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Sean Tizzle’s New EP, 'Moving Forward,' Is Rock Solid

Sean Tizzle explores what afrobeats can do over reggae and Latin rhythms in his new EP, 'Moving Forward.'

The first song on Sean Tizzle's new EP is called “Thank You.”


Typically, it's customary for songs of appreciation to be placed at the bottom end of a project as a curtain call. Tizzle may have chosen to thank God first, but also owed a show of appreciation to Blaq Jerzee, who produced the majority of the seven track Moving Forward EP. Both have done a rock solid job in crafting a rounded and compact project.

This is the EP that makes the case for all other EPs as a sure way to gain traction for a future release while not using up all the goodwill and prestige listeners tend to reserve for albums.

Brevity, of course, tightens focus, and focus couldn't have been a terrible watchword for Moving Forward. The subject matter in one song may bleed into the other, but the genre or tradition each is drawn from clearly delineates one from the other.

Blaq Jerzee utilises live instrumentation to great effect so that a run-of-the-mill song like “Thank You” is made even more textured, and the listening experience not as perfunctory as it would have been over more synthesised production.

This is not a broad argument for the supremacy of live instrumentation. DJ Coublon, to my knowledge, is one of the first in this new afrobeat era to use recorded live instrumentation. Kiss Daniel’s “Woju” and “Laye,” both made by Coublon, could have still become hits if made over “processed” beats, but their appeal to different age groups including older juju fans, or those who aren't terribly cosmopolitan in their music preferences, is down to these live instruments used—the next thing to assembling a juju band in a booth.

“Arawa Ni,” “Thank You,” “Telephone Man,” "Latin Lover," and “Dide" featuring Davido all benefit from this treatment the most.

On the familiar reggae of “Telephone Man,” Tizzle has some heart renderings to deliver to his girl and would like a telephone operator to connect him. Perhaps Tizzle is super-old fashion and couldn't bring himself to slide into a DM, or too romantic to accept that switchboard attendants, like film projectors, are an endangered lot. It's still a worthwhile listen, propelled by an engine-full of nostalgia, and that one drop reggae beat that would taste good even on toast.

Another song that's immediately familiar and self-explanatory is “Latin Lover” with New Yorker Dax Mpire, but the big plus is that he's adapted afrobeats to what is broadly called Latin music. Maybe 'adapt' is too strong a word as the arrangements here and in afrobeats are similar. So, all Tizzle essentially did was just sing in a cadence that is very familiar to him, but on a beat that is rarely co-opted into afrobeats, spongy as the genre is.

If Nicki Minaj is upset by Remy Ma’s unflattering remarks about her bum on “Shether,” one listen of Tizzle’s “Alhaji Abass” may return her to high spirits. On the track, Tizzle’s telling a lady of interest to “show them say you carry pass Nicki Minaj,” To 'carry,' for those not hip to it, is a Nigerian-ism meaning to have a big bum. There’s no such thing as positive objectification, though Tizzle just about makes a case for one.

By far the most satisfying song here is “Dide” with the workhorse that is Davido. Both men have similar singing voices, one a little raspier than the other. The beat is an update on highlife and as such will go down well at any party. Rarely have I paid closer attention to what both the bass and electric guitars are doing on any one song.

Sean Tizzle's Moving Forward is available now on iTunes.

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. You can reach him at sabo.kpade@gmail.com

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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!

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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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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