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Afro-Cuban Singer Daymé Arocena Channels Jazz & Santería In ‘Gods Of Yoruba’

Daymé Arocena premieres “Gods of Yoruba,” an enlivening cover of Horace Silver that blends jazz with Afro-Cuban instrumentation.

Daymé Arocena. Image courtesy of the artist.


Daymé Arocena is what one might call a musical prodigy. The Cuban vocalist began her career at the age of 8, and has been fronting Cuba’s Los Primos band since she was 14. The singer, now 24, is showing no sign of slowing down.

Today, she premieres her latest single “Gods of Yoruba,” an enlivening cover of Horace Silver that blends cool jazz with bustling Afro-Cuban instrumentation.

The track is relaxing and electrifying all at once as Arocena’s chant-like vocals flow over scattered horns and a rapid bass-line. Her singing is subdued as the 8-minute tune transforms into an airy arrangement complete with a polished piano solo and free-form drumming.

"Gods of Yoruba is the perfect mix between my jazzy mood and my spiritual Santería songs,” the singer tells Okayafrica. “It doesn't have any lyrics to hold your mind; you can fly and get connected with the sky: Open heart!”

Listen to the track below and catch Daymé Arocena on her European tour this month, dates are listed beneath.

The singer's upcoming One Takes EP re-imagines six songs, "ranging from Italian obscurities to US house heroes," and is set to drop on May 6 on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings.

Daymé Arocena Tour Dates

April 3, New Parish, Oakland USA

April 13, Cully Jazz Festival, Switzerland

April 14, Monk Club, Rome

April 15, Biko Club, Milan

April 20, AB Club, Brussels

April 21, Rich Mix, London

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Janet Jackson Returns With Afrobeats-Inspired Song & Video 'Made For Now' Featuring Daddy Yankee

The icon's latest is a nod to the sound, fashion and culture of the diaspora.

Ms. Jackson is back.

The iconic artist returns with her first single since the release of her 2015 album Unbreakable, and it's a timely nod to the "made for now" influence of afrobeats fashion, sound and culture.

On "Made For Now," which features Puerto Rican reggaeton titan Daddy Yankee, Janet Jackson does what she's done successfully so many times throughout her decades-long career: provide an infectious, party-worthy tune that's fun and undeniably easy to dance to. "If you're living for the moment, don't stop," Jackson sings atop production which fuses dancehall, reggaeton and afrobeats.

The New York-shot music video is just as lively, filled with eye-catching diasporic influences, from the wax-print ensembles and beads both Janet and her dancers wear to the choreographed afrobeats-tinged dance numbers, even hitting the Shoki at one point in the video. The train of dancers travel throughout the streets of Brooklyn, taking over apartment buildings and rooftops with spirited moves.

It's obvious that Jackson has been studying and drawing inspiration from the culture for some time now. She even hit the Akwaaba dance, popularized by Mr Eazi, during her Icon Award performance at this year's Billboard Music Awards.

The bouncing video, directed by Dave Meyers, features contributions from a number of creatives from Africa and the diaspora who were involved in the creation of the video, including designer Claude Lavie Kameni and choreographer Omari Mizrahi. Ghanaian health guru, Coach Cass pointed out some of the many dancers involved in the production on Instagram, who hail from Ghana, Nigeria, Trinidad, Grenada and the US.

Ahead of the video's release, it garnered attention on social media when Jackson was spotted filming in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, wearing what many thought was a questionable fashion ensemble. The outfit in question only makes a small appearance in the video, and we're glad to see that Janet's other looks appear, at least slightly, more coordinated.

Watch the music video for "Made for Now" below. The singer is set to perform the song with Daddy Yankee live for the first time tonight on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, so be ready!

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You Need to Hear Juls' New Single 'Saa Ara'


New hip-hop and highlife grooves from the celebrated UK-based Ghanaian producer.

By merging the diverse influence of growing up in Accra and East London, Juls has managed to cultivate a hybrid afrobeats style that has set him apart from the rest.

For his latest single, "Saa Ara," he teams up with award-winning rapper Kwesi Arthur and gifted lyricist Akan.

The brilliant fusion of vintage highlife instrumentals and booming hip-hop beats, along with Kwesi Arthur's lively chorus and Akan's fiery delivery gives the song a very spiritual and classical feel.

Soothe your soul this weekend with these tasteful sounds from Juls.

Listen to "Saa Ara" by Juls featuring Kwesi Arthur and Akan below.

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News Brief

FIFA Refuses To Meet with Nigeria's Sports Minister as Ghana Takes Steps to Avoid Ban

This could jeopardize Nigeria's qualifier against Seychelles in September, while the Ghanaian government has pledged not to dissolve its football association.

In lieu of the ultimatums Nigeria and Ghana's football associations faced from FIFA, one country is on its way to dodge the threat of being banned, while the other is not going down without a fight.

FIFA has refused a proposed meeting with Nigeria's sports minister, Solomon Dalung, to discuss problems in the country's football federation, BBC Sport reports. They say their leadership and the FIFA president is unwilling to meet during the proposed time period.

FIFA is giving the NFF until August 20 for Chris Giwa, who was acknowledged by the courts as the president of the federation, to leave the NFF offices.

Giwa's lawyer Ardzard Habilla asserts that FIFA can't ban Nigeria as the federation's issues need to be sorted out internally by the country's judiciary.

Habilla questions, "Do we take it that FIFA laws are superior to the judgment of the highest court in our land—the Supreme Court, and has FIFA elevated itself before the constitution of Nigeria?"

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