Somadina Is Here

If we’re talking star power, we’re talking Somadina. In November 2022, Somadina dropped her latest project, Heart of The Heavenly Undeniable (she likes long names). Despite releasing music across the past few years – early fans will recognize previous tracks such as ihy and lay low  – singles SUPERSOMA and Rolling Loud indicated that something new was coming. On SUPERSOMA, Somadina establishes herself as a force to be reckoned with ‘I know nobody can talk to me because I’m very bigger’. And on Rolling Loud affirms her star power ‘Look how bitch shine like wow’. For the past 2 years, she has been setting the stage for her entrance and finally; Somadina is here.

Somadina photographed by Chukwuka Nwobi and styled by Bube Israel

At 22, Somadina is rich in life experiences and she’s only getting started. Born in Port Harcourt and firmly rooted in Lagos, her sound traverses her life in past environments including the Netherlands and London. Ultimately, it all comes down to the music that started it all. ‘My dad had a very deep love of music and the legends, so I was brought up in quite a musical space.’ This is evident in Heart of the Heavenly Undeniable (HOTHU). An incredible body of work, it seamlessly blends genres of punk, dance, psychedelic rock and more with the richness of Nigerian culture and history. The EP is incredibly versatile and fun. It shifts and twists becoming multiple things at once, testament to her belief that ‘music is a playground. It’s the place where I get to be my inner child, where I literally get to play.’ This youthfulness is evident when we speak. Somadina is smiley, bubbly and confident. To me, it reads as a surety of self and yet, ‘Going in, I was just like I don’t know what the fuck I want to make.’ Despite this, Heart of the Heavenly Undeniable showcases an unshakable belief in self and the freedom of trying new things. ‘The things that we think are our weaknesses are actually our superpowers. That’s where the growth really comes from.’ Welcome to Somadina’s world. 

For two years, Somadina explored the sound of HOTHU. In experimenting and researching influences, she pulled on artists from her childhood to make new discoveries about the versatility of sound. Because of this, Somadina is able to express herself across genres. ‘Everyone tells you you’re supposed to have a sound. My sound is my voice.’ She recalls listening to Bongos Ikwue’s Cock Crow at Dawn. The works of William Onyeabor and other musicians she learnt more about when she moved back to Nigeria as a pre teen all play their role in making the project what it is. The ability to incorporate the past with the present lends itself to its features. The balance of accompanying voices like Zamir, the Cavemen, Chi Virgo and L0la, serve as talents that contribute to unearthing more of  Somadina. ‘I wanted it to sound like Somadina featuring Somadina. I wanted it to just be like multiple variations of myself.’ This multiplicity of self means HOTHU is incapable of being one thing because it’s everything. Opening track Time 2 Time is alluring, an almost siren song capturing listeners and drawing us in. The shift in tempo encourages  movement and provides  an insight into the expanse of the project before mellowing out into the psychedelic feel that accompanies Y I Want U. We joke about the playlists HOTHU tracks should feature on. Sounds of chaos (Everybody Bleeds), music to let loose to (Dirty Line), sounds of discovery (Small Paradise), the sound of rebellion (Imagine Giving a Fvck) and ultimately, songs you should not be sober to (Crzy Girl).

Somadina photographed by Chukwuka Nwobi and styled by Bube Israel

The incredible feat of the EP is derived from her relationship with Nigeria. Its production and the features stem from Nigerian producers, artists and song-writers she worked with. Nigeria and the move back have been instrumental in developing her sound. ‘I’ve always loved music but this country is the place that brought out rhythm … it helped me come to terms with my identity when I was little.’ It makes sense then, that HOTHU embodies an exploration of sound and visual expression, ultimately paying homage to Nigerian culture. If you listen carefully ‘the Cavemen are playing drums, there are these little intonations of African culture. I felt the music elevate, we had more soul.’ But it doesn’t stop there.

Over the past few years, the Y2K aesthetic has taken charge in the mainstream. Nigeria holds a special place in the moment, as the rise of more Alté (alternative) artists has also championed the otherness in and of the arts and creativity. Nollywood has made a massive comeback in terms of newer visuals and the unearthed archives of past movies. Accounts like Nolly Babes are doing their part to keep this alive. HOTHU recognizes the role of early 2000s fashion in Nigerian culture. ‘I really like the fashion behind Nollywood… I’ve always wanted to incorporate it into the music in as much as I have a history of being in a different country, I like being inspired by that country as well’

So what’s next? What do you do, when at 22, you’ve dropped an excellent project, performed at a star studded festival, headlined 2 of your own shows (including a sold out second date), and attended a Sony music writing camp rubbing shoulders with producers, song writers and artists? Simple, you casually mention your next project. ‘I try my best to exist in reality… the people that love me, I take it, I accept love, I move in with it. But it’s a process and I’ve dropped this project, I’m looking forward to making the next.’

escape the chaotic political climate with psychedelic-soul rockers con brio’s slice of paradise, ‘explorer’

“Don’t the sour make the sweet taste sweeter?”

Psychedelic- Rock and Soul septet Con Brio pulls off a surprising trick on their latest release, Explorer. Hiding just beneath the breezy pop hooks is a deep reservoir of serious musicianship, and moments of urgency and smart social criticism. It’s the rare album with a pop sheen that hides a deeper message.

Starting with “Saddle Up,” the band showcases a skill at dense layering. The song builds from spaced out electro R&B into an anthemic coda anchored by a deft horn section. The first half of the album is heavy on the poppy come-ons, but the band always interjects the songs with surprising touches, the old school soul hook that bursts out of “Texas Summers,” the compellingly understated horn licks in “Body Language.” And then “Heart Shaped Box” announces the album’s powerful second half.

Let me digress for a second to say that this is probably my favorite Nirvana song, and I’ve heard “Heart Shaped Box” covered more times than I can possibly count. I’ve never heard a band take the song and make it their own in the same way. So I don’t say it lightly when I say this is probably the best cover of that song I could possibly imagine. Damn. “Royal Rage” marks the band’s first big statement song; a track about frustration, hopelessness, and rebellion in the age of American fascism, that has far more to say than a song with as strong a hook as it has should say.

“United State of Mind” is the star of the show. A bouncy rhythm and retro soul feel that looks to find hope in a time when hope is in short supply. Where most of the songs have hooks and production touches that look to the future, “United State of Mind” looks back to 60’s soul and early funk to make a point about the modern age that would have made the Immortal Saint Gaye proud. That the album closes with tracks called “High Spirits” and “Feels Good,” sets the band’s mission statement. “Royal Rage” aside, this is an album about trying to find the joy in life when the world is a slowly spinning dumpster fire. I didn’t realize how badly I needed this record when I spun it the first time, but Explorer maybe the most essential pop record of summer 2018.

Stream it above, and catch Con Brio on tour now. Dates and tickets are here:

this former prince background singer is bringing the funk in the video for her new single ‘the pepper club’

Judith Hill already boasts the kind of career musicians would KILL for and the songstress is just getting started. The singer/songwriter/musician has snagged a Grammy for featuring in Academy Award winning documentary ’20 Feet from Stardom’. Hill also released an album in 2015 called ‘Back In Time’ that was produced by the late legend Prince, who also performed on the album. Hill’s career highlights don’t stop at Prince either, having previously done backing vocals for the likes of Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson.

On May 18th of this year, Hill released the video for her new single “The Pepper Club”, the first single released on her new 13-track studio album “Golden Child”. “Golden Child” is also the name of the musical she penned as she was making her album. “As I kept creating, I realized there was a story to be told, a message that carried a common thread. That’s what inspired the musical.” Hill told Billboard. The musical will be an immersive experience where the audience will sit in the middle much like an installation “celebrating the collaboration between art, fashion and music.”

Rolling Stone has praised Hill for her “stellar powerhouse vocals” that she lends to her to feel-good, funkadelic track ‘The Pepper Club’. Characters in the play are introduced in the video which is littered with a groovy choreography and sweeping camera movements that match the constant energy shown by the inhabitants of ‘The Pepper Club’.

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.

reach a death-defying climax with psychedelic singer kayla starr’s ethereal ep

Kayla Starr’s music charts the previously unknown territory lying between psychedelic rock, pop, goth, dreampop, and R&B, so it’s fitting that her latest EP is called Exception to the Rule. It’s a dreamy, hypnotic affair, dripping with melancholy and seismic distorted bass.

The EP is at its best when Kayla Starr pairs her ethereal voice with raw and noisy sounds. Opening track “Say You Will” builds from a haunting guitar line into a threatening bass, before she launches into the reverberating stratospheric chorus. The song carries a menace that never quite erupts, sustaining an unearthly tension through the end. “Deepest Sea” brings Kayla Starr’s sound into nearly metallic territory, with howling noise enveloping her voice. The song reaches a death-defying climax while earth shattering waves of distortion swirl around her voice.

The depth of production, and the nuance in Starr’s voice make this the kind of EP that rewards (and maybe even demands) listening on repeat.

get the power to face the everyday bullsh*t with pop punk diva g matthews’ ‘superhero’

The superheroes on G Matthews’ new album might not spawn billion dollar franchises (or leave billions of dollars in damage in their heroic wake), but that doesn’t make them any less epic. Superhero is a celebration of the ordinary people who face all the bullshit the world has to throw at them and live to fight another day.

With massive anthems like “Keep On Going,” “Leap Of Faith,” and “Not Tonight,” it’s an album that flips the script of alt rock into messages of empowerment without losing an ounce of power. The best songs on the record tend to be the ones that look the darkness straight in the face without blinking. From the dissonant hardcore guitars of “Leap of Faith” to the miles deep groove of “Things You’ll Never Know,” there are nods to classic post-hardcore and emo buried beneath G Matthews’ massive pop melodies. The album’s highlight though is “Choices,” which adds some 8-bit flourishes to a propulsive punk rock song about overcoming anxiety, and I’m just very much here for it.

The Dark Knight memorably called Batman the hero Gotham deserves, not the one it needs. G Matthews’ Superhero is both. We all need some anthems to remind us that the daily fight is worth fighting, and we all sure as hell deserve it.

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.

premiere: nothing can stop the magic in infectious new single by danish soul-pop star iris gold “all i really know”

Originally from London and raised in Copenhagen, singer/songwriter Iris Gold’s sound is unlike anything you have ever heard before. Having lived a self-described nomadic life surrounded by free thinkers influenced by 60’s 70’s counterculture, Iris channels those elements into a radically irresistible sound. She dubs it “hippie hop,” an alluring fusion of retro hip-hop, soul and pop, that is as melodic as it is powerful.

It’s that power that Iris harnesses in her latest track, “All I Really Know”, an infectious anthem about overcoming obstacles and realizing the sky is the limit.

“When you have been dealing with adversity throughout your life, it will either kill you, or make you blossom into a positive person, and I decided very early on in life that I would always be positive, energetic, and a go-getter,” Iris explains. “‘All I Really Know’ is my Rocky Balboa/Apollo Creed track. It’s a song about picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and trying again, after failing, no matter how many attempts it takes.”

Take a listen to the catchy single below!:

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join the head-bopping prowl with delicious new track “hungry” by electro-pop singer tunde olaniran

“Open my mouth to start / hungry to taste your heart.”

Singer, rapper, and activist meets pop icon as Tunde Olaniran is expands his appetite-and we couldn’t be more hype.

With the release of his latest track “Hungry”, the Michigan-born artist offers a fresh homage to yearning, and an electro-pop anthem on the rise. Complete with a bubbling synth backtrack and a mantra-like hook, listeners fall victim to the prowl he sets in place, and with tempo-ed vocals and echo-ey progressions, the track builds until the very last 808.

First introducing himself to the masses with his debut 2015 EP Transgressor, Olaniran is coming into his own and making it known in this fearless declaration—and by the end of the track there’s no doubt he gets what he wants, granting audiences a full meal.

I dare you not to bop to this bop… I dare you. Check out Tunde Olaniran‘s latest “Hungry” below!

queer afro-dominican singer rubby subverts gender expectations in enchanting new single “confiesa” (confession)

Growing up, 20-year-old Dominican singer Rubby never had many love songs he could relate to. Most told the story of a guy falling for an attractive girl on a dance-floor, but this didn’t feel true to him and his story as he came to terms with his queerness––so he decided to take matters into his own hands. Like all of his other songs, his latest single “Confiesa,” which means “confession” in Spanish, does not use gendered pronouns. Instead, the video shows the star in traditional feminine garb as he catches the attention of another partygoer from across the room. The song, in which Rubby repeats the line “Tengo tu ritmo conmigo” (or “I have your rhythm with me”), is an invitation to join in on a fantasy, helped along by the song’s ethereal melodies and fast pace reggaeton/dembo drums.

“‘Confiesa’ for me was a vulnerable leap into my Dominican identity from writing a song in Spanish for the first time to wearing the traditional garments and masks,” the artist explaned. “It allowed me to grapple with notions of sexuality, religion and gender within my own culture in a way that felt good and devious. ”

Check out the enchanting video below!:

Make up by Wanthy

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Photos by Cyle Suesz