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Mr Eazi's "I No Go Give Up On You"

The 11 Best Nigerian Songs of the Month (May)

Featuring Davido, Tekno, Little Simz, Mr Eazi, Wizkid and more.

Here are the best tracks that came out of the buzzing Nigerian scene in May.

Follow our NAIJA HITS playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.


DMW 'Mafa Mafa' feat. Davido, The Flowolf, Peruzzi & Dremo

Davido, Peruzzi, Dremo and The Flowolf dropped the track "Mafa Mafa" a few months back. The Nigerian artists have now released the accompanying visuals for the collaborative track which was produced by Davido's DMW record label. "Mafa Mafa" is the first official single of the year from DMW. The song sees the artists dropping rap verses back and forth in Yoruba with "Mafa" loosely translating to "Don't pull it." Produced by the talented Nakademus and directed by Director Q, the music video itself is a straightforward one that sees the artists doing their thing and having a ton of fun while they're at it.

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DRB Lasgidi 'Pioneers'

The trendsetting Nigerian collective DRB have released their highly-anticipated debut album, Pioneers. The 12-track album features a slew of notable guest features from Nigeria's youth culture-led alté scene, including Lady Donli, Tems, Odunsi (The Engine), Prettyboy DO, Santi and more, while the heavyweight Nigerian rapper Olamide appears on the track "Shomo." Consisting of members Boj, Fresh L and Teezee, the group named the album Pioneers, to reflect on their roles as "key figureheads within Lagos's rapidly expanding Alté scene." In the spirit of collaboration, the group also worked with young producers like Pheelz and GMK and enlisted the new wave Nigerian artist Edozie Anedu for the the album's standout artwork.

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Little Simz 'might bang, might not'

British-Nigerian rapper Little Simz shares her new EP, Drop 6, which she wrote and recorded within the last month of being on lockdown. The project sees the artist delivering witty, self-assured lyrics on tracks like "might bang, might not," "one life, might live" and retrospective lines on "you should call your mum." It features production from TDE's Kal Banx, OTG, Kadz and more, while singer Alewya features on the closing track "where's my lighter."

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Mr Eazi 'I No Go Give Up On You'

Mr Eazi is back with his latest track, 'I No Go Give Up On You," his latest song since the release of "Kpalanga" at the top of the year. The track, is a mid-tempo love song, with Eazi singing sweetly to his lover about his unwavering feelings for her. He released the track under his ever-growing emPawa initiative, with a humorous visualizer to accompany it. The song was produced by Blaq Jerzee.

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Gorillaz 'How Far?' ft. Tony Allen & Skepta

Gorillaz shared their latest song from their Song Machine series in the form of "How Far?"—a track that features the late afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen, who sadly passed away last week, as well as Skepta. "How Far?" is built on stuttering percussion, orchestral chords, and lead by Skepta's rhymes. In addition, Tony Allen's vocals come in around the 2-minute mark. "The track was written and recorded with Skepta in London just before lockdown and is being shared immediately as a tribute to the spirit of a great man, Tony Allen," a press release states.

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Yung L & Wizkid 'Eve Bounce' Remix

Wizkid joins Yung L on the vibrant new song "Eve Bounce (Remix)." The song is from Yung L's Juice and Zimm EP, taking its name from the fact that it samples Eve's 2002 hit "Let Me Blow Ya Mind.' The remix came about after a social media exchange between the the two Nigerian artists about making new music during quarantine. The afro-dancehall song is totally made for the summer, with its dance-worthy production and airy feel. It features a breezy second verse from Wizkid and a catchy hook that also interpolates Mario's "Let Me Love You."

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TEKNO "Sudden"

Heavyweight Nigerian artist Tekno returns with his latest track, "Sudden." The Spax-produced song relays a socially-conscious message that reflects current conditions in Nigeria that have been heightened due to the pandemic. "The song uses an upbeat tempo to shed light on the current socio-economic situation, corruption and poverty in Nigeria," reads a press release from the artist. "The singer and song writer talks about how 'all of a Sudden,' the prevalent situation has caused majority of Nigerians to plunge deeper into poverty and suffering, with nothing to eat."

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Kiienka "L.A. Girl"

Kiienka is a rising new rapper and producer coming out of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. He recently dropped his sophomore mixtape, Spaceman 2.0, a largely self-produced affair that sees him delivering quick-paced melodic lines and rhymas over a mix of trap and R&B beats. Get into standout track "L.A. Girl" above.

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Terri 'Ojoro'

Star Boy's Terri recently dropped the new EP, Afro Series, which features the addictive lead single "Ojoro." This one's got some big replay value, watch the track's music video above.

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Tomi Agape "London"

British-Nigerian Alté singer Tomi Agape recently dropped her latest single titled "London". The smooth and mellow track is the second track set to appear on her upcoming EP due for release later this month. "London" follows the release of "This Way" which dropped earlier this year in March. British-Ghanaian producer Juls works closely with Tomi Agape on "London" to create a feel-good and laidback jam. The measured use of percussive instrumentals adds to the easy feel of the track which pays homage to the British city that has greatly shaped the artist's experience of music.

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Morien 'Maria'

Morien, real name Christoper Chike Ajah, is a fast-rising Afro-pop artist from Enugu, Nigeria. Currently signed to Etins Record, Morien's latest self-titled EP is a stunning Afrobeats offering from a new-wave artist who's easily set to follow in the footsteps of music heavyweights such as Davido, Wizkid, Burna Boy and many others.

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Follow our NAIJA HITS playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.


Interview
Image: Courtesy TIFF

Jenna Cato Bass is Capturing the Horrors of an Unhealed Nation

The film marks the South African director's third debut and stride towards making a name for herself in the international film circuit.

Ever since premiering her debut film, Love the One You Love, which won the Best Feature Film at the Jozi Festival in 2015, Jenna Cato Bass has been a name to watch on the international film festival circuit. Her 2017 feature, High Fantasy, was the first of her films to land on the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) lineup, followed by Flatland in 2019. Her latest offering, Mlungu Wam (Good Madam), debuted at TIFF in September of 2021 — marking her third time at the esteemed Canadian film event.

Often provocative, always thought-provoking, Bass' films have come to establish her as a director who looks at South Africa's youth, the lives they're living and the future that awaits them, with a nuanced, open-minded lens. For the first time in her career, Bass uses the genre of horror to dig into an enduring mark of the country's past — that of the fraught, complex relationship between madam and domestic worker, in Mlungu Wam (Good Madam). Set in Cape Town, the film follows the unusual, disturbing things that start happening when a young woman moves back in with her estranged mother, who is the longtime caretaker for a rich, white household.

Bass also co-wrote the film Tug of War (Vuta N'Kuvute), which became Tanzania's first film to be selected for TIFF this year, and she co-wrote Rafiki, which was Kenya's first film at TIFF in 2018.

She spoke to OkayAfrica about playing in a new genre and her hopes for African cinema.

Still from Bass's film Mlungu Wam Image: Courtesy TIFF


This story revolves around the relationship between a domestic worker and her 'madam.' What made you want to make a film about this subject?

When I make films, I like the concept to revolve around something that we all have in common - because, despite the many fractures in our society, these shared places exist. And in South Africa, we felt that everyone - in some way or another - has been deeply affected by domestic work and domestic workers, who are a keystone in our society's structure. Additionally, the 'maid' and 'madam' relationship is the ultimate symbol of race relations in South Africa - as well as how they haven't changed significantly, despite almost thirty years of democracy. So a domestic worker was the perfect character around which to centre a South African horror.

The genre of horror works really well to explore this subject and tell this story — when did you know it would be the genre you'd want to use?

The early stages of developing a film aren't always linear for me. I'll be thinking about a genre I'm interested in, and then parallel to that I'll have an idea for a story or a character, and later on, will realize that these pieces all fit together. In this case, I'd been wanting to make a horror film for ages, but hadn't found the right story… until I had the idea for Mlungu Wam, and I realized I was finally ready to try this genre.

What challenges did you face in making a horror?

It was my first time working in this genre, and it was intimidating because there's no saving you if you fail. We were also working on a very, very limited budget, so it wasn't possible to show as much as we'd like to - but then again, this story was all about the subjective and the unseen, so I did as much research and planning as we could, and just had to trust it would work.

Where did you film, and did that have any impact on the process at all?

We filmed in a house in Cape Town, in a gated community in the Southern Suburbs. The house and the environment had a major impact on the film - especially because we were also quarantining there for the full 7 weeks of rehearsal and shooting. The house was our set and our accommodation, so it was very intense, very claustrophobic, and very triggering for many of our team members.

How did you and co-writer Babalwa Baartman work on the story? You've included cast members in the writing process in your previous work — did you do that here too?

Mlungu Wam was made along similar lines to my first two films, Love The One You Love and High Fantasy, where we started with an outline, cast actors, then workshopped the characters collaboratively before completing the story breakdown and using improv for the dialogue. Babalwa and I had worked together using this method on a short film we made in 2019 called Sizohlala. She really understands the process, and it was a really rewarding experience exploring the story with her and our cast.

How did Kristina Ceyton, who produced the excellent acclaimed horrors The Babadook and The Nightingale, through Causeway Films, come to be involved in this film?

I had met Sam Jennings, who is also a producer with Causeway Films, several years ago at a festival. We really connected and kept in touch over the years, sharing our work, and hoping there'd be a chance to collaborate. So when we were developing Mlungu Wam, I pitched her and Kristina the concept and they were immediately supportive. It has been a massive pleasure working with them both.

Your films are known to venture into themes of identity and healing from the past — how does this film speak to that?

Mlungu Wam is definitely about this too - it's a story about three generations of women (actually four, if you include Tsidi's grandmother, who is an unseen character in the film), how they are haunted by the past and eventually refuse to remain chained any longer. Their healing is collective, linked to each other, and wouldn't be possible for them alone as individuals.

Still from Bass's film Mlungu Wam Image: Courtesy TIFF


You've been at TIFF before - how has your experience of it been this year, with it being a hybrid of virtual and in-person?

Things have been quieter and a bit harder to navigate, but the TIFF staff have done incredible work getting the festival off the ground, despite endless challenges. It has felt very surreal to be here, and a privilege - and inspiring too, that we can still get together to celebrate films, even though our world is in such a mess. We had over 200 (socially distanced) people at our last screening, and that was an amazing feeling.

Yours is one of few African films on this year's line-up - is there anything you'd like to see happen to try improve that?

Regarding African cinema, TIFF has a real range of films this year, across several sections. Compared to many other festivals, they seem really invested in supporting cinema from the continent. Of course, this could be better, but it's also an example to other festivals who claim there aren't enough African films, that this is clearly not the case.

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Tanzanian Filmmaker Amil Shivji is Making History with a Story of Love and Resistance

As the first Tanzanian film to be chosen for TIFF, Shiviji's film is sure to get the African country a seat at the table.