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Songs You Need To Hear This Week: Oxlade, The Big Hash, Joeboy & More!

The 10 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Oxlade, DJ Lag, Moonchild Sanelly, Teni, DJ Neptune, Kevin Florez 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 playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.


Oxlade 'Away'

Nigerian artist Oxlade has just dropped the visuals to his recent song titled "Away", the first track on his recent six-track OXYGENE EP which he released at the end of last month. The TG Omori-directed music video is just as vibrant as the fusion of Afro-pop, highlife and R&B elements which all work together to make the track so infectious.

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The Big Hash 'Amnesia'

To celebrate his 20th birthday while on lockdown, The Big Hash released visuals for his latest single "Amnesia." The visuals, which were directed by ArtByTK, show a melancholic Hash crooning to a backdrop of the twilight in the horizon in an effluent residential area. He can also be seen indoors in what looks like a spooky abandoned building. The visuals are fitting for a song in which he is talking to a woman who has changed on him. The song is somber in both mood and form.

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Teni & DJ Neptune 'The Quarantine Playlist'

Nigerian artist Teni is back with a new EP to get us through the quarantine. The project is a collaboration with Nigeria's DJ Neptune. The artist released the Quarantine Playlist EP which sees her playing out different stages of being in quarantine and talking about the strains of being on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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DJ Lag 'Uhuru Dis' feat. Moonchild Sanelly

The music video for DJ Lag and Moonchild Sanelly's "Uhuru Dis" depicts a story of two young people who aren't permitted to be together. The twist is that our Romeo and Juliet are based in Durban and their story plays out differently. In the music video, we first encounter them on the dance floor before they retreat away from the crowd. "Romeo and Juliet is a universal story of love and tragedy," says DJ Lag in an email to OkayAfrica. "Chris Kets, the director, conceptualized this. We wanted to remix something that has been done over and over again and make it our own. Locate it in Durban and to the sound of gqom."

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Kevin Florez & The Busy Twist 'Champetizate'

Champeta is a dance and music style originated in the Colombian cities & towns of Cartagena and San Basilio de Palenque, which highlights the Congolese influences on Afro-Colombian culture. Artists like Kevin Florez are putting putting a new twist on the genre by pushing champeta urbana, which adds more modern elements to the style. His new single "Champetizate" sees the Colombian artist connecting with UK producer The Busy Twist for a new addictive tune.

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Rolv.K 'CLVB NOIZ' EP

Rolv.K is a young producer living in Geneva, originally from Sierra Leone, producing raw, Afro-electronic concoctions that will get in your brain and feet. He recently released his latest 3-song EP, CLVB NOIZ, featuring contributions from Lauran, Bandicut, Magugu. Our highlight is "Lockdown," get into it above.

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Ladipoe 'Know You' feat. Simi

Nigeria's Ladipoe and Simi connect for "Know You," a soothing and light head-nodder about loving someone you might not know that well.

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Lady Moon & The Eclipse 'Journey to the Cosmic Soul' 

New York-based six-piece Lady Moon & The Eclipse comes through with a new double-album which blends funk, soul, and R&B. As the band puts it, it's "arranged in three phases named after each celestial body that align during an eclipse: the Sun, the Earth, and the Moon. Each of these phases is also an exploration of a different aspect of being: Sun = Mind, Earth = Body, Moon = Soul. This concept is used to guide our journey through the musical universe we call Cosmic Soul; one of infinite creativity and imagination." Get into it above.

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Robin Thirdfloor 'Gibela (Remix)'

Robin Thirdfloor, Laliboi and ASAP Shembe share a minimalist instrumental that references both modern hip-hop and old school kwaito in the remix to "Gibela" by Robin Thirdfloor. The rappers take advantage of the empty spaces on the beat and each approach it differently. Robin Thirdfloor's flow stays smooth and effortless and his lines are as unpredictable as ever and play out like plot twists.

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Focalistic 'Quarantined Tarantino'

In his latest EP Quarantined Tarantino, Focalistic manages to strike a balance between the South African artist's hip-hop roots and his recent flirtations with amapiano and kwaito. For the first three songs, Quarantined Tarantino traces the relationship between '90s kwaito and amapiano, sometimes blurring the line between the two. One of the project's many highlights "Patrice Motsepe" follows the same format and manages to simultaneously sound nostalgic and current.

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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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