Best of…2023 Playlists Part II: Yomi’s Picks
Season’s Greetings to our extended, worldwide Afropean family.
As a thank you to all our readers for your support throughout 2023- and also for a bit of fun – we thought we’d do something a little different for the festive period this year. Regular contributors and members of the editorial team have compiled a list of some of their musical favourites over the past 12 months. We’ll be posting each selection in the run up to Christmas. Who knows? It could become an Afropean.com tradition.
For Part II we present Yomi’s 2023 musical highlights, with a brief but thoughtful introduction to each from the man himself:
Victory Dance by Ezra Collective
Starting off with something that is very close to home: the members of Ezra Collective are alumni of Kinetika Bloco and Tomorrow’s Warriors: two of the UK’s finest music + community organisations (who also run some of the best summer schools in the universe!)
It’s a big deal for the Mercury Prize to be given to a band that identifies as Jazz, and an even bigger deal to watch your children’s pupils dilate when they see and hear the song that they spent the summer holiday learning to play being rinsed out on a video like the one above.
Broken by Little Simz
This was released late 2022/early 2023 on the album “No Thank You”. The media reaction to this album was a few notches lower that the reaction to Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, but, as albums go (and according to me): “No Thank You” is just as good in its own way. There are deep cutting lyrics on pretty much every track, quote from Broken:
They won’t take the weight off you
When you can’t manage the load.
Like they’re waiting to hear
a f* crack in your bone.
you’ve had to deal with alone.
No father, (so) how do you become
a man on your own?
Did the best that you could
with the tools you were loaned.
Didn’t know how to break the mould
and now you’re raising a clone.
If you only listen to one song from this list: pick this one(!)
Stakes is High by De La Soul (ft. The Roots)
Farewell Dave (no, not *that* Dave, I mean Dave/Trugoy/Plug Two from De La Soul).
Dave’s death didn’t hit me as hard as Phife’s death ( I spent several days in an identity coma when Phife died!), but it still hit me.
This performance of J Dilla produced Stakes is High, in the year of Hip Hop’s 50th birthday, combined with the fact that this was shown on The Tonight Show (huge global audience, proper amount of respect for Dave’s life’s work) helped to soothe the pain.
Hip hop perennials The Roots still flowing strong.
RAPT by Kokoroko
Kokoroko (another success story that has strong links to Kinetika Bloco) released this short film scored by three songs (Ewà Inú, Dide O, Age of Ascent) from their 2nd album: Could We Be More.
And, isn’t it amazing??!
7 minutes long. Gorgeous photography. Tons of brass.
Unavailable by Davido ft Musa Keys
Without doubt, the catchiest tune of 2023.
Yes. I said it. “Unavailable” is catchier than that tune by Rema.
Common Person by Burna Boy
Burna Boy had a few good tunes this year, I’m picking this because I love the sentiment behind the song. And also because it gives me the opportunity to reflect on Burna selling 80,000 tickets for his summer concert at the London Stadium. Mind-blowing…
The Message – 50 years of Hip-Hop! choreographed by Let It Happen
This last one is more about the dance, but it’s a nice tip of the hat to Hip-Hop’s 50 birthday, AND it allows me to end on an Afropean note, as it features the wonderful Let It Happen, based in Maastricht.