Artist Spotlight: ELI

One of the metrics of a great artist is their ability to reinvent themselves through sound. It’s a fine balance between establishing self  while also exploring the diversity and capability of musical intonation. ELI is one such artist. So early on in her career, her sound traverses multiple planes, transporting listeners through a series of experiences. Her most recent show is testament to that. Amidst an intimate gathering in South London, Eli took to stage and across 30 minutes, explored  the span of alt genres.

Fresh off her most recent track, Too MuchEli is establishing herself as an artist to remember. Rooted in community, an ELI performance is like being in the warm embrace of long separated friends, engaged by the excitement of catching up on the intricacies of small stories. There is a depth in Eli’s vocals that captivates her listeners, a reminder that music is a fluid thing. Too Much feels like an adventure, a genre fluid track that refuses to be one thing. I Rule is much softer, leaning heavily into its accompanying instruments. On guitar, Eli let’s loose with powerful guitar riffs. On drums, Mike embodies the rockstar feel of the track and Greg leans into the soothing synths of the track.

Alt music is not new. Afropunk is rooted in the resistance and community of the Black punk. While there has been a shift in perception and the mainstream, Black alternative artists are still finding their way. Alt is an amalgamation, as ELI says. She is indie, she is Afro pop, she is soulful. ELI is a unique blend of the musical experiences that reflect her heritage and environment as a London based, Nigerian, Ivorian singer, song-writer and producer. All these experiences and sounds are cultivated in her musical journey and all roads have led to this point. 

This year ELI would like to build more of a community. Find more of the communion that was lost in the pandemic while being a reflection to and of people that look like her. As an alt artist, ELI is breaking the rules of sound and creating something familiar yet entirely new. This is the world of ELI and there’s so much more to come.


petite noir and danny brown make magic on “beach”

Petite Noir is an artist who take his time. Though it’s been three years since his last release, the debut album La Vie Est Belle / Life Is Beautiful (which itself was years in the making), “Beach” makes it clear that the wait was worth it. The South African artist born Yannick Ilunga calls his sound “noirwave,” a genre of one and utterly unmistakable. It is full of spacious guitars and synths, propulsive percussion (equally rooted in post-punk, hip-hop, and the diversity of his homeland’s traditions), and Illunga’s haunting voice drenched in reverb.

“Beach” features a guest verse from the Detroit MC and AFROPUNK fave Danny Brown, who transforms the vibe without taking it over. (The track also features a haunting vocal by new artist, Nukubi Nukubi.) It’s an unexpected collaboration, but their radically different energies compliment each other and bring out the best in each other. In short: “Beach” is like nothing else and it is everything.

“Beach” appears on the new visual EP La Maison Noir due out October 5th. Pre-order it via Bandcamp.

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.

rocker twin shadow croons his way into our hearts performing single ‘saturday’ live

Indie-pop crooner Twin Shadow (real name George Lewis Jr) took to the Conan (O’Brien) stage on Tuesday to perform his newest single ‘Saturday’ off his latest LP ‘Caer’. ‘Saturday’ is co-written by fellow Indie-Pop rockers HAIM. ‘Saturday’ is one of two new songs on the ‘Caer’, the other being ‘Little Woman’. See Twin Shadow perform live this summer at AFROPUNK Brooklyn.

When speaking to Pitchfork about what inspired the LP, Lewis said , “The patriarchy is falling apart. Our perceptions of who we are as human beings, because of technology and machines, are falling apart. We’re living at a breaking point, and a lot of the themes on the album are talking about these fault lines.”

Twin Shadow is performing at AFROPUNK Brooklyn on August 26th and kicking off his US tour.

Watch performance below.

feel the pain of heartache in nu-soul mad scientist rosehardt’s latest visual album

Heartache is a motherfucker”

Pacing around an empty apartment, Rosehardt spends much of the album-length video that accompanies Songs in the Key of Solitude trying and failing to get over a bad breakup. It’s a difficult and unflinching look at the cycle of getting over someone, made captivating by the depth of the production and the stunning cinematography.

“The best kind of pain is the kind you endure in the name of love”

The best moments come when Rosehardt lets himself look into the ugliest sides of a breakup with self-aware sarcasm. The self-love anthem “Wax” is absurd and frank, and its polar opposite “Come Away Death” finds the singer staring bleakly into the abyss and rolling his eyes at himself. It’s the kind of song that the tragically gone Scott Hutchinson spent a decade sharpening into daggers. “Goddamn” turns an awkward exchange with his mother about faith into unexpectedly riveting drama. His mother opens an orange with a million pounds of weight beneath it.

The album ends with the cast off shrug of “Solitude.” There’s no resolution, no big epiphany. Just life goes on, and the heartache keeps hurting. It’s refreshingly honest and simple, on an album that masks its ambition beneath a veneer of starkness.

Songs in the Key of Solitude is available digitally and on vinyl via Styles Upon Styles records.

Songs in the Key of Solitude by Rosehardt

move on from a bad relationship with indie pop visionary yuno’s ‘no going back’

Yuno’s been steadily releasing music on his own for years, and on his first for legendary indie label Sub Pop, it’s clear what they got their attention. This is one of those effortless indie pop cuts destined to stick in your brain for weeks. Balancing just enough drive and just enough space to keep it simultaneously anchored and floating, this is like a cold drink in a hot air balloon tethered 8 ft off the ground. (That’s not a thing I’ve ever experienced, but it sounds like it’d be pretty rad. On second thought, I have a slight fear of heights though, so it might actually be horrible? Whatever. The song rules.) It’s also a bittersweet anthem about moving on; that moment of realizing that the future, whatever it holds, has to be brighter than the past.

Yuno’s Moodie EP drops June 15th. Pre-order it via bandcamp.

no f*cks given! the new afropunk mixtape is all attitude, no apathy

For some people “not giving a fuck” is about attitude, and for some it’s about apathy. Like Janelle Monáe and Zoë Kravitz’s sexual liberation at the end of the world anthem “Screwed,” it’s a phrase with a lot of simultaneous and contradicting meanings. On our latest mixtape, we celebrate the artists who don’t give a fuck but don’t have time for apathy. From the Nova Twins to Latasha, Tyler Cole to Jean Grae, this month is about the artists who see what’s going on in the world and are too busy speaking truth to power to worry about what anyone thinks of them. Here’s to the artists with no fucks to give.


01. Tyler Cole – The Government Song
02. Interlude: FreeQuency “Masculinity So Fragile”
03. Nova Twins – Hit Girl
04. Latasha – Sumpn
05. PEDRO – Na Quebrada (ft. Rincon Sapiência)
06. Ghost & The City – Please Forgive My Heart
07. No Kind of Rider – Dark Ice
08. Jean Grae and Quelle Chris – Zero
09. Black Pantera – Alvo Na mira
10. Interlude: Jasmine Mans “Footnotes for Kanye”
11. Crashing Hotels – Never More
12. Bakar – Million Miles
13. Interlude: Janelle Monáe (April 2018)
14. Akua Naru – Made It
15. Blac Rabbit – All Good
16. Janelle Monáe – Screwed (ft. Zoë Kravitz)

Photo by Matheus Leite

rock out to post-punk band crashing hotels’ haunting album ‘exploration exploitation’

Fluttering synths, jagged guitars, and stripped down indie dance beats anchor Ao Anderson’s haunted vocals on Crashing Hotels’ irresistible new record. It’s a record that’s at once minimal and expansive, with tight riffs and wide open ambiances. On the band’s best tracks, they keep the party moving, riding tension before it feels like snapping. “Never More” and “Hardcore Cherokee,” feature Anderson’s strongest hooks and a subtle build that threatens to explode out of the band’s focused drive. This is post-punk as it was meant to be.

synth-rocker twin shadow treats fans to 2 haunting new tracks, announces upcoming album

George Lewis Jr. is his own evil twin. The singer has always found a fragile balance between his love of retro new wave calls to abandon your inhibitions for one night and tales of regret and self-loathing. His 2 latest tracks showcase both sides of him. The party anthem “Saturdays” finds Twin Shadow at his most unfairly catchy. A vintage drum machine anchors a song that could easily be a lost 80’s classic. The song’s dark side is illuminated by its counterpart: “Little Woman,” where Lewis sings a hushed song of regret through warbling auto-tune.

There’s an undeniable menace to the song where Twin Shadow nods to the darkness of early Nine Inch Nails at their weirdest. Flashes of VHS distortion highlight the contradiction at the heart of most of Twin Shadow’s best music: nostalgia is a drug like any other and the high always comes at a cost.

Twin Shadow’s new record Caer drops April 27th.

BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 27: George Lewis Jr. of Twin Shadow performs onstage during day three of the Boston Calling Music Festival at Boston City Hall Plaza on September 27, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

this all female-compilation of south african alternative and experimental music is what your ears need right now

Xannthe Cupido’s Subterranean Wavelength is quickly gaining a reputation as a home for underground music that seeks to actively break boundaries. Their latest project is a 10 track compilation that gathers together a collective of female artists from across South Africa. Tides offers a wave of talent ranging from dreamy indie pop to experimental hip-hop, folk-inflected soul to electronica, and it is so future looking the qualifiers to describe it haven’t been invented yet.

Like the best compilations, there’s a little something for everyone. Highlights like Umaah Screaming Sun’s “Wind Whistle,” Kajama’s “What We Came For,” Marley Bloo’s “Mimes,” and of course compilation curator Tribal Rebel Ludi’s own contribution “Luminance,” deftly balance the past and future. They pull inspiration equally from ancient traditions and the sharpest bleeding edge of the underground. The infinite possibilities of a laptop are anchored by the weight of history in a way that’s at once grounded and exhileratingly free. But if your interests range more towards the poppy with the experimentation kept as color, Floors’ “Leap” and “Family Tree” from Symphonica offer a lot to love.

Xanthe explained in a statement to OkayAfrica: “In a nutshell the project is a celebration of women who engage in the more left-field soundscapes in South Africa. The idea was also to highlight the presence of such women and that incredible things can be achieved with the absence of masculinity. The concept of “Tides” speaks directly to the notion of going through different motions of being a woman. It speaks of music (sound waves) , turbulence, consistency as well as the highs and lows of consciousness.”