Featured

Exclusive: kechPhrase x Afrikan Boy x Rilgood "All Natural" + Working w/ Kool AD

Hear a new track from Nigerian/Chicago rapper kechPhrase with Afrikan Boy and Rilgood, plus read about his work with former Das Racist emcee Kool AD.


There are a lot of things we don’t know about Veehead, the “label” Victor Vasquez (better known as Kool AD, formerly of Das Racist fame) has founded — including whether or not it can even be called one. What we do know, however, is that a very talented young producer by the name of kechPhrase has been releasing his material through the imprint, and based on what Okayafrica has heard so far, we are definitely on board with what they have going on. kech has given us the premiere of a track from his upcoming self-produced album, Green Card (due in April) and we also chatted with maybe-label head Kool AD to discuss the project.

Spending his days currently enrolled as a student at UPenn, kech (known to his parents as Ikechi Nnamani) has produced tracks for labels such as Mad Decent, Amalgam Digital, and Dame Dash’s Creative Control channel (while not being super studious, of course). Green Card finds the young artist exploring his Nigerian roots through the lens of his first musical love of 90s hip hop, melding that classic boom-bap sound with influences from the aural landscape of his father’s native Nigeria. His beat tape series, The Kechstrumentals: Live From Nigeria was recorded entirely in his father’s village and mixed in his Philly dorm room. Kool AD describes kech’s work as “oceanic and rewarding,” but perhaps the unusual recording backdrop can help explain. Speaking on the experience of recording in such a non-traditional manner, kech reveals how recording in his father’s homeland helped craft his sound, “I'd wake up early in the morning, bring out my MacBook and my keyboard as well as CDs of 70s samples and just get to work while overlooking nothing but the beautiful scenery Nigerian cities have to offer.”

Despite the confusing “what-is-it-actually” status of Veehead, the premise behind Kool AD and kechPhrase’s relationship is simple. “I have creative control over everything that I do, and if Kool likes it, we try to get it out to listeners with the hopes they receive it well,” explains kech; although Kool himself takes even less credit than that: “Ikechi hit me up, sent me beats and tracks. I liked them, and then he was like, ‘Let me be on Veehead, so I sent him the photoshop file.” The duo has released music together previously on a number of occasions, including the well-blogged “Brobama” track dropped during last year’s presidential election.

In addition to working with Kool, Green Card showcases kechPhrase's ability to collaborate with other rappers, including newcomer Rilgood and London-based Afrikan Boy on a track called “All Natural.” Both of Nigerian descent, Afrikan Boy addresses the responsibility of young artists such as himself and kechPhrase to present new images of Africa through music. “It's very important to me to represent a more progressive vision of Africa, but it's more important to me to tell the listeners about current issues and what needs to change concerning Africans today.” The song sends a message of self-love to women, a goal kechPhrase tells us was an intentional move - “not depicting women as objects but rather goddesses, which I feel is quite rare in hip-hop.” Another track, “Nigerian Dreams,” is a self-described nostalgic take on kech’s view of the Nigerian “past, present, and personal experience.” Okayafrica has the exclusive drop of “All Natural” above, so be sure to listen and stay tuned for more info on Green Card when it releases this spring - and you’re welcome in advance.

popular

Introducing OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 List

Celebrating African Women Laying the Groundwork for the Future

It would not be hyperbole to consider the individuals we're honoring for OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 list as architects of the future.

This is to say that these women are building infrastructure, both literally and metaphorically, for future generations in Africa and in the Diaspora. And they are doing so intentionally, reaching back, laterally, and forward to bridge gaps and make sure the steps they built—and not without hard work, mines of microaggressions, and challenges—are sturdy enough for the next ascent.

In short, the women on this year's list are laying the groundwork for other women to follow. It's what late author and American novelist Toni Morrison would call your "real job."

"I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else."

And that's what inspired us in the curation of this year's list. Our honorees use various mediums to get the job done—DJ's, fashion designers, historians, anthropologists, and even venture capitalists—but each with the mission to clear the road ahead for generations to come. Incredible African women like Eden Ghebreselassie, a marketing lead at ESPN who created a non-profit to fight energy poverty in Eritrea; or Baratang Miya, who is quite literally building technology clubs for disadvantaged youth in South Africa.

There are the builds that aren't physically tangible—movements that inspire women to show up confidently in their skin, like Enam Asiama's quest to normalize plus-sized bodies and Frédérique (Freddie) Harrel's push for Black and African women to embrace the kink and curl of their hair.

And then there are those who use their words to build power, to take control of the narrative, and to usher in true inclusion and equity. Journalists, (sisters Nikki and Lola Ogunnaike), a novelist (Oyinkan Braithwaite), a media maven (Yolisa Phahle), and a number of historians (Nana Oforiatta Ayim, Leïla Sy) to name a few.

In a time of uncertainty in the world, there's assuredness in the mission to bring up our people. We know this moment of global challenge won't last. It is why we are moving forward to share this labor of love with you, our trusted and loyal audience. We hope that this list serves as a beacon for you during this moment—insurance that future generations will be alright. And we have our honorees to thank for securing that future.

EXPERIENCE 100 WOMEN 2020

The annual OkayAfrica 100 Women List is our effort to acknowledge and uplift African women, not only as a resource that has and will continue to enrich the world we live in, but as a group that deserves to be recognized, reinforced and treasured on a global scale. In the spirit of building infrastructure, this year's list will go beyond the month of March (Women's History Month in America) and close in September during Women's Month in South Africa.

100 women 2020

Audio
Burna Boy 'African Giant' money cover art by Sajjad.

The 20 Essential Burna Boy Songs

We comb through the Nigerian star's hit-filled discography to select 20 essential songs from the African Giant.

Since bursting onto the scene in 2012 with his chart-topping single, "Like to Party," and the subsequent release of his debut album, L.I.F.E - Leaving an Impact for eternity, Burna Boy has continued to prove time and again that he is a force to be reckoned with.

The African Giant has, over the years, built a remarkable musical identity around the ardent blend of dancehall, hip-hop, reggae, R&B, and afropop to create a game-changing genre he calls afro-fusion. The result has been top tier singles, phenomenal collaborations, and global stardom—with several accolades under his belt which include a Grammy nomination and African Giant earning a spot on many publications' best albums of 2019.

We thought to delve into his hit-filled discography to bring you The 20 Essential Burna Boy Songs.

This list is in no particular order.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Image courtesy of Lula Ali Ismaïl

'Dhalinyaro' Is the Female Coming-of-Age Story Bringing Djibouti's Film Industry to Life

The must-watch film, from Lula Ali Ismaïl, paints a novel picture of Djibouti's capital city through the story of three friends.

If you're having a tough time recalling the last movie you watched from Djibouti, it's likely because you have never watched one before. With an almost non-existent film industry in the country, Lula Ali Ismaïl, tells a beautiful coming of age story of three young female Djiboutian teenagers at the cusp of womanhood. Dhalinyaro offers a never-before-seen view of Djibouti City as a stunning, dynamic city that blends modernity and tradition—a city in which the youth, like all youth everywhere, struggle to decide what their futures will look like. It's a beautiful story of friendship, family, dreams and love from a female filmmaker who wants to tell a "universal story of youth," but set in the country she loves—Djibouti.

The story revolves around the lives of three young friends from different socio-economic backgrounds, with completely varied attitudes towards life, but bound by a deep friendship. There is Asma, the conservative academic genius who dreams of going to medical school and hails from a modest family. Hibo, a rebellious, liberal, spoiled girl from a very wealthy family who learns to be a better friend as the film evolves and finally Deka. Deka is the binding force in the friendship, a brilliant though sometimes naïve teen who finds herself torn between her divorced mother's ambitions to give her a better life having saved up all her life for her to go to university abroad, and her own conviction that she wants to study and succeed in her own country.

Okayafrica contributor, Ciku Kimeria speaks to Ismaïl on her groundbreaking film, her hopes for the filmmaking industry and the universality of stories.

Keep reading... Show less
popular

Stogie T Enlists Nasty C, Boity, Nadia Nakai and More, for ‘The Empire of Sheep’ Deluxe Edition

Stream the deluxe version of Stogie T's EP 'The Empire of Sheep' featuring Nasty C, Boity, Nadia Nakai and more.

Stogie T just shared a deluxe version of his 2019 EP The Empire of Sheep titled EP The Empire of Sheep (Deluxe Unmasked). The project comes with three new songs. "All You Do Is Talk" features fellow South African rappers Nasty C, Boity and Nadia Nakai. New York lyricist appears on "Bad Luck" while one of Stogie T's favorite collaborators Ziyon appears on "The Making."

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.