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The New Queens of Afrobeat

Clyde Macfarlane | Mail & Guardian   in  ·
May 17, 2015

(Bushqueen Music)

It seemed inevitable that Nigerian-German singer Nneka would make a roots trip album. The 34-year-old accompanied Damian Marley and Nas on their 2010 Distant Relatives tour, a project that updated a well-trodden route of Caribbean to African awakening with a punchy, hip-hop-moulded attitude. This enthusiasm has been manifested within Nneka and so My Fairy Tales sounds almost like a further collaboration with the two pioneers of reggae hip-hop fusion.

Nneka’s drawcard is her country of birth’s Afrobeat, a genre that will lend itself to fusion for as long as the energetic spirit of Fela Kuti keeps ablaze. Kuti returned to his Yoruba roots after studying music in London and appreciating American funk, and his resulting Afrobeat movement was a cultural mix with a distinctly African pulse.

In terms of looks, Afrocentric views, political awareness and Marley associations Nneka has attracted numerous Lauryn Hill comparisons, but her voice is far too strong to share any podiums. At times she flirts with a jazz-club-style smokiness, but all hints suggest that this might be the kind of album you’d unwind to and crumble when she explodes into a roaring chorus with barely a second’s notice.


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