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Nonso Amadi. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Nonso Amadi Is Making His Unique Blend of Afro-Fusion

We speak with the Toronto-based Nigerian artist about his new self-produced EP, Free, which includes features from Mr Eazi and Simi.

Nonso Amadi is a Toronto-based musician cooking up his own blend of afro-fusion by mixing influences from his Nigerian background with elements of RnB, soul, pop and much more.

His releases and production over recent years have made Nonso one of the standout acts from a new wave of young Nigerian artists experimenting and pushing boundaries on both sides of the Atlantic.

The 23-year-old artist just dropped his latest release, Free, a 6-song EP which features appearances from Mr Eazi on lead single "Go Outside" and Simi, who provides vocals on "Better." The EP was entirely produced by Nonso himself, with a little help from British-Ghanaian producer Juls and AoD.

We spoke with Nonso Amadi during a visit to NYC about his genre-bending EP below.


Nonso Amadi - Go Outside ft. Mr Eazi (Official Video) youtu.be

Where does the title of the Free EP come from?

So it started with me having this experience where I felt like, being in a relationship, there's times where you might feel like you need a little bit of space. Maybe your partner is always around or something. And I felt like, "Okay, let me do a tape where it revolves around the other side of love where it's a little too much for you. I need a breather sometimes." But then once I began creating the tape, the expression free started to broaden into being free to create different genres and being just free from boundaries because there are things I was involving in the songs that weren't my typical sound.

Has your sound changed in these songs?

Yeah, definitely. It's still afro-fusion, because afro-fusion is a really broad term. But it's elements of the fusion that I've never experimented with before that are interesting.

What elements are you adding?

[It's] more African. Because my fusion was leaning a bit more towards the Western sound—R&B, soul, and a little bit of percussion here and there to make it African. But now, it's like the terms I'm singing with, the instrumental itself, the chords and progressions are more African now.

Nonso Amadi. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Your parents are Nigerian and you currently live in Toronto. Tell me about your background.

So I lived in Nigeria for about 15 years and then I moved to the U.K. for my undergrad and then I moved to Toronto for my Master's. I did my undergrad in chemical engineering, my Bachelor's. And then my Master's in engineering design. So, I'm an engineer.

Tell me about some of these features on the Free EP. You have Mr Eazi and Simi on it.

With Simi, it was really organic. I really wanted Simi on the tape and I didn't know how to approach her because we've never spoken, we're not following each other. I didn't know any mutual friends, nothing. And one day I was in London, I was in one of the biggest malls in London and I just bumped into Simi. I thought that was so weird. I just bumped into Simi in a store, like randomly, and I was like, "Hey, what's good?" And she knew me, thank God she knew my face. And she was like, "Hey, so come by. Let's chat, whatever." And I played her my tape, what I was working on, and she said... first of all, she said she wanted to steal my beats to make her own songs. But then later on, we decided to do one of the tracks.

And then Mr Eazi has just been a mentor to me for a lot of reasons. So he was on board from the get go.

Tell me about the lead single "Go Outside," with Mr Eazi.

That song, it's the outlier in the entire tape. It's the only song that doesn't necessarily merge in with the "free" term. It's just more so a flex, it's more African. I've been listening to Mr. Eazi for quite some time and I identify with a particular thing about his sound, which is the beats and his flow. So I did something along those lines that didn't come to me as the "free" thing. It just came to me as like, "Yo, you're flexing your own, the girls are all over you" and stuff. And I did that and then I put him on the track and he killed me, as I say.

Nonso Amadi - No Crime (Official Video) youtu.be

You produced all of these songs yourself?

Yeah. All the songs are produced by me using Ableton. I've been producing for eight or nine years... most of my songs are produced by me. I started out as a producer. I basically came across an application called FL Studio. And I played around, made some ringtones, and then I made this beat and I'm like, "Oh, who's going to rap and sing them?" Then I decided to try it out. But I'll say it's been an obvious growth from when I started to now. Just even being here, having this interview is evidence of how much progress I've made.

What's the scene like in Toronto right now?

There's no scene in Toronto. There's an underground scene, but for Africans, there's barely any scene. The main players in the music industry in Toronto are the top three guys, Drake, The Weeknd, and who else? It's Daniel Caesar, I think. But everybody else is just ... It's still a growing scene. I don't mean to be too harsh on it, but right now, it's like a secondary market to the United States. Because most of the stuff up in here is what you hear on the radio there. So yeah, it's still growing.

Any last words about the new EP?

It's a refreshing, soulful, well put together body of work. And I feel like it's something that people enjoy listening to, whether you're taking a drive in the nighttime or your favorite song comes up in the club. It's a song for everybody on there. I put a lot of thought into it and I'm definitely proud of it.

'Free' is available now.

Interview
Photo courtesy of the director.

Interview: How Félicity Ben Rejeb Price Is Reinventing the Afro-French Music Video

Félicity is the Tunisian music video director birthing a new aesthetic for urban French culture.

Félicity Ben Rejeb Price represents a new generation of imagery in Afro-French hip-hop culture, with clients including top French acts like Dadju, Aya Nakamura, Gims, Niska, SCH and Soolking. She also has a growing catalogue of editorial campaigns for the likes of Adidas, Uber and Converse.

Her current role is a combination of everything she's done so far. A jack of many trades, she's played her hand as an interior decorator, publicist, set designer, stylist, casting director, photographer, and ultimately, artistic director. The detail-oriented Félicity relishes at being able to select the location, models, styling, and the method of filming for her projects.

Félicity dominates a masculine industry with illustrations that go beyond the typical rap video starter pack—comprised of cars, scantily-clad women, alcohol, and money. Her formula is: film music videos that are mini-films where women such as herself are treated as equals rather than objectified, while also sprinkling in a number of lights and colors.

It's Saturday afternoon in Arizona, where Félicity is shooting a new music video. She pauses to speak with us on the phone about the trajectory of her career.

The article below has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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Interview
Image courtesy of the artist.

Interview: Jizzle Is Putting Gambian Afro-Pop On the Global Map

Jizzle would like the world to pay attention to what the Gambia has to offer. We talk to the fast-rising sensation about Gambia's music scene and his new chart-topping Scorpion EP.

Last November, Jizzle sold out the Independent Stadium in Bakau for his Finally album concert. It was a historic moment as the 30,000-capacity grounds were completely filled up with fans all gathered to see the singer alongside other popular Gambian and Senegalese acts.

Born Jereh Jallow in 1994, Jizzle's first love was soccer. After watching his older brother making music at home, he decided to give it a shot and discovered that he too had a gift for it. It's been ten years since he started doing music professionally but the hard work has paid off immensely with his songs regularly topping Gambian iTunes charts. Now a hit-making, multi-award-winning artist, Jizzle would like the world to pay attention to what the Gambia has to offer.

Jizzle hopes his newest release, Scorpion: Vol 1, breaks his music in the rest of West Africa and beyond. The 6-track EP, which features Nigerian acts Oxlade and Idyl, sonically ranges from afrobeats, to dancehall to hip-hop. Besides English, Jizzle raps and sings in his native Wolof, Mandinka and Fulah languages.

Jizzle explores his financial struggles on the first track, vowing never to be "Broke Again." He courts his female audience with "Jehgehma" and the sultry banger "Mexicana." The bouncy "Levulo" has been the most popular track on the project so far and the numbers look to only keep growing.

We caught up with the fast-rising artist to discuss Scorpion, influences and future plans.

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Davido's Fiancé, Chioma Rowland, Tests Positive For Coronavirus

The Nigerian musician made the announcement via a heartfelt Instagram post on Friday.

Chioma Rowland, the fiancé of star Nigerian musician Davido, has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The artist shared the news via Instagram on Friday, writing that he and 31 people on his team decided to get tested after returning back to Lagos from abroad. While he and the rest of his team received negative results, Rowland's test came back positive.

"Unfortunately, my fiancé's results came back positive while all 31 others tested have come back negative including our baby," wrote Davido. He added that they both showed no systems, but would be self-isolating as a safety measure.

"We are however doing perfectly fine and she is even still yet to show any symptoms whatsoever. She is now being quarantined and I have also gone into full self isolation for the minimum 14 days," he added. "I want to use this opportunity to thank you all for your endless love and prayers in advance and to urge everyone to please stay at home as we control the spread of this virus! Together we can beat this!"

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Juls Drops New Music Video for 'Soweto Blues' Featuring Busiswa and Jaz Karis

The Ghanaian-British producer heads to South Africa for the music video for the amapiano-inspired track.

Heavyweight Ghanaian-British producer Juls shares his first offering of 2020, and it does not disappoint.

The producer enlists South African music star Busiswa and London's Jaz Karis for the jazz-inflected "Soweto Blues," which also boasts elements of South Africa's dominant electronic sound, Amapiano. The slow-burner features airy vocals from Karis who features prominently on the 3-minute track, while Busiswa delivers a standout bridge in her signature high-energy tone.

"The song dubbed "Soweto Blues" is a song depicting the love, sadness and fun times that Soweto tends to offer its people," read the song's YouTube description. The video premiered earlier today on The Fader. "The energy is amazing, the people are lovely and I've found a second home — especially the vibrancy of Soweto," the producer told The Fader about his trip to Soweto for the making of the video "Jaz Karis is singing a love song, which is symbolic of my new love of Soweto and I'm honoured to have worked with Busiswa whom I have been a fan of for a long time."

Fittingly, the music video sees Juls traveling through the township, taking in its sights and energy. The video, directed by Nigel Stöckl, features striking shots of the popular area and its skilled pantsula dancers.

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