Popular
Sauti Sol and Tiwa Savage: Photo: Facebook / Sauti Sol.

The 9 Best East African Songs of the Month

Here's the best tracks to come out of East African this month.

After an impressive year of music in 2017, artists from the East side of the continent kept up the momentum with a string of great releases in January.

From our biggest stars to some of our favorite rising acts in the region, here are the best songs of the month.


Safi Madiba "Fine" feat. Rayvanny

After ceremoniously leaving Rwanda's biggest music group, Urban Boyz, Safi Madiba is now proving himself as a solo artist with hits like "Got it" and more recently, "Kimye Kimye." His latest single "Fine" is quite easy on the ears. The smooth afro-pop track features Tanzanian sensation Rayvanny who is currently on a roll of success with songs like "Makulusa" and "Siri." Despite all the speculation regarding his solo career, Safi Madiba is letting all the doubters know that he's here to stay.

Sauti Sol "Girl Next Door" feat. Tiwa Savage

Kenya's most popular band Sauti Sol followed up the massive success of "Melanin" with the more laid-back, Maleek Berry-produced single "Girl Next Door." The song features Nigerian afro-pop queen Tiwa Savage and has a cool reggae style beat. Fans are already anticipating the band's next release from their forthcoming Afrikan Sauce album which will feature collaborations with artists from different parts of the continent. So far so good, Sauti Sol!

Mr Blue "Mbwa Koko"

As you can see from our article on 14 Bongo Flava Classics You Need In Your LIfe, Mr. Blue has been around for a long time. We knew he could rap but his new banger "Mbwa Koko" is a testament to his lyrical mastery. The song has definitely gotten his long- time fans buzzing but with its contemporary beat and his legendary status it easily cuts through to a younger generation.

Otile Brown "Tamu Sana" feat. Shetta

Kenyan rising star Otile Brown started the year on a good note with a sizzling single "Tamu Sana," which features Tanzanian rapper Shetta. The song's infectious beat and catchy lyrics will get you nodding your head regardless of whether you understand the words or not. A wonderful fusion of bongo flava and afro-pop, this song is set to be a regular in the club circuit for the next few months.

Fik Fameica "Mafia"

Fik Fameica is the popular Ugandan urban rap star who's been riding the wave of success from his hit single "Kutama" which was released in 2017. He kicked off the new year with "Mafia," a full-toned trap single that is quickly rising to the top of the Ugandan charts. The young rapper has previously been criticized for sounding too similar to many Western rap artists. Nevertheless, he's already gained a large fan base in the country who seem to really enjoy his Ugandan twist on trap music.

Aar Maanta "Halaalee Dhaanto"

Veteran British-Somali musician Aar Maanta continues to keep Somali music alive with his latest release "Halaalee Dhanto," a captivating and modern take on the traditional Somali folk style music called Dhaanto.

Lava Lava "Kiilio"

WCB Wasafi's catalogue includes artists like Harmonize, Rich Mavoko, Diamond Platnumz and Rayvanny who, in recent times, have dominated the East African music scene. Their new signee Lava Lava has already experienced his fair share of success but it seems he wants to take it up a notch in 2018. His song "Kiilio" is about a poor man who has lost his girlfriend to a richer man who can shower her with material things. In a time when many Tanzanian artists are choosing to make afro-pop, "Kiilio" is a classic bongo flava tune.

Awate "Brutalism"

Camden-based Eritrean rapper Awate dropped the visuals for his song "Brutalism," a tasty appetizer for what's to come in his forthcoming album Happiness, which is due February 16. The song is a powerful piece of storytelling as the rapper paints a picture of his experiences growing up in London. The video is collaboration between award-winning filmmaker Penny Woolcock and designers Block9, filmed at the Utopia installation at The Roundhouse.

Aslay x Nandy "Subalkheri Mpenzi"

After the split of Tanzania's beloved Yamoto Band, Aslay won the hearts of fans as a solo artist with "Hauna" in 2017. He continues to win our favor in the new year with his brand new song "Subalkheri Mpenzi," featuring Tanzania's fastest rising female artist, Nandy. With the duo's beautiful Taarab-influenced vocals and the traditional bongo instrumentals, this is the perfect love song to get you warmed up for Valentines Day.

Interview

This Compilation Shines a Light On East African Underground Music

We talk to a few of the artists featured on the Music For the Eagles compilation from Uganda's Nyege Nyege.

Nyege Nyege, a label in Kampala, Uganda is channelling the confidence brimming over a whole continent. Africa is no longer the future. For dance music, its time is right now.

Music For the Eagles is a compilation released in conjunction with Soundcloud to showcase the best new acts that East Africa has to offer outside the mainstream. A new wave of artists firmly blasting non-conformist energy for you to spasm to. Music that takes you places. Otim Alpha's high BPM wedding frenzy of incessant rasping vocals accompanied by feverous violin will have you clawing the walls to oblivion. Anti Vairas' dancehall from a battleship with super galactic intentions doesn't even break a sweat as it ruins you. FLO's beautiful sirens call, is a skittish and detuned nursery rhyme that hints at a yearning for love but reveals something far more unnerving. Ecko Bazz's tough spiralling vocal over sub-bass and devil trap energy is an anthem that can only be bewailed. And Kidane Fighter's tune is more trance-like prayer. These are only some of the highlights for you to shake it out to.

We got to chat with a few of the artists featured on the Music For the Eagles compilation as they took a break from the studio below.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

The 6 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Wavy the Creator x WurlD, Epoque, Tems, Silverstone Barz, Kofi Jamar, Olamide x Jaywillz and more