Popular
Rina Mushonga. Image courtesy of the artist.

You Need to Hear Rina Mushonga's Cosmopolitan Pop

The Dutch-Zimbabwean musician shares her ambitious new full-length, In a Galaxy, taking new risks at merging the disparate worlds of indie rock and Afropop.

One can imagine that as pop music evolves, cultural borders will topple and genres might blend and blur the way rays of light shoot out from a prism. If so, Rina Mushonga and her new brilliant cosmopolitan pop album, In a Galaxy, are at the forefront of this radiant movement. Raised between Asia, Africa and Europe and born of Dutch and Zimbabwean parents, Rina's general take on life is one of a global citizen—absorbing disparate influences with humbleness and reverence and allowing that energy to seep into the music.

In a Galaxy takes cues from the dance productions and intimate songwriting of electronic pop and R&B savants like Empress Of and Blood Orange. But there's hardly a song on this 12-track LP that doesn't weave the dynamic rhythms and jubilant melodies of Afropop into the mix. The electronic-folk experimentation of Francis Bebey also helps color these dynamic tunes, as well as the shimmering, jit music grooves of Zimbabwe ensemble Bhundu Boys.


Rina Mushonga - 4qrtrs [Official Music Video] www.youtube.com

Despite wide comparisons to the invigorating soul-folk of Tracy Chapman in the wake of her 2012 album The Wild, The Wilderness, Rina's newly defined vocal presence occupies fresh new territory that bares little resemblance to any active singer. Sometimes deep and sensuous ("Tropix"), other times high-soaring and in possession of bewildering strength ("i miss you so much"), her voice commands utter attention. Even her most scathing song—a sassy scorning of males against #MeToo titled "Narcisc0"–flows with an ease that's uncanny, bolstered by a downtempo Chimurenga guitar riff. Here, as with most of her tunes, the worldly singer-songwriter applies a timeless beauty to her future-thinking pop music.

Rina Mushonga's other songs reflect on the brilliant highs and devastating lows of romance, focusing on the process of personal transformation that takes place during these emotionally turbulent moments. "I made my mind up but I wasn't ready/ I cling to you but I feel unsteady," she sings on the album's title track, weary but confidently embracing love over a bouncing reggae-pop beat.

Working with two separate producers between her hometown Amsterdam and new home of London, Rina worked over half a decade to perfect this clever combination of modern electronic pop and contemporary Afropop. The songwriter and commanding vocalist surely gained new appreciation for these songs when she gave birth to her daughter Zora during the final stages of the album's release. Graced with deep revelations and bold political statements, Rina folds the sounds of her rich, globe-trotting life into this majestic record.

'In a Galaxy' is available now.

Popular
Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Emile YX? Wants to 'Reconnect The String'

The father of South African hip-hop's latest book release is here to teach you about the culture.

As a father-figure in South African hip-hop, there's a lot Emile Lester Jansen, aka Emile YX?, knows. He'll also tell you, there's a lot he doesn't. But the knowledge Emile has gained, over his 3 decades in music, he's always tried to share with others. His latest project is no different. The Black Noise founder is working on a book that identifies the similarities between Bushmen expression and hip-hop, and how this knowledge can help empower anyone who has a love of the culture.

The book, which will be called Reconnect The String, comes on the back of this year's 21st anniversary of the African Hip Hop Indaba, one of the landmark hip hop events in Cape Town created by Emile, which has helped many an artist launch their career. As a teacher and a musician, he's long been involved in using hip hop to uplift communities—first through the seminal group Black Noise, founded in the late 1980s, with its rhymes rallying against Apartheid, and then through the Heal the Hood organization, a non-profit that grew out of the group's efforts to use its love of hip hop to fuel youth development initiatives in townships on the Cape Flats.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Interview: Sango's ‘Da Rocinha 4’ Is a Polished & Grinding Take On Baile Funk

We speak with the Seattle-based DJ and producer about his new album and the music bridges connecting Brazil, the US and the world.