Audio

Here Are 5 Incredible Cover Songs That You Need to Hear

We round up 2016's standout covers, featuring remakes of songs by Drake, Rihanna, Wizkid, Frank Ocean and more.

Every year, certain songs become the subject of endless covers, reworks, and remixes. Last year, hotlines were blinging out of control with remix after remix of Drakes smash single.


This year was no different. Countless artists offered their own spins on some of the year’s most popular songs. Once again, there was no shortage of Drake covers, and a couple of Rihanna songs were chosen favorites for remixes as well.

With all these covers to sift through, it can be hard to discern which ones are actually worth checking for, so we’ve put together a short list of some of this year’s standouts.

This Kenyan oldies cover of "Controlla"

Kenyan Youtuber Michelle Bisonga sings Kenyan oldies over the dancehall instrumentation of Drake’s "Controlla" and it is everything. As a bonus, check out this Ethiopian cover of Drake's hit.

Dremo’s Fela-inspired cover of "Panda"

Nigerian rapper Dremo shares a cover of one of the year's most momentous rap songs, Desiigner's "Panda." This song was covered several times—we came across at least 8 Nigerian covers of "Panda"— but this version wins because it features a dope sample of Fela Kuti speaking about the power of music.

LIMBS' cover of Frank Ocean

Experimental indie-pop duo LIMBS gave us a warm, ambient cover of one of the highlights from Frank Ocean's long-awaited album Blonde. You have to be pretty brave to cover a Frank Ocean production, and LIMBS don't disappoint.

Burna Boy covers Rihanna

Burna Boy puts his afro-dancehall imprint on arguably the biggest song of the year, Rih-Rih and Drake's "Work."

VanJess cover Wizkid’s "Final (Baba Nla)" and "One Dance"

Nigerian sisters and long-time cover band, VanJess, deliver a melody-infused mashup of Wizkid's 2015 banger, and Drake's chart-topping afrobeats-inspired hit.

Interview
Sarz. Photo: Manny Jefferson. Courtesy of the artist.

Interview: Sarz Has Powered a Generation of Nigerian Music—and He Isn't Stopping Anytime Soon

We talk to the star producer about his role in the rising global popularity of Nigerian music, spanning his production on massive singles from the likes of Wizkid, Skepta, Drake and more.

"I think more than the music, the narrative is more important these days," says Sarz as he sits at the offices of his press agency. "So one great song with an amazing narrative can get you farther than five great songs sometimes."

When Sarz talks about music, his eyes light up. They dart with excitement as he runs through topics like sounds, production, trends, and innovation. These are all words that represent his life's work of impactful music production, which has powered a generation of music in Nigeria, and is currently playing a role in its international future. Sitting at the offices, decked in a white t-shirt, red trousers and Nike kicks, he makes a point that he rarely grants interviews. And when he does, it's in spaces like this, in rooms and studios where his business is conducted, and his work is birthed and refined for public impact.

Born Osabuohien Osaretin, the 30-year-old music producer discovered sounds by accident when his ears would automatically pick apart music and focus on the beat. Interestingly, he discovered that he could remember every beat in detail. It was the entry point to a career that took off in 2010 when he scored his first hit on Jahbless' "Joor Oh" remix—during the formative stages of the current Nigerian pop success—and has provided sounds that have shaped the culture and given it its biggest moments.

With afrobeats' global ambitions taking off, Sarz's production is playing crucial roles in celebrated cross-cultural projects. He's helmed Drake's "One Dance," unlocked the chemistry between Wizkid and Skepta on "Energy (Stay Far Away)," and added composition on Beyoncé's Lion King: The Gift album.

"I'm inspired by the thoughts of how far I can take music. Just thinking about where this music can take me to," Sarz says, taking swigs from a water bottle. The producer has also worked with the biggest stars in afrobeats, and a look through his catalogue has hits every year since 2007.

He talks passionately about his work, the source of inspiration, where good music originates from, and how he identifies where to direct his energies. He runs an academy that has been a vehicle for delivering new producers to the culture. Sarz converses with range, a brimming energy, and a humility that is tied to purpose and achievements. He never shies away from topics that examine his revered place in this ecosystem, admitting without bragging that he is no one's mate. Even his 2019 SINYM EP is affirmation that "Sarz Is Not Your Mate." He has seen a lot and has a lot to say.

Sarz. Photo: Manny Jefferson. Courtesy of the artist.

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Sho Madjozi Accuses Organizers of 'Africans Unite' of Using Xenophobia as a 'Marketing Ploy'

The South African rapper has spoken out about why she declined to perform at the now cancelled concert.

Yesterday, the much-anticipated "Africans Unite" concert was cancelled after Burna Boy pulled out of his scheduled performances in South Africa. This comes after South African artists spoke out against Burna Boy performing following his heated Twitter exchange with rapper AKA. While some were disappointed, others felt the exact opposite. Sho Madjozi, who has weighed in on the debate before during the September xenophobic attacks, has once again spoken out. This time, the "John Cena" star has called out against the organizers of the concert, Phambili Media and Play Network Africa.

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Photo by Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images via Getty Images

The Ndlovu Youth Choir Wins the Hollywood Music in Media Award

South Africa's favorite choir continues on its winning streak.

The Ndlovu Youth Choir continues to fly the South African flag high. Recently, the choir was awarded the Hollywood Music in Media Award in the category of "Best Independent Music Video" alongside Grammy award-winning South African flautist, Wouter Kellerman, for their Zulu rendition of Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You".

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News Brief

Watch Ami Faku and Sun-El Musician’s Music Video for ‘Into Ingawe’

Ami Faku and Sun-El Musician share the visuals for their hit single 'Into Ingawe.'

Rising South African singer Ami Faku collaborated with the house music producer Sun-El Musician for "Into Ingawe" which was released in June. The song became an instant hit on radio and the internet.

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