Name: Phiona


Bio: Phiona Okumu has written for Y Magazine, Oprah Magazine, Marie Claire, Elle, Straight No Chaser, Shook, Arise, 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

Posts by ophiona:

    Get to Know: Congolese-American Rapper Well$

    January 23rd, 2014

    Sounds like: A man as much at home with Pac Div as he is with Tupac.

    The low-down: Well$’ tumultuous teen life brought on his concerned mother’s decision to ship him off to New Orleans to stay with his older cousin, one Alec Lomami in the hope that he could steer him back on to the straight and narrow.

    Lomami successfully averted Well$’ focus to music as a means of channeling his feelings of angst and isolation. In 2010 the two of them began work in earnest on Well$’ debut, and today Lomami, Immaculate Records label owner, is the executive producer of Well$’ project.

    The verdict: Storied background aside, this kid’s rhymes pack multiple punch-lines customarily. But Black Swan is him daring to do the unexpected, evoking the story-telling spirit of classic era rap. “I was a bit nervous to drop it as a first single,” he confesses, “But, I was listening to a lot of Biggie, Tupac, Outkast & the Chronic 2001, and so I wanted to try that approach.”

    It’s exactly this type of risk-taking I hope will bleed into the rest of his forth-coming mixtape MTSYD: The Revenge Of The African Booty Scratcher.

    The take-away: The sample – Jeremih’s stripper anthem All The Time – is perfectly on-message in Black Swan, which explores the life choices of a young woman affected by an absent father. (She becomes a stripper, of course). Zimbabwean singer Jackie Kwenda sings the hook. Listen to the track which premiered at HiphopDx and has been featured on SourceDJboothStupidDope among others.

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    Watch ‘Surulere’, Dr. Sid’s New Video Featuring Don Jazzy

    January 23rd, 2014

    This video plays out like a Nollywood film with suitably over the top dramatics supplied by Nigerian actresses Blossom Chukwujekwu, Funke Akindele and stand-up comedian Helen Paul.

    One of last year’s latter top Naija hit contenders, Surulere shows us at least one thing. If Don Jazzy is lacking for a muse at all, he need look no further than Dr. Sid, who for the longest lay in the cut at Mavin Records. This could all change now that Wande Coal, for all intents and purposes the star player other than Tiwa Savage, has left the fold.

    The title track loosely means good things go to those who wait. And it could be that the good doctor is done waiting.

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    Watch the New Video for Kwabs’ ‘Wrong or Right’

    January 21st, 2014

    2014 will likely also be known as the year of Kwabs. The conquest continues with the fresh off-the-shelf video for his debut EP title track Wrong or Right. Get ready.

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    Samthing Soweto Drops Debut EP ‘Eb’suku’ (Listen)

    January 8th, 2014

    Samkelo “Samthing Soweto” Ndolomba, raised the third of four children by a single, English school teacher mom in Soweto, from an early age learned to create music with minimal resources.

    “I always made Accapella music because I didn’t know anyone with the ability to play any instruments,” recalls Sam the vocalist and songwriter.

    “Later on when I found a group of people who could play instruments, I did Jazz music for a while and now I wanna use the knowledge of both genres to create something new.”

    Some might say he is already well on his way if not already there. “Shebeen music”, is how he sums up the melange of Mbaqanga and classic Kwaito influences that he is perfecting into a distinctive signature sound.

    Samkelo’s official foray into the professional recording arena, marked by his participation in two jazz, African folk and soul-inspired music groups both renowned on South Africa’s new urban music landscape for their boundary-pushing styles: At first with the collective the Soil and then more recently with the ultra-hip neo-jazz trio The Fridge where he has been the lead singer and songwriter for two and a half years.

    Since deciding to venture out as a solo artist, Samthing can be heard on the soundtrack for the well-received South African film success story Otelo Burning and as of this week on his debut EP Eb’suku, which you can stream below.

    Check out Samthing Soweto’s free-to-download track Jack of All Trades.


    Check out Samthing Soweto’s free-to-download track Jack of All Trades.

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    Listen+Download ‘Bleach Pool’, New Music By The GTW

    January 8th, 2014

    When life hands you dramatic episodes with ex-lovers, you do what James King of the GTW crew did and write dope songs about them.

    While we were away being distracted by the trappings of silly season this song Bleach Pool premiered on the Kitty Cash mixtape for Vogue which includes tracks from Kelela and Jesse Boykins III amongst others. Inspired by the antics of a former flame who King says dragged his clothes through a pool of bleach, we have to wonder just what did he do?

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    Listen to ‘Wrong or Right’, The New Track from Kwabs

    January 8th, 2014

    Officially one of 2014’s hottest new prospects, London-based singer/songwriter Kwabs will release his debut EP Wrong Or Right on February 3rd. The original title track, a Ben Pearce remix and last year’s favourite Spirit Fade will appear on this EP. Kwabs, as you probably know,  was shortlisted by MTV for their hotly contested ‘Brand New for 2014’ as well as BBC Radio 1Xtra’s ‘Hot For 2014′.

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    Watch ‘Tous Les Mêmes’, Stromae’s New Video

    December 18th, 2013

    The only thing standing between Stromae and outright world domination is a (reliable) translator. The music leans towards pop but the production is varied and outstanding, and the commentary thought provoking. Between us I would go on a limb and say his album Racine Carrée should be high up on any one of those year-end best-of lists. I don’t know any male pop stars on this scale being as bold as he is.

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    Watch ‘Amantombazane’, The New Video By Riky Rick Featuring Okmalumkoolkat

    December 17th, 2013

    If there ever was a South African go-to crew for to-the-minute trendiness it’s the BoyznBucks lot – a loose collective of Joburg-based painfully style conscious rappers. Coca-Cola South Africa’s recent “share a coke” campaign borrowed their cred for this advert (which also features other tumblr fashion celebrities I See A Different You and dance collective V.I.N.T.A.G.E). You can spot a number of them featured in this mini-documentary Chris Saunders shot for Dazed Digital on Joburg’s new party scene.

    Riky Rick, their associate, has earned a fair amount of commercial style gravitas himself, having been the face for brands like Nike and Ben Sherman. He’s the latest signee to upstart boutique label Motif Records (home to veteran rapper Tumi and soul singer Zaki Ibrahim), and is much more than just a pretty face. Known as much for playing the music producer character Mandellic in the popular local drama Isabaya, Ricky Rik also carves a living for himself making tracks and shooting videos for other artists.

    A recording session with Bongani Fassie, son of the late South African pop star Brenda Fassie, inspired Rick’s foray into making music for himself. Incidentally on this track, the hook refrains a line from one of her classics Istraight Lendaba.

    The entire BoyznBucks gang make an appearance in the video while Dirty Paraffin’s Okmalumkoolkat raps alongside on Amantombazane.

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    AfriPOP It or Drop It? Burna Boy and D’Banj’s ‘Won Da Mo’

    December 10th, 2013

    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.

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    Watch Dazed Digital’s Mini-Documentary ‘Joburg Party!’

    December 10th, 2013

    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.


    DJ Juls’ Bronya Afro Mix (Listen+Download)

    December 9th, 2013

    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.

    Track listing 

    1. Professor ft Oskido- Jezebel
    2. Mafikizolo ft Uhuru-Khona
    3. Black Motion ft Jah Rich-Banane Mavoko
    4. Dj Cleo ft Dj Mlungu-Zooma
    5. Dj Malvado ft Eddy Tussa-Zenze
    6. Kwabatsha-Zvangu Zvamuka (Mash O Remix)
    7. Oskido ft Candy & Mabhiza-Tsa Mandebele
    8. Monkey See
    9. Dj Cleo-Facebook
    10. Black Ice ft Nade-Around you (Major Notes Remix)
    11. Major Notes ft Lisa Lee-Heartbeat
    12. Dj Kent ft Zaki Ibrahim-Sunrise
    13. Maphorisa n Clap ft Ladyzee-Good Bye
    14. Flavor-Shake
    15. Kcee ft Wizkid-Pullover
    16. Olamide-Stupid Love
    17. Wande Coal-Rotate
    18. Tic Tac-Pum pum
    19. Criss waddle ft Bisa-Ayi
    20. Shatta Wale-Inna the whole Ghana
    21. Wizkid ft L.A.X.-Caro
    22. Sean Tizzle-Sho le
    23. Davido-Skelewu
    24. Kaakie-Kom kom Cha
    25. Rayce-Jack Sparrow
    26. Maleek Berry ft Wizkid-Love You
    27. Kcee-Limpopo
    28. Olamide-First of All
    29. E.L.-No Size
    30. Nhyiraba Kojo-Alqaeda
    31. Tiffany-N3k3 N3k3
    32. Sean Tizzle-Mama Eh
    33. Bisa Odei-Over
    34. LKT Ft Davido Alaye Mi (Remix)
    35. Dr Sid ft Don Jazzy-Tornado
    36. Wizkid-Jaiye Jaiye
    37. DJ Afro B ft Mr Silva- My Sweet Coco
    38. Burna Boy-Run My Race
    39. Burna Boy-Na So E Suppose
    40. Chase-Dance For Me
    41. R2Bees ft Wizkid- Slow Down
    42. Kwaw Kese-Deemus
    43. Maleek Berry ft Wizkid-Back to the Matter
    44. Guru-Boys Abr3

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    Poe Drops His Break Out Single ‘Ko Ye Won’ (Listen+Download)

    December 9th, 2013

    Following a string of online releases, namely, The New EraTalk 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.


    Ko Ye Won (Prod. By FB)

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    Watch Uhuru’s New Video ‘Y-tjukutja’ featuring DJ Buckz, Oskido, Professor & Uri-Da-Cunha

    December 3rd, 2013

    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.

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    Watch ‘Hello Hello Kitty’, Tumi’s New Video

    November 18th, 2013

    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.

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    Watch ‘Yawa Dey’, Burna Boy’s New Video

    November 13th, 2013

    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.

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