Photo courtesy of the artist.

Maya Amolo Wants You to Embrace Love

We talk to the rising Kenyan artist about her new single "Foundry," finding love and her upcoming album.

Maya Amolo feels more confident than ever. With her debut album around the corner and having recently been named Spotify's Fresh Finds Africa inaugural artist, the 23-year-old Kenyan singer-songwriter has a lot to feel hopeful about.

“My brand was very much being a sad girl,” she shares, referring to her last project Leave Me At The Pregame. “I thought I was so edgy but I was comfortable with that being my brand. But once I willed myself out of that mindset, I realized that my music is way more wholesome. I make happy music and I enjoy singing about love.”

Following the success of her last single "Can’t Get Enough," Maya’s latest offering "Foundry" exemplifies her growth as an artist in full mastery of her emotions. To make the smooth-jam anthem, Maya collaborated with Kenyan producers Lukxrito and DJ IV along with upcoming Ugandan artist kalibwani who features on the track. With smoldering lyrics like “let me in the shadows of your mind tonight” and “killing me softly but it’s not a crime,” Maya’s honeyed vocals showcase the enchanting qualities of romantic love that sound sweet without feeling overly sugared.

Our conversation with Maya offers a glimpse at what’s inspired this new season of tenderness as we look forward to a project that’s posed to shape the sound Kenyan R&B for years to come.

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Rophnan Reconciles the Grief of Ethiopia's Past With Its Future Potential In New Album

We talk to the Ethiopian artist about SIDIST (VI), a personal album in which science and faith meet to speak to the nation's promising future.

The time-traveling, genre-defying artist ROPHNAN is best known for weaving traditional Ethiopian instrumentation with contemporary music to transport listeners into his futuristic musical universe. Following the popularity of his EP, SOST (III), the first installation of an epic musical trilogy, ROPHNAN’s success pointed to a luminous future.

However, the conflict Ethiopia experienced in the past year, made ROPHNAN question everything—from the state of humanity to his contribution to the world, which cast the completion of his sophomore album into doubt. “No one could be okay going from what we went through in the past few years. It affected everything, including how I see the world and how I perceive myself because it was a very emotional time,” he tells OkayAfrica.

To navigate the turbulence around him, ROPHNAN turned to introspection. Through the perspective of his inner child, free from humankind’s prejudice or hate, SIDIST (VI) emerges.

Released through Universal Music, SIDIST makes ROPHNAN the first home-grown Ethiopian artist to sign with a major international label. The album, driven by grief of Ethiopia’s past, offers a personal project where science and faith are reconciled to speak to the nation's promising future.

Our timely conversation with ROPHNAN reveals why the inspiration behind his latest project is neither time, space, nor gravity, but ultimately, love.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

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