Our song of the week!
Halfway through the last decade – 2015 to 2016 or thereabouts – a slight but noticeable reduction in the pace of Afrobeats began. Several people engineered and purveyed this change; however, artists like Runtown, Tekno, Mr Eazi and Davido were pivotal figures in the slow decline of the genre’s average bpm. While these superstars were at the forefront, Ghanaian-British producer Juls (born Julian Nicco-Annan) was in the background, pushing a mellow and distinct percussion-driven sound that would greatly influence the soundscape. His drum patterns are particularly disparate, configured in a manner that makes his rhythms unmistakenly striking.
After feeding a couple of slappers and sleeper hits to acts like Mr Eazi and Show Dem Camp, he would go on to release his first body of work Leap of Faith, a brilliant debut that shows just how inventive and detailed the 35-year-old is. After several years on the scene and a couple of other projects, he continues to expand his sound – while still retaining his uniqueness – incorporating kwaito-inspired basslines, the plucky strings of highlife music down to the polyrhythms of Jazz.
On Sounds Of My World, his latest full-length effort, Juls continues his exploration of various soundscapes, recruiting some of the finest talents from around the globe – Molucaan Islands singer JAEL, Niniola, Ghanaian rappers Joey B and DarkoVibes, Dreamville rapper Bas, Fireboy, Prettyboy D-O, just to mention a few – and strategically placing them on his infectious drums. The music echoes the warm groove that accompanies most of his previous records, regardless of the genre. But it’s on the Amapiano-inspired “Makossa Riddim” that the London-based producer shines the most as he skilfully combines makossa-inspired strings, subtle plush horns with the airy pads of amapiano to create magic. WSTRN vocalist Haile also delivers exquisitely on the track, switching through different infectious flows. His featherweight voice is also delightful, coasting smoothly over the groovy production. While there’s a huge Amapiano leaning here, you can also pick up other subtle influences, which is exactly what characterizes the majority of Juls’ music. He’s always mutating, constantly expanding his artistry to make sure his music retains that warmth and crispness that initially endeared most to it.