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6 Artists From the New School of Afrobeats

These young, up-and-coming afrobeats artists are looking towards trap, R&B, soul, and even emo, for inspiration.

DIASPORA—'Soundcloud afrobeats' is the term some use to describe this group of young artists of Nigerian heritage who eschew the heavy rhythms and flash of afrobeats, and look to trap, R&B, soul, and even emo, for inspiration.


Nigerian contemporary music is, today, in an odd state of high confidence. The music has an exciting and profitable market, but it's also in utter confusion as to what exactly to call itself. “Afrobeat” as done by Fela Kuti insists on being different from “afrobeats” as done by the new brigade.

A separate strata of young artists are forging an identity for being free of the heavy rhythms and flash of pop. An easy term and common denominator could be “spaced-out R&B,” a slow, sometimes druggy diffusion of instrumentation and emotions.

The gushing and belting that are the high-engagement points in so called “radio R&B” aren't to be found here. Drake’s name is synonymous with the sound, but the blueprint may have been Kanye West’s 808's & Heartbreaks.

Like-minded but better known artists like Santi, Nonso Amadi, Odunsi, and producer BankyOnDBeatz have put our impressive bodies of work. BankyOnDBeatz did the exceptional by making an album with only female artists, titled Fuego Señoras. Santi’s Suzie's Funeral, Odunsi's Time of Our Lives and War EP, his joint project with Nonso Amadi, whose own debut project is called “Alone”.

Most, particularly those featured here, are young, with ages ranging from from 20 to 23. They all write their own music and some produce their own projects as well. Many live outside of Nigeria, with quite a few in the UK (all featured here) while others based in U.S. (Daramola), Canada (Nonso Amadi) and Dubai (Santi).

These artists have a strong presence on Soundcloud, but would resist being called 'Soundcloud artists' and would definitely chafe at the term 'Soundcloud afrobeats.'

Yet, no two would agree on a term for the music they make. Lady Donli calls her music “box less.” AYÜÜ calls his “world” because. “I make all kinds of music and enjoy fusion of genres.” Genio Bambino doesn't yet have a name for his, but is staunchly against the term 'alternative afrobeats.'

Dami Oniru will settle for 'R&B soul' or 'alternative' but certainly not 'alternative afrobeats.' Davina Oriakhi opts for 'rhythm and soul fusion,' while AYLØ will go for 'soul-fusion' or the higher minded 'alt-soul-synthesis.'

These opinions notwithstanding, a group of individuals, however distinct from one another, make up a group all the same—just a more rarefied one.

DAVINA ORIAKHI

Davina Oriakhi. Image courtesy of the artist.

Davina Oriakhi’s debut LP, Love To A Mortal, which she describes as “love on a spiritual level and a treat for genres,” is due this month.

Oriakhi has a monkish approach to making music and so she mentions that, “if it is not a personal experience or story, if it is not uplifting, if it doesn't have a healthy message, I'm not putting it out.”

The songwriter goes on to add: “I do not make music about sweet nothings. Every song I write has a profound meaning”.

GENIO BAMBINO

Genio Bambino. Image courtesy of the artist.

Genio Bambino recorded his first song at 18 and now has put out two projects—Carpe Diem (2015) and Virtuoso (2017).

Bambino’s began learning to play the piano as a kid. "My dad used to sing at church and he would take me to practice nearly every week from a young age,” he mentions.

This early inculcation, unsurprisingly, makes for a rich development of music sensibilities. For his next project Favelo Nord, Bambino had teamed up with his guitarist-friend Banakoy.

LADY DONLI

LADY DONLI. Image courtesy of the artist.

Lady Donli’s first project was Love Or War (2014), followerD by What Is Perfect? (2015) and, most recently, Wallflower in 2016.

Donli describes her start in making music as “organic” and has “been writing poetry and songs since I can remember”. She is also one half of a group called SAFI with the singer Ayüü. Her newest single “Ice Cream” is a summer delight.

DAMI ONIRU

Dami Oniru’s early introduction to music came by way of CDs that belonged to her mother and her twin, "they had like over 50 CDs each,” she mentions. It was lunch time jam sessions in secondary school that sparked her interested,  “that was when I realised that, you know, I had a little bit of talent.”

Oniru’s standout single “Fallin” dropped in February “as a birthday present to myself.” Her as-of-yet untitled debut EP is slated for release this summer.

AYÜÜ

AYUU. Image courtesy of the artist.

“I guess I became more conscious about my ability to write songs in secondary school” says AYÜÜ who, in May of this year, released his first full project, H.E.R (His Emotions Recorded).

AYUU is one half of SAFI, whose other member is Lady Donli. SAFI “means purity in Swahili and that's what we aim to represent with our sound and lifestyle.”

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AYLØ

AYLØ. Image courtesy of the artist.

What AYLØ calls “a snippet of my imagination” is his impressive EP, Honest Conversations,  released in December 2016.

Sampling and live instrumentation take equal places of pride in the music AYLØ makes, but he also adds that “the baseline for my creation is in the soulfulness of it.”

Sudan Uprising

Sudan has Appointed a Prime Minister to Govern During the Transitional Period

Abdalla Hamdok says that peace and resolving the economic crisis are his top priorities.

Earlier this month, the leader of the main opposition coalition, Ahmed Rabie, and Gen Mohamed Hamdan Daglo of the Transitional Military Council (TMC), signed a constitutional declaration just shortly after signing their first power-transfer deal. The declaration detailed how a Sovereign Council, consisting of six civilians and five members of the military, would oversee the governing of Sudan during the three-year transitional period to complete civilian rule. Recently, Abdalla Hamdok, was sworn in as the transitional prime minister, according to the BBC. His appointment comes after Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan was appointed the leader of the Sovereign Council, Aljazeera reports.

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News
Still from YouTube

Watch the Retro Music Video for Dyo's 'Go All the Way' Featuring Mr Eazi

The video, directed by Mahaneela, is a tribute to the vintage photography of Malick Sidibé, James Barnor, Seydou Keïta, and Samuel Fosso.

Mr Eazi teams up with budding Nigerian artist Dyo, for her latest single "Go All the Way."

The duo share a memorable music video, inspired by the work of vintage African studio photographers like Malick Sidibé, James Barnor, Seydou Keïta, and Samuel Fosso. The music video features cameos from several young African creatives including Congolese artist Miles from Kinshasa, who are all photographed in stylish clothes before staged backdrops.

The video was directed by multi-hyphenated creator Mahaneela, who also appears in the video,

The Mirza-produced song sees both artists singing suggestively about their lovers. "Go go, go all the way," Dyo sings smoothly on the track's chorus.

Still from YouTube

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Events

Join Us For an Everyday Afrique Party This Labor Day In NYC!

Featuring music by DJ Moma, DJ Tunez, Rich Knight, Boston Chery and DJ Buka.

Everyday People, OkayAfrica and Electrafrique are back with the best Labor Day weekend party around with Everyday Afrique.

Come hang with us for another installment of the party that brings out the New York City's finest.

This September 2 we're taking Everyday Afrique back to The Well in Brooklyn, where you can dance and drink the day & night away across the venue's outdoor and indoor spaces.

Grab Your Tickets to Everyday Afrique's Labor Day Party Here

Music will be handled by a top-shelf line-up of selectors including DJ Moma, DJ Tunez, Rich Knight, Boston Chery and DJ Buka.

The party will be hosted by Young Prince, Saada, Roble, Sinat, Giselle, Shernita and Maine.

Make sure to grab your tickets here and we'll see you on the dance floor!

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Interview
Courtesy of Sibu Mpanza.

INFLUENCED: Meet Sibu Mpanza—the YouTuber Who's Making a Killing from Just Having Fun

'I am the person I needed when and even before I started my YouTube channel,' the prolific YouTuber says.

OkayAfrica brings you the 2019 INFLUENCED Series. In the coming weeks, we'll be exploring the online communities being fostered by young South Africans who are doing more than just influencing. From make-up gurus and hair naturalistas to socially-conscious thought leaders, get ready to be influenced. Read the rest of the series here.

Years ago, Sibu Mpanza found himself experiencing two realities Black South African students are still battling with even today: crippling financial woes at university and debilitating depression.

An aspiring musician who ended up studying psychology instead at the University of Cape Town, Mpanza began skipping as many classes as he possibly could. He would spend copious amounts of time at a computer hidden away in the corner, passing the hours watching funny videos on YouTube. In fact, he says he spent so much time on YouTube that he was literally one of the very first people to view Beyoncé's epic "711" music video—something Mpanza recalls in stitches.

He was searching for something, although admittedly, he didn't quite know back then what it was exactly. It eventually got so bad that in his second year of university, he packed up his things, dropped out and moved to Johannesburg to see if he could become what he'd always imagined he could eventually be.

Fast-forward to 2019, and the name Sibu Mpanza is not only an undeniable success story but an entire brand.

Mpanza is a full-time YouTuber who has been able to capitalise on creating hilarious content about his life and pretty much anything that interests him. While he initially "blew up" because of a YouTube video he put out, a video which called out White students at the University of the Free State who were recorded beating up protesting Black students at a rugby game, he's since moved onto a second channel, More Mpanza, where he makes content that's a lot more fun, apolitical and doesn't take a toll on his mental health. As if two successful channels weren't enough, he's also got a third channel, Arcade, where he and his business partner talk about things they enjoy in the technology space.

For anyone looking to just let off some steam, watch a YouTuber who's willing to poke fun at himself or find some really quality content in an era where everyone seems to have a YouTube channel about something or the other, Mpanza is definitely your guy.

We caught up with him to talk about what inspired his various YouTube channels, the fame that comes with being a household name and what's really important to the young South African creative.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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