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Michael Kiwanuka album cover.

The 12 Songs You Need to Hear This Week​

Featuring Michael Kiwanuka, Burna Boy, Amanda Black, Runtown, Khuli Chana x Cassper Nyovest 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.


Michael Kiwanuka 'KIWANUKA' LP

British-Ugandan soul singer Michael Kiwanuka has released his highly-anticipated third studio album KIWANUKA, the follow up to his critically-acclaimed sophomore album Love & Hate. The 14-track album features the previously released singles "You Ain't the Problem" and "Hero," and was largely produced by Danger Mouse and Inflo. The artist named the album KIWANUKA in a bold attempt to reclaim his heritage no matter how foreign it might seem to others. "I won't change my name, no matter what they call me," he sings on "Hero."

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Runtown 'International Badman Killa'

Nigerian artist Runtown is back with a new music video for his single "International Badman Killa." The song was featured on his surprise EP Tradition which dropped back in May. The lively video for the Spellz-produced track sees that artist in several unique settings surrounded my futuristic cars and dancers as he performs the song's self-assured lyrics. The video was directed by Clarence Peters.

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Amanda Black 'Egoli'

A week ago, Amanda Black, released her sophomore album Power. This week, the South African singer-songwriter brings us the stunning accompanying visuals for "Egoli"—what we reckon is one of the standout tracks on the 18-track project. In "Egoli", Amanda Black sings about looking towards Johannesburg, the City of Gold, to pursue her dream of becoming a singer. The music video was directed by Kuda Jemba and the cinematography done by Motion Billy, two talented young men who've become the go-to for creating quality visuals for the music videos of many South African artists.

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François N'Gwa 'Ogooué'

Buckle up and get ready for a bit of rhythmic and synthesizer-laced time travel. Gabonese musician François N'Gwa has been making music since the early 80s, toying and playing with sound during the era of electronic exploration. The sound he produced is a vibrant, enthusiastic and attention-grabbing one that blends African rhythms and sentiments with digital noises that seem to play tug of war with the air around it. New French record label Into the Deep Treasury is releasing an 8-track compilation of N'Gwa's tracks made between 1985 and 2004, called Ogooué.

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Burna Boy 'Omo'

Burna Boy comes through with the new music video for "Omo," one of the standout tracks from his stellar album African Giant. The afro-house indebted tune, which was produced by Mr Kleb Beatz, gets an appropriately nighttime music video that follows Burna to a "Giant Club" and a peep show booth, among other locations."Omo" is the latest in a long string of outstanding singles from African Giant that have gotten the video treatment. "Oh I'm not done yet!! OMO video out now on all platforms," Burna Boy wrote on Instagram.

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Bryte 'Ice Cream'

Accra-based vocalist Bryte goes in over some haywire electronic beat work in his new single "Ice Cream." The new track sees Bryte linking up with frequent collaborator Mina and Tarquin for a booming production that marries his Ghanaian style with production that straddles UK bass, funky, grime and techno The new music video for "Ice Cream," which follows Bryte and a crew of dancers across Seoul. "We had so much fun running around the streets of Hongdae with Korean afrobeats dancers exploring the markets and different varieties of ice cream unique to Seoul," Bryte tells OkayAfrica.

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Driemanskap 'Give A Wh?t' ft YoungstaCPT

Driemanskap have finally released Hlala Nam, their sophomore album which they have been teasing for years. The 20-track project arrived last week, and features YoungstaCPT, King Kosh, Haem-O and several others. The four-man Cape Town crew (Redondo, Ma-B, Dla and El Nino) maintain their raw street-centric sound and lyricism on Hlala Nam. Songs like "Uhambo," "Things We Do For Love" and "Champion," among others, with their trap-leaning production, reveal a crew that's not reluctant to experiment with other sounds.

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Mayorkun 'Up to Something'

Mayorkun comes through with his latest single and Clarence Peters-directed music video for "Up To Something," a song that tackles body shaming. The SperoachBeat-produced song sampleds a Nigerian classic by Plantashun Boiz' Faze. Mayorkun mentions: "As much as I want to deliver a pop record, I wanted a song with a weighty message, so while you are dancing to it at the club or a party, watching the video on T.V, it leaves you with love, feeling beautiful, appreciation for yourself and everyone around you. Music is a tool, we must use to change societal ills."

Khuli Chana  FT Cassper Nyovest 'Ichu'

The lead single to Khuli Chana's upcoming album just got treated to visuals. "Ichu," which has been out for two months, features fellow Mafikeng rapper Cassper Nyovest. The song sees the two emcees play lyrical gymnastics over a fast-paced instrumental that allows for innovative flows from both of them. The music video was directed by Nic Roux, shows a vigorous displays of dance moves and an impressive wardrobe for the protagonists and other characters.

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Jelani Blackman 'Brixton'

The first thing that will strike you when pressing play on this is the impossibly deep baritone of Jelani Blackman's voice. Apparently he makes it higher when speaking normally in order for people to hear him. The rapper, whose lineage combines Ireland, Sierra Leone and Barbados, did a surprise drop of his new 5-track EP Average Joe. Blackman was born in London and grew up in the golden era of grime music—the influence of which has left its stamp on every single track though his vibe has more of an R&B lean.

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Patty Monroe feat. Caleb Williams 'Fighter'

Patty Monroe's latest music video for "Fighter" is directed by Dale Fortune. In the video, the Cape Town-born rapper shares her personal story of growing up; some parts of the video were filmed in the house she grew up in, with her mother and grandmother making cameos. "Fighter" enlists the effective vocal skills of the singer Caleb Williams. The song appears on Patty Monroe's debut album, Malatjie. The 15-track project was released in 2017.

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TRESOR 'On va bouger' ft. Sauti Sol

Earlier this year, South Africa-based Congolese musician TRESOR released his album Nostalgia. The 13-track project revisits the past to explore the different sounds and the culture on the African continent during that time. The album features South African artists such as AKA, Mafikizolo, Kwesta, Msaki and several others. TRESOR has recently released the visuals for "On va bouger", the track on which he teams up with Kenyan pop duo Sauti Sol. It's a "twisted love story" set in the 70s of Kinshasa and we're certainly here for that vibe.

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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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