African Music to the World


This week, The Times published a profile of Tems, a 28-year-old Nigerian singer-songwriter who, in recent years, has: become the first African artist to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, appeared on the Beyoncé album “Renaissance” and earned an Oscar nomination for co-writing “Lift Me Up” for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” She will release her debut album next month.

To me, Tems’s music — which straddles R&B and Afrobeats — has an honesty: Her tone is earthy and her lyrics are direct, often set to production that isn’t particularly ornate. Her hooks, though, are the killer; they are seemingly crafted to be hummed around the house or screamed over speakers. These elements come together to vividly capture a feeling — whether it be heartbreak (“Damages”), defiance (“Crazy Tings”) or piety (“Me & U”).

It was unsurprising, then, to learn about her vibes-based songwriting process from the piece. “I just have a sensation, I have signals,” she told the Times reporter Reggie Ugwu. “You’re just the vessel, it’s just coming out of your mouth.”

Tems is one of several artists from nations in Africa who have crossed into the Western mainstream. Burna Boy sold out Citi Field in New York last year; in February, the inaugural Grammy for Best African Music Performance went to the South African singer Tyla for “Water.” And Western artists — including Beyoncé, Drake, Usher, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez — have featured African artists in their music or appeared on remixes of already-popular songs.

Last year, for Old World, Young Africa, a Times project about Africa’s youth population boom, I spoke with the Nigerian artist Mr Eazi. He told me that one benefit of the growing popularity of music from Africa was that Africans had been able to wrest some control over narratives about their continent. “People are discovering Africa first, not through the lens of CNN or The New York Times,” he said, but “through the lens of the music.”

There are several reasons for the global interest — talented artists, the border-melting power of the internet, collaborations with Western stars — but one I can speak to personally, as a Brit, is the role of the diaspora.

My relationship with music from the continent started with my father, who often played highlife — songs that crackle with age and feature piercing guitar riffs — sung in the Nigerian language Igbo. (Here’s an example.) As my peers and I grew up, we developed an appreciation for African music independent of our parents. Songs by artists like D’banj, Wizkid and Burna Boy were in frequent rotation at house parties.

There is a vibrant cultural exchange between the continent and its diaspora. Young Africans in the diaspora attend concerts and music festivals like Afro Nation, and many travel to Nigeria and Ghana to party during the holiday season, which is lovingly referred to as “Detty December.” Mr Eazi told me that the diaspora in places like Britain had played a role in popularizing African music globally: “These were the ones defining what it is to be cool and embracing their Africanness,” he said.

Here’s a playlist for your holiday-weekend cookout; it includes big names from the continent and a few artists from the diaspora. Amapiano — a house genre of South African origin — makes an appearance, as does “1er Gaou,” an Ivorian song that’s a staple at African hall parties. Enjoy.

Related: Hip-hop, which dominates the French music industry, is injecting new words and phrases from Africa into France’s suburbs and cities.

Film and TV

Other Big Stories

🎬 “Hit Man” (Out Now): This is the year (years?) of Glen Powell. After making a big splash in “Top Gun: Maverick,” he starred with Sydney Sweeney in the rom-com “Anyone but You” and has now landed what our movie critic Alissa Wilkinson calls a “romantic, sexy, hilarious, satisfying and a genuine star-clinching turn” as a philosophy professor with an exciting side hustle in “Hit Man.” Directed by Richard Linklater (“Boyhood,” the “Before” trilogy), the movie will begin streaming on Netflix in June, but, as Alissa puts it, “If you can see it in a theater, it’s worth it.”

If you’re planning a picnic or cookout this weekend, you might have potato salad on the brain. As much as I love a classic mayonnaise-drenched version, these can backfire when the temperatures rise, especially if you’re planning for a feast to last all day long. But fear not! I have the perfect alterative, a zippy, herby, olive oil-based potato salad dressed with lemon and mint. This one also contains loads of scallions, which add crunch and a pleasing sharpness while a sprinkle of chile gives it some heat. And it won’t suffer from sitting out for hours, if it’s not all gobbled up before, that is.

The hunt: A French-born, Canada-based owner of a fashion brand wanted to find her American dream in the Hamptons. Which home did she choose? Play our game.

What you get for $1.6 million: A Queen Anne Revival house in Durham, N.C.; a two-bedroom condominium in Palm Beach, Fla.; or a modern farmhouse in Barrington, R.I.

Your next home: After publishing our updated Rent vs. Buy Calculator, The Times wants to hear from readers who recently chose between renting and buying. Tell us your story here.

Instagram pans: A few years ago, direct-to-consumer cookware was all the rage on the internet. Now you can probably find it for free.

Dance like it’s the ’80s: TikTok users may skew Gen Z, but some of the hottest videos today feature the moves of their Gen X parents.

How to: A guide to becoming vegetarian — or just getting more vegetables into your diet.

On the job: Meet a woman who keeps a candy factory running.

There’s one packing essential that Kit Dillon, Wirecutter’s travel expert, recommends to anyone who asks: packing cubes. Is the idea of little bags zipped inside a larger bag a bit silly? Maybe. But in practice it’s actually pretty great. Our experts suggest imagining your suitcase as a dresser, and the cubes as individual drawers. Pack each cube the way you might organize your drawers (for me, that’s swimsuits and underwear in one; shirts in another; pants in a third), and pull out only the one you need as you go. Voilà. Packing, and traveling, made simple. — Sofia Sokolove

Monaco Grand Prix, Formula 1: There’s a gulf between the allure of the Monaco Grand Prix and the race itself. Monaco is a centerpiece of the Formula 1 season, and perhaps the sport’s most famous event. But, as Ian Parkes explains in The Times, the race has grown more predictable over the years as Formula 1 cars have gotten larger, making it harder to overtake other racers along the tiny country’s narrow, twisting streets. Of course, for many viewers, the competition is secondary to the spectacle of futuristic cars zipping past extravagant yacht parties.

Pro tip: More exciting than the grand prix is the qualifying event, in which drivers navigate the course in isolation, trying to log the fastest lap. Their times determine the starting order of the race, which may well mirror the final standings. Qualifying is at 10 a.m. Eastern today on ESPN2; the race is tomorrow at 9 a.m. on ABC



Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top