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Tellaman. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Tellaman’s ‘God Decides’ Explores the Ups & Downs of Love While Dream Chasing

Tellaman's debut album is a nod to his devout Christian upbringing, but remains secular in its content.

Any religious sentiments from an artist known for his overtly sexual lyrics was always going to raise eyebrows. Regardless, a conceptually-driven album guarantees a spin over here, ever more so when you take into account South Africa's Tellaman's impressive roster of collaborations including DJ Speedsta ("Mayo"), Kwesta ("Act Like") and frequent work with Nasty ("Don't B.A.B.").

God Decides is a nod to Tellaman's journey, as well as the trajectory of his personal relationships. The new album serves as the Durban native's latest opportunity to exhibit a body of work after Lucid Dream and Mind vs Heart. The 27-year-old singer, producer and songwriter, born Thulumusa Samuel Owen, breaks down the album's concept via an e-mail to OkayAfrica: "God Decides is about Tellaman meeting a girl he loves while trying to make it as a musician, and trying to make both work. But at some point, she fails to understand that the industry gets the best of me. Being in a relationship and trying to make it as a musician is a very hard thing to pull off, and as a matter of fact I haven't figured it out yet."


Accordingly, the album is based on a previous relationship and incorporates skits from different vantage points, lending it a balanced perspective. What Tellaman achieves throughout this listen is maintaining an uptempo vibe despite exploring varied subject matter. Tracks like "Extra," "Calm Down," "Contemplating" and "Own Up," for example, tackle the hardships faced in young relationships. These songs still manage to be bops while addressing infidelity, feuding, temptation and accountability.

Read: The 10 Best Tellaman Features

Tellaman's sonic touch, meanwhile, is pretty clear on the ditty "Cross My Heart," which shares its tropical orientation with the opening half of "No Sharing (The Distance)." The radio friendliness continues on the compelling "Whipped," which features Nasty C and Shekhinah. That sunny disposition is traded for the dim lights of the club as the bass-heavy "Hit Me Up" sees Tellaman croon the risqué lyrics; "Thinking 'bout excuses for your daddy and your mum/ I will touch you so good they'll see it in your strut."

Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

That sexually charged energy is matched on "If I Had A Type," another visceral banger. In keeping with his influences—Kehlani, London, Young Thug and Future, among others—Tellaman evokes emotion by not shying away from any topics, explicit or not. It's something he believes is central to R&B and a trait espoused by older artists he admires like T-Pain and producer Darkchild. At many moments of God Decides Tellaman gets introspective and ties the album's undertone of pre-destiny together.

"Note To Self (UDI)" is a self-reflexive ballad featuring Rowlene. It's perhaps the song most emblematic of the album; expressing views on life and love in the same breath. It also lets us into the personal nature of God Decides. "I talk about a lot of different things in my music, good and bad. Those things are what's going on or what has been going on in my life," Tellaman reveals. On "Perfect Ain't Coming," the artist addresses the translucence of fame with the lyrics: "No halos above me, just my bros beside me and these flaws I got."

These lines are symbolic of Tellaman's self awareness, but more especially, display the rhythmic flows he employs throughout the project. This is where Tellaman's versatility shines through, informed by his exposure to multiple genres. "My sound is R&B," Tellaman says. "I just love exploring and trying to find and learn new things, so I feel like if you put a specific style or genre to your music, that's when you start being in a box. This is just the way I feel about me and my music." It's definitely R&B with a smidgeon of house, Afropop and hip-hop. "Are You With It" makes a solid case for the album's standout record. The sample of Keith Sweat's "Twisted" is simultaneously current and nostalgic.

Perhaps that's the best thing about God Decides: it's sonically-varied yet conceptually tight and draws from tradition while remaining atypical. And although no one can control every aspect of their lives and God ultimately does Decide, this project proves that Tellaman has a firm grasp of his musical talents. Now let the church say, "Amen!"

Download God Decides here.



Follow Tellman on Twitter.


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Photo by Lana Haroun

From #FeesMustFall to #BlueforSudan: OkayAfrica's Guide to a Decade of African Hashtag Activism

The 2010s saw protest movements across the continent embrace social media in their quest to make change.

The Internet and its persistent, attention-seeking child, Social Media has changed the way we live, think and interact on a daily basis. But as this decade comes to a close, we want to highlight the ways in which people have merged digital technology, social media and ingenuity to fight for change using one of the world's newest and most potent devices—the hashtag.

What used to simply be the "pound sign," the beginning of a tic-tac-toe game or what you'd have to enter when interacting with an automated telephone service, the hashtag has become a vital aspect of the digital sphere operating with both form and function. What began in 2007 as a metadata tag used to categorize and group content on social media, the term 'hashtag' has now grown to refer to memes (#GeraraHere), movements (#AmINext), events (#InsertFriendsWeddingHere) and is often used in everyday conversation ("That situation was hashtag awkward").

The power of the hashtag in the mobility of people and ideas truly came to light during the #ArabSpring, which began one year into the new decade. As Tunisia kicked off a revolution against oppressive regimes that spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook played a crucial role in the development and progress of the movements. The hashtag, however, helped for activists, journalists and supporters of causes. It not only helped to source information quickly, but it also acted as a way to create a motto, a war cry, that could spread farther and faster than protestors own voices and faster than a broadcasted news cycle. As The Guardian wrote in 2016, "At times during 2011, the term Arab Spring became interchangeable with 'Twitter uprising' or 'Facebook revolution,' as global media tried to make sense of what was going on."

From there, the hashtag grew to be omnipresent in modern society. It has given us global news, as well as strong comedic relief and continues to play a crucial role in our lives. As the decade comes to a close, here are some of the most impactful hashtags from Africans and for Africans that used the medium well.

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(Photo by Joseph Okpako/WireImage via Getty)

Listen to Wizkid's Surprise New EP 'Soundman Vol. 1'

Wizkid treats fans to new songs featuring Chronixx, DJ Tunez and more—just ahead of 2020.

Wizkid is back. The Nigerian pop star surprised listeners early this morning with the unannounced release of a new EP, Soundman Vol. 1.

Though Wizkid has released a couple of singles this year, fans had been awaiting a new drop and more extensive project from the artist. With it being so close to the end of the year, it didn't look like we'd get a new body of work from the artist till 2020, but he proved otherwise when he took to Twitter at the wee hours of the morning to quietly share streaming links for the new project.

He also announced that a second EP, Soundman Vol. 2, would drop sometime before his highly-anticipated upcoming album Made In Lagos (MIL).

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Screenshot from the upcoming film Warriors of a Beautiful Game

In Conversation: Pelé's Daughter is Making a Documentary About Women's Soccer Around the World

In this exclusive interview, Kely Nascimento-DeLuca shares the story behind filming Warriors of a Beautiful Game in Tanzania, Brazil and other countries.

It may surprise you to know that women's soccer was illegal in Brazil until 1981. And in the UK until 1971. And in Germany until 1970. You may have read that Sudan made its first-ever women's league earlier this year. Whatever the case, women and soccer have always had a rocky relationship.

It wasn't what women wanted. It certainly wasn't what they needed. However, society had its own ideas and placed obstacle after obstacle in front of women to keep ladies from playing the game. Just this year the US national team has shown the world that women can be international champions in the sport and not get paid fairly compared to their male counterparts who lose.

Kely Nascimento-DeLuca is looking to change that. As the daughter of international soccer legend Pelé, she is no stranger to the game. Growing up surrounded by the sport, she was actually unaware of the experiences women around the world were having with it. It was only recently that she discovered the hardships around women in soccer and how much it mirrored women's rights more generally.

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Convener of "#Revolution Now" Omoyele Sowore speaks during his arraignment for charges against the government at the Federal High Court in Abuja, on September 30, 2019. (Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Images)

Nigerian Activist, Omoyele Sowore, Re-Arrested Just Hours After Being Released on Bail

Sowore, the organizer of Nigeria's #RevolutionNow protests, was detained by armed officers, once again, in court on Friday.

Omoyele Sowore, the Nigerian human rights activist and former presidential candidate who has spent over four months in jail under dubious charges, was re-arrested today in Lagos while appearing in court.

The journalist and founder of New York-based publication Sahara Reporters, had been released on bail the day before. He was arrested following his organization of nationwide #RevolutionNow protests in August. Since then, Sowore has remained in custody on what are said to be trumped-up charges, including treason, money laundering and stalking the president.

He appeared in court once again on Friday after being released on bail in federal court the previous day. During his appearance, Sowore was again taken into custody by Nigerian authorities.

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