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Tobi Nwigwe "Ewu."

The 15 Best Nigerian Songs of the Month

Featuring Wizkid x Afro B, Simi, Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, Davido x Popcaan and more.

This month in Nigerian Afropop has been full projects: Rumination EP by Masterkraft, 229 Friday Vol 1 by Omaggz299, Osinachi by Humblesmith and Codename by Dremo.

There's also been a lot of socially-conscious songs released: "Cold" by TY Bello, "Child of the World" by Falz and "What Happened To The Love" by Emma Nyra—as well as a comeback single by Daddy Showkey titled "Position," once the biggest artist in the country and chief exponent of galala.

Read on for our selection of the best Nigerian songs pop songs for the month of July 2018.


Afro B & Wizkid "Drogba (Joanna)"

As if to court more fans from Francophone Africa, Wizkid brings his inimitable star quality to two big songs of the summer in Afro B's remix of "Drogba (Joanna)" and MHD's "Bella". The former is British-Ivorian and a leader in London's afrobeat movement while MHD, a wonderboy of French pop, is of Guinean and Senegalese descent.

Diles Ailes - "Enough"

Dice Ailes simmers from the big brag of "Otedola" and claims of wealth and refinement to a charming humility on "Enough," telling a love interest "I don't if it's enough for you / don't got money i got love for you / don't know if my love is enough for you." Sweetly sung in melodies that will stick in one's head after one listen.

Popcaan x Davido "Dun Rich"

Taken from Popcaan's new album, Forever, "Dun Rich" alongside Davido is posed to be a hit on account of each artist's stature in their home countries, where dancehall and afrobeats has taken root. Both combine well over the uncluttered dancehall beat exposing the strength in their singing voices as they court love interests with boasts and some charm.

Simi on "Hey Mama" & "Stainless"

Two excellent features by Simi are duets with male rappers who also sing, both of whom do a decent job against the delicate beauty in her voice. Dremo is quick to admit to being a "rapper wey dey sing song" on "Hey Mama" which has a Caribbean inflection synonymous with London's "afro-swing" movement, while "Stainless" is a soothing highlife affair.


Tiwa Savage on "Do Like This" and "Attracta"

Tiwa Savage's highlife credentials deserve more praise. "Eminado" was a highpoint exemplified in this month's pair of releases: "Do Like This" with producer turned artist Mystro and "Attracta" by Humblesmith off his new Osinachi album. The former has a more recent forbearer in "Soco" by Wizkid, borrowing its tight clutter of percussion, while the latter harks back to earlier forms of highlife defined by a call-and-response chorus and accented by restless horns.


Andre Wolff & Wavy The Creator & Ayuu - "PIAC"

Woozy trap and dembow percussion meld unobtrusively, leavened by a near-ceaseless, melancholic piano on "PIAC" by Andre Wolff with good help from Ayuu and Wavythecreator—two key figures in Nigeria's new wave movement.


Runtown & Fekky - "Unleash"

Producer Del B's patient, sun-dappled piano and agreeable staccato percussion convey the easygoing life pursued by both Fekky, a British-Nigerian rapper, and Runtown who complains of having "too many women in my life / i don't know what they really want from me / don't know if they love me or my money." The age-old dilemma of the successful and the company they keep.

Tobe Nwigwe & Tim Woods - "Ewu"

Nigerian-American rapper Tobi Nwigwe is impressively prodigious, dropping songs or "freestyles" every month complete with artfull- staged videos that feature tasteful choreography and costumes. For July, he's released "Ten Toes", "Tabernacle" and "Ewu", the last of which draws heavily from his Igbo heritage and his dealings with growing fame and attention from women "well I pray for them, they prey on me / we just all play a little different."


Fanzy Papaya & Yemi Alade - "Love Me"

New comer Fanzy Papaya gives a commanding vocal performance on "Love Me" holding his own against the well season Yemi Alade, herself a towering proponent of pop-highlife in Nigeria. Roving electric guitar pickings brings bags of melodies to a heavy percussion, the work of DJ Coublon, himself a champion live recorded instrumentation. Most impressive is Papaya's agile singing that may draw resemblances to Flavour but is no less impressive in its own right.


Reekado Banks & Duncan Mighty - "Bio Bio"

Duncan Mighty—the six-man of Nigerian pop music in 2018—continues his resurgence guesting on "Bio Bio" by Reekado Banks. The song's lead lyric and melody "Bio Bio" is a big borrow from "Eddie Quansa" by Peacocks International Guitar Band, better known as the theme song for New Masquerade, the indelible 1980s and '90s Nigerian sitcom.


Tomi Thomas - "Shaken"

Soothing and mild mannered grooves are the perfect ambient for the sweet falsetto in the hook for "Shaken" by Tomi Thomas, a refrain that induces longing, loss and lust but is also focused on trepidation for a lover "I pray that I may not be shaken , though my heart is breaking, shaking for your sake."


Timaya - "To U"

A thanksgiving song that will fit snugly in a club playlist (or is it vice versa?), "To U" is a victory lap of Timaya's music career. The video features his album covers, clips of himself and his kids playing in a living room, as well as a childhood clip of a young and pre-fame Timaya impressively singing to a camera. His musical gifts and success are matched with a continuing vitality that has put his days as a plantain hawker in the distant past.


ClassiQ "Gargajiya"


ClassiQ has imposed a pop song structure on the sprawling nature of Hausa folk music in the most impressive fashion. He gives his voice a stank befitting a seasoned griot, singing and rapping with great flair and many a side-flex "da mun taka, ba TP / yanzu mu chicks ke daurawa akan DP" (roughly translating to "we used to trek, cos we didn't have TP [slang for 'transport fair'] / now we're the one girl's put on their DP). The use of molo (xalam) and kalangu (hand held drums), the praising of friends and luminaries called kiraari, brings into modern Nigerian pop a musical tradition that is as ancient as it is widespread in west and central Africa.

Wurld - "Contagious"

Produced by Shizzi, the sturdy frame of propulsive, polyrhythmic percussion is egged on by horns and WurlD's affecting plea "Is this love? Or am I just a game you play? / are we sinners just the same?", even when his broader concern is for a type of utopia, "happy people live your life, you're contagious." A second, even more restless electric guitar, introduced in the last quarter, ramps up the crescendo to a satisfying finish. The tastefully-shot video is as rooted in Yoruba dance and spirituality, as the lyrics are earnest in seeking universal love. "Contagious" not only recalls the afrobeat-fusion of "Show You Off" (2016), but harks back to an earlier form if compared to Femi Kuti's "Bang Bang Bang" and its use of the electric guitar.


2Baba & Perruzi - "Amaka"


Sung with enough conviction as to seem gut-wrenching, 2Baba rues a broken relationship with the titular "Amaka" produced by Speroachbeats (who made "Assurance" for Davido) with ample support from newcomer Perruzi.

Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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