Audio

Exclusive: LV ft. Okmalumkookat 'Push It' + Interview


London production trio LV have been dropping a steady stream of SA-tinged, multi-layered gems on a number of UK underground labels, most notably electronic elite house Hyperdub. The producers are currently prepping the release of their sophomore full-length Sebenza, which promises to be a South African affair with plenty features from frequent collaborator Okmalumkoolkat (of Dirty Paraffin) as well as appearances by Spoek Mathambo and Ruffest. Stream the exclusive, unreleased track "Push It ft. Okmalumkoolkat" and read our interview with LV below. Sebenza LP is out September 4 via Hyperdub.

Tell us about your upcoming record Sebenza, you got a bunch of South African features on it.

Yes we do. Though it's not like we went out to find South African features or anything, this album is a result of ongoing collaborations with Spoek Mathambo, Okmalumkoolkat and Ruffest. It started with [group member] Gervase's trips back to South Africa where he met Spoek and Okmalumkoolkat and we've been making tunes with them since. The Ruffest guys came a bit little later after he met them at a gig in Cape Town on a later trip. It came to a point where we felt we had a collection of tunes that worked well together and Kode9 helped us to get them into shape and form the album. Then Manuel Zambrano made some amazing artwork to go with it and that's the album, Sebenza.

Why do you think your beats pair so well with SA rhyming? What are some of your influences when crafting them?

We've always liked making music with vocals, and obviously you try to make what you do compliment the vocalist, but it's not an exact science. Smiso, Spoek and the Ruffest guys all have their own distinctive ways and we love what they do, so there was definitely a desire to make them a focus of the music. We all have quite different tastes and influences but then obviously we crossover on some things too. Some of the SA music we heard over this album-making period definitely formed a part of those influences, but then there were also indirect links to other music. Spoek pretty-much tuned us into juke ages ago and Smiso is into all this mad Durban and Joburg music but he's also big on US rap and other stuff.

What's the scene like for modern SA tunes like this in London?

That probably depends on what kind of SA tunes you mean. But there isn't a particular SA scene, as far as we can tell. Lots of people are taking inspiration from SA music in different ways.

Tell us about this unreleased track we're premiering "Push It."

"Push It" is Okmalumkoolkat on a fierce one... Zulu, Compurar, Tony Montana, Future, Mfana vibes.

Any other African acts you plan or would like to work with in the future?

There's already more music with the vocalists from the album, including a track that we did with Das Kapital who is a producer from Cape Town. And there's a song we did with Spoek and Zaki Ibrahim, more news on that soon. There's also a new track with Spoek and Afrikan Boy that we did when they were both in London for the African Express festival.

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LV ft. Okmalumkookat "Spitting Cobra"

We got a bunch of "Louis Vuitton" google results when searching your name. What's the story behind the name LV?

We thought Louis Vuitton could use a few more hits.

Interview
Photo: Jolaoso Adebayo.

Crayon Is Nigeria's Prince of Bright Pop Melodies

Since emerging on the scene over two years ago, Crayon has carved a unique path with his catchy songs.

During the 2010s, the young musician Charles Chibuezechukwu made several failed attempts to get into a Nigerian university. On the day of his fifth attempt, while waiting for the exam's commencement, he thought of what he really wanted out of life. To the surprise of the thousands present, he stood up and left the centre, having chosen music. "Nobody knew I didn't write the exam," Charles, who's now known to afro pop lovers as Crayon, tells OkayAfrica over a Zoom call from a Lagos studio. "I had to lie to my parents that I wrote it and didn't pass. But before then, I had already met Don Jazzy and Baby Fresh [my label superiors], so I knew I was headed somewhere."

His assessment is spot on. Over the past two years Crayon's high-powered records have earned him a unique space within Nigeria's pop market. On his 2019 debut EP, the cheekily-titled Cray Cray, the musician shines over cohesive, bright production where he revels in finding pockets of joy in seemingly everyday material. His breakout record "So Fine" is built around the adorable promises of a lover to his woman. It's a fairly trite theme, but the 21-year-old musician's endearing voice strikes the beat in perfect form, and when the hook "call my number, I go respond, oh eh" rolls in, the mastery of space and time is at a level usually attributed to the icons of Afropop: Wizkid, P-Square, Wande Coal.

"My dad used to sell CDs back in the day, in Victoria Island [in Lagos]," reveals Crayon. "I had access to a lot of music: afrobeat, hip-hop, Westlife, 2Face Idibia, Wizkid, and many others." Crayon also learnt stage craft from his father's side hustle as an MC, who was always "so bold and confident," even in the midst of so much activity. His mother, then a fruit seller, loved Igbo gospel songs; few mornings passed when loud, worship songs weren't blasting from their home. All of these, Crayon says, "are a mix of different sounds and different cultures that shaped my artistry."

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