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The Best East African Songs of the Month

2020 started strong with standout releases from some of the region's heavyweights.

East African Artists started 2020 on a good note with major releases from heavyweights like Rayvanny, Lava Lava, Otile Brown and more. Here is our selection of the hottest tracks that came out in the month of January.

This list is no particular order.

Rayvanny ft Busiswa & Baba Levo “Zipo”

Tanzanian superstar Rayvanny is building up a great catalogue of hit songs with a healthy number of Pan-African collaborations. In his latest banger "Zipo" he enlists South African sensation Busiswa and Baba Levo to create a dance-ready kwaito and g-qom mashup.

Otile Brown “The Way You Are”

Kenyan bongo star Otile Brown started the year with a new release title "The Way You Are", a song telling women of all shapes, colours and sizes to love themselves the way they are.

Lava Lava ft Rayvanny “Tekenya”


WCB Wasafi talent Lava Lava got together with his label-mate Rayvanny for the "Tekenya" Remix. This catchy rendition is a sure hit.

King Kaka ft. Kelechi Africana  “Kesi”

Kenyan rap heavyweight King Kaka returned in the new year with 'Kesi", the newest single from his 'The Servant & The King' mixtape. He features Kelechi Africana on this love-inspired track.

Harmonize “Hainistui”

Tanzania's biggest star of the moment served us his first single of the year "Hainistui", and as expected, he doesn't disappoint.

Spice Diana “On You”

Ugandan pop star Spice Diana came through this month with a fiery club starter titled "On You." The fast-rising singer incorporates flirty lyrics into this infectious dancehall-tinged jam.

Sailors and Nadia Mukami “Ni Tekenye”

Kenyan Gengetone sensations Sailors teamed up with award-winning songstress Nadia Mukami for their latest track "Ni Tekenye." The group, which is well known for igniting last year's "Wamblambez" craze, take a different direction on this track incorporating a smoother and more romantic delivery.

Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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