After a bit of a break, here's the seventh feature in a series we call “Fresh Cuts.” It’s a selection of newly released tracks and videos from across Africa and the diaspora, featuring established and up-and-coming artists, and everything in between. Today we’ve got, among other things, Colombian bullerengue, Somalian hip-hop, ebullient Ugandan dance music, and some hot fire from the Lusophone world: funk from Brazil and futuristic electronic dance beats from Portugal. In case you missed them, also check out our previous “Fresh Cuts.”
Here’s the full playlist on YouTube and Spotify (be mindful that these won’t include every song listed here due to the variety of platforms artists are using to share their music). Scroll beyond to read all about each artist. Enjoy!
Magin Diaz: “Rosa”
At a sprightly 96 years old, Magin Diaz has at last released his first solo album, El Orisha de la Rosa. The nonagenarian Colombian legend has recorded with many Colombian musicians over the years and has written some of the country's most iconic songs, but this is the first time where he is front and center. This phenomenal, dynamic record is a product of three years of research and recording, made in collaboration with 25 different musical guests from all over, including the legendary Colombian singer Totó la Momposina, Bomba Estereo’s Li Saumet, the inimitable Monsieur Periné and the technicolor music/visual collective Systema Solar. Diaz is a bearer of the Afro-Colombian culture, maintaining the country’s magnificent and tenacious folk music, bullerengue, which, like the country’s Afro-Colombian communities, has survived near constant marginalization and discrimination over the centuries. Diaz says, “Singing for me is as if someone injected me with life… If I do not sing, I'd die.” Keep an eye out on Afropop for more on this record.
Oumou Sangaré: “Kamelemba”
Oumou Sangaré, the star Malian singer repping the Wassoulou region, is keeping the ball rolling. She’s been producing all kinds of new sounds recently, with her album Mogoya, released in March of this year, a seven-year wait from her last album. Afropop covered one of the singles from that album, “Yere Faga,”a collaboration with Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen, accompanied by a fierce music video. She’s back with another single from that album, “Kamelemba” and another sleek music video to boot. This one is set in Paris, with an all-female, Afro-futurist vibe, featuring the dancers of the Swaggers Group. The song is a warning to the womanizers (kamelemba) of the world.
Tawiah: “Move With Me”
From South London, we’ve got Tawiah, a singer who’s making a name for herself with her mellow, immersive, soulful sound. Her voice is a powerful thing, dancing between introspection and passionate release. This song is a gorgeous, absorbing piece, weaving subtle, stuttering beats with quiet synths and bass and, most importantly, Tawiah’s voice, layered in warm harmonies. She’s been getting lots of respect from the likes of Gilles Peterson and has worked with Cee-Lo Green, Blood Orange and Mark Ronson, among others. She’s just dropped a brilliant, experimental mixtape, “Recreate”–be sure to listen.
Wizkid: “Naughty Ride” with Major Lazer
That chord progression sounds an awful lot like Bill Withers’ “Just the Two of Us.” Whether or not, this track is another feather in Wizkid’s starboy cap, a solid groove coming out of a collaboration with international dance producers Major Lazer. The production on this cut is excellent, fitting in all sorts of little sonic details that make it rich.
Emma Nyra: "Jamina"
Here’s an Afrobeats singer we haven’t featured yet–Emma Nyra, born Emma Chukwugoziam Obi in Texas, but living in Nigeria as of 2012, following her musical dreams. She’s done work with Iyanya, Davido and Patoranking, among others, carving a space for herself as one of the top women in the highly competitive, male-dominated industry. Here's one of her recent tracks, “Jamina.”
Waayaha Cusub: “Durbaan Ka Ii Tuma” with Desiigner
Recently, in response to the travel ban imposed on seven majority Muslim countries by the Trump administration, Spotify produced a series called I’m With the Banned, pairing up cutting-edge musicians from these countries with big-name American musicians to produce tracks in collaboration. This one is from a collab between the Somali hip-hop/pop group Waayaha Cusub, now based in the Netherlands, and the Brooklyn trap star Desiigner. It layers an ethereal synth atmosphere on a slick, minimal beat inflected with Afrobeats–Waayaha Cusub lead singer Falis Abdi sings on top in Somali, trading off with her bandmates’ verses. Desiigner interjects in the middle with a verse in English. Check out Waayaha Cusub’s other great tracks as well on their Spotify page.
Nídia is a fresh, young Portuguese-French producer, reveling in the relentless, fractured electronic beats, squealing synths and moody, enveloping samples of kuduro, batida and tarraxo, These labels describe some of the next-level, futuristic dance music coming out of Lisbon’s suburbs, projects and slums, bearing a strong Angolan influence. The entrancing rhythms, contorted into gnarly shapes you won’t hear elsewhere, are pumping through clubs across Portugal, Angola and beyond. Nídia, born in Lisbon but now based in France, is adding another dimension to these styles, mashing them together with techno, house and sounds that I don’t quite have names for. This track is one of the most straightforward on her debut album, Nídia é Má, Nídia é Fudida (meaning “Nídia is bad, Nídia is dope”), was released in June by Lisbon-based Principe Records. If you’re getting down to this, check out the rest of her album and the other goodness on Principe.
In this track, the young reggae superstar from Jamaica speaks his mind on the contemporary reggae dancehall scene in Jamaica, criticizing social media obsession and infighting in the community, among other things: “Me do it for the love/Me don’t do it for the likes.” It’s a hot track, more dancehall than the heavy roots reggae sound to which he’s given new life. Chronixx is a righteous inheritor of the pointed, outspoken reggae tradition epitomized by Bob Marley–he’s never afraid to speak his mind, offering a vision that cuts through music industry egotism, abuses of power and the social divides that cultivate disunity. His new release–in fact his first official album– Chronology, is wide-ranging, well-crafted piece of work. See Afropop's review here.
Jay-Z: “Bam” with Damian Marley
Jay-Z, even from his position at the tippy-top of the hip-hop music industry, says that visiting the fabled Tuff Gong studios in Jamaica made him feel like a kid. As he walks through the streets of Kingston with Damian Marley, he waxes nostalgic about listening to Bob Marley as a kid and draws a parent-child connection between reggae and hip-hop. For his recent album, 4:44, Jay-Z went to Jamaica to work with Damian and record at Tuff Gong, and here’s the product. A solid hip-hop track that pays tribute to some reggae icons: Marley sings the famous verse from Sister Nancy’s “Bam Bam” over a sample of the song, then riffs off of Jacob Miller’s “Tenement Yard.” Jay-Z’s verses acknowledge the importance his ego has had in his success, in contrast to another song on the album, “Kill Jay-Z.”
Shatta Wale: “Ayoo”
A bit of a throwback to the spring, but this track is nonetheless still a life-giver. It’s from Ghanaian artist Shatta Wale, who has a healthy dose of Afrobeats and dancehall, pushing Ghanaian dancehall as a hot and very respectable music. As a matter of fact, he actually went to Jamaica to “study” dancehall. One impression of a general consensus in Ghana is that Shatta Wale is the best Ghanaian artist around, a claim backed up by his big success at this year's Ghana Meets Naija competition. This song, in which Shatta sings in four different languages, will be sure to get you moving.
Da Cruz: “Virose”
This song is leaving us wondering how we hadn’t heard of Da Cruz until now. Fronted by the Brazilian singer Mariana Da Cruz, the group is yielding some deeply funky sounds, bringing together electro-pop, reggae/dancehall, Afrobeat, punk rock, kuduro and loads more into one fiery sound. Check this recent track off of their forthcoming album, Eco do Futuro, due for release on Oct. 6, which you’ll be able to find on their Bandcamp page.
Liniker e os Caramelows: “Louise du Brésil”
Liniker e os Caramelows, coming out of São Paolo, are crafting some deeply funky grooves. They’ve got bits of jazz, samba rock, old-school American soul and Brazilian funk in the vein of Tim Maia. Here’s a recent live performance of one of their songs, “Louise du Brésil,” at a music festival in Spain. Liniker e os Caramelows occupies a distinct and important place in the Brazilian music scene, with Liniker Barros, a black trans woman fronting the band. Barros was heard in our recent “Pride Playlist,” featuring queer and trans artists–she says that being a black trans woman performer is “political, because we need representation…It’s extremely important—not just for me, but for each of us—to be occupying all positions, the stages and the countries to continue to resist and exist.” Listen on to this hot group and keep on eye out for their live shows–they’ve begun to tour beyond Brazil.
Ghislain Dimaï: "On Ne Vous A Pas Laissé?"
This track suggests you don’t need much to make a song groove. Here’s Ghislain Dimaï coming at you from Cameroon with “On Ne Vous A Pas Laissé?” (We haven't let you down?). It’s a sparse tune, but that doesn’t keep Dimaï from getting the crowd moving at his party in the forest.
Jose Chameleone: “Mshamba”
Jose Chameleone has some seriously sunny energy. The Ugandan pop star churns out hit after hit of shimmering gold, working that tried-and-true sound of Ugandan dance music, kidandali. His sound is somewhere between Congolese soukous, dancehall and the Ugandan guitar style, kadongo kamu. This relentlessly upbeat and brightly textured stuff could get you through dark days or make sunny days even brighter. Chameleone is riding the wave of his music empire, living a high-flying life and touring the world.