News Brief

Yasiin Bey Drops More Experimental Music from Cape Town with 'Local Time'

New music from Yasiin Bey and Ferrari Sheppard’s Cape Town-based Dec. 99th project, “Local Time”

Yes, Yasiin Bey is still in South Africa. Yes, he’s promised his final album and retirement from music and acting are coming soon. Until then, the artist formerly known as Mos Def has been hitting the studio in Cape Town with his longtime friend, confidant and A Country Called Earth co-founder, Ferrari Sheppard.

For the third time in the past month or so, Bey and Sheppard––recording under the name Dec. 99th––have some seriously experimental grooves to share from D Planet Studios, the recording space of D Planet from the Cape Town noise rap outfit DOOKOOM.

“Local Time,” which Sheppard produced, plays like a feel-good manifesto for his and Bey’s pan-continental A Country Called Earth platform: “The local time is now” Bey rap-sings on the track. “Whoever you are, no matter, no how.”

If you recall, “the time is always now” has been on Bey’s lips for a while now. In January 2014 the rapper celebrated the late Muhammad Ali’s 72nd birthday with a surprise concert from an undisclosed location on the continent. The location turned out to be a rooftop in Cape Town. And the performance, titled LIVE FROM AFRICA, was streamed live on Okayafrica. Leading up to the event Bey shared a series of teasers titled “the time is always now.”

Listen to the latest from Dec. 99th below. For more from Bey and Sheppard, check out their previous Dec. 99th tracks "N.A.W." and "Tall Sleeves."

No word on how, if at all, the recent slew of releases relate to Bey's impending last album.

Photo: Jolaoso Adebayo.

Crayon Is Nigeria's Prince of Bright Pop Melodies

Since emerging on the scene over two years ago, Crayon has carved a unique path with his catchy songs.

During the 2010s, the young musician Charles Chibuezechukwu made several failed attempts to get into a Nigerian university. On the day of his fifth attempt, while waiting for the exam's commencement, he thought of what he really wanted out of life. To the surprise of the thousands present, he stood up and left the centre, having chosen music. "Nobody knew I didn't write the exam," Charles, who's now known to afro pop lovers as Crayon, tells OkayAfrica over a Zoom call from a Lagos studio. "I had to lie to my parents that I wrote it and didn't pass. But before then, I had already met Don Jazzy and Baby Fresh [my label superiors], so I knew I was headed somewhere."

His assessment is spot on. Over the past two years Crayon's high-powered records have earned him a unique space within Nigeria's pop market. On his 2019 debut EP, the cheekily-titled Cray Cray, the musician shines over cohesive, bright production where he revels in finding pockets of joy in seemingly everyday material. His breakout record "So Fine" is built around the adorable promises of a lover to his woman. It's a fairly trite theme, but the 21-year-old musician's endearing voice strikes the beat in perfect form, and when the hook "call my number, I go respond, oh eh" rolls in, the mastery of space and time is at a level usually attributed to the icons of Afropop: Wizkid, P-Square, Wande Coal.

"My dad used to sell CDs back in the day, in Victoria Island [in Lagos]," reveals Crayon. "I had access to a lot of music: afrobeat, hip-hop, Westlife, 2Face Idibia, Wizkid, and many others." Crayon also learnt stage craft from his father's side hustle as an MC, who was always "so bold and confident," even in the midst of so much activity. His mother, then a fruit seller, loved Igbo gospel songs; few mornings passed when loud, worship songs weren't blasting from their home. All of these, Crayon says, "are a mix of different sounds and different cultures that shaped my artistry."

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