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D'banj and Kanye West in "Oliver Twist" video.

The 10 Best American Remixes of Nigerian Songs

Featuring Ayo Jay, D'banj, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, and more

Time was when the mere rumor of an American artist guesting on a Nigerian song was enough to fuel its anticipation. In this new afropop era (circa Tuface Idibia), these international collaborations have become common place, but not enough to make them pass without some fanfare.

A good number of these collaborations are remixes of proven hits, variously attempted by American artists in their prime and those in need of a career boost. Some have being genuine cultural exchanges, while others wear the tear of desperation. Here are 10 of the best of the American remixes of Nigerian songs.


Tiwa Savage "Get It Now (Remix)" feat. Omarion [2018]

Aided by fairly good writing, Omarion gives a very engaged vocal performance on this remix off Tiwa Savage's triumphant Sugarcane EP. Long a connoisseur of bedroom R&B, his carnal straining combined with Savage's honeyed and nasal voice adds new life, which in no way diminishes the original.

Frank Ocean "Only You (Steve Monite Cover)" [2017]

One of the finest music minds of his generation, Frank Ocean's cover of Steve Monite's 1984 original was one of the most delightful surprises of 2017. Monite's songs is a vividly drawn tale of burning sexual desire over funk and disco grooves that combined synths, laser sounds, bass and electric guitars. Lyrically, the track is most obviously modified by Ocean's change of pronouns"she was loving me 69 times in my home" becomes "he was loving me 69 times in my home." Hopefully there's a recorded studio version included in his next album which many, not least this listener, eagerly await.

Korede Bello x Kelly Rowland "Do Like That (Remix)" [2017]

The prince of Nigerian pop and American R&B royalty on the same song was always going to be a good thing. Read our full review of the song here

Wizkid "Ojuelegba" feat.Drake & Skepta [2015]

Full marks still go to Drake for his astute rendering of Wizkid's ready-hit off his sophomore album Ayo, which provided the most efficient orientation of both artist's song-making genius into their sister markets. It was the best business favour either party had any right to imagine for themselves.

Seyi Sodimu "Love Me Jeje" feat. K Michelle [2016]

The 1997 original is still much loved and any updating risks spoiling a cherished memory— but thankfully that doesn't happen here. Fine singing from K Michelle makes for a respectable take, while producer Shizzi replaces the slow bounce of juju with highlife guitar and EDM pretensions, while maintaining the integrity of the first.

D'banj "Mr Endowed" feat. Snoop Dogg [2011]

Uncle Snoop brings the full charm of his nimble flow to Don Jazzy's afropop-EDM mashup beat for D'banj at his most brazen in "Mr Endowed." The original is less cluttered than the remix, but the bombast feels appropriate for the large personalities of the individual artists involved.

D'banj "Scape Goat (The Fix)" feat. Kanye West [2013]

As committed a Kanye West guest verse as it gets (double, in this case), the remix posits the possible great music West and D'Banj could have made but, in the end, perhaps was not meant to be.

P-Square "Beautiful Onyinye" feat. Rick Ross [2011]

Thankfully, Rick Ross does not attempt insincere afropop overtures like rapping in pidgin or some other Nigerian language, but chooses to name check his hosts and offer a knotted lyric—"all your energy can feed cancer"—to his love interest, whose meaning is (still) not clear. Something for future Rick Ross scholars to deliberate on.

Ayo Jay "Your Number" Remixes feat. Fetty Wap, Chris Brown & Kid Ink [2016]

Both remix versions of "Your Number," one with Fetty Wap and the other Chris Brown & Kid Ink, gave Ayo Jay's song American radio credibility. The latter pairing of Brown and Ink did a better job of creating the more memorable melodies to fit the polite proposition of Jay's original.

Michelle Williams "Say Yes" feat. Beyoncé & Kelly Rowland [2014]

The hard rattle of a dembow adds real bite to this crowd pleaser of a worship song, which in Nigerian churches benefits as much from zest as from vocal prowess. Having all three members of Destiny's Child on it elevates the importance of an already lofty listening experience.



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Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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