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These 16 Songs Will Get you in the Festive Spirit

These 16 Songs Will Get you in the Festive Spirit

Despite an undoubtedly tumultuous year and an ongoing pandemic, we've put together a playlist of 16 songs from across the continent that will hopefully get you into the December festive spirit.

As South Africans often say, "Ke December boss". In other words, it's December and it's time to party. Of course, this year looks a lot different to previous Decembers because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, while we may have to stay at home and avoid large gatherings, this certainly doesn't stop us from enjoying a dope playlist filled with feel-good jams that are sure to fight the boredom blues. From the 15 best albums that have been released by South African indie artists this year to the 20 best Nigerian songs of 2020, there's plenty to keep you entertained and thoroughly so.

In light of the upcoming holiday season, we've put together a playlist of 16 recent songs from across the continent that are sure to get you in the festive spirit. From Davido and James BKS to Dadju and Sauti Sol, this playlist has a little something for everyone.


READ: 15 Great Albums and EPs by South African Indie Artists That Came Out in 2020

"True Love" by Yemi Alade

Yemi Alade delivers a vibrant and uplifting number in "True Love" which is the second track featuring on her upcoming fifth studio album. The music video is as vibrant as the track AND complete with energetic choreographed scenes and bold outfits that elevate the Afropop anthem.

"Nia Lo" - Kabza De Small featuring Nia Pearl

Kabza De Small and Nia Pearl deliver a stunning amapiano hit with "Nia Lo" which features on the amapiano king's album which is aptly titled I am the King of Amapiano. The latter comprises numerous tracks that shows Kabza De Small's ingenuity and ability to create hit after hit.

"Likolo" by Fally Ipupa featuring Ninho

Congolese singer-songwriter Fally Ipupa released his latest album Tokoos II earlier today. The album is the seuquel to his 2017 album titled Tokoos. "Likely", which features fellow Congolose musician Ninho, is a standout number on the 16-track project. It's upbeat and infectious with seamless synergy between the two artists.

"Dangerously in Love (Remix)" by Tiwa Savage featuring DJ Ganyani & De Mogul

This past August, Tiwa Savage released her latest album titled Celia, a 12 track project which features the sultry and upbeat jam "Dangerous Love". The track was released prior to the album and was followed up by two remixes: "Dangerous Love (Born In Soweto Remix)" featuring De Mthuda and another featuring DJ Ganyani and De Mogul. The latter, which is an amapiano remix, is arguably better than the original version of the song and has an incredible soundscape consisting on Afrobeats and amapiano.

"New Breed" by James BKS featuring Idris Elba, Q-Tip & Little Simz

Cameroonian artist James BKS recruits Idris Elba, Q-Tip and Little Simz to create a jam that fuses contemporary rap with Afrobeats and the results are exquisite. "New Breed" is a powerful declaration about Africa and definitely a track with a feel-good vibe to it. You're sure to keep this number on repeat for a while.

"So Crazy" by Davido featuring Lil Baby

Following the success of his 2019 album A Good Time, the prince of Afrobeats recently released his follow-up album titled A Better Time. The project is impressive with a number of music heavyweights featuring including Nas, Nicki Minaj, Sauti Sol, Mayorkun, Sho Madjozi and several others. "So Crazy", which sees Davido and Lil Baby collaborating effortlessly, is definitely a poolside track that screams soft living and just having a good time with even better company.

"Your Love" by Azana

If perfection was a song it would be Azana's "Your Love". The track begins with a mid-tempo pace that then builds up into an explosion of sound. Trust us when we say that this song is everything you never knew you needed. The South African artist is certainly in her element.

"Choko" by Manu WorldStar

Following his 2019 smash hit "Nalingi", Manu WorldStar released "Choko" ahead of his debut album titled "Molimo." The track, which is already proving to be another hit, is an upbeat and infectious number that will have you turning the volume up and heading to the dance floor.

"Reckless" by Wizkid

This year, Wizkid finally released his long-anticipated album Made in Lagos and it certainly was well worth the wait. The project release was Initially delayed in an attempt not to divert attention from the recent #EndSARS protests against police brutality in Nigeria. "Reckless", which features on the 14-track album, is a definite stand-out track that shows the Nigerian artist at his musical best.

"Ubomi Abumanga" by Sun-El Musician & Msaki

Is any list ever complete without Sun-El Musician? This year, the South African artist teamed up with fellow artist Msaki and created a track for the ages. "Ubomi Abumanga" is a beautiful Xhosa house song that speaks about how the sun will eventually rise even in the darkest of days.

"Sans theme (Remix)" by Dadju featuring Alonzo, MHD, Naza & ​Vegedream

French-Congolose artist Dadju is explosive on the remix of his original track "Sans theme" featuring Alonzo, MHD, Naza and Vegedream. The remix starts off on a high with a crazy instrumental that let's you know that the song is about to be everything and more. If you listen to nothing else, (and we're not kidding) you need to listen to this track.

"Dede" by Ommy Dimpoz featuring DJ Tira, Dladla & Prince Bulo

Tanzanian artist Ommy Dimpoz dropped "Dede" recently and it's an interesting fusion of bongo flava and a distinct South African sound. The music video is as frenetic as the track itself and is filled with colour and cultural references including eclectically dressed pantsula dancers repping for Johannesburg culture.

"Ngihamba Nawe" by Simmy featuring Sino Msolo

South African songstress Simmy released her album this year titled Tugela Fairy (Made of Stars) which is the follow-up to her 2018 anthemic project Tugela Fairy. "Ngihamba Nawe", which translates to "I'll go with you" in Zulu, is an exquisite and upbeat love song that'll certainly put you in a good mood.

"Suzanna" by Sauti Sol

Sauti Sol gave us a true gift in the middle of a pandemic and we're so here for it. The Kenyan Afropop sensation dropped their "Midnight Train" album this year and "Suzanna" is a definite standout track. It's an absolute vibe (and quite cheeky too) with both the instrumentals and vocals to have you playing this number endlessly.

"Wonderful" by Burna Boy

Burna Boy promised us that he'd come back even better following his African Giant album and he sure kept his word. Twice As Tall dropped this year, executive produced by Sean "Diddy" Combs, and is a project worthy of praise. "Wonderful" is an uplifting number that sees the Nigerian superstar dabbling with a new sound. All we can say is you'll love it as much as we do.

"Indlovu" by DJ Zinhle featuring Loyiso

"Indlovu" by DJ Zinhle is a powerful declaration. The vibrant song speaks about being "indlovu", which translates to "elephant" in Zulu. Featuring Loyiso, the pair elude to how one can conquer their challenges by remaining steadfast in their mission and being as strong as an elephant.

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The 8 Best Nigerian Songs of the Month (September)

Featuring Wizkid, Burna Boy, Mr Eazi, Ayra Starr and many more.

Here are the best songs to come out of the buzzing Nigerian music scene this month.

Head here for more of our Best Songs of the Month lists from Nigeria, Ghana, South African and East Africa. You can also check out our weekly,Songs You Need to Hear roundup for the best new music.

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Photo By John Ezekwem for OkayAfrica

The Art of Cosplaying at Lagos Comic Con 2022

Lagos Comic Con serves as one of the largest conventions making cosplay thrive, thereby building a subculture in Nigeria.

The Lagos Comic Convention (Comic Con) has become the biggest gathering of geeks, weebs, and creatives in Africa. For a day, these individuals get to assemble and interact, geek out, and — most importantly — cosplay some of their fantasies.

Woman dressed in black Sandman costume

"I finished binge-watching The Sandman on Netflix a few weeks back and was drawn to the character," Tonia told OkayAfrica.

Photo By John Ezekwem for OkayAfrica

Over time, cosplay has been used mainly as a means of self-expression. It involves portraying and bringing to life characters from anime, cartoons, comic books, television series, and video games. And Lagos Comic Con serves as one of the largest conventions making cosplay thrive, thereby building a community — and even more – a subculture in Nigeria. This year marked its 10th edition, bringing dozens of cosplayers together.

Additionally, there was a cosplay competition, with a cash reward of N50,000 to the winner. Among these cosplayers is 21-year-old first-timer Tonia who cosplayed as The Sandman, a fictional character from DC Comics. Tonia has always loved dressing up, which sparked her interest in cosplaying. "I finished binge-watching The Sandman on Netflix a few weeks back and was drawn to the character," Tonia told OkayAfrica. "I liked everything about him and how he was portrayed.”

Black man dressing up as Nick Fury

"I don’t believe in cosplaying white people because it just won’t look right."

Photo By John Ezekwem for OkayAfrica

Disun, another first-timer, used cosplaying as a means of self-expression as a Black person. Cosplaying as the beloved character Nick Fury from Marvel’s The Avengers, the 29-year-old looked minimalist in black outerwear and an eye patch. “I will mostly choose Black characters when cosplaying because I am Black," Disun said. "I don’t believe in cosplaying white people because it just won’t look right. I’d most likely cosplay Black characters like Luke Cage.”

man dressed up as super hero Guardian Prime

Guardian Prime is a superhero character from Comic Republic, one of the biggest publishers of African comic books.

Photo By John Ezekwem for OkayAfrica

After cosplaying as Marvel’s Thor in 2019, David decided to put a spin on his costume. “Since this year was the 10th anniversary of Lagos Comic Con, I wanted to do something different, so I chose to come as Guardian Prime,” David said.

Guardian Prime is a superhero character from Comic Republic, one of the biggest publishers of African comic books. David’s appearance as Guardian Prime was profound, because it helped showcase the often overlooked African comic book characters at these conventions.

Other cosplayers were inspired by Japanese media culture. First is 21-year-old Tony, who used to live in Ukraine and often cosplayed at anime-themed events. However, when she moved to Nigeria — before the Covid-19 pandemic hit — she found comfort in frequently cosplaying during this period, gravitating towards only Japanese-inspired characters.

Sekai Saionji costume

"What I have come to love the most about cosplaying is how it allows you to bring to life any character regardless of your race or gender," Tony said.

Photo By John Ezekwem for OkayAfrica

At Comic Con Lagos, she looked stunning in a school-inspired outfit alongside a sword. She’s cosplaying the character of Sekai Saionji from the Japanese anime School Days. “I feel very unique," Tony said. "What I have come to love the most about cosplaying is how it allows you to bring to life any character regardless of your race or gender."

David Ajidahun was cosplaying as Japanese fighter character Ryu from the video game Street Fighter. He used to believe Comic Con only existed outside of the African continent. “Having Comic Con here in Nigeria shows you the progression that creativity can be anywhere in the world," Ajidahun told OkayAfrica. "Cosplaying, as a form of self-expression, allows me to create myself as an artist while also finding that connection with the character I am cosplaying.”

While cosplaying serves as a form of self-realization, the young people at Lagos Comic Con all face one paramount obstacle: coming up with their costumes and props. Some of them spend money purchasing and shipping their costume from overseas, while others opt to go the DIY (Do it Yourself) route.

black Ryu

David Ajidahun was cosplaying as Japanese fighter character Ryu from Street Fighter.

Photo By John Ezekwem for OkayAfrica

For instance, Tonia spent four days bringing her outfit for The Sandman to life. She enjoys the time she spends designing her costume. But, for someone like Deola, her costume of Yor Briar from the Japanese manga Spy X Family cost about $70 and was shipped from overseas.

For her, it’s a huge challenge to find the proper materials and props to create the vision of whichever character she settles to cosplay as. And for Tobi, who cosplayed as Luigi from the Super Mario videogame, she had to seek out a friend who also partook in cosplaying to help create her costume.

female black Luigi super mario bros

Tobi cosplayed as Luigi from the Super Mario videogame.

Photo By John Ezekwem for OkayAfrica

This year witnessed the appearance of some bigwigs in the creative industry, like media mogul Obi Asika and Nigerian filmmakers Biodun Stephen and Niyi Akinmolayan, who all helmed panel discussions across various topics.

In the coming years, Comic Con Lagos is looking forward to extending the number of days for the convention to accommodate more attendees, keeping the event indigenous to Africa, and pushing African creatives and talents to the rest of the world.But the festival isn't easy to put on. Ayodele Elegba, the founder of Lagos Comic Con, says that it's become difficult convincing sponsors to invest into the event.

"They just don’t get it. Without sponsorship funding, Lagos Comic Con becomes difficult to organize," Elegba told OkayAfrica. "One of the reasons we adopted ticketing this year is to be able to relieve some costs of the event. And we are happy that people could pay for their tickets as a way of contributing to the growth of the creative industry in Nigeria.”

women as Harley Quin

Photo By John Ezekwem for OkayAfrica

woman as a ninja

Photo By John Ezekwem for OkayAfrica

black guy as a ninja

Photo By John Ezekwem for OkayAfrica

sandman costume

Photo By John Ezekwem for OkayAfrica

Thor

Photo By John Ezekwem for OkayAfrica







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Photo by Wale Ariztos

Roye Okupe is Championing African Representation in Animation

We spoke with Roye Okupe about his studio, Iyanu getting adapted into an animated series, and storytelling for an African audience.

Roye Okupeisn’t holding back with African representation in the stories he tells. The Nigerian graphic novelist and filmmaker is the creator of Iyanu: Child of Wonder, which recently received a greenlight by HBO Max and Cartoon Network for adaptation into a 2D animated series.

“Growing up, I was a fan of animations, cartoons, but what I felt was missing was showing these stories [I was watching] from an African perspective,” Okupe told OkayAfrica. “So when I moved to the United States in 2002, it became a dream of mine to create superhero and fantasy stories inspired by African historical culture and mythology.”

In 2015, Okupe quit his full-time job as a web developer to pursue making comics and animation. That same year, he launched YouNeek Studios, and started bringing his vivid imaginations to life. His debut graphic novel, E.X.O: The Legend of Wale Williams, Part One, is a superhero story that blends Nigerian sensibilities with sci-fi motifs. He would also direct and produce a slew of animated projects, some of them adapted from his growing stable of comics publishing.

In 2019, the animated pilot of Malika: Warrior Queen arrived, creating a cross-industry buzz, not just for Nigeria’s burgeoning animation scene but for Nollywood as well. Using A-list stars like Adesumi Etomi and Deyemi Okanlowon as voice actors and with charming executions of character designs and profiles, the project made a mark for Nigerian animation.

Malika: Warrior Queen follows the adventures of the titular Malika, a warrior-ruler who protects her kingdom from evil forces amongst other stakes. It draws from real, historical accounts of warrior women from Nigeria, namely Queen Amina. For Okupe, telling the story was about filling in the vacuum of African representation in animation.

From weaving the YouNeek YouNiverse — his own spin on the Marvel Cinematic Universe — to scoring international deals on comics publishing and animated productions, the present moment speaks to how far Okupe has come. OkayAfrica got to speak with Okupe about his studio, Iyanu getting adapted into an animated series, and storytelling for an African audience.

As an independent creator, what has been the greatest challenge in bringing animated characters on screen, especially for a local African audience?

I think one of the biggest challenges has been financing projects. I didn’t have an investor when I started to finance my projects, but I was lucky enough to be one of the first to embrace using Kickstarter. So I financed all my books through Kickstarter, and that is a reason why I am grateful to the fanbase because they’ve been the ones that have supported my career and the company YouNeek studios as a whole.

One of the animated series I produced in 2019 was Malaika warrior queen, which was funded exclusively on Kickstarter. I did it in partnership with AntHill studios, which is one of the best-animated studios in Nigeria, and we were able to create a fifteen-minute short for Malaika, which was based on one of my graphic novels. Queen Amina of Zaza inspires the story; it’s a pre-colonial story that follows Malaika, both warrior and queen, and it focuses on that. So for me, funding and finances are the hard part.

You mentioned AntHill studios, and we know of the HBO Max adaptation of Iyanu. And with the news of the adaptation, people are worried it won’t have Nigerian and African creatives on it. Can you speak on this?

That’s a valid concern. If I weren’t part of the project, I would also have these concerns. But I am an executive producer on [the adaption], born and raised in Nigeria, which makes me a Nigerian creator. And HBO Max, Cartoon Network, and LionForge studios — who are partners and financing the project — have been kind enough to make sure I have a voice as the creator and one of the show's executive producers. So Godwin Akpan, who illustrated the books, will be our Art Director. We also have Femi Angubiade, one of the music composers, who is also Nigerian.

From the very early stage, HBO Max, Cartoon Network, and LionForge wanted the adaptation to be authentic. They knew that one of the ways to have authentic stories is to have authentic creators, so they’ve done their part in bringing Nigerian creatives. There’s a bunch of other Nigerian artists that are working on character designs and environment designs too. So I’ll tell people that as much as there is a concern, I feel they can rest easy knowing that Nigerians are working on this project. Our job is to create a fantastic show and something that will resonate with a global audience while staying true to Nigerian culture.

Among the graphic novels, comics, and animation under your belt, which medium do you resonate with most and why?

It’s hard to say that I resonate with one over the other because all of them offer something different. In the graphic novel and comic book space, it’s a chance to get intimate with your reader because people are taking their time to read the books and turn the pages. To some people, it can be a more immersive experience. With graphic novels, it is less expensive, so there’s a greater chance of longevity in terms of how many books you can continue to produce moving forward.

The animation medium also takes things to the next level with sound, movement, and motion; there’s much more you can do as a storyteller with animation. So I don’t necessarily have a favorite because they are two mediums I love, and they both do different things.

You created YouNeek YouNiverse to introduce audiences into a larger world of African superhero characters. How do you guide someone into this universe?

The books written in the YouNeek YouNiverse are written in a way that lets you start from any of the series. We have four graphic novels in the YouNiverse and Iyanu: Child of Wonder is arguably our most popular title. It is heavily inspired by Yoruba culture and history, and it follows the main character Iyanu as she goes on a journey when she discovers she has powers that rival the gods of her land. And it’s only with those powers that she can save her people from the corrupt; animals that have turned against humanity. Iyanu is a 13-year-old girl that wants to be normal, but she has to accept that she has an extraordinary life and step into an extraordinary journey to do what she was always meant to do, which is be the savior of Yoruba land.

So you can start from any of the graphic novels because it’s all set up in a way that doesn’t confuse you.

What’s the process behind the stories you choose to tell?

I like to center everything on character. So, as much as I like to create epic worlds and worlds that are very immersive, detailed, and deep, I always center them on character. That is, who is your character, what do they think they need versus what do they actually need, and how do you make them relatable, not just to Nigerians or black people, but to anybody that is going to be reading your book in any part of the world. Because, at the end of the day, we are all human beings, and there are certain things we all share. So to me, it’s about starting with a relatable character, fitting them into a larger-than-life world, and seeing how they deal with the struggles of those worlds and how they overcome them. It starts with that and then trying to find out from the character, where the story is, how long it would be, and what are the main arcs. Then, I try to find a villain worthy of the hero we’re creating. You want to create a villain that isn’t one-dimensional, but somebody who you can see where they are coming from and whose methods put them in the [villain] category.

Building the world with the characters comes next because once I have the story written down, I start to work with the team of artists. They also bring things to the table that I don’t see. Once we have the pages and the stories, we send them off to the publisher, Dark Horse Comics. I am fortunate to have signed a 10-book deal with them in 2020.

You mentioned signing a 10-book deal with Dark Horse Comics. What does it mean for ongoing conversation on inclusivity in comics?

Dark Horse is a fantastic company that is creator-driven. They let me do what I want with the books, and they don’t get in my way, which I am grateful for. They’re one of the companies that not just talk about diversity but put their money where their mouth is, so signing a 10-book deal with a creator is no small feat. And that goes on to show how much they believe in me, our artists, the YouNeek YouNiverse, and how much they are committed to getting stories from different voices around the world to a global audience.

It’s a partnership that has been going well, and I hope to continue to go well.

Is the freedom they give you the reason why you went with them, or are there other reasons?

Yes, the freedom to create what I want to make is one of the reasons why I went with them. Dark Horse Comics is a great company and a top publisher with a huge legacy in terms of what they’ve done in the comic books industry. Therefore, the fact they were offering a 10-book deal — which is unprecedented as they’ll usually offer a two-book deal and take it from there — showed how serious they were about the success of the YouNeek YouNiverse and YouNeek studios. And that was part of the reason I went with them.

Generally, what does your accomplishments mean for aspiring storytellers that hope to highlight their cultural backgrounds through the lens of animation?

I would say that I hope the things I have achieved open a wider door for the people that are coming after me because the accomplishments of the people that were ahead of me is why I’m here today. I’m just here to follow in their footsteps and use whatever resources I can to provide opportunities for other people — to put African creatives and creators on a global stage. I hope that is something that can spark a lightbulb in people’s heads to say that Africa is the next frontier for entertainment, not just in comics and animations, but in film and television, and video games too.


Iyanu volume 1 is out, and volume 2 will be out next month. You can grab it online, and everywhere books are sold while waiting for the animated series.

Music Brief
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SPINALL, Summer Walker & Äyanna Want You To Remember Your Power

Nigeria's DJ SPINALL, American singer Summer Walker, British singer Äyanna, and French beat maker DJ Snake have united the globe to deliver a kickass single and accompanying video for "Power (Remember Who You Are)". With production credit also given to "Unknown Nick" and The Eggman, the end of summer track mixed by American legend Dr Dre is just in time to get bodies moving and parties going. The single is the official track of the upcoming rollerskating flick Flipper's Skate Heist.

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