Posted from Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, here’s a round-up of some of the biggest tunes manufactured in Africa’s most populous country in the past couple of years.

Most of you will be familiar with Femi and Fela Kuti, the backbones and international beacons of the nation’s music scene, but the Afro-beats being grooved to in the endlessly gridlocked traffic and clubs here these days have far more in common with dancehall and hip-hop – right down to the pretty typical music videos featuring “hos and Hennessy”.


While I’m not that crazy about all the America-aping, there’s definitely something distinctive happening here, with pidgin vocals and racier tempos lending new Nigerian music a very particular flavour. But I still reckon a lot of it is crying out for remixing, maybe inna dubstep-style? Let me know what you guys think…

First up, from the MoHits label, an artist described as the future of African R&B, Wande Coal, with what’s been the biggest hit in West Africa for a while, “Bumper To Bumper” (a suitable description of what traffic is like in Lagos all the time!).

Here’s a track that caught my attention on one of the local music channels in Port Harcourt a few days back, from DJ Zeez, and as far as I can gather the title is Yoruba for “scattered head”. If the track’s name suggests an update of Femi Kuti’s super “Scatta Head”, the snaky synth-lines remind me more of South Africa’s DJ Mujava. Either way, it’s extremely catchy…

Finally something far sweeter from a swell bloke I met in the city of Jos last year, Jeremiah Gyang. Unfortunately hundreds were massacred in his home town earlier in 2010 in Christian/Muslim clashes, but this easygoing, gospel-tinged slice of Afro-pop is an ace antidote to any bloodshed.

Bonus: For those who prefer a little more “Afro” in their Afrobeat, for my money the best album made in the genre since Fela Kuti left the planet was created by a guy from Finland – in collaboration with Fela’s former drummer, Tony Allen. Jimi Tenor‘s Inspiration Information 4, on the essential Strut label, is a master-class in classic Afrobeat, without sounding too reverent or retro. The record’s lead single, “Selfish Gene”, is available as a free download from XLR8R.


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