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Solo's Priorities Have Changed

South African rapper Solo's new album, C.Plenty.Dreams, marks the end of a trilogy and the beginning of a new era.

If "stick to your plan" was a person, it would be Solo. In 2008, the South African emcee decided he would release a trilogy of albums that will chronicle his journey as a human being and his chosen career of being a rapper.

"I decided on it in 2008," says Solo, a day before the release of the last iteration of the trilogy, C.Plenty.Dreams in September. "I started applying my mind in 2009, and I did it. I also got tired of it halfway through. Simply because as a person, you grow and you're like, 'ah, now I'm stuck with having to do this thing I decided on when I was a teen.' It's the reason why you didn't see [Lupe Fiasco's] L-U-P-end and [Kanye West's] Good Ass Job. People evolve. I'm quite happy that I was able to finish what I started."

C.Plenty.Dreams is the last instalment in the trilogy, which kicked off with .Dreams.A.Plenty, his stellar 2014 debut album. The album, which was preceded by the EP No Shades of Grey (2011), revealed Solo as a highly conceptual top tier lyricist. In the album, Solo shared his ambitions and idealistic views on his chosen trade.

.Dreams.B.Plenty followed in 2016. Solo, who was now an award-winning artist after scooping Best Newcomer at the South African Hip Hop Awards in 2014, exhibited more aggression while giving his listener an update on his journey.

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Amsterdam Ticket 1987 line-up, from left to right: Africanova, Canjo Amissi, Aloys Gasuku, Tula Walupini, Diamond Ilunga. Seated: Member Bruno S., Goretti Habonimana, Amida Hassan V.,Chantal Nibizi. Photo courtesy of Afro7 Records.

A Rare Album From Burundi's Most Popular 1980s Group, Amabano, Resurfaces

1987's Amsterdam Ticket sees the Burundian group blending psych & funk influences with Congolese rumba and Burundian traditional music. It's getting a reissue from Afro7 Records.

Even though African music of the past four decades is being rediscovered, catalogued and reissued by foreign labels at an accelerating speed, music from the East-Central African nation of Burundi remains somewhat of a blind spot to collectors who are not from the region.

Western audiences have long associated the country with pop hits by singer Khadja Nin (based in Belgium since 1980) or even with "Burundi Black" (1971), the worldwide hit by French pianist Michel Bernholc (alias Mike Steiphenson) that sampled a recording from 1968 of traditional Burundian drumming. There are two vinyl releases from 1980 and 1987 that hint at the unknown history of Burundian pop music, records that have gained grail status among collectors, even though the story behind those LPs has never been told in full.

The first is a 7-LP box, released by Radio Nederland in 1980 (only 80 copies were made), containing the 100 entries to a band competition that the station organised for undiscovered talent from the Francophone African region. Among them was Amabano, the group that would become one of the two winners of the Concours du Moulin D'or (Golden Windmill contest), and who were invited to pick up their trophy, tour and record an album in a well-equipped studio in the Netherlands. The four tracks featured on the promotional vinyl are dreamy, mid-tempo psych-funk grooves with a touch of jazz and rumba, sung in the Kirundi language. The other LP, by the same group, was released in 1987 on the Soviet Union's Melodiya label in two different editions, each limited to 1000 copies, and now near-impossible to find. 'Gasuku' was not a delayed release of their previous Dutch recordings, but a new set of songs, put to tape by a Soviet team that had travelled Burundi for the occasion. Like their 1980s contest entries, the 'Gasuku' album had a musical approach that was deeply rooted in psych, funk and rumba of the 1970s.

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15 African Artists To Follow On Instagram Now

A list of 15 African artists who are captivating us with their gallery-worthy Instagram feeds.

Gone are the days when you had to visit a gallery or museum—where works by black artists are usually underrepresented—to see the latest in fine art. Some of the most striking visual art is literally at our fingertips—a well curated Instagram feed can be a pathway to some of the best in what the contemporary art world has to offer. The social media site has made various forms of global art much more accessible.

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Arts + Culture

Wangechi Mutu Creates Powerful Guardians of Female Identity in 'Ndoro Na Miti'

Wangechi Mutu's latest, 'Ndoro Na Miti,' is a fortified safe space for womanhood both in the fantasy and real realms.

Kenyan visual artist Wangechi Mutu is best known for her intricate collaged portraits of women created from a range of print media, including, sometimes, pornographic magazines. Her final creations are more mythical than exact; often, tendrils replace limbs. In the case of a pair of sexy glossy lips, for example, are positioned to express climactic release, elevate to become main features on humanoid forms, and, of course, are immortalized as brilliant works of art. By re-contextualizing contemporary images of women, her art becomes an act of subversion against the creators of said imagery.

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