The 10 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring a South African J Dilla tribute, Baloji, Nasty C, UK Grime x Ethiopia and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our Best Music of the Week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's new playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.


Kwaito x J Dilla

South African collective SPAZABASS released a tribute to the late hip-hop and neo soul producer J Dilla. Titled Kwaito Dilla Jazz, the eight-track project consists of interpretations of some of Dilla's most iconic productions. Slum Village's "Fall In Love" and "The Look of Love," A Tribe Called Quest's "Find A Way," Erykah Badu's "Didn't Cha Know," and a few others, all take a kwaito form on Kwaito Dilla Jazz. The band played around with the same samples Dilla used on those beats, chopped them and placed them between those bouncy old school kwaito rhythms, and not without a touch of jazz by way of live instrumentation and the boundless approach to production.

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Baloji 'Zombies'

Congolese-Belgian artist Baloji has been one of our favorites for a minute now. He returns with the self-directed, two-part music video "Zombies," a commentary on today's cellphone culture and its effect on people, as it's essentially making us 'zombies' and taking over our bodies. "My phone as an extension of my right hand was an interesting angle to address some of the themes that fascinate me,"Baloji tells Nowness. "We have an almost carnal relationship with our phones." Check out the stunning new video above.

J Molley 'Lightning'

J Molley just delivered the visuals for his song "Lightning" as promised. The song is part of the South African singer/rapper's 2018 EP Leader of the Wave. On "Lightning," which was produced by Ricco, J Molley displays his adeptness with the pen. The music video for "Lightning," which is directed by Jasyn Howes, is as hazy as the music itself. With subtle yet clever use of effects, the director manages to have J Molley looking as ethereal as he sounds.

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UK Grime Meets Ethiopian Music

London To Addis follows various grime producers as they take cues from the instrumentation, time signatures, and musical scales of Ethiopian music. The project started out in Addis Ababa, where No Hats No Hoods label co-founder Peter Todd (DJ Magic) spent a week recording traditional Ethiopian instruments like the krar, washint, masenqo and drums. He then sent those raw recordings to an array of grime produces—the likes of Dexplicit, Ignorants, J Beatz and TC4, JT The Goon, Wize, Shudan, Proc Fiskal and Captain Over—for them to make into their own tracks.

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Temi Oni 'BGM'

Newcomer Nigerian-American singer Temi Oni comes through with a striking new music video for "BGM." Her debut video starts off with a girl's uncomfortable interaction with a group of schoolgirls about her hair. But what follows is a beautiful dive into a world of Black Girl Magic. Check out the Sontenish Myers-directed video above. We'll be keeping our eyes on Temi Oni.

"BGM" is available on all streaming platforms now

Lazarus' Ndife Alendo'

Lazarus is a street performer based in Malawi whose story is both beautiful and dark. As a person with albinism, Lazarus suffers a lot of senseless persecution in Malawi. In order to shed light on the issue, the producer Johan Hugo, who's worked with the likes of Baaba Maal and Mumford & Sons, decided to take on the project of recording an album with Lazarus. Johan traveled to Malawi alongside a documentary crew that included the Oscar-nominated, Emmy winning director David Dargand Bryn Mooser. The album, Stomp On The Devil, will feature tracks that blend Lazarus' traditional Malawian style with modern folk. Check out its lead single "Ndife Alendo"

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Nasty C 'SMA (Vol.1)' feat. Rowlene

"SMA," one of the strongest songs from Nasty C's stellar sophomore album Strings and Bling, just got the visual treatment. The song chronicles the goings on of young love. It touches on the ups and downs and breakups to makeups that are inevitable in a romantic relationship. The music video, which was directed by Kyle White, depicts the same story. The couple in the video can be seen fighting and being affectionate almost back-to-back—it plays out like what many would consider a toxic relationship.

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Obongjayar 'Frens'

London-based Nigerian artist Obongjayar returns with "Frens," his first single of 2019. The entrancing and percussion-heavy track blends elements of hip-hop with Nigerian influences. "Frens is a tribute to unconditional friendship - being there for your loved ones and not being afraid to let them know they're loved," Obongjayar mentions. "Whether that's the love for a parent, a sibling, a friend or a partner. Life is too short to keep it to yourself"

"Frens" is available on all platforms now

Stilo Magolide 'Bella Bella'

South Africa's Stilo Magolide drops the booming new Latin-influenced single "Bella Bella," produced by Young2unnBeats. The track sees him fusing English, Portuguese and Zulu lyrics as we see Stilo travel to Bilene, Mozambique for the beachside visuals.

"Bella Bella" is available now.

Stanley Enow 'Good Day (Fire)'

Cameroon's Stanley Enow releases the new music video for "Good Day (Fire)," his latest single produced by Soft Touch. "The song talks about the undying and unconditional love I have for my woman, even through pain and doubt," mentions Enow. "She asked me if I could a take a bullet for for her, I looked up in her face and said, baby I'd catch a grenade for You." The clip starts off with a serene wedding day but quickly takes an ugly and violent turn for the worst when a kidnapping occurs. You'll have to check it out for yourself above.

"Good Day (Fire)" is available everywhere now

Skales x DJ YB x Ommy Dimpoz x Young D x Instinct Killer 

Here's a reggae/dancehall-infused posse track that came to us via DJ YB, who enlists the impressive roster of Nigeria's Skales, Tanzania's Ommy Dimpoz, and Instinct Killers for this addictive new tune, "Jomapel." The song, which was produced by Young D and DJ YB, is sure to be a hit on dance floors all over.


Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.


Interview
Photo: Schure Media Group/Roc Nation

Interview: Buju Banton Is a Lyrical Purveyor of African Truth

A candid conversation with the Jamaican icon about his new album, Upside Down 2020, his influence on afrobeats, and the new generation of dancehall.

Devout fans of reggae music have been longing for new musical offerings from Mark Anthony Myrie, widely-known as the iconic reggae superstar Buju Banton. A shining son of Jamaican soil, with humble beginnings as one of 15 siblings in the close-knit community of Salt Lane, Kingston, the 46-year-old musician is now a legend in his own right.

Buju Banton has 12 albums under his belt, one Grammy Award win for Best Reggae Album, numerous classic hits and a 30-year domination of the industry. His larger-than-life persona, however, is more than just the string of accolades that follow in the shadows of his career. It is his dutiful, authentic style of Caribbean storytelling that has captured the minds and hearts of those who have joined him on this long career ride.

The current socio-economic climate of uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrusted onto the world, coupled with the intensified fight against racism throughout the diaspora, have taken centre stage within the last few months. Indubitably, this makes Buju—and by extension, his new album—a timely and familiar voice of reason in a revolution that has called for creative evolution.

With his highly-anticipated album, Upside Down 2020, the stage is set for Gargamel. The title of this latest discography feels nothing short of serendipitous, and with tracks such as "Memories" featuring John Legend and the follow-up dancehall single "Blessed," it's clear that this latest body of work is a rare gem that speaks truth to vision and celebrates our polylithic African heritage in its rich fullness and complexities.

Having had an exclusive listen to some other tracks on the album back in April, our candid one-on-one conversation with Buju Banton journeys through his inspiration, collaboration and direction for Upside Down 2020, African cultural linkages and the next generational wave of dancehall and reggae.

This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.

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