His top tracks of the year are a unique selection of music from South Africa, Ethiopia, Egypt, Libya, Cameroon and beyond.
Admas – Anchi Bale Game
This song really got me through the summer! It’s so fresh and bright; it sounds like a breeze on a summer day in a world that is fully joined up. This is a timeless Ethiopian synth treasure that was originally released in 1984. This lovely reissue was released by Frederiksberg Records in July, and the vinyl record is probably my favourite reissue of 2020! It 100% is going to be a happy memory of this weird time we live in too. Catch Freedom of Groovement interviewing the band on Radio Tempo Nad Para – such an interesting story.
Special Touch – It’s Your Life
I have literally listened to this song every morning since its release. It puts you into a positive trance, which we all kind of need it during these times. My favourite thing about this track is how sincere the singing is, alongside that delayed lead. It’s just so joyful.
Originally released in 1991 and recently reissued on Heels and Souls Records in October – I copped it straight away. Don’t sleep on this one.
Mameen 3 – Mamermaids
I have to say I was blown away by everything that is in this track. Its a hybrid of Algerian Robot-rai combined with African Vocoder Dance. This was released on Bongo Joe at the start of the year, and I can’t wait to play this out!!! This is hands-down a certified banger from Mameen 3.
Ahmed Ben Ali – Subhana
Habibi Funk drops the ultimate Libyan Reggae, and I promise you it doesn’t disappoint. It’s infectious from start to finish and does well on the dance floor as a closing track. If you haven’t already dived into Jannis’ label, rest assured you will spend all your money on his releases. Just don’t get upset with me when you’re broke.
Interesting fact: Ahmed Ben Ali uploaded this song onto youtube in 2008 and forgot his details to his youtube account. The account has been untouched for 11 years, while the song was generating lots of traction.
Abyusif – Intro
I have been listening to Abyusif for a couple of years now, and every time he drops a new song it always ends up being a massive banger. He is an Egyptian hip-hop artist with incredible flow and grimy beats. The first time I heard one of his songs was through a Kutmah mix, and I have been hooked ever since.
There are not many words that can describe this! Full-on Egyptian Drill.
Liya Fran, Kirr – Tubudubuda
This track ticks all the boxes. The minute you hear that break, you know you’re in for something big then bam! – you have this floating 303 serenading your ears all the way to the end, along with that mid-heavy vocal. This was released by the man himself Adam Rees’s label Paradiso Records earlier this month. This makes me miss gigs so much.
Chicco – I Need Some Money
I have a serious soft spot for bubblegum South African tunes, and I have played the original of this (??) in most sets. To finally see a reissue of it that doesn’t cost a million euro gives me so much joy. This was originally released in 1986 and reissued on Afrosynth Records. It was meant to be released in the summer, but due to some delays, it got pushed to mid-November. It worked out to be an early Christmas present to myself.
It’s difficult to reconcile that this catchy infectious track was made during apartheid, as local artists made music to fill the void that boycotts created.
Don’t forget that 80s bassline pulling you along the way – if this song doesn’t cheer you up, nothing will.
Stinger J – Pretty Face
This is a next-level release staying in Rush Hour’s top ten since its release back in October. Big massive shoutout to Olan from All City for the hot tip.
It was originally released in 1987 and has been sought after for a number of years. Luckily Isle of Jura Records were kind enough to bring this bad boy back for a very worthy reissue.
Pretty Face melts you with the vocals and is a nice nod to Soul, Disco, Garage and Detroit house.
This one is an all-rounder for club, radio and home listening. It’s a must-have if you haven’t copped it already.
Masarima – Freak Like U
I heard this at the very start of lockdown, and it was really helpful in making sure I didn’t get lost in the never-ending trajectory of bad news.
This is a sick release from Clone Royal Oak Records that was released in March.
It has lovely HI-NRG Italian proto-house vibe that has you in love from the very beginning with that emotionally-tinged vocal.
This one is for all the freaks ready to hit the clubs when this pandemic is over.
Jeannette N’Diaye – Makom Ma Bobe
I picked this record up at All City, just before we headed into the world as we know it today. I am very thankful I did too, as I couldn’t stop playing it in the house.
Previously released in 1981 it got a lovely reissue on Kalita Records in March. This Cameroonian disco banger gets better and better each time you listen to it. Each time you play it, there is a new surprise that you hadn’t noticed the first time round. It has all the things you need to keep you bopping around the kitchen – catchy vocals, phat bass funky guitar riff; the list goes on. This combo gives you the ingredients to keep you entertained for months, lockdown or no lockdown. It is nostalgic, somehow and feels very close to my heart.