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Casanova, Davido & Tory Lanez' '2AM' Will Soundtrack Your Weekend

Flatbush meets Lagos and Toronto in this addictive new single.

Brooklyn rapper Casanova rolls through with an energetic new collaboration with Davido and Tory Lanez.

"2AM" sees the rapper going in over highly-infectious afrobeats-meets-pop beat work, in the same vein as we've heard from massive hits like "Unforgettable." The song was produced by 30 Roc.

The single features the star power of Davido and Tory Lanez which gives "2AM" the increased potential to be one of those huge new jams that'll be getting constant spins this year on both sides of the Atlantic (it's already got the top slot in Spotify's African Heat playlist).

The music video kicks off in Atlanta but eventually follows Casanova to Lagos, where he connects with Davido in Shitta. The clip was directed by Nigeria's Meji Alabi, the creative force behind many of your favorite afrobeats videos.

"2AM" is the lead single from Casanova's upcoming EP, Free At Last, which is due from Roc Nation/Def Jam Recordings on February 15.

We talked to Casanova below to learn a little more about this new collaboration and sound for him.


Casanova - 2AM ft. Tory Lanez, Davido youtu.be

How did you first link up with Davido?

Davido invited me to a show a couple months ago. I saw him perform and then right after the show, it was crazy, he was like, 'let's go the studio.' And I wasn't so sure 'cause [my music's] more shoot 'em up bang bang and he's Davido, you know. It didn't work out that time. But then, I got this afrobeats style song with Tory Lanez on it, I did two verses and my producer was like: 'you need an African for this beat.' And I'm like, 'ohh I got Davido!' So I let him listen to the record on Facetime and he was like send that to me. When he sent me back his part, that to me was like, 'woww, ok we got a hit.'

This was your first time going to Nigeria, and your first time in Africa, how was your experience?

It was different man. Seeing the little kids, seeing the rich and poor parts. it made me appreciate life and stop complaining about the things that I got. It opened my eyes to different sounds. You know, being in the club you listen to different types of music, like Nigerian and UK stuff. Out here it's all trap, or New York or down South music in the club. But over there you're hearing different languages and different drums.

Tell me about the afrobeats influence on "2AM," what made you pick this sound?

I'm from Flatbush and my parents are Caribbean. So it was easy for me. Flatbush is where the Labor Day Parade is. I'm very familiar with reggae and Caribbean sounds. [This new sound] was a risk I took, and I'm glad I took it.

Are you listening to any other African artists right now?

[starts singing] Ye Ye, Ye Ye Ye Ye. Burna Boy. And I'm also into Wizkid.

How was working with director Meji Alabi and shooting in Shitta, Lagos.

It was dope. He had everything under control. The area was crazy man, I felt like I've been to the hardest places in New York but that was different. That right there, it cant compare to nothing I've seen. I felt comfortable shooting there, but I also knew it could get ugly at any moment.

What can people expect from the upcoming EP.

It's called Free at Last. Davido and Tory Lanez are my only features. I might explore different sounds on it—I might go salsa or pop, who knows, I gotta see how I sound on it. The project comes out Feb 15.


Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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