Photo by Amarachi Nwosu.

Yxng Bane Has No Other Competition But Himself

We catch up with the UK's Afro-Swing artist as he visits the continent for the first time.

Afro-Swing is a genre that takes influence from afrobeat, pop and grime music and is slowly becoming one of the most recognizable genres in the UK today. The rise of Afro-Swing comes a generation of young artists who are embracing their African roots, while shaping their own unique lane and sound. Among this new class is East London-raised artist, Yxng Bane, who has surged the UK charts with singles like "Rihanna" and features including "Bestie" with Yungen. He even hopped on Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You" track, which caught Ed's attention and became an official remix.

While his sound takes influence from his first-generation experience being raised by a Congolese mother and an Angolan father, up until December, Bane had never stepped on African soil. Growing up in Newham, Bane had an enriching, multicultural upbringing. He especially grew an affinity for Nigerian culture via his close friends and his Nigerian-British manager. So it was only right that Nigeria be his first visit and show in Africa, where he performed at the NATIVELAND Festival alongside Skepta, Davido and Burna Boy.

Photo by Amarachi Nwosu.

Although he's new to the African terrain physically, his music has been able to travel and transcend borders, which was clear when many people sang his songs word for word at his debut show. Bane immediately felt a connection and described his time in Nigeria as being at "home."

"So, it's like, okay, you know you're African, but you've never been back. You've never been here," he explains. "I've been in Britain my whole life. To come back and to know myself—I'm coming back home with my shoulders high and my head high, you know what I mean? I love it here so much. I actually feel like I'm in Africa, like I'm home, this is me. No one can say to me, 'Go back home.'"

While many young people in the diaspora are beginning to shape new narratives on what it means to be first-generation and still proud to be African, this has not always been the common notion due to stigmas against the continent. However, Bane notes how artists embracing their dual identity has played a key role in the growing music industry in the UK, where most of the biggest artists in the urban music scene have roots from places like Ghana and Nigeria.

Photo by Amarachi Nwosu.

Photo by Amarachi Nwosu.

"It's almost as if the generation is so proud to be African, and that's where the birth of Afro-Swing has come from," he says. "Before that, it was just grime artists. Now you've got artists like Not3s, Kojo Funds; and they all come out and do an afrobeats song. Maybe as we are all getting to this age we are more conscious of who we are, and where we come from, and are proud of it, we just express it in every single way."

Bane also recognizes that he was privileged to have parents that supported his aspirations in music. For many young people with African parents, becoming an artist is a foreign thought due to the risk of pursuing an untraditional career path. However, he has advice for those try to break in: "Nobody will understand your journey better than yourself, that's something that someone said to me once and has stuck with me and has helped me get through this all," he says. "Some people, they don't have the luxury I had. You try doing music and your parents will tell you, 'No." But that's not to say that you shouldn't do it, because nobody will understand your journey better than yourself. Only you will know in your stomach what you're capable of doing."

Photo by Amarachi Nwosu.

When speaking with Bane, it's clear that his confidence and strong values are what's pushing him and has allowed him to develop a unique vision for himself and his music. He believes that songwriting is the most authentic when you don't omit pieces of your truth to please other people's idea of who you are and has rejected all comparisons to other artists.

"You have to take in everything that's happening around you," he says. "Especially with the places we've been and the things we've seen, when you go to the studio, being yourself naturally, you'll just express things differently. For me, when it comes to music, it's always been about self-expression and self stories—we are all human at the end of the day. I'm sure if I sing about heartbreak, someone in the world is going to be able to relate and connect. As long as I know I put out a song that someone is going to listen to, and it's going to make them think about a situation and help them, then I think I've done my job. I go to the studio to tell what I've been through and what I'm going through, hoping that once it goes out there it will touch someone in some way."

Photo by Amarachi Nwosu.

Bane also explains that blocking out comparison has allowed him to focus on developing his own sound, rather than worrying about what other people are producing. "I don't know why we live in a world of comparisons, we are all in our own lanes," he says. "I'm just trying to be better and make sure my next song is better than my last one. Everyone should be racing against their [own] self. At the end of the day, we're all serving the people. So we all have to just make sure that we're giving them the best versions of ourself; the best music for sure. Whoever you're going to try and compare me to, I probably listen to them and enjoy their music as much as a fan does, do you know what I mean? We're all working for the fan, so let's not forget that. We're not in a competition."

At just 21, Bane is already leaving a legacy and opening doors for more artists to recognize their value and possibility within music. In Bane's next chapter, he wants to continue to push his boundaries and develop a closer connection with his African fans and his fans around the world. He's been in the studio with Wizkid, Mr Eazi and Maleek Berry and will be releasing a new project as well as kicking off his UK tour in 2018.

Although Nigeria was his first stop in Africa, it is clear that he will be back soon with even more tunes to spread.



Photographer + Creative Director: Amarachi Nwosu

Stylist: Prince Aday

Producers: Vivendii

Photography Assistant: Maj Delz

Photos by David Pattinson.

First Look: This New Collection from Art Comes First Is Peak Black Yeehaw Aesthetic

The design and brand consultant duo previews the SS20 collection displayed during their residency at The Mandrake Hotel in Paris.

Following their wavy Surf Afrika collection, Art Comes First (ACF) shares with us a preview of their SS20 collection that is all things Black Yeehaw Aesthetic.

Dubbed El Charro Negro, the collection features neutral colors and an array of textures—from leather, embroidery, fringed denim and ponchos, to vests, suede jackets and straight flyness.

Sam Lambert and Shaka Maidoh of ACF are known as the "Travelling Tailors" where their ventures around the world influence their designs. This time the nomads, who hail from the West Indies, Ghana and Angola respectively, have landed in Paris.

Earlier this month, ACF curated a week-long event-filled residency at The Mandrake Hotel in Paris that encapsulates their ethos of taking cultural influence from around the world and only staying still long enough to create. There, Lambert and Maidoh presented an installation, live musical performances and DJ sets, a film screening and a pop-up shop leading up to Fashion Week. The residency also showcased the duo's latest collaboration with London mainstay Fred Perry.

El Charro Negro will still be showcased in Paris at another location from June 18 to 23. Keep up with ACF on Instagram to stay tuned for details.

Check out our favorite images from the collection below.

Keep reading... Show less

Nonso Amadi & Kwesi Arthur's 'Comfortable' Will Get You In Weekend Mode

Watch the trippy new music video for this link-up from the buzzing Nigerian and Ghanaian artists.

Nonso Amadi is one of the standout acts from a young wave of Nigerian musicians blending afro-fusion with RnB and much more. He's now dropping the brand new single "Comfortable," an addictive self-produced track that sees him linking up with bubbling Ghanaian act Kwesi Arthur, which we're premiering below today.

"Comfortable" is built on woozy synth keys and sparse beat work, all spearheaded by Nonso Amadi's vocals about wanting freedom in a relationship.

"The song is inspired by experiences with having a girl over and not wanting them to get too comfortable by staying too long with you," says Nonso Amadi. "I thought it'll be interesting to create a song around this 'cos it's not a perspective were used to hearing from guys very often."

Keep reading... Show less
Screenshot via YouTube.

Maleek Berry Makes a Statement with His First Track of the Year, 'Flashy'

And the music video follows suit.

After months of anticipation, Maleek Berry finally dropped his first track of the year, "Flashy."

The Nigerian crooner-producer surely makes a statement on the track while flexing his rapping skills, as he chronicles how he leveled up to be flashy—and it's well-deserved. The video shows us a scene of a fly photo shoot that's underway, where Maleek is dripping in gold and fancy cars surrounded by stunning black women and his homies—Eugy, Tinie Tempah, Juls and more.

Watch the video, directed by Capone and Guise of Vissionaire Pictures, below.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox