Your playlist need an upgrade? We’ve got you covered with this list

If you’re anything like me, then you love to discover new music. Not that everyday afropop ‘tungba tungba’ pop singles that get thrown at us with increasing regularity. You want the real fringe stuff, the indie-pop hits, the experimental bops, the fun and flirty singles that young Africans looking to expand our expectations of what counts as good music are putting out. The problem I find most of us usually have, is finding these songs in the first place. You need not worry about that anymore, we have all the good stuff in one place. Let’s get to it then.

YELA – SHOOP (Silly Song)

There is something about vintage high-life that remains evergreen no matter who is doing it. Add a bit of stellar songwriting and a fun topic and you have yourself a sleeper hit. I have been a huge fan of Yela’s experimental music and while I originally expected that Shoop would be as experimental as his usual fare, I was pleasantly surprised to  see him go canon. “Shoop” is as fun a love song as they come, with a little extrapolation of Koker’s “Kolewerk” in the bridge. Weddings are about to be lit.

KYRIAN ASHER – Noctem Drive Neon

Kyrian Asher might not put out as much music as I’d like, but whenever he puts out a drop, it’s always a thing of beauty. Obsessed with Greek and Latin iconography, history and Kanye West, Kyrian Asher’s music often turns inwards, questioning personal demons and exploring the unique experience of being a millennial in this age of hypersaturation. “Noctem Drive Neon” is especially interesting in how it uses vocal styling as an alternative instrument, eliciting emotion even before he spits the first line.


I first discovered Tchella through his remix of Nonso Amadi’s “Tonight”, the first of a slew of excellent covers of bubbling under pop songs. Then of course there was “Traffic” which is heartwrenching as ballads come. Tchella put out an EP four months ago and has been doing some major collaborations. His new collaboration with Okaim is a deviation from the sound we’ve come to expect from him, but is no less excellent. You might want to ready your spliff for this.

TEMS  – Mr. Rebel

Okay, I’ll admit, this is the first time I’m hearing of Tems, but as far as first introductions go, Mr. Rebel is as great as they come. Tems has an interesting vibe, and she ignores songwriting and song delivery conventions to give a truly compelling treatise on personal resilience and a complicated love. I’d love to see what else she gets up to in the coming months.

GOLDDRUMMACHINE – Nigerian Dad Simulator 2.O

I think it speaks to Christopher Otti versatility that you can’t really hedge him into a single genre. One half of the band To Name A Few, Golddrummachine has put out a few projects that focus on ambient sound and the power of sound free of interpretation to convey a mood or a point of view. His latest ambient single “Nigerian Dad Simulator 2.0” sounds more like its from a dreamy stoner movie rather than old Nollywood, but I guess that is the point, to subvert what we’ve come to expect of Nollywood and what we think soundtrack for Nollywood should sound like.


I’ll admit, I approached this new Lady Donli era with some skepticism. After all, Letters To Her, Donli’s last EP hadn’t quite made the kind of impact that we’d all expected. Donli had more than made up for it by doing a living room tour, the most innovative I’ve seen any new artist attempt in a while. The living room concerts were a success, and they must have given Donli much needed feedback on what to tweak in her next project. “Games” has fully restored my belief that Donli might go ahead to best all of them. It sounds fresh in every possible way, instrumentation, composition, delivery, voice. It’s almost a month old, but I’d hate myself if I didn’t add it to this list.

Lokacin ki ya zo.


Yinka Bernie and Joyce Olong seems like the unlikeliest of collaborators but damn do they make a good song together. Yinka manages to up Joyce’s usually melancholic voice up a few notches and creates a beat that is somehow languid yet urgent. Throw in some horns, a killer hook and you have yourself one of the jazziest songs of 2018.


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