Music
Photo: Gio Kardava (via XL)
Ibeyi.

The 7 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Tony Allen x Skepta x Ben Okri, Ice Prince x Oxlade, Ibeyi, Bongeziwe Mabandla and more.

Every week, we highlight the top releases 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.


Tony Allen 'Cosmosis' ft. Skepta, Ben Okri

Blue Note Records has announced a new posthumous album from afrobeat legend Tony Allen, who sadly passed away last year. The 14-songThere Is No End will feature appearances by Sampa The Great, Danny Brown, Lava La Rue, and more. It will be released on April 30, 2021, on the one year anniversary of Allen's death. Check out the lead single "Cosmosis" featuring Skepta and Ben Okri above.

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Ice Prince 'KOLO' feat. Oxlade

Ice Prince comes through with "Kolo," his new Edgar Boi-produced single featuring Oxlade. The alluring track follows Ice Prince rapping about a love that makes you go mad over afro-fusion beat work. "I'm talking about a girl that I fell in love with and I'm going crazy thinking about," he explains. "I can't stop thinking about her and getting her the best things in life, and how I want to make her my wife."

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Ibeyi 'Recurring Dream'

Ibeyi have been relatively quiet for a while, but they've now shared the new single "Recurring Dream," an original song written from Ed Morris' film How to Stop a Recurring Dream. Ibeyi previously worked with director Ed Morris on several music videos, including the standout "River." His new film, How to Stop A Recurring Dream, stars Ruby Barker (Bridgerton) and is available for streaming now.

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Bongeziwe Mabandla 'masiziyekelele'

South African singer and guitarist, Bongeziwe Mabandla, has shared fresh visuals for his single "Masiziyekelele". The new music video comes after he dropped his third critically acclaimed album iimini in the beginning of 2020. The "Masiziyekelele" music video offers soothing visuals fitting for this autumn season and creates a mood that celebrates a deep, sensuous and soulful love.

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Skillz 8Figure 'After Dark'

Ghanaian-based Sierra Leonean Skillz 8Figure comes through with his new EP, After Dark. The 8-song collection sees the rising artist blending musical influences from Ghana and Sierra Leone over ear-catching afrobeats & highlife production into what he's calling 'coastal music.' The EP was written while Skillz 8Figure was experiences issues in his personal relationships, a press statement reads, which bled into the romantic themes across the release.

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Mdou Moctar 'Tala Tannam'

Matador Records has announced that the eagerly anticipated album Afrique Victime by Mdou Moctar will be released on May 21.Afrique Victime is an unprecedented collaboration between Mdou, his band members, and Ahmoudou Madassane, who's been his rhythm guitarist since 2008. The album will present an effortless fusion of Saharan and rock music; melding guitar pyrotechnics, full-blast noise, and field recordings with poetic meditations.

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The Busy Twist, Daniel & Gonora Sounds 'The Journey Of Life Remix'

Producer and DJ The Busy Twist comes through with a rapid-fire dance single in the shape of "The Journey of Life remix." This new song is a fresh take on Zimbabwean Sungura Music. originally performed by the street group Daniel & Gonora Sounds, led by singer-guitarist Daniel Gonora and his prodigy drummer son Isaac. These guitars will have you on your feet.

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



Interview
Image: Courtesy TIFF

Jenna Cato Bass is Capturing the Horrors of an Unhealed Nation

The film marks the South African director's third debut and stride towards making a name for herself in the international film circuit.

Ever since premiering her debut film, Love the One You Love, which won the Best Feature Film at the Jozi Festival in 2015, Jenna Cato Bass has been a name to watch on the international film festival circuit. Her 2017 feature, High Fantasy, was the first of her films to land on the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) lineup, followed by Flatland in 2019. Her latest offering, Mlungu Wam (Good Madam), debuted at TIFF in September of 2021 — marking her third time at the esteemed Canadian film event.

Often provocative, always thought-provoking, Bass' films have come to establish her as a director who looks at South Africa's youth, the lives they're living and the future that awaits them, with a nuanced, open-minded lens. For the first time in her career, Bass uses the genre of horror to dig into an enduring mark of the country's past — that of the fraught, complex relationship between madam and domestic worker, in Mlungu Wam (Good Madam). Set in Cape Town, the film follows the unusual, disturbing things that start happening when a young woman moves back in with her estranged mother, who is the longtime caretaker for a rich, white household.

Bass also co-wrote the film Tug of War (Vuta N'Kuvute), which became Tanzania's first film to be selected for TIFF this year, and she co-wrote Rafiki, which was Kenya's first film at TIFF in 2018.

She spoke to OkayAfrica about playing in a new genre and her hopes for African cinema.

Still from Bass's film Mlungu Wam Image: Courtesy TIFF


This story revolves around the relationship between a domestic worker and her 'madam.' What made you want to make a film about this subject?

When I make films, I like the concept to revolve around something that we all have in common - because, despite the many fractures in our society, these shared places exist. And in South Africa, we felt that everyone - in some way or another - has been deeply affected by domestic work and domestic workers, who are a keystone in our society's structure. Additionally, the 'maid' and 'madam' relationship is the ultimate symbol of race relations in South Africa - as well as how they haven't changed significantly, despite almost thirty years of democracy. So a domestic worker was the perfect character around which to centre a South African horror.

The genre of horror works really well to explore this subject and tell this story — when did you know it would be the genre you'd want to use?

The early stages of developing a film aren't always linear for me. I'll be thinking about a genre I'm interested in, and then parallel to that I'll have an idea for a story or a character, and later on, will realize that these pieces all fit together. In this case, I'd been wanting to make a horror film for ages, but hadn't found the right story… until I had the idea for Mlungu Wam, and I realized I was finally ready to try this genre.

What challenges did you face in making a horror?

It was my first time working in this genre, and it was intimidating because there's no saving you if you fail. We were also working on a very, very limited budget, so it wasn't possible to show as much as we'd like to - but then again, this story was all about the subjective and the unseen, so I did as much research and planning as we could, and just had to trust it would work.

Where did you film, and did that have any impact on the process at all?

We filmed in a house in Cape Town, in a gated community in the Southern Suburbs. The house and the environment had a major impact on the film - especially because we were also quarantining there for the full 7 weeks of rehearsal and shooting. The house was our set and our accommodation, so it was very intense, very claustrophobic, and very triggering for many of our team members.

How did you and co-writer Babalwa Baartman work on the story? You've included cast members in the writing process in your previous work — did you do that here too?

Mlungu Wam was made along similar lines to my first two films, Love The One You Love and High Fantasy, where we started with an outline, cast actors, then workshopped the characters collaboratively before completing the story breakdown and using improv for the dialogue. Babalwa and I had worked together using this method on a short film we made in 2019 called Sizohlala. She really understands the process, and it was a really rewarding experience exploring the story with her and our cast.

How did Kristina Ceyton, who produced the excellent acclaimed horrors The Babadook and The Nightingale, through Causeway Films, come to be involved in this film?

I had met Sam Jennings, who is also a producer with Causeway Films, several years ago at a festival. We really connected and kept in touch over the years, sharing our work, and hoping there'd be a chance to collaborate. So when we were developing Mlungu Wam, I pitched her and Kristina the concept and they were immediately supportive. It has been a massive pleasure working with them both.

Your films are known to venture into themes of identity and healing from the past — how does this film speak to that?

Mlungu Wam is definitely about this too - it's a story about three generations of women (actually four, if you include Tsidi's grandmother, who is an unseen character in the film), how they are haunted by the past and eventually refuse to remain chained any longer. Their healing is collective, linked to each other, and wouldn't be possible for them alone as individuals.

Still from Bass's film Mlungu Wam Image: Courtesy TIFF


You've been at TIFF before - how has your experience of it been this year, with it being a hybrid of virtual and in-person?

Things have been quieter and a bit harder to navigate, but the TIFF staff have done incredible work getting the festival off the ground, despite endless challenges. It has felt very surreal to be here, and a privilege - and inspiring too, that we can still get together to celebrate films, even though our world is in such a mess. We had over 200 (socially distanced) people at our last screening, and that was an amazing feeling.

Yours is one of few African films on this year's line-up - is there anything you'd like to see happen to try improve that?

Regarding African cinema, TIFF has a real range of films this year, across several sections. Compared to many other festivals, they seem really invested in supporting cinema from the continent. Of course, this could be better, but it's also an example to other festivals who claim there aren't enough African films, that this is clearly not the case.

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Tanzanian Filmmaker Amil Shivji is Making History with a Story of Love and Resistance

As the first Tanzanian film to be chosen for TIFF, Shiviji's film is sure to get the African country a seat at the table.