By Jean Grae & Quelle Chris
You know Quelle Chris for coming eleventh in Rolling Stone’s 40 Best Rap Albums in 2017 for Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often, a classic laid-back, catchy, neo-soul New York rap album. Jean Grae is the daughter of SA jazz legend Abdullah Ibrahim, and has worked with the likes of Talib Kwel and The Roots. These master wordsmiths and paragons of self-conscious rap collaborate to try understand why ‘everything’s fine’. Or why we spend time saying it is when it’s not. Expect funk and soul influences with lazer-sharp lyrics. Are we who we are because of our plans? Or because we wrestle with daily distractions? Are we going somewhere great or is everything just … fine? Join Grae and Chris for a soundtrack to the modern milieu.
By Shawn Mendes
You’ve heard ‘Youth’ featuring Khalid, and swooned when Mendes proved himself a gentleman at the Met Gala, escorting rumoured girlfriend Hailey Baldwin. Is the Canadian multi-
platinum singer, songwriter and guitarist the new Justin Bieber? His blend of pop and folk will make your heart smile and your hips move. He’s not yet 20 and has played two world tours, sung for Queen Elizabeth II and debuted an album as a Billboard No 1 twice. His music strikes a perfect balance between catchy acoustic riffs and a massive anthem-scale feel. If you loved ‘Treat You Better’, and danced wild to ‘Nothing Holdin’ Me Back’, you’ll groove to this.
Love Will Wait/Women of House
By Jackie Queens
In 2016, Queens created her own record label, Bae Electronica, to showcase solo house music by female vocalists. It was a move as bold as it was obvious. We always hear the divas in house music, but usually as someone ‘featured’. Now, the sisters shine a spotlight on their own creations. Queens piloted the #womenofhouse project, played a solo set at last year’s Oppikoppi festival and has gained praise from the likes of Black Coffee. Expect an Afrofuturistic double-EP selection from the Zimbabwean-born vocalist, tribal grooves, electro-inspiration and a perfect balance of collaborators like Sió (who won House Record of the Year at the 2017 Dance Music Awards South Africa).
Nduduzo Makhathini’s music has earned the uMgungundlovu-born pianist, band-leader and music theorist the Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz (2015) and South African Music Awards. But the bearded jazzman is more interested in music as communication and healing – and how this is a contemporary version of the African tradition of communing with the ancestors.
Your album Ikhambi has a few meanings, especially in 2018…
It translates as ‘healing’ in Zulu, but also as a mix of herbs – which I take to mean inspiration and improvisation in music. Today, everyone is talking about Afrofuturism, Wakanda and Black Panther, but for a long time I’ve had opinions about how African literature and ancient science should be brought to the fore. The CD version of the album is accompanied by words – a story that is me being a bit more deliberate about how the music can be used to project learning and healing.
What do you think of your music earning awards?
I’m someone who is open enough for certain music to channel through me, and if my ancestors can get some attention at an awards show, and the music can go further – then I love that.
Tell us about your new album, Modes of Communication…
I can’t reveal the collaborator, but he is a global jazz ancestor who’s played with greats like John Coltrane. It’s taking that ancestral journey and bringing it to new ears now. It’s about music as bridging the gap between the seen and the unseen.
Ikhambi is widely available. Track down Makhathini’s meditative debut Mother Tongue. Modes of Communication is due in September.