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Drake’s House album and what it means to African music

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On June 17, a Thursday night, out of nowhere, Drake announced his 7th studio album. As expected, we all looked forward to a typical Drake project, but to our surprise, we got a full house album! It was received with negative reviews for a couple of days but settled with time, debuting at No.1 on the Billboard charts.

Prior to the release, he mentioned the executive producers for the project, and South Africa’s Black Coffee was part of it alongside the OVO production roaster. Black Coffee’s presence hinted at what to expect; it’s not the first time the duo have worked together; they linked up on “Get to together” for Drake’s 2017 album, More Life.

The 46-year-old Cape Town DJ is a legend in South African House music scene, with a successful career that has spanned over 26 years, working with Kendrick Lamar, David Guetta & Usher. He also accompanied Beyonce and Jay-Z in their African tour in 2020; he has nine studio albums and a Grammy award which he won at this year’s edition.

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“The music we make here is beautiful, and I wish we had the budget to introduce it to the world,”  he said during an interview years ago. Fast forward, that opportunity presented itself, and it was a game changer for the genre. For years, House music has had this stereotype that it’s for only Europeans that “vibe with it at Ibiza”, but it has been a genre that stems all over the globe. 

Afro House has been a thing in South Africa even before the apartheid. Prominent names like DJ Christos have held the genre down for decades, performing at the most seminal clubs in and around the Gauteng area, including Fourth World, and Caesar’s Palace,  constantly crossing racial borders in those segregated times.

Soul Candi records is also an internationally operating distributor and the country’s biggest importer of electronic music from Europe and the US; these are music powerhouses from Africa. A record label that Initially started as a record store in Johannesburg.  

House music is inevitable now; it’s almost everywhere. Drake, on the other hand, is one of the world’s most diverse rappers, known for leaning into waves beyond his reach and making it global has been his forte, smash hits like “One  Dance” and “Controlla”  which hoard heavy Afrobeats and dancehall elements, are proof that music is universal, and on his journey to making a house album, he brought along some of Africa’s hottest assets.

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Black Coffee being part of the pillar that structured the project meant he influenced a vast part of it. He produced “Currents”, & “overdrive”. There’s a proud moment on the project where he Co-produced “texts go green” alongside his son, Sona, who is credited as a writer and a producer. Black coffee also brought along friends who helped craft his Grammy award-winning album “Subconscious”. Australian artiste/producer RY X  who worked on his album, co-produced “Sticky”. A rap/house blend that suited Drake’s approach. 

TRESOR Riziki, who is a three-time SAMA award-winning/platinum-selling singer, songwriter, music producer, entrepreneur and philanthropist, also marks his second appearance on a Drake album. The Congolese previously worked on  CLB, producing “Fountains” with featured Tems in 2021.

He is back and covers more tracks this time, working on six songs, with credits as an additional vocalist on “Currents, “Down Hill” and my personal favourite “Tie That Binds”, which is carried by a Spanish guitar and Tresor’s honeyed baritone.  He also had credits on “Massive”, “overdrive” & “flights booked” as a producer and a writer. 

Almost 60% of the album reeks of contemporary African pop, the level of multi-genre fluency is the peak, and it has South African touches all over; in a current industry where Afrobeats is enjoying its mainstream run, it’s refreshing to see one of the world’s biggest artiste tap into the sounds of house music and most importantly, invite some of the spearheads from Africa to work on it.

Honestly, Nevermind is proof that Africa doesn’t have just Afrobeats to offer on the global stage, but also quality house music that can compete & push our influence over the border, it’s a new breath of air, and it’s blowing towards the right direction. 

The iMullar is the definitive voice of emerging African music and the lifestyle that surrounds it, showcasing exceptional talent from all around the globe focused on promoting the most distinctive new artists and original sounds, we are the authority on who is next.

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