So 2012, amazing year that it was, is firmly behind us. We turn our attention now to the next 12 months in which we hope to hear from the following artists, some debutantes, others old favourites, and all African descended.
Viviane Chidid (Senegal)
Viviane Chidid is a former in-law to Senegalese music ambassador and sometime politician Youssou N'dour. That's probably the link that eventually led her to Wyclef's Grammy Award-winning cousin and frequent production collaborator Jerry "Wonda" Duplessis. In Francophone Africa you will certainly have come across Viviane's name. In the rest of the continent, not as much. But it looks like with Jerry Wonda's signing her to his label, things are looking to change somewhat. Viviane features Mavado (with some Final Cut magic to include Busta Rhymes near the end) on this remix of Soldier Girl. But her recent track with Ghanaian Hip-hop marvel Sarkodie is a more believable fit she needs for that all-important crossover, which hopefully can translate on her forthcoming album.
But her recent track with Ghanaian Hip-hop marvel Sarkodie is a more believable fit she needs for that all-important crossover, which hopefully can translate on her forthcoming album.
Ajebutter 22 (Nigeria)
It might have been nice to see how far Soyinka's Afro (best name ever, or what?), the Afro-Hiphop-Soul brother-sister duo of Ajebutter 22 and Socialajebutterfly (taymii), would have gotten. Formed in 2009, they were cute and a little different from what was on offer on the Naija pop scene. But when something is meant to be, it's meant to be. And in this case, that's Ajebutter as a one-man act. Only three songs - all of them hits - and just over a year into his solo career, Ajebutter's unique languid, melodic delivery is a winner.
In the pipeline for over a year has been a collaborative mixtape with his go-to team of producers Studio Magic, which is exciting enough. But we'd like to fast forward to an official debut album which could quite easily be the rookie Naija rap album of 2013.
Tiwa Savage (Nigeria)
When Tiwa Savage – former backing singer for Mary J Blige, Sting, George Michael, Kelly Clarkson and Spice Girls – entered UK singing TV talent contest X-Factor in 2006, she couldn't possibly have predicted her path to glory would go the way that it has: the Grammy nod for a song she wrote for Fantasia and the vocal performance credit on Whitney Houston's I Look To You are old news for the Nigerian singer-songwriter whose star now towers above her labelmates' at Don Jazzy's Mavin Records To be honest, Tiwa is not just the first lady of the stable as is popularly bandied about. She is to Mavin what D'Banj was to Mo'Hits – the main event. From Kele Kele, the break out solo single that heralded her strategic move back to Naija, through her flawless pairing with the likes of Flavour N'abania, she has not hit a single bum note. But she's also yet to drop her debut album, though the word from her camp is that 2013 is the year.
If there's any justice in the world, one day the definitive list of Britian's best singer/songwriters will include Zimbabwe-born, London-raised vocalist, arranger and force of nature Eska Mtungwazi Zero 7, Ty, Bugz in the Attic, Cinematic Orchestra, Bobby McFerrin, Grace Jones are some of the names Eska has been associated with over the years. There were once whispers of an album called The Great British Songbook, on which ESKA would pay tribute to the greatest who ever put pen to paper. Presumably this incredible version of the Police's Walking on The Moon would have made the cut.Her website promises that her solo debut album will arrive at last in 2013 and "reveals Eska as an outstanding contemporary folk singer-songwriter whose music, whilst sitting within the English folk tradition, wears the influence of psychedelia, jazz and choral music proudly on its sleeve."
Any artist will tell you that there's nothing like a change of scene – particularly one that takes you out of your comfort zone - to get the creative juices flowing. When faced with the "where next?" question, it was Somi's mentor Hugh Masekela, a renowned musical migrant himself, who prompted her leap of faith. ('He said to me "Somi, stop thinking about it as a move. By nature as a musician, you are a global citizen"'). So off to Lagos Somi went, where of course Naija's gaudy and ubiquitous pop music stands like a Goliath to her earthier, more subtle jazz-influenced David. Still she held her own, using a teaching artist residency at a university in Ilorin to conduct the research for an album she has now recorded in New York, and that's due for release this year.
At the moment, the difference in impact between Oliver Twist, D'Banj's first true global breakthrough hit, and the three subsequent singles seems a difficult one to erase.Oliver Twist coincided with the upsurge of African urban music ("Afrobeats" as some call it) in the UK, and by default he became something of a poster boy for it. The truth is D'Banj – "the Michael Jackson of Africa" (Wyclef's moniker for him) – has never made a memorable album. His position as one of Africa's highest paid entertainers is due largely to the singles masterminded by his famously estranged producer and business partner Don Jazzy.But now, after the infamous fallout and those big announcements – signing to the UK's Mercury Music and more recently to Sony Music Africa – everyone seems to be waiting, arms folded, to see what D'banj will do next.He says in this interview that his next song is with Kanye (11.37 mark). Remains to be seen.
love me some m.anifest
Africa must be the only place on the planet where the term 'neo-soul' is still an actual thing. That's the genre often used to classify Ghanaian singer Efya's style. Formerly Jane, one part of the musical duo, Irene and Jane, and without the benefit of a complete body of work as a solo artist, Efya remarkably commands one of the most sizable followings of any recording artist in Ghana. Tellingly, all her best work has been collaborative. What Efya possesses in abundance is a smouldering star power, which, if harnessed well, and coupled with carefully A&R'd co-writing and production, can result in an album that warrants the deafening buzz around the singer.
7 here ->rest at the source 2, 4, 5 , 6, 8,10, 11,
Anyone been to Womad? Thinking of going this year, but I worry it is going to be full of white hipster types. What African artistes have you been listening to?