afropunk premiere: bells atlas ‘salt and soap’
Any release from the Oakland Afropop group Bells Atlas is a sumptuous feast for the ears. It is the sound of a band reveling in unexpected tones and rhythms, whether that’s the waves of reverb that drip from Sandra Lawson-Ndu’s voice, Geneva Harrison’s polyrhythmic bursts of noise and percussion, or how Derek Barber’s guitar work flits from jagged edges to smooth licks like vogue.
The latest Bells Atlas EP, Salt and Soap, is full of the torn-paper rhythms and ethereal hooks that make the band so unique, hiding universes of depth beneath the waves. It’s “inspired by cleansing rituals and preservation methods,” the band explains in the press release. “When you’re not accustomed to releasing your most personal stories, the idea is to take a moment to prepare for this shift—this new way of being open.”
There’s not a bad song in the bunch, running from the sumptuous “Overshare” to the haunting “The Mystic.” But the highlight is the simultaneously focused and expansive “I Do Remain,” which builds from a distorted sample into one of the best tracks of the band’s career.
Stream the whole thing exclusively at AFROPUNK.com, and look for the release this Friday 9/21 via Tender Loving Empire. Check out the band’s website for upcoming tour dates.
rina mushonga’s afro-electro delivers
Catharsis is not an easy feeling to describe, but if there is a sound that came close to reproducing that feeling, it has to be the inspired merging of Afrobeats and Indie-electro by Dutch-Zimbabwean singer/songwriter Rina Mushonga. The singer draws inspiration from her upbringing in Harare, as well as her time living in Amsterdam and Peckham, South London, where she currently resides. Mushonga’s broad range of influences includes Greek mythology and literature, which she incorporates in her music to create a distinct sound that also serves as a device for working through the “rootlessness” attached to a blended heritage.
“My life always felt very cross-pollinated, but being half European and half African sometimes I felt I was asked to choose which I identified with the most—like I had to pick a side. It was pretty excruciating—especially as within my family unit it was never about that—one or the other—my Dad always called us global citizens, with pride. We belonged everywhere. I loved that, I identified with that—I didn’t have to choose… My music doesn’t have to choose to express anything but myself—a little bit of this, a little bit of that—and it’s that mix of genres that best represents me, how I see things and experience the world and consequently how I express myself.”
Mushonga’s latest single, “4qrtrs,” feels how color sounds, incorporating the natural soundtrack of Peckham with African percussion transformed by a catchy electro-pop beat which turns the entire song into the feeling of taking your hands off the bicycle handlebars during an exhilarating downhill ride. “4qrtrs” captures and elevates the vibrancy found in Afrobeats and in Electro, transforming and combining each into a whimsical and personal musical tribute to a journey that induces a warm sense of nostalgia with every listen.
“‘4qrtrs’ has been prodded, poked and teased into existence. Parts of it belonged to my old, discarded songs, other bits and pieces I wrote more recently. It’s become this weird collage or map of where I’ve been, emotionally and geographically. ”
“4qrtrs” feels like a sonic embodiment of Mushonga’s stylistic independence. A celebration of a sound and feel she can confidently call her own.
exclusive premiere: blak emoji, ‘lust love above’
“I only wanna please you babe”
The latest from Blak Emoji is an enticing hook-filled seduction, the kind of song that makes you want to turn the lights down low the second it hits your speakers. Known for their mix of driving indie rock and sizzling R&B, Blak Emoji leans hard on the latter during “Lust Love Above”— and delivers. Driving, dirty synths and a stripped down beat are all the anchor they need to get the feeling going. Singer Kelsey Warren calls it “a love sex pop joint about pleasing your lover.”
The track hails from their forthcoming debut full-length, KUMI, which drops September 21st. Check out www.blakemoji.com for more.
future funk ogs bad rabbits turn the tables with their #timesup anthem “f on the j – o – b”
It’s the rare song that can make your skin crawl at the same time it makes your body move. But Bad Rabbits have always been a rare kind of band. Easily one of the best live bands out there, for their first new song since 2013, the band shreds their corporeal form for an animated alter-ego. The band adopts the inner monologue of an office creep who harasses his coworkers and pays the consequences. It’s a smart and chilling inversion of the band’s usual future-funk, that highlights the line consent draws between sexy and monstrous.
Singer Fredua Boakye intended it as a statement of solidarity with women who experience workplace harassment, saying “The song and the video shame and mock the men who feel entitled to sex just because they are attracted to a woman. The narrator in this song is the guy that Mimi deals with every day at work. To the douchebags that sexually harass women, your time’s up. To women, we just want you to know that we support you.”
decolonize & reclaim! the latest afropunk mixtape is streaming now
Decolonize land. Decolonize thought. Decolonize bodies. Reclaim the narrative. What does it mean to decolonize? What does it take to reclaim? Those are the questions asked by our latest Mixtape: Decolonize & Reclaim. Songs from artists like Angelo Moore, Childish Gambino, Le Vice, DOOKOOM, Baloji & Shingai, and many more wrestle with these complex questions, and envision worlds free of internal and external colonial bullshit. Turn it up and take it back.
01. Le Vice – Boys & Girls
02. Interlude: Quetzala Carson (August 2017)
03. The Internet – Roll (Burbank Funk)
04. Aphrotek – River Styx Ride (ft. Mike Ladd)
05. Interlude: Decolonize This Place (April 2018)
06. Monoculture – Movement
07. All Cows Eat Grass – Air Castle
08. Ajo – Gotta Love It
09. MTA Interlude
10. Yuno – No Going Back
11. Pete Wilde – Lucy
12. Unlikely Heroes – Tazzy
13. Vodun – Spirits Past
14. DOOKOOM – Gangstaz
15. SCARLXRD – Burns
16. DUCKWRTH – Boy
17. Interlude: Now This / Decolonize the Brooklyn Museum
18. Angelo Moore & The Brand New Step – Inner City Blues (ft. Butterscotch)
19. Baloji – Soleil de Volt (Shingai Remix)
20. Childish Gambino – This Is America
Album artwork photography by Sammy Sampson / @Sammysampsonphotography
premiere: soul faves n’dambi & all cows eat grass team up for new ep, and it’s pure star shine
N’Dambi and All Cows Eat Grass describe their Air Castle EP as “a time capsule aboard a deep spacecraft headed to eternity,” and it’s clear what they mean. N’Dambi’s 70’s soul vibe meets T. Brown and ACEG’s 80’s electro-funk, but somehow despite it’s retro trappings, it sounds new. Futuristic even. It’s like a collaboration between Syreeta and Quincy Jones aboard the Mothership. Or maybe the original Battlestar Galactica; a vision of the future seen through the lens of the past.
The EP’s best moments come when they embrace that space is the place. “On Borrowed Time” and “Air Castle” find the band refreshingly ungrounded–untethered, and the results are stunning. While always sounding distinctly like themselves, they open up their sound and go to some seriously unexpected places. “Nowhere,” meanwhile boasts N’Dambi’s best hook and a synth line made of pure star shine.
Get your own space capsule here: https://ndambiandallcowseatgrass.lnk.to/AirCastle
premiere: dive into afrobeat songstress nerika’s infectious summer jam “runnin’”
Nerika is a 22-year-old NYC based singer songwriter who likes to think of herself as a “cultural misfit”. The energetic songstress found hard to protect and maintain her Jamaican heritage as black girl in the New Hampshire suburbs and her artistry is apart of the mission. With a heavy dose of Caribbean vibes and smooth afrobeat melody that jumps off from the moment you press play, “Runnin’” is utterly infectious. Opening with Djembe drums, lyrically, Nerika uses the fast tempo to chase off her inner demons. A little bit of pop, but a whole hell of a lot of soul and reggae, “Runnin’” represents the fusion of Nerika’s two worlds.
premiere: electro-soul singer kiah victoria fights corruption with resilience in the optimistic single “remedy”
This next premiere is from AFROPUNK vet Kiah Victoria and her latest single “Remedy”. A visceral lyrical track partially inspired by the ongoing water crisis in Flint, MI., partially inspired by the concept of what a home should be, “Remedy” examines the solace we seek and find and loved ones to fuel us for the next battle.
“The vision kind of stemmed from the idea that the home is a sanctuary and when you step outside your door, there really is no telling what sort of darkness you may encounter. I wanted to focus on family and colorful faces and sisterhood,” Kiah Victoria tells AFROPUNK. “My real life brother, sister and friends are featured for that reason. We also live together so I didn’t have to go too far to capture that genuine connection, thankfully. The feminine narrative was very important to me- particularly the sanctity of sisterhood. To me, sisterhood is a remedy. It was also crucial for me to show individual celebration (ie me dancing like a crazy lady in my backyard, free as hell.)”
future soul trio ghost & the city get stratospheric on “n.w.t.a.”
Sometimes it seems like the future soul game can be all about texture, and artists forget to hand in a melody. But that’s one problem Oakland’s Ghost & the City are here to solve. On their latest single “N.W.T.A.” the electronic trio enlist Bells Atlas producer Aki Ehara to make sure the texture’s as rich as possible, but singer Kia Fay keeps it rooted with hooks to spare. And just when you think you know where it’s all headed, the trumpet solo starts and it goes stratospheric. The song comes off their forthcoming Time EP which drops March 30th. Check it out and get lost in the sound.
video premiere: desire gets a sensual anthem with jodie abacus’ sexy “meet me in the middle”
South Londoner Jodie Abacus has just dropped another reason to anticipate his upcoming EP Mild Cartoon Violence. The singer’s latest, “Meet Me In The Middle,” is as infectious as it is sexy, and its all brought to new heights in the track’s new visuals.
Fusing his soulful voice with funky electropop beats, the video follows the singer’s yearnings for a lover, setting up an irresistible groove reminiscent of Pharrell Williams.
“This is my first video from my second EP Mild Cartoon Violence,” explains Jodie. “It is set in my life long home town of south London. It’s about a romance, trying to get with someone sensually, physically, mentally and spiritually. We had such fun shooting this as it turned in to a full on party after the cameras stopped rolling.”
Check the video for the catchy track below!