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Una Rams, a South African Computer Science Student, Might Be Your New Favourite Singer

We get to know South African musician and computer science student Una Rams.

“Una Rams is a small town kid that’s just trying to express himself through music,” Una Rams tells me over the phone. Like Kid Cudi before him, the South African musician is fit to become the voice of a generation. He’s got relatable stories to tell and pop sensibilities that give him a mainstream edge.


Born into a Christian family in Makwarela, a small town in Limpopo, Una moonlights as University of Pretoria computer science student Unarine Rambani. At 20, he's in the prime of his academic career–he's about to finish his undergrad studies and likely continue on to his postgrad. His music, meanwhile, is just taking off.

Una’s Pink Moon EP was on heavy rotation at the Okayafrica Jozi offices this winter, specifically the B.O.B.-esque lead single, “Nobody,” which Una says was inspired by a crush.

“I like telling a story, which doesn’t necessarily have to be my story,” Una tells me. “It’s just nice to feel that you’re not the only one in the world.” That’s what he says his songs are really focused on.

Una, whose galactic sounds pull from a hybrid of genres, looks towards reggae and dancehall on his heartbreak-inspired new single, “Girls Like You.”

If the young singer, songwriter, producer is to really “make it,” he’ll have done so without sacrificing his studies. Education, after all, runs in his veins. His parents started out as teachers before moving up in the ranks of South Africa’s Department Education, where they still work today. And the Rambanis have plenty reason to proud–Una was one of the top academic achievers in Limpopo his graduating year, finishing in the top 30 amongst matriculates.

Above all, Una hopes to inspire his fellow South African youth to remain steadfast in their commitment to education: “I want the youth in South Africa to realise that yes they can achieve their goals, but it doesn’t mean they have to forsake or leave their education.”

Keep up with Una Rams on Facebook and Twitter. "Girls Like You" is up for free download here.

Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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