Julie Adenuga: "There Are Young Artists In Nigeria Who Are Changing the World"

In an exclusive interview, the Beats 1 radio presenter opens up about her Nigerian heritage, documenting Homecoming in Lagos, and London being an important hub for afro-fusion sounds.

Julie Adenuga sits at the intersection of two continents.

As an affable tastemaker who transforms banal interviews into engaging conversations with some of the most famous artists in the world, Julie is leading the global dialogue on new music from her daily radio show, which broadcasts to over 100 countries.

The North London native of Nigerian descent hails from a musical family, her brothers are artists Skepta and JME, and has risen from the underground as a self-taught presenter on former pirate radio station Rinse FM to being one of three lead DJ's with her Beats 1 show on Apple Music.

A champion of homegrown talent in the UK and across the African diaspora, Julie is a purveyor of the afro-fusion genre, as is evident in her recent Homecoming documentary, which captured the fresh innovators from the Lagos music scene, and her DON't @ ME club nights, which has featured Ghetts, Lady Leshurr and The Compozers as residents.

Chosen as one of OkayAfrica's 100 Women celebrating extraordinary women from Africa and the diaspora, we speak with the presenter and broadcaster on owning her Nigerian identity, the responsibility of spreading afrobeats and why London is a key location for the genre.

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Photo: Nina Manandhar.

Kokoroko: "Jazz & Afrobeat Shouldn't Stay Within Our Parents' Generation"

We talk to the buzzing London afrobeat group's bandleader about their debut EP and much more.

Last February saw Brownswood Recordings release the fresh and exciting compilation We Out Here, assembled by Shabaka Hutchings, which celebrated the new generation of London jazz musicians who've been organically fine-tuning their craft for the last decade.

In an epoch where streaming numbers and views can often precede the foresight of quality and legacy, this grassroots family is welding their formal education at Trinity Laban and Guildhall alongside the energetic tutelage of Tomorrow's Warriors and Kinetika Bloco to create an essence for your ears that is unmistakably from the Big Smoke.

One band who feature triumphantly on We Out Here are the empress-led Kokoroko, an 8-piece afrobeat band hailing from the UK capital. Drawing influence from West African highlife and jazz, they sit at the intersection of past and present, well-marinated in enough polyrhythm seasoning to induce fires on the dance floors they play.

We spoke with the talented bandleader, trumpeter and visual artist Sheila Maurice-Grey about paying homage to highlife heroes, the burgeoning London jazz sound and their new self-titled EP, Kokoroko.

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Arts + Culture
Tobi Kyeremateng. Photo by Gabriel Mokake.

'I See Theatre as Babylon': Tobi Kyeremateng Is the Producer Celebrating the Impact Black British Youth Have on London Culture

In our conversation with Tobi Kyeremateng, we learn about her upcoming BABYLON Season at the Bush Theatre and what it means to truly champion black and brown voices in creative spaces.

As a second generation person of African descent, the arts and its various creative mediums provide a safe space for the diaspora to come together to explore the nuances of dual heritage and the far removed, presumed career choice pressures of being a doctor or a lawyer. For cultural producer Tobi Kyeremateng, her life experiences living in this said duality have informed why she is the powerhouse she is in the UK's creative scene—where she focuses on theatre, poetry, festivals and film.

Born to a Ghanaian father and a Nigerian mother in South London, Kyeremateng was brought up on a strong soundtrack of Whitney Houston, Pentecostal church songs and afrobeat. After joining OvalHouse Theatre at 16 and reading the BAFTA award-winning random by Black British playwright debbie tucker green during college, these catalysts started her formative journey into producing for the stage. She has worked with The Roundhouse, Glastonbury Festival and collaborated with The Prince's Trust. Recently named on the The Stage 100, a list reflecting the most influential people working in the theatre and performing arts, Kyeremateng is also the founder of the Black Ticket Project—and program that provided free access to London shows for black young people and BAMworks, an initiative which connects minority ethnic producers across the UK.

The forthcoming BABYLON Season at the Bush Theatre in West London is a program the burgeoning producer co-created which encompasses a celebration of black and brown cultural innovators and a ground-breaking production which fuses live-streamed performances around the globe. The season opens at the venue from Feb. 4 to 9 with BABYLON Festival—a week-long takeover which celebrates the influence of black and brown people on London culture.

We speak with the BABYLON co-creator and executive producer on taking over the Bush Theatre, championing black voices and what to lookout for at the forthcoming festival.

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Still from Film Africa trailer.

Film Africa 2018 Is a Vibrant Celebration of Cinema from the Continent and the Diaspora

We speak with Film Africa's programmer and producer Tega Okiti about championing African narratives and what to expect from the eighth edition of the festival—currently underway in London.

This year is the eighth edition of Film Africa in London celebrating the best in African cinema from the continent and the wider diaspora. The programme offers a range of first time features, talks and live music for all ages over ten days across the UK capital. Tega Okiti is the talented festival programmer and producer behind this year's festival. With a committed dedication to cinema and visual cultures from the motherland, she previously worked for the British Film Institute on its landmark BLACKSTAR season and also served as Lead Curator on Unbound: Visions of the Black Feminine showcasing films created by and about black women.

We spoke with the Nigerian-British producer on the importance of owning the narrative, reflecting the diaspora on screen and what exciting new films to watch out for at Film Africa 2018.

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