Written by Bulumko Napakade
As long as Africa’s history has been written by the ink of a western pen, Africa has been framed as the world’s backward counterpart whose very survival depends on aid, void of the intellectual creativity to bring about her own development. This false narrative propagated by this Eurocentric smudging draws a veil over historical evidence such as the fact that the world’s first libraries and universities find their genesis in African soil. The western world never have and never will have a monopoly over knowledge that echoes high modernist visions of the future… not as long as the majority of the world’s youth population are in fact African. A youth whose colourful, vibrant and unsurpassable creativity has been the single most powerful influence on modern fashion, pop culture, and the area closest to our souls and the focus of this article, the music.
The internet has connected African youth to one another and the rest of the world, producing an African child with a global perspective when it comes to their tastes in fashion, and music; these influences had a heavy impact on the sounds that have enjoyed international popularity from music that came out of the South African scenes... but not in West Africa. Here we find a youth so immersed in their roots, where Western influences don’t dominate, but rather represent creative borders that exist to be broken and trends that are to be disrupted by an unapologetic Afrocentric identity, so authentic that it cannot be replicated or ignored... an energy so themselves!
Originally this article was going to be a deep dive review of Santi’s latest offering “Mandy & the Jungle”; however as I listened to the this album on loop for over a week, I found myself lost, deeper in the rabbit hole of the extensive list of collaborators and influences, encapsulated by what sounds like an Afro-beats album… but just isn't. This is a universe, a universe Santi makes his mark in through producing an Afro fusion of high modernist Afro-pop delivered in unapologetic pidgin-English flows; with a soon to be released comic book that renders the album as a mere soundtrack to the world that is Mandi & the Jungle. A universe that is relentlessly traveling beyond the borders of Lagos, but permeates throughout the Millennial youth in West Africa, the UK, the states, and here in South Africa.
We find that this is a youth who produce visuals that represent the beauty encapsulated in their community’s aesthetic, sounds that captures the rhythmical poetry of the colloquial of their conversations, and the dramatic nature of their volatile existence... their music is a reflection of their people. A people whose priority is the enrichment of the collective, and display this by supporting their homies first and anything that authentically represents their identity. They create together, with the understanding that collaboration is better than competition, with positivity as the driving force instead of the stale creativity of individual ego... we see this in the extensive list of collaborations the album features. In fact there are more records with features on them than actual individual tracks. Featuring the likes of his long-time collaborator, Odunsi the Engine, DRAM, Shane Eagle, and Soulection’s Tay Iwar.
Future beats, Eclectic Souls ,Forgotten gems and timeless sounds... Soulection Radio are really invested in the creative energy coming from Africa, signing the previously mentioned Tay Iwar as one of their first artists. A move that features so many potential synergies. Soulection radio was originally perceived to be one of the world's leaders in curating the best of emerging sounds... originally finds its roots in the same collaborative energy that draws parallels to Odusni’s involvement in the production of the Afro fusion of high modernist Afro-pop in Santi’s sound, and Santi’s involvement in the direction of the 2000s Nollywood inspired Odunsi the Engine music videos with a Gen Z twist. Soulection not only curates the most innovative sound, but are involved in its development as seen by their investment in African artists.
But there is no need to look beyond the borders of the home of this creativity that is rapidly growing the dominance of African influence on the global sonic trends we are starting to see. FTL Radio, a platform, and collective movement, that not only curates the best of both domestic and international sounds, but is invested in the birth of a new era in South African RnB.
The creative chemistry between Tinashe and new-era RnB artists 2AM and Noiir both feature Hennessy Smooth production, with intoxicating emotions delivered in hooks that remind you of messy conversations and sexual tension... that just feels right. Probably because for the first time there are artists that are narrating the unique complexities of young millennial black love in the context of sunset Cape Town or midnight Johannesburg; sounds that will challenge what you thought was possible sonically in rhythm and blues.
The purpose of this article evolved into a call to action: To simply pay attention the creativity happening in your very circles, neighbourhoods and cities. To encourage young gifted and black youth to collaborate and create together, building a network that will mature and grow into a platform. Ones that resemble the likes of Soulection Radio, ASAP Mob, OFWGKTA, and the MSFTs ; I say this because they find their roots in very similar origin stories.
I implore you to listen, feel, relate to the emerging sounds being developed and curated by the myriad of creatives, artists, producers and content producers involved with FTL Radio, not because you may know them personally, but for the love of good music and quality content. Watch this space, your immediate space, your adjacent space these African spaces, because we’re taking over the world!
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