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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.



Interview
Photo: Shawn Theodore via Schure Media Group/Roc Nation

Interview: Buju Banton Is a Lyrical Purveyor of African Truth

A candid conversation with the Jamaican icon about his new album, Upside Down 2020, his influence on afrobeats, and the new generation of dancehall.

Devout fans of reggae music have been longing for new musical offerings from Mark Anthony Myrie, widely-known as the iconic reggae superstar Buju Banton. A shining son of Jamaican soil, with humble beginnings as one of 15 siblings in the close-knit community of Salt Lane, Kingston, the 46-year-old musician is now a legend in his own right.

Buju Banton has 12 albums under his belt, one Grammy Award win for Best Reggae Album, numerous classic hits and a 30-year domination of the industry. His larger-than-life persona, however, is more than just the string of accolades that follow in the shadows of his career. It is his dutiful, authentic style of Caribbean storytelling that has captured the minds and hearts of those who have joined him on this long career ride.

The current socio-economic climate of uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrusted onto the world, coupled with the intensified fight against racism throughout the diaspora, have taken centre stage within the last few months. Indubitably, this makes Buju—and by extension, his new album—a timely and familiar voice of reason in a revolution that has called for creative evolution.

With his highly-anticipated album, Upside Down 2020, the stage is set for Gargamel. The title of this latest discography feels nothing short of serendipitous, and with tracks such as "Memories" featuring John Legend and the follow-up dancehall single "Blessed," it's clear that this latest body of work is a rare gem that speaks truth to vision and celebrates our polylithic African heritage in its rich fullness and complexities.

Having had an exclusive listen to some other tracks on the album back in April, our candid one-on-one conversation with Buju Banton journeys through his inspiration, collaboration and direction for Upside Down 2020, African cultural linkages and the next generational wave of dancehall and reggae.

This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.

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