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AFRICA IN YOUR EARBUDS #74: MsAfropolitan

Minna Salami, founder of MsAfropolitan, selects an all-female mixtape for a 'feminist' episode of Africa In Your Earbuds, mixed by DJ Cortega.

For the latest installment of Africa In Your Earbuds, we asked writer Minna Salami, founder of the MsAfropolitan blog, to pick out some all-female song selections for a 'feminist' episode of our mixtape series.


Check out Minna’s mixtape, which was expertly put together by DJ Cortega, below and read about the Yoruba inspiration behind her feminist mixtape. 

Here you are heard

There is an ancient Yoruba legend about Aje, a mysterious cult of women who were bestowed with supernatural gifts which they passed from mother to daughter or sold to women who wished to be initiated. The legend tells that they used their powers to both heal pain and destroy evil.

Fela Kuti once said that all women are Aje in the spirit world. “My mother is Aje, and so are all our sisters and wives,” he mused. With the introduction of the English language, Aje was translated into “witches” emphasising our fear of women who are not bound by conventions of obedience.

It was therefore the essence of Aje that I conjured when curating the Feminist Africa in Your Earbuds playlist. Aje are a representation of protofeminist Africa and I wanted to imagine what the song of Aje might sound like in the twenty-first century? What contemporary music reflects the triad—woman, spiritual power and Africa?

So the playlist is feminist in its mood rather than in its content. Which is not to say that its content is not ideologically aligned or that the artists included aren’t feminist. It’s just not the focus. Rather the focus is to sonically explore emotions that are superglued into the female consciousness.

In my head, feminist Africa sounds like this: sultry, transformative, ethereal, revolutionary, unshackled, wild, spiritual, healing and wise. But like feminism itself, it is a contradictory sound. It is vulnerable and loving, but also frustrated and rebellious.

There is jazz to evoke sultry sensuality, there are synthetic beats whose loopy drums evoke rituals of fertility, there’s the explosive expression of desert blues as well as nurturing soulful tones, there's the community spirit of hiphop. There's beats too, as in afrobeats, and alternative R&B so go ahead an play it in the midnight hours. I imagine the modern-day Aje dancing by the flames to this melange of harmonious sounds.

Throughout, there is a call to connect with your feminine energy. Even if you are male. Create space for sublime beauty in your life. Be aware of all your senses - taste, touch, sound, smell and sight. Don’t forget the sixth sense too. Connect with nature. Dance. Wail. Ground yourself. Let go of yourself. Be free…

Cover artwork by DJ Underdog. Photo by àsìkò

Track List

Simphiwe Dana – Zandisile – South Africa

Kelela – All The Way Down – Ethiopia/US

Tanya Stephens – It’s A Pity (eTas remix) – Jamaica

Jojo Abot – Lom Vava – Ghana

Thandiswa Mazwai – Ingoma – South Africa

Ayo Awosika – City By The Sea – Nigeria/US

Ibeyi – Oya – Cuba

Shishani – Clean Country (Produced by G-Do) Namibia

Somi – Ginger Me Slowly - US/Uganda/Rwanda

Nneka – Still I Rise – Nigeria

Jhene Aiko – The Worst – US

Angelique Kidjo – Bahia – Benin

Fatoumata Diawara – Musso – Mali

Chiwoniso – Rebel Woman – Zimbabwe

Falana – Start Again – Nigeria

Yemi Alade – Na Gode – Nigeria

Seinabo Sey – Younger (Kygo Remix) – Gambia/Sweden

Mayra Andrade – Storia, Storia – Cape Verde

Jah9 – Avocado – Jamaica

Miriam Makeba Homeboyz Muzik edit – Zulu Song – South Africa

FKA Twigs – Mothercreep – UK

Bumi Thomas – Walk with me – Nigeria/UK

Noura Mint Seymali – Tzenni – Mauritania

Speech Debelle – The Work featuring Miss Baby Sol – UK/Jamaica/Zaire

Interview

Adekunle Gold Is Living His Best Life

We speak to the Nigerian star about how marriage and fatherhood have led him to find both newfound happiness and newfound freedom as an artist.

''I'm having the time of my life,'' says Adekunle Gold over a Zoom call while seated in his office in Lagos. ''I'm making songs that are so true to my current energy, my current vibe.'' When I got on the call with the 34-year-old artist on a Wednesday afternoon, the first thing I noticed was his hair tied up in little braids, the second was his wide smile. As we speak, the crooner laughs multiple times but it's his aura that shines through the computer screen, it lets you know better than his words that he's truly having the time of life.

Born Adekunle Kosoko, the popular Nigerian singer got married barely two years ago to fellow artist Simi. Last year, the power couple welcomed their first child. As we talk, Gold points to his journey as a father and a husband as some of the biggest inspirations at the moment not just as far as music goes but as his perspective in life and how he now approaches things.

''My [artistry] has changed a lot because being a father and being a husband has made me grow a lot and more.'' Adekunle Gold tells OkayAfrica. ''It has made me understand life a lot more too. I'm feeling more responsible for people. You know, now I have a kid to raise and I have a wife to support, to be a real man and husband and father for.'' He credits this journey with both his newfound happiness and a newfound freedom as an artist.

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