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Maleek Berry, Proven Hitmaker, Takes Center Stage in 'Last Daze of Summer'

We take a look at producer and songwriter Maleek Berry's first solo project, 'Last Daze of Summer.'

Producers taking on the onus to become their own foremen is a familiar phenomenon in the music industry. How this transition is conducted and the type of artist they become is where the real interest lies.


British-born, Nigerian artist Maleek Berry has produced certified bangers like "The Matter" for Wizkid, "Baby Hello" for Wande Coal and "Finito" for Iyanya. He took it a step further by producing nine songs for Wanted, Wande Coal’s first post-Mavin album. He also acted as the project's co-executive producer—big shoes to fill considering the previous occupier was Don Jazzy.

Berry is 28 years old this year. He was 17 years old in 2005 when T-Pain released his sophomore album Epiphany. T-Pain, along with his Konvict Music label boss, Akon, dominated pop charts at the time—a run that started in 2004 with Akon’s debut, Trouble, followed by T-Pain’s 2005 debut Rapper Ternt Sanga—and ended in the late noughties when both artists music careers began to tail off.

If you missed their ubiquitous presence, rest assured that Berry didn't. He's made an EP that not only draws from that period, but is also an ode to it. And he's done so without synthesising his voice—one of the surprising finds on his debut EP, Last Daze of Summer. It's easy to wonder why he's waited until now to put out a solo project considering the hits he’s co-created for others and his impressive voice (which, with its nasally slant is recognizable, yet not distinct from the deluge of singing voices on the radio.)

"Flexin" and "Eko Miami," with their identical drum arrangements, are the most reminiscent of a cache of songs by T-Pain which includes "I’m Sprung," "Bartender"(with Akon) and "Can't Believe It." They're both feel good songs about having money and larging it up. The lyrics won't trouble the head, but they will make it bob a good deal. Featured on "Eko Miami" is Geko whose oaky voice adds a rough texture to the track, and to the project as a whole.

On "Let Me Know," Berry asks a lady with whom he's been “best friends for a year now” if he's more than just a friend to her. He even goes as far as to say that he'd serve a life sentence for her—it's quite the commitment to make to someone whose affections are not guaranteed, let alone sustainable. But it's pop so it's fine.

“If you ain't trying to spend that money, she gon leave ya” is the one sore thumb of lyric that makes "Lost In The World" less of the morality tale that it purports to be. Otherwise, it works well as a lament for a fickle lover who was “wifey material...before the love was material." Nonetheless, Berry is secure enough to admit that he still thinks highly of her when he sings, "me no lie, you're still the baddest."

Berry’s writing is serviceable at best. The metaphors are tidy, but far from profound. Take this instance from "Nuh Let Go" when the rapper quips: “me want to operate on you but I got no patience/and you can be my hotel I'm here to stay." Again, it's pop so it's fine.

"Kontrol," the EP’s first single and first on the track list, is easily the most successful song. This is where Berry’s more dominant sensibilities—simple and catchy hooks, thumping but not hideous instrumentals, efficient though uninspired lyrics—having honed many a hit, are on full display. It's about booty shaking and not to be deconstructed any further.

At 6 tracks, and with a clear musical direction from a formidable craftsman, you get the feeling that Last Daze of Summer is focused and tightly controlled from conception to execution. What you don't get are new vocal or sound ideas. Perhaps that will come when he drops his album proper.

Sabo Kpade is an Associate Writer with Spread The Word. His short story Chibok was shortlisted for the London Short Story Prize 2015. His first play, Have Mercy on Liverpool Street was longlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award. He lives in London.

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Former UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Laureate, Kofi Annan, Has Died

The celebrated Ghanaian humanitarian and the first black African to serve as head of the UN, passed away on Saturday at the age of 80.

Kofi Annan, the seventh UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away on Saturday morning following a brief illness. "His wife Nane and their children Ama, Kojo and Nina were by his side during the last days," read a family statement. He was 80.

Annan was the first black African to serve as head of the United Nations, holding the prestigious position from 1997 to 2006. He was lauded for his global humanitarian work, eventually earning Annan and the UN a Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for "their work for a better organized and more peaceful world."

Annan was head of the UN during the onslaught of the Iraq War, proving to be one of the most challenging global events to occur under his time as Secretary General and one of the most divisive of the early 21st century. "I think the worst moment of course was the Iraq war, which as an organization we couldn't stop—and I really did everything I can to try to see if we can stop it," he said in 2006.

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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, which see the dancers 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.

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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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