Popular
Sarkodie, Donae'o, Idris Elba "Party and Bullshit" music video.

The 11 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Nadia Nakai, Zlatan x Burna Boy, Yemi Alade, Sarkodie x Idris Elba x Donae'o, 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.



Zlatan 'Gbeku' ft. Burna Boy

Nigerian artists Zlatan and Burna Boy link up for another standout collaboration "Gbeku," from the former's upcoming album Zanku: The Album. On "Gbeku," Burna Boy shines one the chorus, singing rhythmically in Yoruba while Zlatan delivers animated verses in his raspy vocals throughout. They prove once again that they make for a stellar musical duo.

Find out more

Nadia Nakai 'Amai'

For her debut album, titled Nadia Naked, Nadia Nakai gives her listener more than just bravado in the form of chest-punching raps. In some songs, the South African/Zimbabwean rapper tells the story of the person behind the feisty and intimidating character that is Nadia Nakai as we all know her. One such song is "Amai." In the song, the rapper lets the listener in on how her mother has always been there for her, rapping: "The machine I cannot live without/ She pick me up when I break down/ Now I'm up, I bow down." In the song's music video, Nadia can be seen getting draped in mold in the process of making a bust of the rapper.

Find out more

Sarkodie, Donae'O & Idris Elba 'Party & Bulls#!t'

Award-winning Ghanian rapper Sarkodie connects with none other than Idris Elba and singer and producer Donae'o for a memorable music video for their new collaboration "Party & Bullshit." As the title implies, the song is all about letting loose, celebrating life and having a good time. The track opens with Sarkodie delivering a rapid-fire verse. His impressive flow shines through as he raps completely in Twi. Elba joins in with an energetic second verse that humorously references fufu, while Donae'o provides the song's catchy, anthemic chorus.

Find out more

Davido 'Risky' ft. Popcaan

Davido has just released his brand new single, "Risky," a taste from his upcoming album A Good Time, which is set to drop on November 22, 2019. The new single sees the Nigerian heavyweight connecting with Jamaican star Popcaan as they both go in over afrofusion-meets-dancehall beat work. It was produced by DMW's in-house beatmaker Speroach Beatz. The track notably features Davido doing a cheeky flip of his own freestyle he did on Shade 45 earlier this year, which was made fun of across social media. "What you all laughed at !! You will dance to !! " Davido posted on Twitter.

New Music: Listen to Davido's New Album 'A Good Time'

Find out more

Amanda Black 'Power'

Three years since the release of her critically acclaimed debut album Amazulu, Amanda Black returns with her second full-length project. The 18-track album is titled Power, and kicks off with a fitting spoken word piece by Kush Mahleka. The music on Power is big, as it provides both electronic sounds and actual instruments. It will sound even bigger when interpreted by a band live. Power sounds both mature and youthful, and Amanda's voice still fills up your headphones, and her songwriting is sharper and even more personal than on Amazulu.

Find out more

Cina Soul 'Killi Mi'

23-year-old Ghanaian singer Cina Soul has delivered a powerful track that addresses gender based violence and the various abuses women face. The track, called "Killi Mi," is generating a lot of responses and love on Twitter, with many in awe of the emotion they feel from the 2019 Ghanaian female vocalist of the year nominee.

Find out more

Yemi Alade 'Vibe'

Yemi Alade, the Nigerian video queen, returns with a new visual for "Vibe." "It is the fifth track on her latest album, Woman of Steel, and, like the rest of the album, it presents a more liberated, more confident, no-holds-barred Alade. The album, she's said, "is all about drawing the inner strength that you have in you and being the superhero that you've always needed." In "Vibe" we hear the artist speaking on sexual liberation and coming to terms with the" vibe" of love she wants.

Find out more

Mafikizolo 'Ngeke Balunge'

Beloved music duo Mafikizolo is back with another Afro-soul anthem that will tug at your heartstrings. Their new single "Ngeke Balunge" is a beautiful love song that sees them returning to the sound that first catapulted them to mainstream success in the early 2000s. Singing "Ngeke balunge, Ngeke bas'qede" the duo describe how those around them will never succeed in coming between their love for one another because they will always find their way back to each other—just as with Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

Find out more

Femi Kuti x Stromae x Coldplay 'Arabesque'

In a sentence we never thought we'd type, both Femi Kuti and Stromae appear on a new song from Coldplay. Both the Nigerian legend and Belgian pop star are featured on "Arabesque," a newly released Coldplay track from their upcoming "more experimental" album Everyday Life (due November 22 via Parlophone/Atlantic). "Arabesque" is an expansive composition built on what sounds like North African-inspired guitars and rhythms, which call to mind the likes of Bombino and Tinariwen. The song sees Stromae delivering a verse in French.

Find out more

Zlatan 'Yeye Boyfriend'

Nigerian artist Zlatan drops a new single ahead of the release of his upcoming debut album Zanku: The Album. On "Yeye Boyfriend" the popular "Zanku (Leg Work)" singer reasons for breaking up with time-wasting boyfriends (yeye is a humorous Yoruba term often used to describe someone as "useless" or "senseless"). The song is a change of pace for the artist, as it features him singing lightheartedly rather than delivering the grittier rap sound he's known for. The comedic video sees the artist playing the role of a therapist to several failing couples. He calls his practice "Yeye Family Therapy." The video was shot by Visionary Pictures.

Find out more

Larry Gaaga & Davido 'Work (Living in Bondage)'

Nigerian music exec turned radio superstar Larry Gaaga has once again teamed up with fellow Naija hotshot Davido for his latest single, "Work (Living in Bondage)." The track features Davido's vocals crooning a sensual love song. His voice sits atop an uplifting but slow beat from Gaaga that has crisp percussion hits keeping the tempo moving.

Find out more

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


Popular
Collage by Ta'Ron Joyner

I Would Rather Breathe Than Think Outside the Box

South African artists were already working for little to no pay, but the pandemic has unleashed a flood of exploitative work requests right when we need money the most.

This essay is part of OkayAfrica's SA Reframed series, featuring personal writing from some of South Africa's best young writers edited by Verashni Pillay.

On the radio the other day, I heard a small business owner of a costume design company being interviewed and asked how they have managed to:

a. Reinvent themselves during this period, and

b. Think outside the box while doing so.

Their conversation made me think about how I have not managed to wrap my head around any sort of future, or reinvention outside any kind of box—beyond the one that wraps itself around my immediate reality. When the lockdown was announced, three friends and I withdrew to a remote area where internet access was dubious and, most times, simply not available. I would need to walk a bit of a distance to locate a spot under a tree or up a mountain to be connected for thirty minutes, or so.

Then I would do a basic comb through my emails and respond to work or requests that were already underway pre-lockdown. I only responded to new requests that either afforded me the opportunity to earn an income or those that allowed me to be productive on my own terms.

I was tired, lowkey grateful for the global pause, and no longer interested in the overly productive, overloaded nature of my previous normal. Something about the forced halt made me realise that I was on the edge of everything—myself included. I turned down anything that required me to join the endless online festivals, zoom panel discussions, Instagram takeovers and live readings. I refused all opportunities that needed me to grapple with any sort of forced normalcy. The ones that offered data or airtime or solidarity as compensation or assumed that I had gone pro bono. I needed a moment. I needed the space and time to re-bargain with the point of it all.

The pause was both useful and scary. It brought to the surface fears and revelations about the shortfalls of our industry and how creatives are positioned within the productivity machinery and economy of South Africa, or rather all the ways we fall outside of it.

As Minister of employment and labour Thulas Nxesi mentioned in a briefing two months ago, "On the issue of freelance workers—unfortunately with the current legislation they fall outside. Maybe what we are going to do is that after this we will have to re-look at it in terms of our legislative amendments and start a debate about that." Why are there laws that have gone unchallenged? Who should be challenging them? Why are artists hearing, out loud for the first time, of convenient loopholes that render us outside of an economy that taxes us like everyone else, and consumes us and our work. Yet, in times of crisis, this same economy engages with our art and our productivity and our products, but still deems us on the margin, outside, and non-essential. If we are not assisted financially, how can we be productive, how can we acquire the resources to produce? How can we apply our minds to anything else outside of survival and scrambling to stay afloat.

Pandemics do not mean that artists have gone pro bono

When you approach an artist with the assumption that they have gone pro bono during this time, when you draft an email to request a collaboration, a commission, a participation, a productivity of any kind, please bear in mind that artists are up against an unconcerned and corrupt government that has failed to provide aid and assistance to their sector during this time.

Theatre critic Sara Holdren says "Art is hard and most of it fails—either in small ways or catastrophic ones." In South Africa, the process of making art is hard, sure, but more than that, the conditions and the context in which we make work fails us in catastrophic ways that will require more than a debate and amended legislation. It will need, for starters, a minister who cares about the arts and understands its soul and mechanisms. This pause has brought about more questions and concerns for me than inspiration to reinvent or think outside the box. I have questions about the box itself and why I feel asphyxiated and trapped by its design.

I would rather breathe than think outside of the box

This pandemic has made me question what my career, livelihood and stability have been built on; what has been propping them up all this time, and what has been allowing me to appear valued and valuable in this economy? What does and will the spectrum of value look like in a normal that has been disrupted and now sits in a near distant future that may or may not be near?

Then I find myself vacillating between hope and concern. My hope is that when the pandemic is no longer with us, artists can have a come-to-jesus conversation about what has contributed and exacerbated this attitude and disrespect toward our practice and industry, I hope we can challenge the legislations that we have been dared to challenge, I hope we can be productive in ways that serve us and make sense for our well-being, that we will be paid our worth and that our society will realize that without the artist producing, there will be no art, or music, or films, or books and things that have kept people entertained and creatively nourished during this time.

My concern is that the "free"content artists are currently creating and the free access to art or performances, will not make this realisation possible, and that this kind of access, that was already undervalued and exploited, will be irreversible. The exploitation dialogue is tiring. Being treated as non-essential is tiring and terrifying too, and while most of the world can slowly start going back to work, most artists will probably have to hang tight until 2021, maybe even 2022.

While artists deal with a hoax of an arts and culture department that is dead to us and a minister who tweets more than he does his job, in an ideal world, I wish that artists could afford to indulge uncertainty, and fear, and pause, in ways that allow them to heed the call made by Nicholas Berger in his piece The Forgotten Art of Assembly [Or, Why Theatre Makers Should Stop Making] "We must lean into this pain. We must feel the grief. We must mourn. Mourn the loss of work, the loss of jobs, the loss of money, the loss of life. Mourn the temporary loss of an art form that demands assembly. Lean into the grief. Lean in. Lean in. Lean in. We must remind ourselves that mourning is a human act, not a digital one."

Koleka Putuma is an award-winning poet, playwright and theatre director. Her bestselling debut collection of poems Collective Amnesia is in its 10th print run and her play No Easter Sunday for Queers Sunday for Queers won several awards.

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Interview: Omah Lay Is Nigeria's New Young Act to W​atch

We sit down with the rising Port Harcourt-born musician to talk about his latest EP, Get Layd.