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African music never sleeps, and neither does Leonel.
NIXO x Golden – “Criminel”
From Mayotte Island: I used to know the name of the French Overseas Territory of Mayotte only because it was right before Mexico in the “countries by alphabetical order” list, but once you scratch the surface you find that both Mayotte and Reunion have small but fascinating music scenes full of artists that combine African styles with all sorts of influences from La Francophonie.
Young afro-trap upstart Nixo has captured my attention with ‘Criminel’, a slow, dirty, sensual pop tune that takes some cues from both Caribbean zouk-love and the sorts of afropop you find in French-speaking scenes like Cameroon or Benin. His hyper-thick, autotuned croon makes the ears tingle, and when guest star Golden brings her dulcet tone to the mix, you can feel the sparks flying.
Yemi Alade x Spice – “Bubble It”
From Nigeria: I mean, it’s Yemi Alade and Spice. “Bubble it” is a perfect expression of classy-meets-raunchy, a gleefully dirty dancehall number with enough melody and elegance to appear in colorful pop playlists. But don’t get it twisted, this is butt-grinding music not suitable for the faint of heart, and all the better for it.
Wally B Seck x Samba Peuzzi – “Dawuma Dara”
From Senegal: If Yemi’s tune is a class act getting nasty, Senegal’s prodigal son Wally B Seck goes deep into full pop sophistication, and brings rising star Samba Peuzzi to the mainstream stage. Both talents deliver some clever melodies, but “Dawuma Dara” is still mainly a triumph of production. Hats off to the Chef.
Harmonize – “Amelowa”
From Tanzania: The best version of Bongo Flava superstar Harmonize is when he channels his nation’s popular music roots; that marimba-logdrum combination sounds right on point, and his impressive melodic flow completes the magic trick. Extra point for that melismatic vocal sample in the hook; we need more Tarab elements in afropop.
Loony Johnson – “Lambuxa Na Bo”
From Cabo Verde: The best version of Bongo Flava superstar Harmonize is when he channels his nation’s popular music roots; that marimba-logdrum combination sounds right on point, and his impressive melodic flow completes the magic trick. Extra point for that melismatic vocal sample in the hook; we need more Tarab elements in afropop.
More Afro Jams of the Week: