Bio: Phiona Okumu has written for Y Magazine, Oprah Magazine, Marie Claire, Elle, Straight No Chaser, Shook, Arise, www.rage.co.za etc. Her favourite Africans are Kenyans, and then Ghanaians. But she's neither. Often she can be found navigating the social media maze to engage with world-wise, afro-centred, Hip-hop predisposed peers. Follow her on www.twitter.com/ophiona
Posts by ophiona:
It’s no secret that I’ve been trumpeting the arrival of Burna Boy this year every chance I got. *That* Felabration performance which had Seun Kuti hating was a good 80% of the reason I showed up at all to Channel O’s Music Video Awards last week. In my mind, Oluwaburna would set the stage ablaze with a career-defining performance for all watching across Africa to see, and justify his deafening buzz from Lagos to Nairobi.
That didn’t happen at all. Instead, Burna slouched in an arm chair for half the duration of Like to Party – in itself a strange choice of song – and then leapt to his feet for some out of breath call-and-response with the rent-a-crowd patrons.
On this unexpected last quarter heat-seeker Burna Boy partners with someone who knows a thing or two about letting the side down. D’Banj, 2012’s toast of the African music scene, is surprisingly understated on this trap-leaning production by DeeVee. The ghostwriter here needs a bells and more gigs!
What do you guys think though? Based on this, can we give Burna another chance to make good? Is this one for popping or dropping?
ps: Both D’Banj and Burna Boy are on the line-up of the Nelson Mandela tribute concert in Nigeria organised by Ebony Life TV and scheduled for December 18th.
Partnering with South African pop culture photographer/film maker Chris Saunders and former editor Rod Stanley, Dazed Digital just put out this mini-documentary on Joburg’s emerging downtown music culture. Spot scenesters Dirty Paraffin, Bhubesii, Richard the Third, Eda Rose and others as they toss in their two cents. Rapper and party animal Chocolate provides most of the film’s (increasingly drunken) narrative shouting out all the people who invented every social network there is and boasting as a parting shot, “look, we got Ferraris in Africa, what now? What they gon say now?” Watch it below.
Juls covered all the bases with this one. A 44-track mix of Afro beats heat to keep your Dezemba lively. He says it’s just the first in a series of Christmas season mixes so there’s more dancing up ahead if you can handle it.
Following a string of online releases, namely, The New Era, Talk UR Mind (with Lynxxx), and Don’t Give Me Sh*t (with Jesse Jagz & Kahli Abdu)here is Ko Ye Won, the first single off Show Dem Camp associate Poe’s intro mixtape Talk About Poe.
Paris-based FB produces the street single which loosely translates to “they don’t understand”.
Listen below and download here.
South African record label Kalawa Jazmee turns 20 next year – making it the country’s longest standing local urban music independents. Their secret? Re-invention master-minded by veteran producer and label head Oscar “Oskido” Mdlongwa.
Kalawa housed the South African artists synonymous with Kwaito’s inception and has been at the forefront of its evolution which, over the years, has spawned hybrid sounds spanning 50s Kwela through more rugged Durban House music.
The current wave of Kwaito/House music embraces a broader spectrum of South African cultures, even reaching outside of South Africa to capture a more continental sound. Enter Kalawa’s latest trump card Uhuru, the four-man producer collective behind this year’s biggest African club track– Mafikizolo’s Khona and its follow-up Happiness.
Y Tjukutja featuring Professor, Oskido and DJ Bucks is the lead single for their new album, Our Father and a certified summer club smash hit.
It had been a while since I saw South African veteran rapper Tumi Molekane perform live in September. As far back as 2010 to be precise, and in that time a lot had happened but very little has changed: It’s true that Tumi had parted ways with Tumi and the Volume, the group with whom he had made a ten-year plus career out of being the South African music industry’s favourite perpetual outsiders. They performed extensively in Belgium, Norway and Canada whilst promoting their first two albums, the era-defining Live at the Bassline and its critically acclaimed self-titled follow-up, and then finally Pick A Dream, their last studio outing together.
Watching Tumi own the stage in Lilongwe at City of Stars (formerly Lake of Stars festival but this year it was transplanted from its usual palm-fringed setting of Lake Malawi to the heart of Lilongwe) I remembered what it was that makes this guy arguably still the most consummate performer South African Hip-hop has: flawless timing, unrelenting breath control, commanding presence, and a warm magnetic charm wrapped like soft cushioning around the poetic realism of his complexly layered lyrics.
He won the audience over with new material from his new album Rob The Church (Later he explains the title to me: “I think we are in a time when being progressive has meant to abandon religious notions and ideas. When I go to rural areas I find people are more religious and in the big cities, churches have become museums. As if to suggest the progressive world is robbing the church.”)
Hello Hello Kitty is the album lead single. The video, shot on location in Nairobi, is directed by renowned Kenyan film maker Wanuri Kahiu.
I just did a double take at the list of Channel O Music Video Award nominees and noticed how evenly split the selection of artists is over the categories. This will be why Burna Boy, who otherwise would have swept the awards clean, is up for just one – Best Newcomer, against South Africans Moneoa and Khaya Mthethwa , fellow Nigerian Lola Rae and Kenya’s Victoria Kimani. Needless to say there is absolutely no contest here.
Anyway, as the big day draws near, this new dancehall video for Yawa Dey directed by Clarence Peters is timely.
Stripping down to the basics yet retaining ALL of the power that Kwabs’ tremendous voice is endowed with, here is the London-based Ghanaian singer born Kwabena Achepong giving yet another pitch-perfect performance.
Tickets to Kwabs’ first headline show at Wilton’s Music Hall on December 3rd went on sale today. (Get yours!)
Clarence Peters did it again! He took this feel-good Afropop single and translated all of its cutesiness via 70s retro-inspired visuals where even Don Jazzy – whose video cameos tend to generally be imposing and unnecessary – cuts a pretty likeable figure.
Eminado, off Tiwa Savage’s acclaimed debut album Once Upon a Time, loosely means “good luck charm”. And indeed there has been no shortage of good fortune for the first lady of Mavin.
Major endorsement deals, MOBO and Channel O Music Video Award nominations, and a planned fairy tale wedding are all happening to her in one year. Tiwa Savage is living the dream.
Nakhane Mahlakahlaka is the latest in a slew of celebrated South African musicians the Eastern Cape keeps churning out – to name a few, Thandiswa Mazwai, Simphiwe Dana, Zahara, Bongeziwe Mabandla and now this 25-year-old singer/songwriter born in Alice, raised in Port Elizabeth and now based in Johannesburg.
Aesthetically, Mahlakahlaka’s lineage is far wider reaching. First of all, he adopts Touré as his stage second name in honour of the prolific Malian singer and multi-instrumentalist Ali Farka Touré. There are also traces of Radiohead, Paul Simon, David Bowie and more in his album Brave Confusion, which couldn’t be more aptly titled. It’s an enigma of a debut, rife with complexities (here is a black Christian man, on some songs penning love lyrics for/to male love interests), swathed in a disarming honesty that holds you captive right through his tortured journey to clarity.
South African film-maker Mark Middlewick (Security, A Kosovo Fairytale) directs this video. It’s Nakhane’s first official one, powerfully expressed and all the more impressive because it was filmed in a single take.
Nakhane Touré supports Suzanne Vega on tour in South Africa this weekend.
The Fela Kuti tributes came in thick and fast this month as the pop world remembered what would have been the Afrobeat luminary’s 75th birthday.
New Naija pop sensation Burna Boy drew mixed reactions when, as a hat tip to Fela, he stripped down to his underpants to perform his hit Run My Race at the recent Felabration event in Lagos. (The video for that song was shot at the Shrine). Seun Kuti
stayed hating apparently wasn’t having it.
Other pop favourite Wizkid shot this video for Jaiye Jaiye. Presumably, his contribution to the occasion sits better with the Kuti’s – Femi plays alongside him.
Who remembers Ya Kid K, the fly lead rapper for Technotronic? No idea what she is up to now these days but her younger sister Karoline “Leki” Kamosi, lay in the cut putting down vocals the 90s techno/Hip-house group at the height of their reign.
She went on to become a fully fledged star in her own right in Belgium, going from radio and television presenting to her current occupation as a recording artist.
Le Congo is her latest.
They don’t call her “boss lady” for nothing. I know hardly any music entrepreneurs holding their own like Muthoni the Drummer Queen (let alone African female ones).
The mastermind behind East Africa’s premiere and most consistent live music experience Blankets and Wine moves from the boardroom back to the mic again and she sounds like she means business!
With her forth-coming album MDQ, the drummer/rapper has figured out a way around the tricky business of music distribution in Kenya. In a deal not unlike Jay Z’s famed one with Samsung, she partners with one of the country’s largest media houses Standard Group, who have bought the rights to the album. They then offer each single (released every Friday since last week) to their readers as a free download.
Nai Ni Ya Who (Whose Nairobi is this?) is the lead single. Watch her claim her city in the video!
Crowd-funding for startups in Africa, and more so as a means of financing music startups, is yet to prove its viability.
Pim Betist, a Dutch pioneering crowd-funding evangelist (of Sell A Band fame) found this out when in 2009 he introduced the Africa Unsigned campaign which invited pledges for new African music talent from different parts of the continent and in the diaspora. The outcome was subdued and sent him back to the drawing board.
Africa Unsigned then relaunched with a more localized strategy. They devised a talent search campaign in Ghana, partnering with German beverage brand Bavaria who were looking for a foot in the market. For a grass roots buy-in from the Ghanaian audience, Africa Unsigned tapped the irreverent Ghanaian underground music kings FOKN Bois as the face of the year-long campaign. The two have produced an EP for the contest winner, a young Hiplife rapper named Bryte. This is his first single and video. Not sure if he got Nadia’s number in the end but the future looks promising!
Merchants, Dealers and Slaves, the new album from ex-Chocolate City crooner Brymo is expected to drop at the top of this week. Not sure if that title references his unceremonious exit from his former camp (home to Naija rapreneurs M.I and Jesse Jags). I am just glad they gave him his free.
Brymo’s gorgeously gravel voice belongs to more than a mere hook singer. It’s telling also that on this track, he goes for more substance than what we are used to in the smooth, hyper-stylised Choc City aesthetic.
I am enjoying the more pensive, boundary pushing Brymo of right now.