Where else will you find the thoroughly researched rundown of the best up-and-coming artists from the continent of Africa on a weekly basis? At the top it’s just us. Support truly independent journalism by subscribing to Passion of the Weiss on Patreon.
African music never sleeps, and neither does Leonel.
From Angola, Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé & Principe, Brazil: Kizomba posse cuts are quite intriguing because they highlight the range of vocal styles that underline the genre, but what happens when you also take into account the multitude of accents within the genre’s community? This Lusophone meeting of minds responds to that, with fresh talent coming from all corners of the mother continent and more, and you get to pick your favorite verse (mine is the second one, which comes from the wonderfully thick, breathy voice of Dandara).
From Mali: Young Francophone super diva takes a full page from the Afrobeats book of low key sensual anthems and wins through the sheer magnetism of her voice.
From Côte d’Ivoire: This young kid’s inventive, hyper dynamic flow caught me by surprise; we may be in front of a future superstar. But of course, it’s the balafons in the beat that made me stick for longer.
From Zambia: Towela Kaira is in her imperial phase right now; she’s not only at the peak of her powers as a melodist, where every line she sings is a hook, but she’s surrounding herself with the right talents to put her tubes over the edge.
From Cameroon: Great guitar is the sign of good old-style makossa, and this one has lots of it (both clean and overdriven), but the way the production makes it so effortlessly breezy, combined with Waka’s expressive croon is what turns good to great here.
From Burundi: This combination of whispered ultra bass vocals and chipmunk sampled chants on top of such a minimalistic tumpa tumpa is just fascinating.
From Togo: This is not zouglou, nor afrohouse, nor ndombolo or coupé décalé; it’s all and neither at the same time. One thing is true, the way every percussion hit is spread in the mix and how the chorus is integrated is just masterful.
From Angola: Angolan afro house is a strange creature; it comes from local kuduro and batida, but it’s usually cold and mechanized almost like techno rather than house, and even when it takes a light approach, the industrial darkness oozes through. “Se Decide” feels like an after dark tune, for when the party takes a nasty turn and all bets are off, and what better leitmotif than Dibaba’s intimidating throat singing.
From Kenya: At first, It felt like a novelty to have the almighty Mbuzi Gang, one of the harbingers of ‘dirty’ gengetone, do a faster-paced melodic number, but that wears off and what you have left is a very good pop banger.
From South Africa: Amapiano is best when it’s this soulful and atmospheric, as it taps into an almost spiritual dimension, which is taken to incredible depths via that scorcher of an organ solo. Also, Ami Faku’s verse is an early qualifier for guest spot of the year.