Kranium. Image courtesy of the artist.

Kranium: 'Caribbean Music and Dancehall Have Everlasting Power'

We talk to the buzzing Jamaican singer about his upcoming album, collaborating with Wizkid, and the challenges of being a dancehall artist crossing into the mainstream.

Kranium has been making deep waves in the across the world.

The 28-year-old Jamaican has been churning out hits like "Nobody Has to Know," "Can't Believe," and his most recent single "Last Night," which have earned him over 200 million streams worldwide.

Kranium's clever lyrical composition, melodic satin voice and island swagger have made him one of the imminent leaders of new dancehall. He's also shown his live curation and versatility skills, which were accentuated during his recent win at the 2018 Red Bull Culture Clash, in which he competed against crews led by the likes of Zaytoven and Kenny Beats.

The buzzing artist is now prepping his highly-anticipated new album, which will be released this fall. Okayafrica sat down to chat with Kranium to dive into the new record and the keys to his success.

I heard that you got signed through Twitter. How did that go down?

When I was discovered it was just a continuation of my dreams. My dream was always to push dancehall music and be recognized for that. I woke up one morning to discover an offer on my Twitter and that changed the course of my path.

How does being signed to a major label like Atlantic Records compare to when you were producing music on your own?

Working as an independent is all good and everything. However, dancehall music is hard to get on mainstream outlets, it's not a priority with outlets, radio stations, promoters etc.It's often seen as a trend and capitalized on by mainstream acts. I know being signed doesn't change too much, but (dancehall artists) need someone to represent them to industry gatekeepers. [We] need an extra hand among the mainstream audiences.

I've been listening to your latest single "Last Night." Can you tell me more about it?

Markus Myrie, Buju Banton's son, produced it. I've worked with him on a few productions. It's a calm song with an undeniable groove. The beat was just too perfect, I heard the beat and instantly freestyled over it. I went to the studio after a night out and just put my thoughts down on paper. I predominantly like to sing only about things and times I've experienced. Sometimes that can be a very wild night that gave me a lot of energy. That's why "Last Night" is one of my favorites, it's just very real to my lifestyle.

You released a big song with Wizkid and Ty Dolla Sign ("Can't Believe") last year. What do you think of the many connections between afrobeats and dancehall going on these days?

I feel like there's a whole lot of differed sounds. It used to be the same sound over and over. But with Wizkid, he knows how to work his own unique sound and perspective into every mix. Music is all about melody, you don't have to understand it to feel it. I've worked with Wizkid before on the song "Boom"" with Major Lazer. When I heard the song produced by Major Lazer in Jamaica I immediately jumped on man, recorded the same day!

The world is so connected and it gives the music world more and more opportunities to connect cross-culturally. The Caribbean community is huge in the East Coast so when a record comes on the radio, it gets a lot of love. That's the power of Carribbean music and the power of dancehall. It's everlasting power.

Are you influenced by new African artists like Wizkid? What about older legends like Fela Kuti?

I wouldn't say I'm influenced [by them]. When the right time comes for me to make music and I hear a beat, that is what inspires me to make create. I'm more a sound guy than an artist guy. When it happens, it happens. As far as sound, I'm more into smooth, not uptempo, simplified tunes. I don't really listen to anyone else when I work on my project. When it's album time, I have to wrap my mind and focus.

How do you incorporate your Jamaican roots into your new music?

It's incorporated into every part of my life. I am born Jamaican, influenced by Jamaica. I love every part of it, it's made me who I am. Culture is the most important thing in the world. It's what makes you stand out. When I walk into a room, I walk in automatically representing my culture. My roots is what I represent.

You've done several collaborations with Ty Dolla Sign, how did that relationship come about?

When I signed to Atlantic, I worked with a few artists but I was amazed by Ty Dolla Sign. He's just incredibly musical, hardworking and talented. When I met him I felt like I'd known him for years as an old friend.. He caught on to the melody to every song and we were able to riff easily.

I heard you're going to be dropping new tunes throughout the rest of this year. What can we expect from your upcoming music?

I'm dropping my album in October and just expect it to be very creative and unique. When I make music, I'm the type of artists to have all my close friends and associates listen to it critically. If everyone is confident about it, then that makes me even more excited to share it. I know the people are going to love it and I'm very excited for the reviews.

What's been your biggest challenge so far?

Getting dancehall through the waves. Getting the promoters and the venues to care about Dancehall as a whole and not just a trend.

I noticed you used Instagram to thank your supporters for achieving over 200 million streams across streaming platforms for hit singles. How have your supporters fueled your growth?

My supporters are everything to me. Before there was the labels and the industry, there were my fans. Without their support, I would have no impact and m progress won't be as significant as it is to me. Fans are everything. Whenever I have the opportunity to thank them, it's a pleasure to do so.

How would you like to be remembered?

I want to be remembered as a guy who had the courage to live loud and proud. If you want anything in life, you're supposed to set it and go after it! I want to be remembered as the guy who chased his dreams and made them happen. I want to be remembered for being great.

Nudes cover artwork.

You Need to Listen to Moonchild Sanelly's New EP, 'Nüdes'

The buzzing South African singer breaks down her provocative & empowering new 4-song EP.

South Africa's Moonchild Sanelly returns with the Nüdes EP.

The highly-buzzing SA artist's latest project sees her expanding on her own brand of 'electro-pop-ghetto-funk' as she runs through four standout tracks that revolve around her outspoken stance on female sexual empowerment and more.

Nüdes features two previously heard hits from Moonchild Sanelly—the anti-fuck boy synth anthem "F-Boyz" and gqom-laced banger "Weh Mameh." It also includes two previously unreleased tracks in "Come Correct" and "Boys & Girls."

This year saw Moonchild Sanelly break charts and dance floors in South Africa and across the globe with her own sounds, as well as her big collaborations with Damon Albarn for Africa Express and Beyoncé's Lion King: The Gift album.

We talked to Moonchild below about the new EP, during which she broke down all of the songs and even told us how she ended up on the Beyoncé album.

Read our conversation below.

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GLORIA. Photo/FX: Rebecca Eskilsson.

Meet GLORIA, the Newcomer UK Artist Creating Future Black Music

The London-based artist blends future R&B, vogue house and the avant-garde with commentary on the dystopia of modern life.

Born and bred in the North West England, with roots in both Nigeria and Jamaica, GLORIA is a figure who personifies the diaspora experience.

The newcomer artist, who is part of GAIKA's The Spectacular Empire collective, is championing forward-thinking black art and music out of her base in London. GLORIA's output presents an arresting visual aesthetic that provides earnest social commentary on the dystopia of modern life through a blend of future R&B, vogue house and the avant-garde.

We spoke to GLORIA about the recent release of her 5-song Testify EP, her new remix from Ase Manual, Afrofuturism as a mindset, and much more. Read our interview below.

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14 Cultural Events You Can't Miss this December in South Africa

OkayAfrica's guide to must-see events during South Africa's festive season.

South Africans will tell you that December is not just a month, it's an entire lifestyle. From beginning to end, it's about being immersed in a ton of activity with friends and family as well as any new folk you meet along the way. Whether you're looking to turn up to some good music or watch some provocative theater, our guide to just 14 cultural events happening in South Africa this December, has something for everyone.

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Photo by Lana Haroun

From #FeesMustFall to #BlueforSudan: OkayAfrica's Guide to a Decade of African Hashtag Activism

The 2010s saw protest movements across the continent embrace social media in their quest to make change.

The Internet and its persistent, attention-seeking child, Social Media has changed the way we live, think and interact on a daily basis. But as this decade comes to a close, we want to highlight the ways in which people have merged digital technology, social media and ingenuity to fight for change using one of the world's newest and most potent devices—the hashtag.

What used to simply be the "pound sign," the beginning of a tic-tac-toe game or what you'd have to enter when interacting with an automated telephone service, the hashtag has become a vital aspect of the digital sphere operating with both form and function. What began in 2007 as a metadata tag used to categorize and group content on social media, the term 'hashtag' has now grown to refer to memes (#GeraraHere), movements (#AmINext), events (#InsertFriendsWeddingHere) and is often used in everyday conversation ("That situation was hashtag awkward").

The power of the hashtag in the mobility of people and ideas truly came to light during the #ArabSpring, which began one year into the new decade. As Tunisia kicked off a revolution against oppressive regimes that spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook played a crucial role in the development and progress of the movements. The hashtag, however, helped for activists, journalists and supporters of causes. It not only helped to source information quickly, but it also acted as a way to create a motto, a war cry, that could spread farther and faster than protestors own voices and faster than a broadcasted news cycle. As The Guardian wrote in 2016, "At times during 2011, the term Arab Spring became interchangeable with 'Twitter uprising' or 'Facebook revolution,' as global media tried to make sense of what was going on."

From there, the hashtag grew to be omnipresent in modern society. It has given us global news, as well as strong comedic relief and continues to play a crucial role in our lives. As the decade comes to a close, here are some of the most impactful hashtags from Africans and for Africans that used the medium well.

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