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Stream Njaaya's 'Social Living'


Since her debut as a solo artist, Njaaya has been on the grind steadily turning heads with her sultry afro-acoustic bounce and re-applications of the blues. A veteran of PBS-Radikal—a later manifestation of Positive Black Soul—who went on to co-found Alif, the first female hip-hop group in Senegal, Njaaya is making moves again. In her latest manifestation, she pushes a style that maintains the emcee swagger of her hip-hop days while revealing a voice that seems fortified in a soul context with added space to swell. Lyrically, she deals in large denominations, reflective texts that cut deeper into the Wolof language than the average mbalax pop song and manage to emote toughness without relying on tired English buzz words or Wolof catch phrases of the moment. Think Angelique Kidjo meets Lauryn Hill in Medina, Dakar.

Njaaya’s style is not without its own risk in Senegal, where she represents a radically different femininity than mainstream artists—save perhaps Coumba Gawlo—and she’s met her share of difficulty garnering attention for her music. Building off of a hip-hop career, Njaaya often gets up only briefly at street stages that push line-ups designed as a quick fix for the public’s demand to get down. No doubt she knows how to move a crowd and hold her own in these scenarios, but she can truly devastate in the rogue-lit lounges that support her new acoustic configuration and emit an elegant stage presence. On a good night in these more intimate venues her voice summons its greatest strength. Rising like massing water, gently stirring the room into a blur.

After enamoring a delegation of Spanish music promoters in Dakar this spring, Njaaya found herself in Spain months later, on what is likely the first of many tours as a solo artist. Gaining new momentum and keeping pace with a regular performance schedule in Dakar throughout the fall, the single, "Social Living," remains the lone teaser for her forthcoming album of the same name.

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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