Music

Is Sugarboy Nigeria's Next Reggae-Dancehall King?

24-year-old Sugarboy, who describes himself as Africa’s “dancehall king,” has the daunting task of matching the continuing rise of Kiss Daniel.

Kiss Daniel's debut New Era, released back in May, has been a huge success peaking at number 8 on the Billboard World Album charts, propelled by monster singles “Woju," “Good Times,” and “Laye."


Only one artist was featured on the entire album. His name is Sugarboy, the 24-year-old Akwa Ibom native who has the daunting task of matching, and possibly eclipsing, the continuing rise of Kiss Daniel.

Comparisons between Sugarboy and Kiss Daniel are unavoidable given that they're label-mates at the start of their careers with everything to prove. Kiss Daniel’s New Era has done exceedingly well and its title isn't an overstatement. Along with Reekado Banks, Korede Bello and Tekno, Daniel and Sugarboy occupy the next stratum of afrobeats stars right after the Wizkid and Davido column.

“Napo” and “Ghetto Boys” are two of the songs on New Era that Sugarboy is on, but before these were “Molue” and “Raba,” both orphaned singles that showcase what Sugarboy says is the “musical synergy” he shares with Kiss Daniel.

We spoke over the phone and right before a studio session in Lagos where he was putting the finishing touches to a new single, “Legalize,” having just returned from the German leg of Kiss Daniel’s tour.

Subarboy’s enthusiasm for the music he's making and the reception it's receiving is palpable. His output, however, is not substantial.

His solo singles—“Hola Hola,” “Double,” and most recently “Legalize”—aren't enough to give a rounded sense of who he is as an artist. “Double” is about one’s hustle and the hope that it'll one day pay off, “Hola Hola” is a triumphalist tune about living the good life because, "this life, I cannot kill myself" and “Legalize” is a breezy dancehall track infused with a particular Nigerian ghetto parlance—“ekute no be race horse,” “ishu no be cocoyam.”

Sugarboy. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Is “Legalisze” a good song? Yes. Is he reinventing the dancehall-galala wheel? No. But he's changed a few nuts and bolts and has fitted it to his own musical vehicle, which is in an upward trajectory.

Sugarboy describes himself as Africa’s “dancehall king,” but what he's probably referring to is "galala" which is an interpretation of dancehall that has become a confident cousin, rather than a feeble nephew made popular by the likes of Daddy Showkey, Baba Fryo, African China and Danfo Drivers.

“Napo” and “Raba” are two very good songs but it's the former that points to a lineage I refrain from mentioning, not sure if he'd be pleased with it. Danfo Drivers were one of the biggest Nigerian pop acts in 2003 on the strength of their single “Danfo Drivers,” a made-up equivalent would be a go-getter anthem like Cassidy’s "I'm A Hustla" reaching the popularity level of Pharrell's "Happy".

Sugarboy jokingly refers to him and Daniel as “the new Danfo Drivers,” but Sugarboy’s aesthetic is clean and his reputation unsullied so far, while Danfo Drivers were far more convincing as hood stars who were even alleged to have once been armed robbers before turning to music.

But Sugarboy is of a different ilk and what's more, he's got everything going for him. The hope is that the comparison to Daniel and expectations to match or supersede him does not distract him from pursuing his own path.

In choosing to work with some of the same producers Daniel worked with on New Era—Beatburx and DJ Coublon in particular—the hope is that rather than retrace Daniel’s rise, what he's doing is building on the impressive work that G Worldwide Entertainment, as a new and independent label, has done so far.

Style
Photos by David Pattinson.

First Look: This New Collection from Art Comes First Is Peak Black Yeehaw Aesthetic

The design and brand consultant duo previews the SS20 collection displayed during their residency at The Mandrake Hotel in Paris.

Following their wavy Surf Afrika collection, Art Comes First (ACF) shares with us a preview of their SS20 collection that is all things Black Yeehaw Aesthetic.

Dubbed El Charro Negro, the collection features neutral colors and an array of textures—from leather, embroidery, fringed denim and ponchos, to vests, suede jackets and straight flyness.

Sam Lambert and Shaka Maidoh of ACF are known as the "Travelling Tailors" where their ventures around the world influence their designs. This time the nomads, who hail from the West Indies, Ghana and Angola respectively, have landed in Paris.

Earlier this month, ACF curated a week-long event-filled residency at The Mandrake Hotel in Paris that encapsulates their ethos of taking cultural influence from around the world and only staying still long enough to create. There, Lambert and Maidoh presented an installation, live musical performances and DJ sets, a film screening and a pop-up shop leading up to Fashion Week. The residency also showcased the duo's latest collaboration with London mainstay Fred Perry.

El Charro Negro will still be showcased in Paris at another location from June 18 to 23. Keep up with ACF on Instagram to stay tuned for details.

Check out our favorite images from the collection below.

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Nonso Amadi & Kwesi Arthur's 'Comfortable' Will Get You In Weekend Mode

Watch the trippy new music video for this link-up from the buzzing Nigerian and Ghanaian artists.

Nonso Amadi is one of the standout acts from a young wave of Nigerian musicians blending afro-fusion with RnB and much more. He's now dropping the brand new single "Comfortable," an addictive self-produced track that sees him linking up with bubbling Ghanaian act Kwesi Arthur, which we're premiering below today.

"Comfortable" is built on woozy synth keys and sparse beat work, all spearheaded by Nonso Amadi's vocals about wanting freedom in a relationship.

"The song is inspired by experiences with having a girl over and not wanting them to get too comfortable by staying too long with you," says Nonso Amadi. "I thought it'll be interesting to create a song around this 'cos it's not a perspective were used to hearing from guys very often."

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Screenshot via YouTube.

Maleek Berry Makes a Statement with His First Track of the Year, 'Flashy'

And the music video follows suit.

After months of anticipation, Maleek Berry finally dropped his first track of the year, "Flashy."

The Nigerian crooner-producer surely makes a statement on the track while flexing his rapping skills, as he chronicles how he leveled up to be flashy—and it's well-deserved. The video shows us a scene of a fly photo shoot that's underway, where Maleek is dripping in gold and fancy cars surrounded by stunning black women and his homies—Eugy, Tinie Tempah, Juls and more.

Watch the video, directed by Capone and Guise of Vissionaire Pictures, below.

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