The Songs You Need to Hear This Week

The best songs of the week featuring Burna Boy, Shabazz Palaces, Tony Allen, E.L and more.

At the end of every week, we highlight the creme of the crop in music and round up the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks throughout the last few days.

Follow our "Songs You Need to Hear This Week" playlist on Apple Music to get immediate updates every Friday and read about some of the selections ahead.

Two new Burna Boy joints

Burna Boy came through with two new releases this week.

The Nigerian star just dropped "Rock Your Body," an addictive new single produced by DJ Juls. According to Burna, this is the first of the new hits he'll be dropping this coming month. Check it out below via NotJustOk.

He also released the music video for "Boshe Nlo," from his latest EP, Redemption, earlier this week, which you can check out above.

Tony Allen x Art Blakey

Legendary Nigerian drummer Tony Allen will give jazz enthusiasts a major treat next month with the release of his new EP, A Tribute to Art Blakey. 

As it’s name implies, Allen’s latest EP pays homage to one of his musical idols, American jazz drummer, Art Blakey. The 4-track EP is lead by “Moanin’."

Shabazz Palaces are back

Shabazz Palaces have announced their new album, Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star, which is set to feature The StrokesJulian Casablancas, Thundercat, and others. According to the band, the new record will tell the story of a “sentient being from somewhere else” named Quazarz.

Stream the album's lead single, “Shine a Light (feat. Thaddillac),” and watch its lyric video, directed by Cristina T. Bercovitz and Jonathan Snipes, above.

Follow our ‘Songs You Need to Hear’ playlist on Apple Music for weekly updates of new music.

Michael Beharie's Voices EP

New York-based artist and producer Michael Beharie links up with Nigerian "afro experimental pop" singer SARO for "Reasons," one of the standout tracks from his new EP, Voices, which is out today.

The EP explores four different shades of Beharie's alluring and diverse electronic productions, and features collaborations with L e'Asha Julius and Marisa. A listen through the whole thing is definitely worth your while.

Andy Mkosi's This Audio Is Visual EP

Cape Town rapper Andy Mkosi combines photography with soulful beats in her new EP. The 8-track This Audio Is Visual is an introspective project in which she's not afraid to talk about her insecurities and fears.

E.L "Shape of You" (Afrobeats Remix)

E.L, one of Ghana's finest, tackles Ed Sheeran's massive hit in this afrobeats remix of "Shape of You"—it's lowkey hot fire.

Miles from Kinshasa "Fireworks"

UK-Congolese singer Miles from Kinshasa shares his new single and music video for "Fireworks," a track written in a style he calls Rumba-pop—a fusion of R&B and pop with influences from across the globe.

Roberto "Contolola" feat. Patoranking

Zambia's Roberto connects with Nigerian reggae-dancehall singer Patoranking for "Contolola," a jam tailor-made for your weekend parties.

Laolu NYC "Mama Africa"

Laolu Senbanjo is "an African boy and he's proud" in his Simon Sez-produced single "Mama Africa." Revisit the track, which is newly available on iTunes here.

You might remember Laolu's “The Sacred Art of the Ori” visual art work from when it was featured in Beyoncé‘s Lemonade.

Timaya x Electric Bodega

Nigeria's Timaya and NYC DJ/production duo Electric Bodega join forces for this summer electro-pop remix of "I Like The Way," which they describe as a fusion of EDM, dancehall, and tropical house. This one's giving us all the necessary beach vibes.

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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