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.

Keep reading... Show less
popular

Nigerian Experimental Soul Artist Kingsley Ibeneche Expands On 'Realms'

The vocalist and dance performer explores the power of his Nigerian roots on this second release.

Kingsley Ibeneche makes deep, expansive tunes through the vehicle of soul music—bridging the gap between R&B and Afropop. Born Kingsley Ugumba Ibeneche to Igbo parents from the Udo and Obizi villages, the first-generation New Jersey native spent most summers as child shuttling between the east coast and Nigeria. It's during these trips when this rising artist first made lasting connections with this heritage.

"We come from a heavy line of artists, philosophers, and all around rebels," Kingsley reflected in an interview with OkayAfrica, "I have fond memories of going to Nigerian gatherings and seeing all the colorful garbs, hearing the traditional Nigerian highlife and African music play, and seeing all of our parents dance until the sun came out." The magic of these experiences was echoed through the rituals of his community's Nigerian-American church, where gospel music knows few limits. Kingsley's 2017 debut release CHi is a clear product of this spiritually grounded upbringing, championing the sacred-secular origins of R&B.

Keep reading... Show less
Audio
Jess Sah Bi and Peter One. Photo courtesy of Awesome Tapes From Africa.

Jess Sah Bi & Peter One's West African Country-Folk Masterpiece

We talk to the Côte d'Ivoire duo about their classic 1985 album, Our Garden Needs Its Flowers, which was reissued earlier this year.

Songwriters Jess Sah Bi and Peter One met in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire as college students during the early 1980s. Bonding over a mutual love of grassroots country acts like Don Williams, Kenny Rogers and The Eagles, the musical duo wrote and recorded an album of country songs called Our Garden Needs Its Flowers.

These tracks were the first of their kind, performed in French, English and Gouro for maximum audience exposure. The fresh, yet familiar new sound appealed to young and old listeners alike, quickly sparking a nationwide craze of country, folk and Americana music. The 8-track classic album was reissued this summer on Brian Shimkovitz's popular music blog-turned-record label Awesome Tapes From Africa.

Keep reading... Show less
Audio

Petite Noir Is the King of Noirwave

On his new release, La Maison Noir, Petite Noir blends bombastic rhythms, surging melodies, and the style and substance of the DRC.

Petite Noir gained global notoriety by 2015 for his brilliant, shapeshifting pop debut La Vie Est Belle / Life Is Beautiful. The album was self-described by the artist, born Yannick Ilunga, as noirwave, a genre that extends beyond the music to embrace new concepts of freedom, power and African solidarity.

Three years later, Petite Noir has returned with a six-track EP and an accompanying four-track short film that delves considerably deeper into noirwave and his Congolese roots. The music of La Maison Noir / The Black House and its introspective 18-minute film explores ideas of gender, identity as a migrant, and political resistance.

A young Yannick Illunga and his family fled the Democratic Republic of Congo and went into exile after his father faced threats as a former minister of the DRC. They emigrated to Belgium and France before settling permanently in Cape Town.

It's clear from Petite Noir's distinct, genre-blurring noirwave aesthetic that he's absorbed influences on a global scale. His discography up until now showcases a thrilling range of left-field electronics, post-punk and alternative rock, all anchored to the more traditional African sounds of his childhood. Petite Noir is a truly cosmopolitan artist. But on La Maison Noir, moving to the foreground through its bombastic rhythms and surging melodies, the style and substance of Africa takes precedence.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.