News Brief
Mannywellz. Photo courtesy of the artist.

DACA Artists Won 3 Grammy Awards For 'American Dreamers' Album

Many 'Dreamers,' including Nigeria's Mannywellz, performed on the John Daversa Big Band album.

Out of the many headlines coming out of the Grammys, you might have missed this one.

Several artists and recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) won three Grammys last Sunday for their contribution to trumpeter John Daversa's album, American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom.

The album—which won Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, Best Improvised Jazz Solo Performance ("Don't Fence Me In") and Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Capella ("Stars & Stripes Forever")—features contributions from many 'Dreamers' including Nigerian-born Mannywellz.

As a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, Mannywellz' is one of the 800,000 young immigrants who receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for work permits. That is all in limbo under the Trump administration's mission to repeal DACA.



Mannywellz is a rising young artist who's toured with Jidenna, collaborated with Adekunle Gold, and garnered millions of plays on streaming services. The ultimate decision on DACA could crush Mannywellz' career.

We interviewed him last year when he told us, "It was tough before DACA. I couldn't get a regular job, so I had to buy Jordans or phones and flip them just to pay my own phone bill. Things were hard. My dad had moved back to Nigeria, so it was just my mom and my younger siblings. That was five years ago or so in 2012. I remember my friends being able to drive when they were 16 and I had to wait until I was 19 or 20 years-old to get a freaking permit. Receiving the DACA was a relief because I was able to get a regular job—from Ledo's to Sun Trust to PNC, you know."

However he, like many other DACA kids, remains positive, "My main goal is to inspire kids that are just like me. Coming out and letting everyone know that they're not alone in this DACA fight and that we can stand together, pray together and make something happen. I think that's my main goal with my art, with what I stand for and what I release on social media."

Listen to American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom from John Daversa Big Band and DACA artists below.

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Runtown. Photo courtesy of the artist.

How Runtown Got His Groove Back

In the past year, Runtown has had to look behind him to shed the ghosts of his former label. Now he's looking forward to more success.

In May of 2018 with two months left on his contract, the Nigerian popstar Runtown woke up one morning to news that his record label, Eric Many Entertainment, was suing him for damages worth N267 million. A potential local court injunction against him meant Runtown might face the possibility of being barred from making music until the suit was resolved. It was the the start in of a string of legal battles between the singer and his label that threatened his very existence as an artist.

As Runtown planned his next steps, his boss, Ukwudili Umenyiora was doing everything he could not to let him go. The suit was a ploy to get him to extend the contract, or reach a settlement that would allow the label to keep a stake in his future business. In the press, Runtown was lambasted daily by suspected paid agents of the record label.

After the record label tried to prevent a performance in Canada, and sent cease and desist letters to radio stations, asking them to pull Runtown off playlists, something cracked in his camp. His legal team mobilised. They launched an offensive, filing cases and petitions on many fronts across Lagos, Abuja and New York. His boss and aggressor, Okwudili Umenyiora, was arrested twice by the local police on petitions by Runtown. To stop the media harassment, Umenyiora signed a legal agreement promising to back off. With the coast clear, he could then focus on the music.

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Video still via YouTube.

'Ratnik' Is the Dystopian Nollywood Action Film You Didn't Know You Needed

Watch the dramatic teaser from Nigerian filmmaker Dimeji Ajibola.

A film 2 years in the making is yet another cinematic moment contributing to the growing diversity of subgenres in the Nollywood industry.

Ratnik is a dystopian action film from Nigerian filmmaker Dimeji Ajibola his production company Flipsyde Studios. The teaser recently dropped this month ahead of the official trailer—and from this 1-minute clip we're anticipating suspense, explosions, peculiar superhero characters and impressive vfx that we're seeing more of in Nigerian films.

Get into the teaser below.

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Music
Moonchild Sanelly. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Swiss Producer Dejot Enlists South African Leftfield Artists Moonchild Sanelly, Waterlillyrose, RADIO 123 and More in His New EP ‘Uhujano’

Listen to Dejot's latest EP.

Swiss electronic producer Dejot has a fondness for South African and its musicians. "What was really surprising to me was the fact, that when I played my music, my demos or ideas, people started to dance immediately," says Dejot in an email to OkayAfrica. "I was really surprised, that there was something in my music that hit them and made them move. This is very different compared to Europe or Switzerland, where people mostly stand around and just listen to it."

Last year, Dejot produced the rapper Robin Thirdfloor's EP Bhotela in its entirety. He has also worked with Bongeziwe Mabandla. This year, for his latest EP, Uhujano, he enlisted South Africa-based artists Moonchild Sanelly, Waterlillyrose, Robert Machiri and the duo RADIO 123.

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