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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.

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Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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