UNIVERSAL MUSIC PTY
After the rave reviews that 2019’s Afrikan Sauce garnered, we were all curious to see what Africa’s happiest band had to offer in 2020. With their latest offering, Midnight Train, it’s safe to say they delivered. As a group, Sauti Sol seems eternally committed to the upliftment and the spread of happiness, and this vibe is fully transmitted through the lyrics and sound of the album. But, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows; the album serves as a chronicler of the group’s growth as they discuss weightier topics such as insecurity and sobriety.
Continuing with their sweet feature streak, Sauti Sol hosts an array of guest stars, including Grammy Award winners India Arie and the Soweto Gospel Choir, Sho Madjozi, and Black Motion, with production from Andre Harris. In a year filled with so much loss and confusion, Midnight Train is a reminder of the finer things life has to offer; love, beauty, and hope. - ON
Sghubu Ses Excellent
Nine days after the Argentine soccer legend passed on, the Pritori Maradona continued his red-hot scoring streak by releasing his third and most prominent project of the year. Tweeting the album announcement, he issued a notice to his fans: “ase trap tse ke pina tsa ko kasi” (it’s not trap, it’s real ghetto music).
It has been a whirlwind year for the Pretoria rapper, and Sghubu Ses Excellent is a fitting climax. On the 14-track album, he is confident and assured, his voice comfortable in his preferred style of rapping over amapiano beats. Generous with the features, every song (except ‘Billion’) on the project brings a collaborative vibe with different styles and manners.
Focalistic is insistent that this is not his debut album, as that will be released through the international labels. However, this does not take anything away from Sghubu Ses Excellent as a body of work. As the title implies, it is, indeed, excellent.
Made in Lagos
Many times in the long road to get this project, it felt like Made In Lagos was an urban myth fated to dominate the cultural landscape time and time over but never quite find its way to the public. After false starts and dawns, Made In Lagos finally arrived in October at the tail-end of Nigeria's momentous #EndSARS protests as though a teasing response to the turbulence and emotional tension of weeks of protesting. Across its 14 track length, Wizkid confounds expectations and delights in equal measure. While his earliest works are forever tethered to the global rise of Nigeria pop's earliest maximalist iteration, on MIL, he tinkers with the genre, attempting to add a sonic texture to its harsh edges. P2J’s luxurious production sets the stage for the sonic equivalent of a guard of honour, allowing Wizkid, belatedly, receive flowers for his imprint on what Nigerian pop is morphing into. On occasion, though, Wizkid’s sense of cinematic effect shows up, and the groove kicks off like the cherubic chords that announce “No Stress” show. - WO
SOUNDS FROM THE CAVE
The Cavemen took over our summer but that isn’t the only thing they plan on taking over. The words that open up their debut album ROOTS provides more detail. “They will change Nigeria. They will change Africa. They will change the world. Enjoy the sounds from the cave.” With the rich, eclectic body of work represented in ROOTS, The Cavemen have shown that they are up to the task. ROOTS is a highly accomplished work of contemporary Highlife that manages not to feel so contemporary in the best way possible. The music on ROOTS has all of the glow, nostalgia, and wisdom that came with the Highlife sounds that predated this one. ROOTS pulls us back to a time when life was simpler, and music made life a deeply memorable subject. - NCJ