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Mr Eazi, Guiltybeatz, Kwesi Arthur's "Pilolo" video. (Youtube)

The 16 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Santi, Mr Eazi, Harmonize, Nakhane, Tellaman 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.



Santi 'Sparky'

After the massive success of "Rapid Fire" featuring Shane Eagle and Amaarae last year, rising Nigerian artist Santi is back with yet another contagious single. "Sparky" is the seductive and whine-able track that you need to get your weekend started. The song was produced by his alté scene counterpart, Odunsi the Engine, with additional production from Le Mav. The track had been premiered on Apple Music's OVO Sound Radio in May last year and fans have been waiting eagerly for its release since then.

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DJ Sliqe x Darkie Fiction 'Standat'

Rising South African duo Darkie Fiction recently teamed up with DJ Sliqe for a single titled "Standat." The song, just like most of Darkie Fiction's music, references old school kwaito, both sonically and lyrically. Katt Daddy, one half of the duo, spits a verse that comes with loosely packed lines, with some being repeated, while Yoza Mnyanda, the other half, handles the vocal duties. This one will make your day.

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Harmonize 'Afro Bongo' EP

Harmonize dropped what was easily one of our favorite songs of 2018 with "Kwa Ngwaru." The Tanzanian stars now continues his hit-making trend with the release of the new 4-track Afro Bongo EP. The new EP showcases Harmonize's impressive blend of bongo flava with afropop elements and features a top-tier list of collaborators like Burna Boy, Diamond Platnumz, Yemi Alade, and Mr Eazi. It looks like it's gonna be another good year for the Wasafi Records family.

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GuiltyBeatz x Mr Eazi x Kwesi Arthur 'Pilolo'

Mr Eazi connects with Ghanaian DJ/producer GuiltyBeatz and rapper Kwesi Arthur for this infectious new single, "Pilolo." The track is named after the dance move that's been making the rounds, which was created by Incredible Zigi, as well as the Ghanaian children's game. "Pilolo" is released as part of Mr Eazi's emPawa initiative. It sees Eazi and Kwesi Arthur lending their vocals to a blend of afropop rhythms and electronic beats.

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Nakhane 'You Will Not Die' (Deluxe Version) LP

UK-based South African artist Nakhane just released the deluxe version of his sophomore album You Will Not Die. The US release is preceded by a UK release that came out last year via BMG. The deluxe version of the 12-track album comes with six new songs, including the lead single "New Brighton" (featuring British artist ANOHNI) and a remix of the same song by internationally renowned producer and DJ, Maphorisa.

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Kingsley Ibeneche 'Realms' EP

Kingsley Ibeneche makes deep, expansive tunes through the vehicle of soul music—bridging the gap between RnB and Afropop. On the singer-songwriter's second effort, Realms, the Philadelphia-based musician delves into experimental soul with a sound that summons his African roots. Realms boasts a level of sophistication and technical prowess that's presented with ease and grace, speaking to the artist's personal and professional modesty.

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Tellaman 'God Decides' LP

God Decides is a nod to Tellaman's journey, as well as the trajectory of his personal relationships. The new album serves as the Durban native's latest opportunity to exhibit a body of work after Lucid Dream and Mind vs Heart. The 27-year-old singer, producer and songwriter breaks down the album's concept via an e-mail to OkayAfrica: "God Decides is about Tellaman meeting a girl he loves while trying to make it as a musician, and trying to make both work. But at some point, she fails to understand that the industry gets the best of me. Being in a relationship and trying to make it as a musician is a very hard thing to pull off, and as a matter of fact I haven't figured it out yet."

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Rina Mushonga 'In a Galaxy' LP

One can imagine that as pop music evolves, cultural borders will topple and genres might blend and blur the way rays of light shoot out from a prism. If so, Rina Mushonga and her new brilliant cosmopolitan pop album, In a Galaxy, are at the forefront of this radiant movement.There's hardly a song on this 12-track LP that doesn't weave the dynamic rhythms and jubilant melodies of Afropop into the mix. The electronic-folk experimentation of Francis Bebey also helps color these dynamic tunes, as well as the shimmering, jit music grooves of Zimbabwe ensemble Bhundu Boys.

Amahla 'Consider This'

London's Amahla expertly molds vintage soul influences into the gem that is her new Consider This EP. Her voice stands out like few we've heard recently while she tackles issues like immigration, female rights, Brexit and much more over these five songs. "Consider This is a record of individual stories," Amahla mentions, "A glimpse into all the things that have left an impact on me in the last year. And hopefully one way for us to remember what the hell was going on in 2019."

Murielle 'Can You Get Me High?'

Belgium-born, Congolese-rooted Murielle might be a new name on your radar, but it's one you should definitely keep an eye on. The 22-year-old singer/songwriter recently shared her latest single, "Can You Get Me High?," an alluring pop song that blends hazy vocal layers and synthesizers with influences from her Congolese roots. Check out the Tajayona-directed music video for the Luke Davis-produced single above.

L-Tido '10 Mac'

In his 1997 classic track, "10 Crack Commandments," the late The Notorious B.I.G gave rules to navigating the crack dealing game. More than 20 years later, South African rap veteran L-Tido, in the song "10 Mac" from his third studio album, 2018's 16, pays homage to the late rap legend. On "10 Mac," L-Tido gives rules to navigating the dating game for men. If you are having troubles with relationships or just don't want yours to be a cautionary tale, who better than L-Tido to guide you through it?

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AKUA 'Heaven'

Canadian-Ghanaian artist AKUA tackles mortality in "Heaven," an entrancing new song off her upcoming debut album, Them Spirits, which aims to deal with grief and spiritual renewal stemming from the passing of her father. Let "Heaven" take you into a dream state above.

Dremo 'Nobody'

Dremo drops the new visual for "Nobody," taken from his first proper body of work, Codename EP. The video, directed by K, follows the DMW signee from his hometown of Ibadan to the streets of Lagos as he spits real lines about his come-up and the struggles he had to overcome as an upcoming artist.

Touchline 'Award Shows'

Touchline won The People's Choice Award at the Verse of the Year Awards hosted by Slikour On Life and Stogie T last week. This is a result of the major buzz he has managed to create with aggressive punchline-heavy raps. From his 2018 EP/mixtape 18 Flow, comes the MC's latest video single "Award Shows." The song's video is tongue-in-cheek, showing the MC buying awards from a shop and later getting kicked off someone's lawn after shooting a scene of his video.

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Ilbliss & Teck Zilla 'Don'

Nigeria's Illbliss and Teck Zilla recently dropped their joint IllyZilla EP, which features the standout boom-bap reminiscent track "Don." "'Don' is about respect for self and others, reputation, class and leadership," Illbliss mentions, "To keep hustling, surviving and winning against all odds. God made you king, so keep your head up…it's all divine." Meanwhile Teck Zilla adds, "No matter what field you're in, you always have to level up to get to the next plateau. Gotta walk the walk and also talk the talk. No half stepping. Lastly, adding Phlow on the hook just cemented the message, simple and plain."

Emtee 'Abantu' feat. Snymaan & S'Villa

Emtee just released the visuals for the song "Abantu," which features S'villa and Snyman. The song is from his 2018 EP DIY 2 and has proven itself a fan-favorite. In the song, which was produced by Kreazoe, Emtee and his collaborators, rap about people being jealous of other people's success, especially theirs.

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Flex Rabanyan 'YAGU'

Last year, Flex Rabanyan made a callout to his fans to contribute photos of themselves and their parents for his music video. Well, they clearly came through for the KZN-born rapper. The music video shows Flex rolling around in his hood as he recites his bars. The photos of different people with their parents intercut some of the shots, which include clips of Flex performing live. "Y.A.G.U" is the opening song for the young rapper's debut album The Born Free.

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


Culture
Photo (c) John Liebenberg

'Stolen Moments' Uncovers the Namibian Music That Apartheid Tried to Erase

The photo exhibition, showing at the Brunei Gallery in London, highlights artists from Namibia's underground scene between 1950-1980, a time of immense musical suppression prior to its independence.

Before its independence in 1990, a whole generation of Namibians were made to believe that their county had no real musical legacy. Popular productions by Namibian artists from previous eras were systematically concealed from the masses for nearly 30 years, under the apartheid regime—which extended to the country from South Africa following German colonization—depriving many Namibians of the opportunity to connect with their own musical heritage.

"Stolen Moments: Namibian Music Untold," a new exhibit currently showing at London's Brunei Museum at SOAS University of London, seeks to revive the musical Namibian musical traditions that the apartheid regime attempted to erase.

"Imagine you had never known about the musical riches of your country," said the exhibit's curator Aino Moongo in a statement of purpose on SOAS' site. "Your ears had been used to nothing but the dull sounds of country's former occupants and the blaring church and propaganda songs that were sold to you as your country's musical legacy. Until all at once, a magnitude of unknown sounds, melodies and songs appear. This sound, that roots your culture to the musical influences of jazz, blues and pop from around the world, is unique, yet familiar. It revives memories of bygone days, recites the history of your homeland and enables you for the first time to experience the emotions, joys and pains of your ancestors."

Photo (c) Dieter Hinrichs

The 'Stolen Moments" project began in 2010 in an effort to champion Namibia's unsung musical innovators. For the collection, Moongo and Assistant Curator, Siegrun Salmanian—along with a group of international scholars, artists, photographers and filmmakers—curated a large-scale photo exhibit that also features a 120-minute video projection, focusing on the dance styles of the era, along with listening stations, a sound installation that features "100-hours of interviews with musicians and contemporary witnesses," and displays of record covers and memorabilia from the period between 1950-1980.

The musicians highlighted, produced work that spanned a number of genres—a marker of the country's vast and eclectic underground scene. Artists like the saxophonist Leyden Naftali who led a band inspired by the sounds of ragtime, and the psychedelic rock and funk of the Ugly Creatures are explored through the exhibition, which also centers bands and artists such as The Dead Wood, The Rocking Kwela Boys, Children of Pluto and more.

"There are many reasons why you've never heard this music before," Moongo continues. "It was censored, suppressed, prohibited and made almost impossible to listen to. Its creators are either long gone or have given up on music making, by reasons of adversity, death and despair. And yet this beautiful music exists with a liveliness, as if it had never stopped playing. It is still in the minds of the few who can remember, with the ones who played it, and on those rare recordings that have survived in archives and record collections scattered around the globe. Allow me to share these stolen moments with you."

Photo (c) Dieter Hinrichs


Photo (c) John Liebenberg

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"Stolen Moments" is now showing at the Brunei Gallery in London and runs through Sept 21.

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Foul Language and Depictions of Rape Spur a Book Recall Campaign in Kenya

Kenya's Top Book seller pulls a South African book for youth due to foul language.

A main book supplier in Kenya, Text Book Centre, has announced that they would not stock a book due to its "vulgar and foul language." The book, Blood Ties, was written by South African author Zimkhitha Mlanzeli. The banning comes just after a video went viral in Kenya of a school child having a verbal outburst peppered with strong language. As reported by BBC, the removal was sparked by parents showing outrage after excerpts from the book were shared on twitter. These excerpts contained use of the f-word as well as a description of a rape scene.

As per their statement, the Text Book Centre claims they believe in "upholding high moral standards and raising generations of responsible citizens who are not only educated but ethical." The Kenyan publisher, StoryMoja, has defended the book in a statement of their own. They argue that the book is part of a new series showcasing books that deal with "contemporary societal issues" and that this particular book is a fictional story that grapples with the negative repercussions of peer pressure. "In actual fact, the book guides readers on the steps to take should they find themselves in a similar situation and underscores the sensitivity with which victims of sexual abuse should be treated." The statement also highlights the fact that the publishers had listed Blood Ties for readers in high school or above.


The discrepancy is that some schools have recommended the book as a reader – meaning for younger children aged 12 or 13 – though it has not been approved by the Kenyan Institute of Curricular Development (KICD), the entity in charge of managing texts used in schools. In a tweet, the KICD claimed that the book was not approved and that some teachers may be recommending texts without ensuring they were endorsed by the KICD. The dispute is sparking debate as to what should be taught in Kenyan schools.

As of late this morning, StoryMoja is in the process of recalling all copies of the book from stores and schools across Kenya. In a tweet they claim that it is because they have determined the language used in the book is the issue and not the subject matter.

Censorship is always a contested topic, just last month we reported on Nigerian authorities censoring a music video for "threatening security." Also, Kenya's censorship tactics have been in the global eye since a refusal to screen the film Rafiki for its homosexual heroines despite being lauded at international film festivals.

Here are some reactions from Kenyans on Twitter:





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mage courtesy of TIFF

Senegalese Filmmaker Mati Diop Tells a Haunted Story of Migration

We caught up with the celebrated director at the Toronto International Film Festival to talk about her new film, Atlantics

It's been a good year for French-Senegalese director Mati Diop and her film Atlantics: A Ghost Love Story.

The movie got its North American premier at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this month after wowing critics and audiences at Cannes, where it won the prestigious Grand Prix. Diop was the first Black woman to successfully submit a film in the Cannes competition, and naturally the first to win any award at the iconic festival.

In Toronto, the Paris-born director was also honored with the inaugural Mary Pickford Award for Outstanding Female Talent, presented at the TIFF Tribute Gala on September 9. The award is named after Mary Pickford, a Toronto native who went on to conquer Hollywood in the early days of the industry as an actor and producer. Co-founder of United Artists, she was the highest paid woman in Hollywood in her day.

Mati Diop, actor and director, was born in Paris into a prominent Senegalese family, the daughter of noted musician Wasis Diop, and niece of well known filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambéty. As a director, she has several short films under her belt, including Atlantiques in 2009. Her short films Big in Vietnam and A Thousand Suns screened at TIFF in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Atlantics: A Ghost Love Story is Diop's first feature, which she directed as well as co-writing the screenplay with Olivier Demangel.

It's in the story of the first Atlantiques – the short – that the new film came to be. "The two films are both connected and not connected," Diop tells OkayAfrica. The short Atlantiques was self produced, and shot on video on a shoestring budget, she explains. Diop was moved by the constant stream of reports, between 2000 and 2010, of young Senegalese taking to small wooden boats and braving the ocean waters in a bid to reach Spain and better opportunities. As she notes, the media tended to treat the phenomenon as largely an abstract issue, one that had to do with economic forces. Diop wanted to tell the story of the real people in that situation.

"I felt that my cinema should be put at the service of their voices," she says. "I wanted to understand." It's part of what motivated Diop to get into film in the first place. While the short was shot documentary-style, she worked the story as fiction. The actor featured in the short had actually made an Atlantic crossing, but was subsequently turned back by Spanish authorities. The way he spoke about the experience connected with Diop; in particular, his determination to try the perilous journey once more. "I am here, but not here," he told her. "Serigne felt it was here [in Senegal] he would lose his life," Diop says. She wanted to understand what drove so many young men to risk their lives. "He felt that his life was vulnerable in Senegal." The actor's words took on even more resonance when he died, while still in Senegal, before he could try again. Diop says he had gone to a hospital after falling ill, but the staff were on strike. After his death, it left her with mixed feelings. "I wondered if I had the right to continue."

TIFF Tribute Gala Mati Diop | TIFF 2019 www.youtube.com

Diop was left with the poignant memory, and a haunting impression. "When you leave, it means you are already dead," she says. After filming the short, she attended Serigne's funeral, and filmed his mother and sister—the women left behind who would become the focus of the feature film treatment. Diop says that the character of Ada, the protagonist of the new movie, is based in large part on the sister, who, in the short film, does not speak any lines.

In Atlantics: A Ghost Love Story, Ada is 17 years old, in love with Souleiman, but her parents have already arranged a very practical marriage with another—and much wealthier—man. On the eve of her wedding, odd things begin to happen, and Ada learn that Souleiman and his friends have left Dakar in a boat, hoping to reach Spain. Ada and her BFFs anxiously await any word from them, as the mysterious happenings keep piling up.

"The beauty of women comes through marriage," a cleric tells one mother. Ada's story embodies the life of a young West African woman—torn between traditional forces in both her family and society, and the friends who wear Western dress and don't bother with the old ways. The wealthy family she has married into owns a large construction company, the one that didn't pay its workers for months, leading the young workers to try their luck in Spain. She loves Souleiman, but she also needs to find her own path.

Mama Sané plays Ada, the solid heart of the film, as a tangle of emotions and repressed desires. She veers from defiant when dealing with the police detective sent to investigate the strange occurrences, to a wordless expression of longing with the kind of intensity only a teenager can muster.

Diop's directorial vision turns Dakar into a place of both surreal magic and harsh reality. The film immerses the audience in the city's sounds, from the goats bleating outside a window while Ada and her friends talk, to voices in the next room, with the eternal heaving of waves against the shore as a recurring refrain. The original music by Fatima Al Qadiri adds to the effect.

Cinematographer Claire Mathon has shot the film with a poetic eye. There are many images of the shifting surface of the sea, with the open sky and sun above it, each different from the last. The streets of Dakar at night take on an otherworldly edge, framed in palm trees against the artificial lights. The building the young men have been working on is futuristic in design, all glass and steel, and the company owner's neutral modern mansion contrasts with the broken rubble on the streets, from slick sports cars to horse drawn carts. It adds to the sense of the surreal.

Atlantics: A Ghost Love Story was acquired by Netflix after Cannes, and is intended for worldwide release by the streaming service, (with the exception of China, Russia, Benelux, Switzerland, and France.) As part of its new policy, Netflix, which became an official member of the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America,) earlier this year, will be giving the flick a "theater-first" release, opening in selected theaters on November 15, with streaming available from November 29 in North America.

The film also stars Amadou Mbow, Ibrahima Traoré, Nicole Sougou, Amina Kane, Mariama Gassama, Coumba Dieng, Ibrahima Mbaye, and Diankou Sembene. Dialog in the France-Senegal-Belgium co-production is in Wolof with subtitles.

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(Photo by Francois LOCHON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images )

Exiled Tunisian President Ben Ali Has Died

The former president had been living in Saudi exile since 2011.

Tunisia's former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, 83, has been declared dead while in exile in Saudi Arabia. Ben Ali became interim Prime Minister in 1987. He ran unopposed and was elected Prime Minister in 1998 and served for 23 years – from 1988 to 2011. He was known for using autocratic techniques, eradicating presidential term limits and altering age caps in order to stay in power. In the beginning, Ben Ali was considered a "people's head of state" and garnered the nickname "Benavie" which loosely translates to "Ben Ali for life." By the 2000s, however, he had become deeply unpopular and prompted protests and unrest against his oppressive rule.

His reign ended when he fled Tunisia on January 14, 2011 amid protests that ultimately led to a string of revolutions dubbed the Arab Spring. He had been living in exile in Saudi Arabia ever since. As France 24 reports, in 2018 Ben Ali was sentenced in absentia by Tunisian courts to "more than 200 years in prison on charges including murder, corruption and torture."

Though there is no cause of death just yet, Ben Ali had been in intensive hospital care for lung cancer for three months. According to Al Jazeera, lawyer Mounir Ben Salha announced Ben Ali's death to news agencies via phone and the claim was confirmed by Tunisia's foreign minister.

There is footage of a Tunisian lawyer taking to the street at dawn celebrating the news of Ben Ali's death.


This past Sunday, Tunisia held free elections advancing Kas Saied and Nabil Karoui (who is currently jailed) as presidential candidates with neither receiving a majority vote. A run-off election between the two will be held September 29.

Tunisians and others are sharing their reactions to the news across social media. Here are some reactions:





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