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The Best East African Songs of 2018

Here are the 23 best East African Songs of the year featuring Diamond Platnumz, Harmonize, Sauti Sol, Blinky Bill, Sheebah, Navy Kenzo and more.

For East African music, 2018 has been all about pushing boundaries in sound, and boosting the number of Pan-African collaborations.

The year kicked off with major album releases like Diamond Platnumz's A Boy From Tandale and Vanessa Mdee's Money Mondays. With a number of high-profile features from the likes of Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage and Nyashinski, Kenya's top band Sauti Sol continued the roll-out of their long-awaited Afrikan Sauce album. This peaked with the release of "Short & Sweet," which infected the region like a plague.

Diamond Platnumz' WCB Wasafi imprint reigned supreme over the scene this year. The company boasts a roster of the most popular artists in the region like Harmonize, Rich Mavoko, Queen Darlene, Lava Lava, Mbosso and Rayvanny. Their dominance in this part of the continent is undeniable, and with every new chart-topping single released, this impressive ensemble continues to revolutionize the face of East African music.

2018 also saw some exciting offerings from the new wave with club starters from rising artists like Brian Simba, Fik Fameica and Vinka. The year rounded off with noteworthy releases like Wanja Wohoro's afro-feminist Matriarch album and Blinky Bill's Everyone's Just Winging it & Other Fly Tales.

Overall it's been a year full of versatile and forward-looking releases and we can only expect it to get better in 2019.

Below are our picks for the Best EastAfrican Songs of the year. Listed in no particular order.

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Culture
Image via UGood's Instagram

The Ugandan Chef Introducing the Rolex to the World​

How the beloved food from the streets of Kampala made its international entrance in an unlikely place.

Chapatis, eggs and vegetables—these are the three humble ingredients needed to make Uganda's ubiquitous snack food, the Rolex. A play of words on 'rolled eggs,'—no relation to the watch— the Rolex is said to be traced back to a single chapati-maker in the eastern town of Busoga but it gained popularity at Makerere University in Kampala. No wonder the students loved it; it's fast, cheap and delicious. The Rolex is now found all over the country and there's even a Rolex festival, which celebrated its third year this August. This year the festival drew chefs from Kenya, Mexico and India who wanted to show off their take on the dish. Safe to say, this poor man's snack has morphed into a source of national pride.

Unlike other country's national dishes, it can be hard to find abroad. The one exception is in the tiny country of Denmark where in 2015, Sylvester Bbaale opened UGood—the world's first Rolex joint outside Uganda. He even has an award from the King of Buganda certifying it.

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Film

Jodie Turner-Smith to Star Alongside Daniel Kaluuya in Upcoming Romantic Drama 'Queen & Slim'

The film is from Emmy-winning writer Lena Waithe and Insecure director Melina Matsoukas.

Back in July, it was announced that Daniel Kaluuya would star in an upcoming feature film from Emmy-winning actress and writer Lena Waithe and Insecure director Melina Matsoukas. We were already pretty excited about the project, but today we learn some even more exciting details: rising star Jodie Turner-Smith will star alongside him in the upcoming love story.

Mastoukas—who's directed iconic music videos for the likes of Beyoncé, Solange, and Rihanna to name a few—took to Instagram to share the news with a picture of the co-stars, with the caption "Queen with a crown that be down for whatever," a reference to the film's title (and to Method Man and Mary J. Blige's "You're All I Need," of course).

When the movie was first announced, Mastoukas described it as "a film that defines black love as a revolutionary act. It shows that our union is the greatest weapon against the assault on black people in America."

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