Nigerian Afrobeat and American Soul in one funking five hour DJ set! This sounds like a party in heaven! If you are in the Toronto area or upstate New York, you should definitely check this out:
Saturday September 17th@Parlour. 270 Adelaide St. W Toronto, Canada
Music by SON of S.O.U.L. and DJ King Curtiss Winston
When you listen to a selection of tracks from Josephine Oniyama’s 2008 teaser entitiled In the Labryinth, and the 2010 EP I Think it Was Love you might just be inclined to think her reminiscent of Tracy Chapman. This is not a bad comparison to make, but any comparison can be confining. Josephine’s new EP entitled A FREAK A is a perfect example of an artist who lulls you into a comfort zone and then busts you out with some unexpected arrangements. The title track A FREAK A chops and screws the original acoustic string set that accompanied Josephine’s earlier works. Her voice bounds over the strings reverb and together set a soundscape that we hope marks a new shift in what’s to come. Don’t get us wrong, we love what she’s been doing. But it’s always exciting to watch an artist switch it up on us just when we got comfortable. We at SUPAFRIK first heard Josephine over some loud speakers with a good dose of base; you do the same and tell us what you think.
We were instantly blown away when we first came across Omawumi’s controversial song “If You Ask Me” that was posted on the LastPlaneToLagos blog at the beginning of the year. Nobody has sang this soulfully in Nigerian Pidgin English since Fela Kuti featured his then African-American girlfriend Sandra Isidore on the incendiary afrobeat dance-floor anthem “Upside Down”. There is no denying that Wumi is a talented vocalist but what really sets her apart is her ability to effortlessly inject the language of the streets into her musical pastiche of soul, reggae, hip-hop and R&B (produced by Cobhams, the same man that brought us Asa). Surprisingly, reaction to her use of pidgin-English has not all been positive. Some have dismissed it as crass and unrefined while others consider it to be a crutch with regards to breaking into the international market. We at SUPAFRIK can only hope that Omawumi rises above any attempts to pigeon-hole her and continues blessing us with her own take on authentic afro-soul. Listen to her latest roots-reggae tinged single, “I Go Go” here and click play:
p.s. If you know any of the other soul singers using Pidgin English in their music, please let us know in the comment section.
On SUPAFRIK’s radar this week is songstress Nneka ‘s new video release Soul is Heavy, an early introduction to her new LP of the same name. Set against panning visions of oil rigs, dollars signs, shell emblems and the Ogoni activist Ken Saro Wiwa, Nneka sings us back into remembering beloved Naija’s relationship with the ‘West’ and the long history of exploitation that has marked much of the oil rich region of Delta. Growing up in Warri, Oil City until she was 19 has meant that the 29 year old singer and activist has not and will not remain silent on the exploitation of natural resources in Nigeria. The artist’s first offering, Concrete Jungle, is an ode to black consciousness, African freedom, spiritual liberation and more poignantly the Niger Delta.
The single Soul Heavy is a timely re/introduction to Nneka, her sounds and style, and smartly samples Talib Kweli and Hi – Tek’s “Ballad of the Black Gold”. A song that is also about the Niger Delta. The sample haunts the end of the track as the voice of the late and great Ken Saro Wiwa reminds us “to demand our rights peacefully, non- violently” and that if we do so “we shall win”.
It was Nneka that introduced us at SUPAFRIK to the AFRICA IS THE FUTURE collective and line, and her music continues to remind us that the AITF mantra stands true.
“I do not see myself as a performer but as somebody who shares her heartfeelings with others. I have fortunately, by the grace of God, the opportunity to sing my message to you on your stages. And if the media supports it – fine! This is an advantage, something I feel the world needs.”
Posted in Film, Music, SUPAFRIK
Tagged Africa is the Future, AITF, Concrete Jungle, Ken Saro Wiwa, Nneka, Ogonim Naija, Reflection Eternal, Shell Nigeria, Soul is Heavy, Talib Kweli