokwie

Polish-Angolan duo Lua Preta released a double single. One of the songs features Morena Leraba, who stays between Joburg and Lesotho. The EP is a fusion of electronica, EDM and Leraba's Sotho raps.

Solo and BETR GANG Tour Dates

Solo and BETR Gang dropped an album that set the benchmark for South African hip-hop in 2018. The star-studded record features the likes of K.O., Moozlie, Reason, Maggz, Rouge, PH and a whole lot more. Bars galore.

B3nchMarQ 1st Quarter EP

B3nchMarQ dropped another impressive EP, a follow-up to their debut Aspen (2017). This one features sing-songy raps, great deliveries and beats that knock so hard they might leave fractures in your eardrums.

Read: 20 South African Artists Who Could Fuck Up The Game In 2018

Lastee "Raven"

Lastee's first single of 2018 is a dark bass-heavy trap-soul banger that will surely get you in your feels.

JR "Gata Lena Remix"

Producer 37mph pulled this remix to JR's 2009 hit "Gata Le Nna" out of archives. Featuring the likes of Cassper Nyovest, Mr Selwyn, Shugasmakx and more, this one may be nine years old but still sounds fresh.

YoungstaCPT "Miyang Stokkie"

YoungstaCPT's "Miyang Stokkie" is like a Kaapstad take of Dead Prez's "Mind Sex." A potent steamy love single that you should keep for the winter. This one's taken off of his and Maloon TheBoom's 2017 album YungLoon Taliboom.

Riky Rick, Davido, Gemini Major "Murdah"

The latest single from Riky Rick's Stay Shining EP just got highlighted with an impressive visual that's fitting for a collaboration of this caliber.

Rouge "Dololo" (Azuhl 021 Remix)

DJ Azuhl keeps his eyes on the streets. He gives this Rouge banger a new life by giving it a darker instrumental.

AKA ft Stogie T "StarSigns"

AKA took a short break from making pop hits to drop a few bars (autotuned but still potent). Stogie T's verse is vicious—he throws jabs at the likes of Riky Rick and Cassper Nyovest. What a way to start the year.

Prince Kaybee "Club Controller" (ft. TNS & Zakusa)

While gqom is known for its stripped down nature, Prince Kaybee drops a layered gqom hit, which features melodic vocals, hard-hitting drums and a selection of synths and strings.This one will be a staple in the clubs.


Flex Rabanyan "Wadlala Ngam"


"Wadlala Ngam'" sees the KZN-based lyricist croon some sing-songy raps drenched in mild autotune over mellow keys and a mid tempo rhythm. He speaks of a lover who did him dirty after he had invested all his emotions in the relationship.

AKA "Sweet Fire"

AKA's back on his pop shit, and this time around, it works. He croons about his relationship which just ended.

Nadia Nakai ft. Cassper Nyovest "Naaa Mean"

Nadia is dripping with swag in her latest video. Forgive the outdated lingo, but it will all make sense after you watch it. The song's instrumental bands, and Nadia and Cass fill it up with their big egos.


Miss Pru DJ "Isaga Lam" ft. LaSauce, Gigi Lamayne, Nadia Nakai & Londie London

Miss Pru DJ gathered a squad of her girls to flaunt their money over a trap banger. We are seeing more of these tracks where women are doing it on their own, and we are totally here for it.

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This Afro-Feminist Marching Band Is Challenging Negative Stereotypes of Black Women In Paris

30 Nuances de Noires is fighting the erasure of black women in public spaces one march at a time.

If you stroll through the streets of Paris and its suburbs and stumble across a parade of black women wearing shiny outfits, singing and dancing, consider yourself lucky: you've just come across the Afro-feminist marching band '30 Nuances de Noires' (30 Shades of Black).

The band was created by dancer and choreographer Sandra Rose Fanchine. Tired of the erasure of black women in the public space and of the negative stereotypes associated with them, Fanchine has brought women (and a few men) together in this project. Professional and amateur singers, dancers and musicians, they have all accepted to embark on this journey and use their talents to launch this much-needed conversation in France.

Sandra Rose FanchinePhoto by SEKA photography

The band's musical coordinator, Célia Wa, is a flautist, singer and composer. When Fanchine invited her to take part in the project, she was very enthusiastic to have the opportunity to play alongside other black female musicians and take part in something that portrays black women in a positive light and in a flamboyant way. She was also keen to play alongside other black female musicians and coordinate them, outside, in the public space, where music is accessible to everyone. But it wasn't easy going. "It's hard to find women who play wind instruments" she explains. "But especially black women. So, we decided to incorporate a few black men musicians—men who understand the meaning of the project and support us. They don't try to dominate the space, they wear dresses and headwraps, they really blend into the group."

Célia WaPhoto by SEKA photography

Wa hopes the project will encourage many young girls to become professional musicians by showing them that being a fulfilled woman, having a music career and a family life, is possible.

Awori is the singer of the band Kamiawori, and a singer and dancer in the parade. She accepted Fanchine's invitation to join the band because she realized a brass band made of women—especially black women—was something unique that she wanted to be part of. "Throughout history, women had been forbidden to play wind instruments because blowing into those instruments was assimilated to a sexual act", says Kamiawori. "As a result, nowadays, the majority of people playing these instruments are men, so the fact that Sandra was looking for black women only was really appealing to me".

Earlier this year the band had the chance to travel to French Guiana to do a performance with black Guyanese women. This is the kind of future she wants for the project. "I want us to go to places in France where there aren't many black people, as well as to the former French colonies and the French overseas territories," she says. She hopes the project will start conversations everywhere, and empower black women to talk about their issues in their own words and organize their own emancipation.

AworiPhoto by SEKA photography

***

Read on for our conversation with Sandra Rose Fanchine. This interview has been edited for length and clarity

Can you tell us about yourself and your background?

I'm 51 years old, I was born in Martinique and grew up in Côte d'Ivoire. I'm a hip-hop dancer and choreographer. I first came to France 22 years ago to study graphic design but along the way, I found hip hop and started dancing out of passion. With my background in graphic design, I knew I was going to be a choreographer eventually, I was convinced I could use hip hop beyond its performance aspect, bringing my visual artist's knowledge to it and using it to promote a narrative. So, when the age of maturity came, I became a choreographer. My first work considered the social construction of femininity, and I then created a piece which dealt with the memory of the black body. 30 Nuances de Noires is my third choreographic work.

Where did the idea of "30 Nuances de Noires" come from?

It came from my professional frustration as a black woman. When I was looking for a job after my studies, my graphic design work was very culturally influenced by my life in Martinique and Côte d'Ivoire. I was proud to show the aesthetics and the colors, to me it was beautiful but it wasn't seen as such, it was seen as something unworthy and my work was always devalued.

I also had to face that devaluation in my personal life. I wanted to partner up with a black man, but I could see that black men didn't value me, didn't give me space and in general chose to have solid relationships with white women. I am light-skinned so I used to pass black men's colorist filters, but this privilege stopped as soon as commitment was mentioned. I looked around me and saw a pattern in the way black men treated black women, in the way people in general treated black women, how we were looked down upon. I wanted to create something about that topic.

Photo by SEKA Photography

Why did you choose that name?

I chose that name to criticize the movie 50 shades of Grey, which from a feminist point of view is a sexist and misogynist movie, that glamorizes violence against women. Moreover, black women, in the global conception related to sexuality and sentiments, are continually eroticized in a very specific way: animalization, exotification and fetishization. I chose to reclaim these stigmas, just as Audre Lorde writes about in the chapter of her book Sister Outsider named "the use of eroticism, and the use of anger: the response of women to racism."

How did the people around you react to this project?

At first, I wanted to do a piece about sexuality, love and the neocolonial aspects of interracial unions but I faced a backlash from people in the cultural institutions and people in the hip hop industry. Whenever I talked about my project I was completely shut down and called a racist.

After all that rejection and denigration, I went back to university and studied gender studies for two years, and around the same time I became an Afro-feminist activist. In the meantime, the project evolved. I used to work at festivals where there were many brass brands and I already wanted to create a marching band with hip hop dancers so I just mixed the two ideas: highlighting black women's issues and creating a marching band.

After equipping myself with the relevant intellectual tools, surrounding myself with other black women and realizing we were all going through the same things, I was capable of demonstrating the systemic nature of what I was talking about and the barriers fell. I was finally in the right place at the right time. I found the artists very easily, the first musicians I met brought other musicians, the first dancers brought other dancers, it all happened very organically.

Photo by SEKA Photography

What type of women were you looking for?

I was looking for women who were strong enough to embody and address those issues unapologetically. They had to be capable of dancing on the streets with an attitude that says "I am standing up straight, I am black, I am glowing, I am shining and you will look at me and ask yourself how you really see me because I am not all those stereotypes you believe I am." Naturally, it first attracted feminists, women who were already aware of those issues. The women who later joined us and weren't aware of those issues are now more conscious and politicized.

What are the musical and aesthetic inspirations behind the project?

I really wanted visuals inspired by the aesthetics of the 70s and 80s because the dances present in the parade—locking and waacking—emerged at that time. For the musical aspect, I looked for songs that talked about black women and their issues: sorority, colorism, equality and resilience.

Photo by SEKA Photography

How do you see the project evolving in the future?

I want to do a world tour, I want us to dance with Beyoncé and Solange, I want to take this message of empowerment everywhere there are black women who need to exist, shine, go outside and assert their presence in the public space. Because of harassment, sexism and prejudice, it's still pretty complicated for women to simply exist. I consider myself lucky because I can see that the band does what I wanted it to do: it really empowers black women and seeing that happening gives me a lot of strength to take it further.

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Seyi Shay. Image provided by the artist.

Seyi Shay's 'Electric Package' EP Is All About Love & Positive Vibes

We talk to Seyi Shay about her new EP, an intimate mix of different afrobeats blends topped off by Gqom.

Talented Nigerian singer and songwriter Seyi Shay recently dropped her brand new music project, the Electric Package EP Vol. 1.

It's her first project in three years, since the release of her debut album, Seyi or Shay, in 2015. The EP, an intimate mix of different blends of afrobeats, contains six tracks, topped off at the end by the Gqom brand of South African house music.

The project features artists from different corners of Africa, including rising singer King Promise from Ghana, Afropop songstress Vanessa Mdee from Tanzania, and rapper and producer Anatii from South Africa, giving it a pan-African outlook.

However, she didn't forget her fellow Nigerian acts, as seasoned highlife singer Flavour, young Afropop superstar Kiss Daniel, and fresh act Slimcase are also on the bill.

Several DJs were also involved in the project, hosting different songs in mixtape fashion; DJ Spinall, DJ Consequence, DJ Neptune, and DJ Cuppy from Nigeria, Vision DJ from Ghana, and DJ Tira from South Africa. The songs were produced by Killertunes, DJ Coublon, Krizz Beat, Lush Beat, Anatii, and Chopstix.

We caught up with the singer to discuss Electric Package. Read our conversation below.

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Photo courtesy of Nike.

OkayAfrica & Nike Present: Naija Worldwide

We're linking up with Nike to celebrate Nike's fire Nigeria kits and to send Team Nigeria off to the 2018 World Cup with style.

Partner content from Nike

We've teamed up with Nike to bring the Naija spirit to the world with "Naija Worldwide," an epic bash to celebrate Nike's triumphant Nigeria kits as we send Team Nigeria off to the 2018 World Cup with style!

Join us on Saturday, June 2, from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at The Well in Brooklyn as we mark the occasion with music by DJ Tunez, DJ Moma and DJ Moniki. The vibe also includes art by Laolu Senbanjo, Nigerian cuisine, and a surprise performance by one of Afrobeats' finest.

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