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This Is A Review Where I Write About How I Think ‘DAMN.’ Is Pretty Good—A Classic Perhaps

I’ll go ahead and give Kendrick Lamar's 'DAMN.' 9 and a half of Tupac’s bandanas out of 10.

This may come as a surprise after reading the title of this article, but, I’m just going to go ahead, risk it all, and say it: I think Kendrick Lamar’s new album DAMN. is very good. A classic maybe.


I will now recount the first time I listened to Kendrick Lamar, which was probably before you, to illustrate how cool I am and inadvertently how cool the person who put me on to Kendrick is:

We are waiting in a relief line, hoping we can get our hands on a loaf of bread. The year is 1933. The Great Depression is in full swing and life is rough. Back then we ate one meal a day. Usually brownish water soup. Sometimes, if we were lucky, water soup with salt.

My homie, who is also waiting in line with me, goes “aye, you listen to Kendrick Lamar?” I don’t know who he’s talking about so I take off my black cap, sagging from years of use, wipe the sweat from my brow, and respond, “naw, he a blues a singer?”

My homie tells me that Kendrick is sort of like a blues singer, but he’s actually a rapper and that, God willing, after we receive a loaf of bread from the generous Federal Emergency Relief Administration, we gonna go back to his spot, eat some bread, drink some moonshine, and fire up the phonograph and listen to the budding talent. “His cadence is crazy,” my homie tells me.

A post shared by Kendrick Lamar (@kendricklamar) on

We at my friends shack, nibbling on stale bread and sipping very strong moonshine. My pal gets up and starts the phonograph. Dust blows up as a young Kendrick begins to rap that unique rap of his. Complete breath control, stinging lyrics, over pronouncing words, the T’s biting hard.

“Now, I may just be being a knickerbocker but I reckon this fella rap a lil’ odd,” I said because it was 1933 and that’s how we talked back then. But before the phonograph ended playing that K. Dot record I was hooked. He was different, something about him, it was refreshing, it was the perfect bridge of new and old, lyrical and ignorant, I fucked with dude.

Years passed, we fought in a World War, came back home, looked around and wondered if fascism was really defeated. We went to Canada to escape fighting that despicable war in Vietnam, saw riots, marched and yelled “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh. The NLF is going to Win!”

Decades went by and our black did not crack. We listened to Overly Dedicated. We played Section.80 over and over, bumping it as loud as our car speakers would allow screaming “Fuck your ethnicity!” good kid, m.A.A.d city, wow, amazing, that shit slapped and was deep and had a story. Excellent. Then to the reaches of jazzy afro-futuristic space with To Pimp A Butterfly, what the fuck, shit was crazy. Kendrick only got better.

Then in 2017, with Donald Trump as President (how’d that happen? whaaa?) Kendrick dropped “The Heart Part 4.” A new album was on the way. I was juiced. Then the track and visuals for “HUMBLE.”

At the stroke of midnight this past Friday, over a glass or twelve of vodka and cranberry, the official drink of young white women, I listened to DAMN.

I was, admittedly, very excited. I was also very drunk. Since then, I’ve almost exclusively been listening to the album. It’s pretty fire. Very hot fire. I’ve also made a promise to myself that I will not drink vodka. I've since broken said promise while listening to “XXX.” on repeat.

From “YAH.” to “ELEMENT.,” “LOYALTY.,” and “FEAR.,” on to “DUCKWORTH.,” the album is very, very good. It’s a pivot from TPAB, more accessible, less jazzy, more rap-oriented with plenty of homages to that REAL HIP-HOP™. Kid Capri’s on the album yelling the existential ad-lib “What happens on earth stays on earth!”

There’s bangers, there’s lines where you like “fuck nigga that was deep,” there’s a narrative, and there’s an insane plot twist. Many reviews and think pieces have already been written and will continue to be written about this project. For a more in-depth analysis, one with prettier words and more reflection, you should look elsewhere. All I’m finna tell you is this shit hella good.

As is expected, many are cautious, understandably, to call the newly released album a “classic.” It hasn’t even been a week since DAMN. has dropped. Hearing the first 45 seconds of good kid, m.A.A.d city I prematurely but accurately took out my phone and start texting my friends in a state of frenzied excitement: THiSS SHITSS Aa CLAASSIC NIGGGAFA YEEEeEE!!!!oMFG

I’ve since grown older, more restrained, calmer, cooler, my beard has connected. This time around, with the release of DAMN. my text read: Perhaps, this album will be included among classic album lists in the future. Yet, only time will prove or disprove such ponderings.

My only disappointment with Kendrick and his fourth studio album DAMN. is that there isn’t a second version. Y’all heard the conspiracy theories. If Kendrick had released a blue album on Easter, I would have myself died and resurrected from excitement with The Matrix playing in the background. Alas, my heart has been denied such joy.

I’ll go ahead and give DAMN. 9 and a half of Tupac’s bandanas out of 10.

Make sure to tune in next week when I continue to contribute to the blackhole of writing about DAMN. with a piece dissecting Kendrick’s line: “I'm a Israelite, don't call me Black no mo’/That word is only a color, it ain't facts no mo’.”

Also Free Palestine.

Events

OkayAfrica and The Narativ Present The Fresh + Festive Holiday Pop-Up Shop

We've curated a group of our favorite black-owned vendors for a festive holiday pop-up in Brooklyn.

The holiday season is officially upon us and you know what that means: it's time to shower friends, family—and yourself—with precious gifts.

While holiday shopping can sometimes be a task, it certainly doesn't have to be. OkayAfrica has teamed up with global luxury design platform The Narativ for The Fresh + Festive Holiday Pop Up Shop to bring you a fun, colorful and chilled out retail experience.

The Fresh + Festive Holiday Pop Up will be a one-stop shop, featuring items from some of our favorite black-owned clothing, jewelry, home decor, food and beauty brands.

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Events
Photo courtesy of Little Havana

OkayAfrica's Guide to December Parties in Lagos and Accra

Where to find the hottest parties in Ghana and Nigeria in December 2018

I arrived at the Little Havana party, just after midnight. We were a short drive in the hills outside Accra, and it was still hot. I walk through the the gardens of the Little Acre Lodge set up with cabanas while coloured lights bounced off the palm trees. Music from the best Afrobeat DJs echoes through the hills. The harmattan haze creates a beautiful ambience and make the cold drinks go down a lot better. And the people! The dancing, the compliments, the great conversations with random strangers; What makes December in Accra truly wonderful is the energy we bring to it.


During December in Accra—or as some affectionately refer to it "Dezember"—parties end when day breaks, and as soon as night falls you get right back to it. If you are about the party life and love travelling, welcome to "Dezember." First of all, to get this straightened out, it's not a physical location or a month exactly. "Dezember" is a period in time—a series of thrilling experiences and moments locked within the tight traffic and unfiltered heat of Accra's streets.

Lagos and Accra have become famously popular during December for the best African parties. In Accra, there are back to back parties for two weeks straight. From night clubs, day parties, house parties, parties in the hills, concerts, themed events and more. International performers and DJs are flown in from all over the world, to play and perform at multiple events.

The Rise of Global Afrobeats

Dj Juls—Photo courtesy of the artist

The spike in interest in December, be it in Lagos or Accra, can't be pinpointed. However, one can identify a general symbiosis between the growth of Afrobeats and the growth in diaspora relations. "'Dezember' has significantly contributed to the growth of afrobeats internationally," says Ghanaian Afrobeats superstar, Kidi.

He explains, "People come and hear these fresh jams and take it with them when they leave".

Kidi who was booked for over twenty shows last December , has added a similar number of shows to his calendar this December.

DJ Juls, a UK producer and DJ by way of Ghana, also relates the boom of Afrobeats to December festivities.

"I think the artists really work on dropping riddims around Christmas time," the award winning DJ says, "There's always one song that everyone loves, and people who travel down get to experience the hype of that song. When everyone goes back home the DJs just run with it. It gets more popular and in the long run boosts local artists' chances of going on tour or doing little gigs here and there. It's then up to the artists to build on that hype."

Africa Taking Hold of its Narrative

Afrochella—Photo courtesy of Edward Adjaye

The trigger for the number of flights being booked for December can be attributed to a number of things. The internet and the ways we document our day to day lives could be one. Africa taking a hold of its narrative has done more good for the continent than most international publications. University students spot their friends balling in clubs in Lagos or Accra, having the time of their lives on Snapchat or Instagram stories, and want the same experience.

Edward Adjaye, one of the organizers of Afrochella, an afrobeats centered festival in Accra, believes it's all about the experience.

"People used to come (to Accra) and do nothing, but clubbing," he says "but now there are festivals and parties in the hills and day parties. So many options outside of just clubbing."

The annual festival, Afrochella which Adjaye hosts has its date scheduled within the depths of the season for a reason.

"Throwing Afrochella in 'Dezember' helps, because the festival is mainly about the promotion and celebration of Afrobeats and the culture as a whole," he reveals, "'Dezember' is the season where everyone; from diaspora to first timers, most likely visit Ghana and are ready to party".

OK, now what's next?

The conversation, however, must go beyond leaving the club at 8am and sipping coconut juice on private beaches. "Dezember" creates an amazing bond between Africa and the rest of the world; one based on relationships. How can the opportunity be fully realized?

"Event organizers need to stop looking at each other as competition and help each other with everything; from sharing information and promotion," says Adjaye, "Everyone eats when everyone succeeds. Also, the big brands need to put up more, in terms of sponsorships and collaborations with event organizers. Everyone wins only when everyone works together, pretty much."

Kidi shared a different perspective, focusing more on the national benefits of this blossoming relationship.

"If 'Dezember' is properly marketed, it'll generate a lot of revenue for our tourists sites and event organizers," he says. "Carefully planned activities, shows, exhibitions and markets can be organized, because these people are here to have a good time."

DJ Juls believes "Dezember" has formed a brain of its own. The only way to benefit from it, is to capture the opportunities it presents.

"A lot more people flock to Ghana over the Christmas and the summer. An estimated 75,000 people are expected in Ghana this year," DJ Juls says. "That means business opportunities and networking."

He however lays bare a pressing negativity to Dezember, "Only negative I guess is traffic and over capacity venues. Kills the vibe sometimes." Pack your bags! We're going for Dezember!

If you're heading to Dezember, here are some events and places you shouldn't miss:

December Events in Accra, Ghana

Mr Eazi's Detty Rave 2017—Photos courtesy of Detty Rave

Afrochella—The day festival on the 29th of December, celebrates afrobeats and the culture surrounding it through music concert, art installations and exhibitions and fashion. Buy tickets at afrochella.com/tickets

Detty Rave—The annual Mr Eazi-curated concert hosts international musicians from around the world in a rave like no other. Get tickets for the 28th December concert at dettyrave.com

Little Havanna—A party thrown in the hills on the outskirts of Accra, Little Havanna lives up to its name. Endless drinks, amazing people and back to back music from the best DJs.

The Day Party—Think Gossip Girl parties, but with Ankara designs and champagne flutes.

The Throwback Party—Hosted by DJ Juls and DJ Neptizzle, the throwback party is back to back hip hop bangers that rocked the 2000s on New Year's Day. Buy tickets at ayatickets.com/events/throwback-new-years

Manifestivities—Rapper Manifest hosts some of his favourite Musicians at the Bukom Boxing Arena for an exciting experience. Rap battles, DJ battles, performances and more are the highlight of this 23th December event. Get tickets at ayatickets.com/events/manifestivities

BHIM Concert—Dancehall musician Stonebwoy takes up the challenge to fill the 15,000 capacity Fantasy Dome on the 28th of December. With performances from Morgan Heritage and other musicians, this event promises to be one for the books. Find tickets at ayatickets.com/events/bhim-concert

Rappaholic Concert—Get drunk off back to back hits from the rap maestro Sarkodie at his annual Rappaholic concert on Christmas Day at the Conference Centre.

Liquid Gold—Private club Front/Back opens its doors on 31st December for Liquid Gold party. A night of opulence, wealth and unhinged partying.

M.A.D. Fest—The burgeoning rapper, Ayat, hosts the annual Music of African Descent (MAD) festival at Madina Number 1 Park, on the 22nd of December. For the third time the show will host top rappers like Medikal, Edem, Teephlow, Akan, Kwesi Arthur, Worlasi and Manifest.

Crusade 3—The thriving Ghanaian collective La Meme Gang host their 3rd concert at Crystal Park. Performing songs off their just released album "Linksters", along with artists featured on the tape.

The Magna Carter—Villa Grace chef hosts guests to a Hip hop themed lunch on December 22. Endless chutes of champagne will be available.

December 2 Remember—The annual music concerts hosted at the International Conference Centre comes back again this year. Enjoy hits from your favourite Ghanaian musicians back to back. Dress code is blue denims and a white top.

The Loud Concert—The annual girls only concert takes place on the 21st of December at the National Theatre. With award winning singer Efya headlining, it promises to be remarkable.

Lokkofied—Concept store and art hub Lokko 08 celebrates its 10 year anniversary with an insane party. Accra's best DJs, drinks food and music in abundance, it definitely sounds like the type of party to look forward to. Happening at Lokko House on 22nd December.

Sabolai Radio Music Festival—The annual music festival celebrating indie and alternative musicians from across Africa returns this year at an unusual new location. Catch teh crew at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange on the 12th to 15th of December. Tickets available at accradotaltradio.com

Ghana Rocks—The popular annual show makes a comeback after a hiatus with an impressive lineup. Local artists like Kuami Eugene, Kidi and more with be joined by international acts like Jidenna, Burna boy and more. Happening at the Fantasy Dome on 29th December 2018.

Accra Gidi Cookout—Grab a barbeque and enjoy the sounds from around the world spun by DJs like Juls, Vision DJ Loft and more.

Promiseland—Rising afropop star King Promise, headlines his own show on December 15th at Crystal Park.

Pine x Ginja—Enjoy dancehall, reggae and full blown jamaican and island vibes at the PinexGinja party, at Crystal Park. Tickets available at Eventbrite.

Nostalgia—A celebration of the best hits of the 2000's in one night! Happening on the 15th of December at Bosphorous Rooftop, this party looks like the perfect start for the Dezember activities.

T.I.N.A Festival—Fuse ODG hosts the first ever This is New Africa (T.I.N.A) festival to celebrate the unique African culture through music, fashion and food. Happening on the 4th of January at the Fantasy Dome. Get tickets at ayatickets.com/events/tina-festival

Fast Food Festival—Accra Fast Food Festival is calling out all foodies for the ultimate cheat day. Enjoy an assortment of Accra's favourite fast food joints and the best tunes at this all day event on the 22nd of December at the Accra Fast food festival.

A Taste of Christmas—Accra's nomadic Chef, Biishville invites all to a culinary experience on Christmas Eve. Fine wining and dining, complete with a dinner party and endless proseccos. Limited seats available to grab one by making a reservation at biishville@gmail.com

Brunch at the Palm—Food blog Taste Tales hosts guests to a food and mimosa filled brunch on the 30th of December. Enjoy live jazz and DJ sets at this foodie haven. Tickets available at Eventbrite.

#BeCurious—Hosted by the afrocentric movement Tribvl, #BeCurious is the last of the groups monthly parties. With strictly afrobeats music and an afro-inspired theme, #BeCurious is the party to be at if you want to party. Happening at Cleaver House on the 30th of December. Buy tickets on Eventbrite.

Twist—Start your night right inside the coveted Accra club. The bouncer may not let you in for absolutely no reason at all, but it's always amazing once you're inside.

Bloom Bar—Pre-game at Accra's open air bar. Split their signature drinks with friends and enjoy fine selection of chill music.

The Woods—A chill, relaxed bar perfect for just hanging out with friends and getting away from all the Accra city mess. The perfect hideout within the heart of Accra.

Sky Bar—A rooftop bar on top Accra's Villagio apartments. It's perfect for quiet drinks and cool vibes.

December Events in Lagos, Nigeria

Catch DJ Tunez in Lagos—Photo: OkayAfrica

‪Simi Live in Lagos—The songstress sets December off with her silky voice at the Eko Hotels in Lagos on the 9th of December.‬

AG Live—Adekunle Gold promises a golden experience at his 3 day show. Catch him on the 13th, 14th or 15th of December at Terra Kulture in Lagos. Buy tickets at nairabox.com

‪King Coal live in Concert‬—The Afrobeats king made a comeback this year with some amazing music. Now you get to watch him live perform his music with some favourites at Eko Hotels. Check out Wande Coal's show on the 14th of December in Lagos. Buy tickets at nairabox.com

‪Mayor of Lagos Concert—Mayorkun‬ takes over the Federal Palace Hotel in Victoria Island for his Mayor of Lagos concert. 14th of December is one for music lovers.

Pretty World—‪New school Nigerian musician Pretty Boy D-O‬ headlines his first show on the 17th of December at Artisan, Victoria Island. Get tickets at pluggrecords.ng/prettyworld/

‪Wizkid VIP Experience Night—Afrobeats king Wizkid brings all the heat home to Lagos, Nigeria for his Wizkid VIP Experience Night. Seats available for only 5000 VIP guests at the Eko Hotels, Lagos.

‪The Beat FM Christmas Party—Top Nigerian radio station The Beat FM hosts a myriad of musicians at this years Christmas concert. Featuring performances from musicians such as Lil Baby, Kojo Fundz, Lotto Boys, Kizz Daniel, Mr. Eazi, Peruzzi, Teni The Entertainer and more. Federal palace is the place to be on December 19th for this once in a lifetime event.

Blackout Lagos—DJ Tunez hosts the popular New York party, Blackout in Lagos on the 20th of December at Hard Rock Cafe. Featuring artists such as Sarz, Wizkid, Reekado Banks and more.

‪Urban Music Fest—Nigeria's premiere music festival ‬brings in the best from the city of Lagos on to one stage. Join Wande Coal, Niniola, Tiwa Savage, DBanj and more at the Eko Atlantic. Tickets available for the 2st December to 23rd December event at: Naijaticketshop.com

Flytime Music Festival‬—Flytime Music Festival‬ kicks off on the 21st of December with the annual Rhythm Unplugged Concert featuring Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Davido and more. It is followed by a Bobby Brown and Bell Biv Devoe headlined concert on the 22nd of December, and climaxes with an Olamide Live event on the 23rd of December. Get tickets at flytimetv.com

Afrobeat Fest—Celebrate the best of Afrobeats at the Afrobeat Fest with Patoranking, Timaya, Runtown, Tekno, Mr Eazi, Femi and Seun Kuti, on the 22nd of December at the Eko Suites Hotel. Tickets available at naijaticketshop.com

Made in Lagos—Wizkid ‬headlines his second event this December in Lagos on the 23rd with the Made in Lagos concert. Performing artists include Tiwa Savage, Mr Eazi and more. Tickets available at naijaticketshop.com

Olamide Live in Concert—The Motigbana hit maker Olamide‬ headlines his own show at the Eko Atlantic Hotel on the 23rd of December with a host of other amazing performers.

‪Rare. Live—The Nigerian alternative sweetheart Odunsi‬ the Engine is set to thrill audience to music from his newly released album Rare. at the Hardrock Cafe. This event will take place on the 24th of December.

All Black Everything—Celebrating ten years of this phenomenal annual Christmas party on the 25th of December at the landmark event centre. Don't forget to come dressed in all black.

Island Block Party‬—The organizers of Mainland Block party bring the all day rave to the Island on Christmas eve. Buy tickets for the premiere event at mainlandblockparty.com

Eat Drink ‬Festival—As if all the Christmas meals are not enough, Sterling Bank fills up Lekki Coliseum with food vendors for the two day food festival. Join other foodies on the ‪26th and 27th of December at the Eat Drink Festival.

Burna Live—The king of vibes, Burna Boy‬, headlines his show Burna Live at the Eko Hotels on ‪26th of December. Performing his classics as well as songs from his 2018 album 'Outside', Burna Live promises to be unmissable.

Copacabana—Copacabana promises an endless summer with this sunny rave at Tickle Bay on the ‪26th of December.

Positive Vibes Only—If you love Champagne showers, the PVO party in Lagos on the 27th of December assures you of endless bubbly and of course, positive vibes.

Native Land—Music and Pop culture magazine Native Mag hosts their annual Native Land concert at the Muri Okunola Park on December 28th. ‬Last year's event hosted UK musician Skepta, Not3s, Mayorkun, and more. Excited to see this year's lineup.

‪Palm Wine Music Fest—The boys of Showdem Camp round up an amazing musical year with the alternative music festival of the year. Happening at the Muri Okunola Park on December 29th, Palm wine Fest looks like alternative music haven.

Mainland Block Party—The monthly mainland rave ends the year with a bang on the 31st of December with one last throwdown. Get tickets at mainlandblockparty.com

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Photo courtesy of Pearl Thusi

Quantico Actress Pearl Thusi Will Star in the First Original African Series by Netflix

It's the first of many original shows aimed at African audiences says the streaming giant

South African actress Pearl Thusi, best known as our beloved Black Pearl, will be starring in Netflix's first African series Queen Sono. This comes after the company's recent announcement that it wants to produce more Afrocentric content as it looks for emerging markets for international growth opportunities.

In an interview with South Africa's Independent Online Vice President of International Original Series for Netflix, Erik Barmack says, "We are excited to be working with Kagiso and Pearl, to bring the story of Queen Sono to life, and we expect it to be embraced by our South African users and global audiences alike."

Thusi made the announcement in a tweet this morning:

The star of ABC's Quantico will be starring alongside her Catching Feelings colleague, Kagiso Lediga, who created the series. The series will follow a badass female spy tackling challenging missions and her own personal life within a South African agency. Thusi took to Twitter to express her excitement about the series set to be released next year saying, "I'm so proud and grateful for everyone that made this happen. This was a dream of mine as a little girl. Let's make history."

In Photos: Pearl Thusi Speaking at OkayAfrica's Next 100 Summit

Thusi is a prominent South African actress who has starred in local productions such as Isidingo, Happiness is a Four-Letter Word and Catching Feelings. She is one of few South African actresses to make it internationally, having landed a role in the US-based series Quantico. Last year in an interview with OkayAfrica for our annual 100 Women honours, of which she was a recipient, Thusi shared one of her philosophy's about success:

"Show people results, and maybe show them preparation later, but don't ever share your dream before you've actually covered the seed and watered it."

Queen Sono is set to hit screens in 2019.

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The Best Ghanaian Songs of 2018

Here are the 23 best Ghanaian tracks of the year featuring La Même Gang, KiDi, Juls, Efya, Sarkodie, M.anifest, Kwesi Arthur, Kuami Eugene and many more.