Music
Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

B3nchMarQ and the Art of Making Something From Nothing

B3nchMarQ's EP consists of great songs that don't require much from the listener—but it bangs.

There's nothing groundbreaking about South African rap duo B3nchMarQ's debut release ASPEN EP. But one indisputable fact is that it bangs.


It hasn't been clear what the duo, which consists of rappers TKay and P. Jay, is capable of doing. The singles they released under the label they were previously signed to Ambitiouz Entertainment–"Bonang," "Get Lit," "All on Me" – were lukewarm.

I only found a reason to take the duo seriously when they released "Wayse" featuring Ice Prince. Like, how perfect is that song?

On ASPEN EP, the duo enlists the services of the young producer IceMan Beatz to create one of the strongest releases of 2017.

Even though there are a few clever lines on the project, lyrically, B3nchMarQ don't offer much to write home about. I mean how weak is a line like, "Coupla niggas like to gossip/ And now you hide your head, you like a foreskin"?

But what the duo and their producer got right was the project's overall feel and quality, song structure and memorable songs.

IceMan Beatz's production is near flawless–from the way the kicks and bass lines knock, to the crispness of the selection of the pads he uses, which switch between warm and smoky.

TKay and P. Jay got it right, with just enough singing to compliment their raps. Some of their meh lines are made up for by impressive delivery. P Jay switches flows where necessary. TKay sounds comfortable, and his vocal projection is pleasing to the ear.

And every now and then you bump onto double entedres like "Thol' ukuthi hey/ All this shit is just a phase."

ASPEN EP may not contain lyrical content on Shane Eagle, Reason or Stogie T levels, but it sure holds its own as a coherent body of work that wins in its synergetic combination of instrumentation and vocals. The subject matter revolves mostly around hustling, making dough, and making the best out of your situation in a way that's not preachy, but relatable.

What B3nchMarQ created are listenable songs that don't require much from the listener. Maybe just a realization that there is something to be celebrated in artists who can make the best out of their abilities and their limitations. And nothing sounds forced.

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The Gorillaz Enlist Fatoumata Diawara for New Track 'Désolé

A stunning collaboration that we didn't even know we needed.

The Gorillaz enlist none other than Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara for their latest single "Désolé," the second single from the hit-making British band's Song Machine installation project.

"Making Désolé with Fatou was a real moment for me, you know," the band's drummer Russel Hobbs is quoted as saying in a statement via Pitchfork. Désole translates to "sorry" in French, but despite it's apologetic title, the song is a laid-back groove, elevated by vocals from lead singer Damon Albarn and Diawara, who sings in English, French and Bambara.

"She's an African Queen," Russel adds. "This lady made the song what it is, beautiful, like life. What can I say about Désolé? They say sorry is the hardest word, but that's not true.... Try saying antidisestablishmentarianism with a mouth full of gluten free cronuts on a speed boat without licking your lips."

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Zlatan Reflects on 'Life' on Heartfelt New Track

Watch the music video for the Nigerian artist's latest.

Nigerian artist Zlatan gets pensive on his latest track "Life."

The song is a departure from the Zanku (Leg Work) singer's usual dance-worthy style. Instead, the slow-paced anthem sees him reflecting on his rise, and making it as an artist against all odds. "My life changed in one day," sings the artist on the hook.

The video, directed by Hassan Al Raae, features a different setting for the artist as well, as the artist appears at a skiing resort surrounded by snow, which provides a crisp backdrop for the track's hopeful message.

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The 7 Best East African Songs of the Month

Featuring Diamond Platnumz x Tanasha, Sauti Sol, Rayvanny, Sheebah, Victoria Kimani and more.

February has been dominated by familiar voices in East African music.

Here are our picks of the best East African songs of the month featuring Diamond Platnumz, Sheebah, Rayvanny and more.

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February has been quite the month for music. From the top shots in music right down to the rising new acts, we give you a list of some of the best songs to come out of Ghana this month. Check them out below.

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