The Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Every week, we highlight the top Afrobeats and African music releases through our best music column, Songs You Need to Hear This Week.

If you like these African music lists, you can also check out our Best Afrobeats and Best Amapiano of the month columns, plus our Best Songs of the Month columns following Nigerian, Ghanaian, East African and South African music.

Read ahead for our round-up of the best new African music tracks and music videos that came across our desks this week.

Tyla feat. Tems — “No.1”

When two of Africa’s hottest female talents collaborate, you just have to sit and listen. For a while now Tyla’s debut album has been crazily anticipated, especially after winning the Grammys for Best African Music Performance. Now here, the self-titled debut is everything that was expected and more. This collaboration with Tems showcases all its bright spots: an affinity for good beats paired with her featherlight vocals which easily finds alliance with her features. “No.1” sees her and Tems sing glowingly about putting themselves first, but it also doubles as an affirmation of their elevated position in the music game, a cheeky touch to a record that stands an actual chance at world domination.

X1N0 — “Superstar”

By all indications, X1N0 is a musical prodigy. The Abuja-based musician is a multi-instrumentalist and also wields a soft, charming voice. With these, he makes a solid impression on “Superstar,” a record that carries all the hallmarks of the aspirational single while leaving detailed touches of X’s own signature; a sweet layering of vocals and alive, warm beats carried on live playing.

Rexxie & AXAD — “One or Two”

Street Hop’s inventive core owes a lot of credit to Rexxie, who has worked with some of its brightest and biggest stars over the years. His new record attempts to unfurl another sensibility within the subgenre. Purposefully keeping the log drums in the background, and swooning violin elements, the production coaxes a dexterous, enjoyable performance from AXAD, whose songwriting comes across as original and street-influenced, his slightly gruff tone further burnishing the song’s hit potential.

Korede Bello — 'KoreDay Album'

Over the years, the soft sultry tones of Korede Bello has made him a sort of absent hero, always acknowledged but never seen in his full vulnerability. Then he took some time out, and in that space, the sonic center of Afropop shifted but there’s still a lot to expect from Korede. That much is obvious across Koreday, the new album from the artist. String-led, with detailed touches and carrying a sprawling intent, it’s a project that listeners would expectedly settle into the weekend (and thereafter) into.

Yaba Buluku Boyz — “Bom Job (Good Job)”

In anticipation of their debut album DONSA which is set to drop in April, the elite Mozambique trio Yaba Buluku Boyz have released their new record “Bom Job (Good Job).” As usual, it’s a cacophonous meld of high energies, both in sound and sound, as the trademark yells of Nelson Tivane and Preck are amplified by DJ Tarico’s unrelenting ‘piano-inspired drums. It’s a performance that instantly turns over any dancehall.

Blackbird H.Q — “Do You Think About Me?”

Boy bands used to be a dominant presence in Afropop but with the entry of streaming and the shiny temptation of instant gratification, that tradition has been on the backend for a while now. Luckily, Blackbird H.Q is one of the groups rethinking the possibilities of musical multiplicity. Founded in 2021 and made up of Esbee the Songwriter, Femi Broadway and Rhae98, their new song engages an upbeat, urban vibe that would likely resonate with young listeners.

Candy Bleakz feat. Bloody Civilian — “Debe”

Off her new EP Better Days, the musician Candy Bleakz presents this reflective cut titled “Debe.” The artist, known for her realist perspectives of the city lifestyle, imbibes this record with all the aspirational heft that’s been the core theme of street hop, even though the smooth production takes it beyond that subgenre and into the broader sphere of R&B-tinged Afropop. A stellar guest verse from Bloody Civilian also burnishes the song’s potential, complete with a chanted chorus that evokes a prayerful vibe.

Joshua Baraka feat. Simi, Qing Madi & Axon — “Dalilah II”

Ugandan musician Joshua Baraka has always stood out for his innovative and collaborative projects. On the second version of his enthralling record, now titled “Dalilah II,” it’s an impressively curated effort that incorporates the Nigerian vocalists Simi and Qing Madi. Their voices create an anthemic warmth which the song benefits from, creating with their unique tones a feeling that oscillates between melancholy and exhilaration. Baraka doesn’t need to do anything; the song works just the way it is.

Abidoza & Simmy feat. PlayNevig — “Uzovuna”

Even when he’s creating percussive soundscapes, there’s something dreamy about Abidoza’s keys. It floats, suspends time in ceaseless motion, and opens up new possibilities within a genre that’s saturated with star players. His new single is no different, a shimmering dance with romance and life, as one gleans from the soft vocals permeating the production. Soulful and vibrant, it’s a finely curated record.

Kocee & Patoranking — “Credit Alert”

Gyration records are a staple of Patoranking, that bubbly soundscape that rejoices in a particular theme. Here, it’s the possibilities of having money that illuminates the Masterkraft-produced record, as the Nigerian superstar and his Central Africa collaborator combine impressively. With distinct vocal tones, the invigorating single delivers exceedingly on its ambition, creating a powerful feeling of ownership within the listener.

Wizard Chan feat. Joeboy — “Loner”

At a time when Nigerian pop lovers are seeking a new sound, Wizard Chan is a literal breath of fresh air. His evocative records are intent in showcasing his Ijaw roots, with a highly aware sense of songwriting that is reminiscent of Damian Marley and 2Baba, both of whom happen to be influences. On “Loner,” he is joined by Joeboy, whose own streaks of introspection have been felt over the years. It’s a fine collaboration, carried on somber notes and crystal clear admissions.

Zeman — “Bunda”

On “Bunda,” the Kenyan artist Zeman introduces a sweet local flair to the Afropop sound. His sunny vocals are in perfect sync with the boppy production, creating a cool house party vibe the song thrives on. Lust is an important touchstone in the Afro genres and Zeman makes an immersive showcase of it, matching his rhythm with the sensuous motions of an escapade behind closed doors.

Kwesi Arthur — “Fefe Ne Fe”

Known to release projects while working on a new one, Kwesi Arthur has done it again. This Is Not The Tape III came out earlier today, a sterling showcase of the Ghanaian act’s versatility; he raps, sings, and delivers the in-between. An immediate standout in this pack is “Fefe Ne Fe,” which takes its title from an iconic Ghana record by Tic Tac. A cool breeze of a record, its relaxed pace allows Kwesi space to oscillate between meters of flow as he offers an indelible portrait of his celebrity life in all its sweetness and struggles.

Creen Caesar — “OGBUEFI”

For a while now, drill has been a favored sound for Nigerian rap-inclined acts to float over. With variant perspectives, the genre has delivered novelty while introducing us to the names of would-be superstars. “OGBUEFI” is that sort of record, delivered in the vibrant Igbo language and replete with metaphors that advance the GOAT talk that is prevalent over the record. Creen Caesar is one to watch out for; able to reflect his roots, he makes it universally cool through his unique energy and the well-spun bars, a reflection of his impressive mic skills.

Fancy Fingers — 'Love Language'

A member of the legendary Kenyan boy band Sauti Sol, the guitarist and producer Fancy Fingers has struck out beautifully on his solo path. Love Language is an album with several affectionate moments, featuring effervescent voices such as Dunnie, Njerae, Xenia Manasseh and many others. Sensual and well-realized, it’s a project that amplifies all the transcendental highs that come with being in love.

Zoe Modiga — “amen”

Ethereal best describes the new single from South African singer Zoe Modiga. Stuffed pads and shimmering notes create a circular motion, invoking a sort of atmospheric energy that is beautifully polished by her vocals, which are purposefully repetitive of the titular word. That word, which evokes a prayerful imagery, is bent to mean several things and everything throughout the course of the record, contorting and swelling as the beat progresses, and moving in tango with the electric guitar which gives an epic feel to the closing movement — a masterpiece of time and space.

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