Uju Tell South African Love Stories Over Jazz, Rock & Funk In Their New EP

Categorizing Uju's music is near impossible.

The music that South African outfit Uju makes is near impossible to categorize.

It has elements of soul, funk, jazz, East Coast hip-hop, and even rock, among other genres. Lead singer Ntuthu Ndlovu’s Zulu vocals also give the music an authentic South African feel.

Her vocals shape-shift from a piercing soprano to a semi baritone to fit the songs she's singing over at a particular time. She sings mostly about relationships, admitting the lyrics are semi-biographical.  

On their thirdEP, LUJULILE, Uju carry on this exploration and fusion of genres. Below we chat to Ntutu about the EP, which is their first release since 2010’s Free album.

Take us through LUJULILE.

The EP has been seven years in the making. We parted ways with Sony music about four years ago, and have had to finance the album ourselves. We worked with different people at different stages of the production. An initial recording was done last year for a movie project, but those recordings did not make it to the final product. What you hear now was produced by the band with Mpho Hlahla providing the technical support at Jaspa studios in downtown Johannesburg. This process took us just over four months from guides through to recording and eventually post-production and mastering.

What's the concept of the project?

The concept was really just a need to record and document the band’s repertoire that was written and performed over the last seven years. It also captures the metamorphosis of Uju from a seven-piece to a five-piece band, and eventually the current version as a stripped down and raw four-piece. We don’t look at the EP as a project in the traditional sense of a conceptual design with a deliberate beginning and end. It’s more of a need to mark a point in the legacy of Uju and the music we create at different stages in the band’s life.

Your music has rock, funk, jazz and other influences. What's behind your choice of sound on LUJULILE?

The influences you hear are generally a reflection of each of the four individuals’ own references. It isn’t necessarily a deliberate attempt to achieve a particular sound. It’s more of a snapshot of where we all are creatively at any given time and it evolves with our changing tastes and artistic experiences.

What more can we expect from Uju this year?

The digital launch of the EP at the beginning of August is the first step towards releasing the music into a broader audience. This will take the form of becoming more active on social media, traditional media and hopefully working towards radio airplay. We will also tour the album through a series of gigs, starting in Johannesburg and surrounds. As the music spreads, we will expand our live performances to other parts of the country. We also intend to take the music internationally to Europe and other parts of the world. However this is subject to us securing a partner and dependent on how the music is received.

Listen to LUJULILE below, and keep up with Uju on Facebook, SoundCloud and their website.

Courtesy of Jojo Abot.

Let Jojo Abot's New Afrofuturistic Video Hypnotize You

The Ghanaian artist releases the new video for "Nye VeVe SeSe," an entirely iPhone-recorded track.

Jojo Abot is rounding out a strong year which has seen her tour South Africa, release the NGIWUNKULUNKULU EP and work with institutions like the New Museum, Red Bull Sound Select and MoMA on her art and performances.

Jojo is now sharing her latest music video for "Nye VeVe SeSe," a song featured on her iPhone-only production project, Diary Of A Traveler.

"Nye Veve Sese is an invitation to let go of the burden of pain and suffering that keeps us from becoming our best and greatest selves," a statement from Jojo's team reads. "Asking the question of why pain is pleasurable to both the one in pain and the source of the pain. Often time the two being one and the same."

Watch her new "meditative piece," which was shot in Bedstuy, Brooklyn, below.

Jojo Abot will be playing her final US show of the year in New York City alongside Oshun on October 26 at Nublu 151. Grab your tickets here.

A Nigerian Label Is Suing Nas For Not Delivering a Good Verse

M.I and Chocolate City filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court claiming Nas didn't deliver the verse they wanted.

Nigerian star M.I and his label home Chocolate City are suing Queenbridge legend Nasir Jones.

In the lawsuit, which was filed in the New York State Supreme Court, Nas and Mass Appeal Records' Ronnie Goodman are accused of ripping off Chocolate City after they'd paid the rapper $50,000 for the verse.

According to the lawsuit, back in 2013, Nas and Goodman agreed to contribute a verse to a track from M.I. The stipulations were that Nas was supposed to mention "M.I, Chocolate City, Nigeria, Queens, New York—NAS's hometown—, Mandela, Trayvon Martin, and the struggles of Africans and African Americans" in his verse.

Nas did, in fact, deliver a verse but it didn't mention any of the subject matter Chocolate City had asked for.

The Nigerian label requested that the Queens rapper to re-record the verse, which now three year later, has never happened despite them delivering the $50,000 payment. Hence, that's why they're now suing him, they mention.

It's not all fighting words, though, as Chocolate City is very complementary to Nas in the lawsuit calling him "a highly respected lyricist in the music industry" and writing that they wanted a verse from him "because of NAS's exceptional talent as a lyric writer."

Unfortunately that talent and lyricism was no where to be found in the verse they got, in the eyes of Chocolate City and M.I.

Revisit M.I's "Chairman" above.

Photo courtesy of TEF.

5 Things We Learned From the TEF Entrepreneurship Forum

Over 1,300 African entrepreneurs, business leaders and policymakers attended the 3rd Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum in Lagos—here are the highlights.

The Nigerian Law School in Lagos, Nigeria, was transformed into a buzzing enclave of substantial conversation, intentional encouragement, and unbeatable energy.

The third Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum was the most inclusive gathering of African experts in business, entrepreneurship and policy, where all 54 African countries were represented with more than 1,300 attendees. These entrepreneurs and thought leaders are innovators across a diverse array of sectors like agriculture, technology, healthcare, fashion and energy/power generation.

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