Once again, let’s keep it short and sweet. We put ourselves up to a somewhat difficult challenge: to pick just one song from 10 countries across the Motherland that have made a significant impact across airwaves or our own personal playlists (yes, we are going to impose our personal taste’s on y’all). Well, this is what we came up with eventually:
South Africa: Mafikizolo – Khona
There really is no debate that this was the biggest afro-house track of last year and that it will continue to bump in our stereos and dance floors for a long time to come. Heck, even the fact that most of us still don’t even know what the lyrics mean does little to diminish the magnetizing effect it has had ever since.
Nigeria: P Square – Personally
The twins’ fitting tribute to the late great Michael Jackson, had heads bobbing and tongues wagging all year through. It even got a personal nod of appreciation from one of Michael Jackson’s kin.
Ghana: Sarkodie ft. Fuse ODG – Down On One
Two of Ghana’s most popular hit makers hooked up and turned on their A-Game for this track off Sarkodie’s new album Sarkology. The video is just as pumped up as those massive beats.
Angola: Yuri Da Cunha – Atchu Tchu Tcha
Way before Uhuru and Oskido’s current monster club hit Y-Tjukutja started to rock the afro-house scene, its original inspiration, Yuri Da Cunha’s Atchu Tchu Tcha, was a popular favourite in Angola and the UK afrobeats club scene. It proves yet again that there’s something inherently and effortlessly sexy about Angolan music.
Malawi: Lulu – Nzalera
The quality of this vid was pretty unprecedented by Malawian standards that usually characterise rudimentary “by the roadside” visuals – if you’ve watched the works of Joe Gwaladi and the like, you know exactly what I mean. That does not mean we have no appreciation for Malawian music (you guys are awesome!!!) However, Lulu’s effort came as quite a pleasant surprise over here.
Tanzania: Kigoma All Stars – Leka Dutgite
Even though this track was released in the second half of 2012, its popularity boiled over to the rest of 2013 as well. Kigoma All Stars’ impressive production about their homeland should be an textbook example for the mostly dull “one country” collabos that we see popping up every time some artists start to feel patriotic.
Uganda: Irene Ntale – Stay With Me
The chilled out cocktail of reggae vibes and a zouk tempo was what made this tune by Bebe Cool’s protégée, Irene Ntale, really stand out from the sort of sound we tend to associate with our friends down in Kampala. Swangz Avenue pulled a gem form the bag for this release.
Ethiopia: Yegna – Abet (+ Silvastone Remix)
Yegna became our favourite band out of Ethiopia last year. Yegna are both a girl band and the subjects of an Ethiopian radio drama series that seeks to be an avenue for girls to talk about societal issues and unlock their potential. Abet is their totally awesome debut single, and the Silvastone remix is also a treat in itself.
Zone Fam was one of the most hard working groups last year with back-to-back singles and music videos which kept them relevant throughout the year, culminating in a Channel O Music Video award. What we’re waiting for is a video release for Lobola even though that ship might have already sailed.
Somalia: Faarrow – Rule The World
This US-based Somalian sister duo did one heck of a cover/mashup of Somebody That I Used To Know / Can’t Get Enough. They followed that up with two absolutely beautiful video releases, Rule The World and Say My Name (which was shot right here in Kenya).
Cape Verde: Nelson Frietas – Sinti Sabe
Neslon Frietas is the leading sound out of Cape Verde at the moment. His latest album Elevate will not disappoint if you like the sound of Sinti Sabe.