Any Minute Now
Any Minute Now was Cassper Nyovest’s ode to his newly born child. The album had the rapper flitting between subjects of familial love, peer envy, and his battles with depression; in full-throated moments, he also peruses his place in the South African rap pantheon. “I own every single piece of this license,” he brags on “Isinkwa”, a standout record with a hook from late SA great Prokid. Similarly, he pays homage to the Hip Hop Pantsula (HHP) on “Nyuku” by featuring a verse from the legendary emcee on a posse cut entirely rapped in Setswana. Across the album’s 21 tracks, Cassper packs a long list of local and international collaborations and, on each effort, curates a specific experience synonymous with his guest’s musical energy. Busiswa excites on Drill record “Nokuthula”, Zola 7 lifts Heaven’s doors with a masterful performance on opener “Hlengiwe”. On the other side, Family Tree label mate Nadia Nakai delivers a sultry verse to match the knocking drums of “Hypnotize”. - EE
PLAYGROUP / UNIVERSAL
Among the plethora of music genres, there isn’t one that embraces a breathtaking range of expression quite like R&B. For 26-year old South African singer-rapper Ricky Tyler; music is his most authentic form of expression. On Small World, his debut album, he shares timestamps of this life, penning reflections of his lived experiences. Oozing with nostalgic retro-soul & Trap&B, Small World finds the Def Jam Africa signee tackling themes of love, heartache, and insecurities. On album standout, “Thirty K’s”, Tyler revels in his unashamed and unambiguous take on R&B, dishing out honeyed melodies as he pens an ode to a short-term lover. If you love vulnerably honest R&B with soulful inflections, then this project is definitely for you. - MA
WARNER MUSIC UK
Send Them To Coventry
In October 2019, Pa Salieu was lying down on a hospital bed with bullet wounds from a drive-by shooting. A year later, he had one of the highest-charting rap albums in the UK. To send someone to Coventry is to ostracize them, but on his debut album, the British-Gambian rapper is inviting you to his hometown, to see and feel, through the lyrics, the violence and ambition that drives young men like him.
Inspired by Gambian folk music and Tupac, the album is a solid blend of afrobeat, dancehall, and drill. The real trick here is Salieu’s smoothness over this variety of sounds and instrumentals. Steady and assured, he makes this combination look easy and commonplace. It is a refreshing take on UK rap and cements Pa Salieu’s place as one of 2020’s true gifts. - ON
Nobody knows precisely how many members NSG has, and frankly, as long as they can keep blessing us with hits, nobody cares. The build-up to the East London Collective’s debut album was both exhilarating and successful, as the singles ‘Options’ and ‘OT Bop’ both topped the charts and held clubs and raves hostage with their infectious rhythms.
True to nature, Roots is a celebration of the beautiful things of life: women, jewelry, drinks, and dance. In one hour, they deliver the summer we never had through afroswing and reggae jams. On ‘Lupita’ and ‘Jorja’, they sing about their love for black women with two of entertainment’s top faces as the focus of their affections. On ‘MCM’, an instant Tik-Tok hit, the love is directed at themselves, extolling their qualities as Men Crushes.
Criticism of NSG and the longevity of their music abound, but again, who cares? The party is now, and Roots has it rocking. - ON
To The World and Beyond
On To The World & Beyond, his sophomore studio album, Sun-El Musician builds on his penchant for making deeply experiential music. The two-part, 31-track album, in its entire essence, is an interstellar journey through the hallways of South African house music. To iterate this further, Sun-El released an accompanying virtual concert, which was a 46-minute experience. The album hosts a truckload of features, ranging from acts like Afriikan Papi & Just Bheki, to Ami Faku and Niniola. In 158 minutes, Sun-El takes a trip To the World & Beyond, creating a project of undeniable musical force that is a testament to his evolution as an artiste. - MA