Music

Nadia Rose Is Your New Favorite Rapper

Nadia Rose's impressive debut album 'Highly Flammable' is proof that she might be the best new rapper coming out of the UK.

The eight songs on Nadia Rose’s debut Highly Flammable are like a pack of firecrackers, each of varying strength and spark-points, but all brimming with boisterous belligerence.


“U Know What” is packed with double entendres like “I get brain, I get advice." While not too impressive in isolation, when the lines are tightly packed along with others and feverishly rapped over a jittery London-meets-Caribbean garage beat, the result is stunning.

By now the phrase 'too hot to handle' is played out (true as it might be in regards to Rose). So the numerically-addled abbreviation in album track "2H2H" just about makes the staleness less noticeable on a track that has many parallels to Missy Elliot's work with Timbaland.

Elliot’s influence is in fact that of a presiding spirit over Rose’s musical project as a whole, particularly relevant here is her sophomore album Da Real World.

The album's most memorable single “She's a Bitch” packs a truck-load of attitude and was, as recent as 1998, considered very full-frontal and indeterminately feminist in its ownership of the derogatory word.

A variant of the looped violin that defines the beat on “She's a Bitch” is heard on Rose’s “2H2H,” but not one to get tamped down by influence, Rose’s wordplay, always fun and clever—for instance “you can bring the fire but you can't match this”—is the lime juice that boosts the familiar flavour of Missy Elliot.

Elliot’s abiding influence continues into the first single “Skwod.” It's more apparent in the video, in which Rose strides a London street, eyes set on the camera and not the changing formation of dancers trailing her from start to finish, and with whom she keeps in lockstep—all in what appears to be one take.

The superstructure of bright costumes, hyperactive dancing, exuberant beats might have been drawn from the Elliot-sphere, but the motoring mechanisms of clever wordplay, versatile delivery and charm is all Rose’s. A video of her freestyling over alternating beatboxing on DJ Semtex's BBC 1 Radio 1Xtra show is evidence of her talent in elemental form.

Here her verbal dexterity and ability to switch flows, sometimes instantly, is seen in close focus and away from the restrictions that standardised songwriting which, for good or bad, forces an artist to adhere to settled structures and album formulae.

That aside, the simple image of a dope female MC spitting bars to beatboxing by another female, who is also a producer, is striking for its rarity as well as being a testament to either’s talents.

If the comparisons to Elliot seem to be taking away from Rose’s actual talent, let me be clear, this is not the intention.

Rose, who is British-Ghanaian, also succeeds at adding her own dancehall inflections to her tracks, which she does convincingly on “U Know What” and "Tight Up." The latter samples the chorus from Red Rat’s “Tight Up Skirt” and thickens it for high-impact with a hard-hitting bass.

By the eight song “Murder,” on which the 23-year-old Rose attests to her ability to kill a beat, the point seems redundant as we have by then had a blistering run of seven songs, the plasters still fresh.

Rose maybe be the full flowering of Elliot’s proto-feminism, but in Highly Flammable she has improved on it with a narrative and execution that is all hers.

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.

Annan was also the founder of the Kofi Annan foundation and chairman of The Elders, an international humanitarian organization of global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela.

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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, 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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Audio

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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