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6 Artists From the New School of Afrobeats

These young, up-and-coming afrobeats artists are looking towards trap, R&B, soul, and even emo, for inspiration.

DIASPORA—'Soundcloud afrobeats' is the term some use to describe this group of young artists of Nigerian heritage who eschew the heavy rhythms and flash of afrobeats, and look to trap, R&B, soul, and even emo, for inspiration.


Nigerian contemporary music is, today, in an odd state of high confidence. The music has an exciting and profitable market, but it's also in utter confusion as to what exactly to call itself. “Afrobeat” as done by Fela Kuti insists on being different from “afrobeats” as done by the new brigade.

A separate strata of young artists are forging an identity for being free of the heavy rhythms and flash of pop. An easy term and common denominator could be “spaced-out R&B,” a slow, sometimes druggy diffusion of instrumentation and emotions.

The gushing and belting that are the high-engagement points in so called “radio R&B” aren't to be found here. Drake’s name is synonymous with the sound, but the blueprint may have been Kanye West’s 808's & Heartbreaks.

Like-minded but better known artists like Santi, Nonso Amadi, Odunsi, and producer BankyOnDBeatz have put our impressive bodies of work. BankyOnDBeatz did the exceptional by making an album with only female artists, titled Fuego Señoras. Santi’s Suzie's Funeral, Odunsi's Time of Our Lives and War EP, his joint project with Nonso Amadi, whose own debut project is called “Alone”.

Most, particularly those featured here, are young, with ages ranging from from 20 to 23. They all write their own music and some produce their own projects as well. Many live outside of Nigeria, with quite a few in the UK (all featured here) while others based in U.S. (Daramola), Canada (Nonso Amadi) and Dubai (Santi).

These artists have a strong presence on Soundcloud, but would resist being called 'Soundcloud artists' and would definitely chafe at the term 'Soundcloud afrobeats.'

Yet, no two would agree on a term for the music they make. Lady Donli calls her music “box less.” AYÜÜ calls his “world” because. “I make all kinds of music and enjoy fusion of genres.” Genio Bambino doesn't yet have a name for his, but is staunchly against the term 'alternative afrobeats.'

Dami Oniru will settle for 'R&B soul' or 'alternative' but certainly not 'alternative afrobeats.' Davina Oriakhi opts for 'rhythm and soul fusion,' while AYLØ will go for 'soul-fusion' or the higher minded 'alt-soul-synthesis.'

These opinions notwithstanding, a group of individuals, however distinct from one another, make up a group all the same—just a more rarefied one.

DAVINA ORIAKHI

Davina Oriakhi. Image courtesy of the artist.

Davina Oriakhi’s debut LP, Love To A Mortal, which she describes as “love on a spiritual level and a treat for genres,” is due this month.

Oriakhi has a monkish approach to making music and so she mentions that, “if it is not a personal experience or story, if it is not uplifting, if it doesn't have a healthy message, I'm not putting it out.”

The songwriter goes on to add: “I do not make music about sweet nothings. Every song I write has a profound meaning”.

GENIO BAMBINO

Genio Bambino. Image courtesy of the artist.

Genio Bambino recorded his first song at 18 and now has put out two projects—Carpe Diem (2015) and Virtuoso (2017).

Bambino’s began learning to play the piano as a kid. "My dad used to sing at church and he would take me to practice nearly every week from a young age,” he mentions.

This early inculcation, unsurprisingly, makes for a rich development of music sensibilities. For his next project Favelo Nord, Bambino had teamed up with his guitarist-friend Banakoy.

LADY DONLI

LADY DONLI. Image courtesy of the artist.

Lady Donli’s first project was Love Or War (2014), followerD by What Is Perfect? (2015) and, most recently, Wallflower in 2016.

Donli describes her start in making music as “organic” and has “been writing poetry and songs since I can remember”. She is also one half of a group called SAFI with the singer Ayüü. Her newest single “Ice Cream” is a summer delight.

DAMI ONIRU

Dami Oniru’s early introduction to music came by way of CDs that belonged to her mother and her twin, "they had like over 50 CDs each,” she mentions. It was lunch time jam sessions in secondary school that sparked her interested,  “that was when I realised that, you know, I had a little bit of talent.”

Oniru’s standout single “Fallin” dropped in February “as a birthday present to myself.” Her as-of-yet untitled debut EP is slated for release this summer.

AYÜÜ

AYUU. Image courtesy of the artist.

“I guess I became more conscious about my ability to write songs in secondary school” says AYÜÜ who, in May of this year, released his first full project, H.E.R (His Emotions Recorded).

AYUU is one half of SAFI, whose other member is Lady Donli. SAFI “means purity in Swahili and that's what we aim to represent with our sound and lifestyle.”

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AYLØ

AYLØ. Image courtesy of the artist.

What AYLØ calls “a snippet of my imagination” is his impressive EP, Honest Conversations,  released in December 2016.

Sampling and live instrumentation take equal places of pride in the music AYLØ makes, but he also adds that “the baseline for my creation is in the soulfulness of it.”

Wizkid at Gidi Fest 2018. Photo: Tej/Gidi Culture Festival.

The Significance Of Wizkid's Failure To Perform At Coachella

And what consequences this could have for future Nigerian and African music shows abroad.

Nigeria's Wizkid didn't perform at the 2018 edition of the Coachella Valley and Arts Festival. While leading musicians across genres from all parts of the world climbed the stages over two weekends to provide concert-goers a live experience of their art, Starboy was absent. He was booked, his name was announced in the line-up, and two slots, over two weekends were allocated for his set. But he missed his placement due to "his inability to get US visas" for his band members.

Wizkid didn't just miss this chance. Africa did. Due to the significance of the his set at such a global stage, the Afrobeats movement did. Everyone, from creators, through the facilitators of the art, down to the consumers, everyone missed out on a crucial chance to bring our music to a diverse audience, at arguably the biggest music festival in the world. The timing was right. Wizkid, due to strength of his art, and the efficacy of his deals, found himself as the anointed one from Africa to do that.

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The IAAF Says Caster Semenya Must Lower Her Testosterone Levels Or Compete in Longer Distances

A new controversial set of rules will affect Caster Semenya severely.

South African middle-distance athlete Caster Semenya might be forced to compete in longer distance dashes.

This comes after the International Association of Athletics Federation announced that this Thursday it will reveal new rules for athletes with hyperandrogenism (high levels of testosterone in the female body). The rules, according to a report by the Daily MailDaily Mail, will force Semenya to either take medication to reduce her naturally occurring testosterone levels or move to longer-distance events.

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Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

11 South African Hip-Hop Songs About Weed

4/20 Special: Here are 11 South African songs to get high to.

You can't separate hip-hop and weed. Dr. Dre's debut album The Chronic was named after the herb and the likes of Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa and Quasimoto pretty much made careers off rapping about weed.

The tradition is alive wherever hip-hop exists. In South Africa, weed has been rapped about just as much as the aforementioned artists have. And according to Lord Quas on "America's Most Blunted" from the album Madvillainy, listening to music under the influence of weed makes it sound better.

"Listening to music while stoned is a whole new world. Most cannabis consumers report it second only to sex. And grass will change your musical habits, for the better."

In light of 4/20, we list some South African hip-hop songs, both old and new, about weed. If you're a smoker, these songs could come in handy for you today.

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