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The 7 Record Producers Making Afrobeats Music A Globally Accepted Genre

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When Drake hopped on Wizkid’s “Ojuelegba Remix” back in 2015, his co-sign helped elevate the blossoming Afrobeats scene to global heights. With the impending Afrobeats bonanza in his sights, a year later Drake, the globe’s biggest (and most opportunistic) artist, again sought Wizkid’s helping hand for his own Afro-inspired single “One Dance,”

This foray into the unknown paid off for him as “One Dance” exploded into one of the most successful singles of the streaming era. Just like that, almost in the blink of an eye, Afrobeats became a global commodity.

The emergence of artists like Burna Boy, Rema, Mr. Eazi, and the continued success of the likes of Wizkid and Davido, have propelled the genre globally. The recent release of Beyoncé’s The Lion King: The Gift, which featured the who’s who of the Afrobeats scene—Mr Eazi, Wizkid, Yemi Alade, Burna Boy, Maleek Berry, Tiwa Savage, Shatta Wale—is further evidence of the world’s growing interest in Afrobeats.

Throughout the years, there have been several producers who have consistently been behind many of our favourite hits. We take a closer look at the cream of the crop.

Kiddominant

It took almost two years for Davido’s “Fall” to make its mark across the world, but when it did, it quickly became a torchbearer for the expansion of Afrobeats. The Kiddominant-produced record broke ground in the US and became the longest charting Nigerian pop song in Billboard history, peaking at number 13 on the US R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart. It also notably rose to one of the top 100 most Shazamed singles in America in early 2019 and was enlisted among Pitchfork’s 200 best songs of the 2010s. Other notable production credits by Kiddominant include AKA’s “Fela In Versace”, DJ Neptune’s “Marry” (feat. Mr Eazi) and Orezi’s “Rihanna”.

Kel P

African Giant, Burna Boy’s magnus opus, would not have been possible without Kel P. A producer and co-writer on 10 of the album’s 19 songs, including the standout singles “Pull Up”, “Killin Dem”, “Dangote”, “On The Low” and “Gbona”, his production on African Giant provided a smooth canvas on which Burna Boy could showcase his immense talents. With multiple gold and platinum certifications all over the world, African Giant has arguably been the most important project in Afrobeats’ ongoing global expansion. Aside from his work with Burna Boy, Kel P has produced for an array of gifted African acts such as Niniola, Phyno, Wizkid, Solidstar, Ceeza Milli, Diamond Platnumz and Davido.

P2J

London-based producer P2J is perhaps the continent’s most visible Afrobeats production export. The versatile Nigerian has worked with the likes of Doja Cat, Chris Brown, Stormzy, Mario, H.E.R and Tiwa Savage. On Beyoncé’s album, Lion King: The Gift, he produced arguably the two most memorable songs, “Brown Skin Girl” and “Ja Ara E”. Other notable records produced by P2J include Amine’s “Easy” featuring Summer Walker, DJ Tunez’s “Cool Me Down” featuring WizKid, and Wizkid’s “Smile” featuring H.E.R.. Last year he had the impressive distinction of having two of his songs featured on President Obama’s list of his favourite songs of 2019: Gold Link’s “Joke Ting” and Burna Boy’s “Anybody”.

E-Kelly

When E-Kelly and Mr Eazi came across each other in Lagos in 2016, Mr. Eazi was fresh off the success of his breakout singles “Skin Tight” and “Bankulize”, while E-Kelly had recently left his role as an A&R for Patoranking. Both were in search of a new challenge. The two connected instantly, and it wasn’t long before they had their first record together—the easy, infectious and sultry “Leg Over”. As the song enjoyed global success, they soon collaborated on yet another chart-topping single, “Pour Me Water”, which helped propel the Nigerian star into the continent’s highest streaming artist in 2018. Aside from his work with Mr Eazi, E-Kelly has produced songs for other stars such as Major Lazer, Patoranking, Vanessa Mdee, Tekno, Ycee and Waje.

Sarz

Since bursting onto the scene in the early 2010s, Nigerian producer Sarz’s production style has evolved year on year. A pioneer of the growing Afro-house scene, his extensive work with Nigerian singer Niniola continues to break boundaries. The award-winning producer’s work stands out for its smooth, bouncy African rhythm and minimalist production. He counts among his collection of hits songs such as Wizkid’s “Closer” featuring Drake, Niniola’s “Maradona” and Skepta and Wizkid’s “Energy (Stay Far Away)”.

Guilty Beatz

Award-winning Ghanaian DJ and record producer, GuiltyBeatz has been on a tear since he released his breakthrough single, “Akwaaba” featuring Mr Eazi, Patapaa and Pappy Kojo in 2018. After collecting several awards, including most notably Best African Collaboration and Song of the Year at the 2018 All Africa Music Awards, he went on to co-produce three songs off The Lion King: The Gift: “Already”, “Keys to The Kingdom” and “Find Your Way Back”. On his recently released debut EP, Different, GuiltyBeatz presents a more uptempo rhythm than the mellow, sexy vibes that have become his signature sound. It’ll be interesting to see if the sparse, clubby Afro-house world he imagines on “Different” will be a staple in his production work going forward.

LegenduryBeatz

Few songs have been as important in elevating the Afrobeats genre than Wizkid’s “Ojuelegba”. The soulful melody on this gold-standard production paved the way for Wizkid to provide a spiritual and joyous classic about harsh life in the streets of Lagos. With Skepta and Drake’s contribution on the remix, the song received critical acclaim in the UK, North America and beyond. Aside from producing several hit songs for Wizkid, the multi award-winning production duo, which comprises siblings Uzezi Oniko and Okiemute Oniko, have also produced for the likes of Mr Eazi, Seyi Shay, Ice Prince, L.A.X and Skales.

– Shingai Darangwa/okayafrica

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The Jay Foley Story; A Journey Worth Celebrating [READ PROFILE]

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Media Personality and entrepreneur Jay Foley gained mainstream acclaim as host of the entertainment television channel 4syte TV, but not long before that, he had created footprints which continue to inspire people,

His creative journey started in primary school education at Bishop Bowers School where he was referred to by his colleagues and teachers as “the creative think tank”

He was greatly admired for his ability to come up with very creative ideas that could impact the entertainment industry as well as other extra-curricular activities.

Foley grew up in many communities, nurturing his talent and leading him to what he is today. His creative thinking process drew his interest in studying Visual Arts in one of Ghana’s premium colleges, Achimota Secondary School

Jay Foley established his first company RADIO ADVERTISING PEOPLE LIMITED. His company specialized in developing audio products for advertisers. It consisted of radio commercials and jingles, radio imaging among others. His company today is one of the most successful young businesses in Ghana today.

He also trained himself to become a professional voice talent and today, has become one of the sought-after voice talents in Ghana.

RADIO ADVERTISING PEOPLE LIMITED presented him with an opportunity to become the lead host of one of Ghana leading entertainment television channels, 4syte tv. Jay Foley became one of the best entertainment presenters of his time. He worked with 4syte tv for 10 years. This gave him an undoubtedly, strong and highly influential relevance in Ghana and the diaspora.

Through 4syte tv and his company, Jay was made the General Manager of YFM Ghana, another leading urban youthful radio station in Accra, Ghana. From YFM, Jay moved to establish another competitive urban radio station, LIVE FM where he stayed on for another 3 years and the Business Manager.

In 2012, Jay Foley became the 1st Ghanaian radio and tv personality to cover the European Music Awards in Germany. His outstanding coverage earned him among the top media personalities to interview top celebrities such as BUSTA RYMES, ERIC BENNET, KIM KARDASHIAN, AKON among others on and off the Red Carpet of the BET AWARDS in 2013, 2014 and 2016.

Jay Foley’s engagement at the BET AWARDS created huge interest in Ghanaian journalist to follow suit in covering the BET AWARDS. He also became the brand ambassador for REMY MARTIN and Telco giants MTN.

In 2018, Foley was assigned by EIB NETWORK, owners of FIESTA TV, an entertainment digital satellite TV channel on one of Africa’s most patronized Satellite television platforms, DSTV, to upgrade the channels performance on DSTV to promote Ghanaian content across Africa. Jay Foley and his team have managed to elevate FIESTA Channel to become the only Ghanaian owned entertainment TV station to air across 48 African countries in Africa.

Currently, Jay Foley also hosts his radio show titled MUSIC BOX on HITZ103.9fm, which currently is the city’s most influential and widely listened to radio station. His latest role to host the morning show on JOY PRIME TV is clearly based on his years of experience in the showbiz space in and out of Ghana

In all of this, Jay Foley has dedicated time to filming the beautiful sights and sounds of Ghana in a special series titled, THE SKY MARSHALS. A 30-episode series that gives the viewer a realistic experience of the beautiful sights in Ghana.

In music, through his efforts, Jay has helped a lot of Ghanaian artistes gain mainstream appreciation in the music industry and across its borders. He continues to dedicate his life to inspiring, helping and motivating young people with his exploits. His guiding principle is, “it is possible if you believe.”

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[IN-CONVERSATION] Kay Studios, the Young Ghanaian Photographer Shaping Perspectives And Capturing Emotions through His Lens

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I was thinking the other day about the life of a photographer. At first glance, it seems like a wonderful thing. Imagine spending your time traveling the world, creating beautiful artwork that is admired by all. Unfortunately, however, this dream is often just as impossible as it sounds. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be a successful photographer — on the contrary, it means that in order to be a successful photographer, you’ll need to deal with a variety of problems.

Especially in Ghana where being an entrepreneur doesn’t look lucrative, young Ghanaians who venture in to sole proprietorship in informal economy are exposed a legion of difficulties, with one of them being their vulnerability (inadequate finance). I had an insightful conversation, with Kay Studios; A&R Consultant @kvonlinetalent Creative director, Film maker and Official videographer for Stonebwoy & Bisa Kdei, which focused on his career as a photographer, challenges and where he wants to reach in the arts economy.

The Accra-based photographer who has been increasingly shaping perspectives, changing narratives, capturing emotions through his lens and leaving long lasting memories on the mind of his patrons and consumers, including musicians and brands. With an impressive portfolio, consisting of works of Stonebwoy, Bisa KDei, Fameye, Medikal, Gyakie, Ice Prince Zamani, the young creative is considered a professional in the photography industry and has a solid support system that is partly responsible for his current success rate.

Check out the conversation below

1. Briefly describe your background as a creative person and what led you to become a photographer? Better still, how did you first get into photography?

“My name is Ebenezer Ofori Donkor popularly
known as KAYSTUDIOS, I got my first degree in Land Economy from Kwame Nkrumah
University of Science and Technology, named after the first president of the
Republic of Ghana, formerly Gold Coast. I started my journey into the video
editing and photography world by working with famed photographers, Twinsdntbeg
through which I established and built connection with a lot of influential
people. I pushed him onto the mainstream domain, I have managed to use my
talent very well and has been noticed by the Second Lady of Ghana, Samira
Bawumia, and also known brands like Miss Malaika, Vodafone Ghana Music Awards,
etc.”

“I started my journey into the video editing and photography world by working with famed photographers, Twinsdntbeg through which I established and built connection with a lot of influential people.”

2. What moved you to establish “Kay Studios”? What would you say have been some of the challenges that have come with setting up your business? What are also some of the challenges you foresee in terms of keeping it going in the long-term?

“Motivations for wanting to become an
entrepreneur can vary greatly. Common motivators can include escaping the
corporate grind, taking greater advantage of special skill sets, supplementing
income or a strong drive to achieve personal or financial success. But as
spiritual as I am and how quick I found the purpose for my life, I only wanted
to be remembered as one who has been needful to mankind and impactful and this
was the platform for me to help everyone one I’m

Meeting and the passion for the camera pushed me
to start my Kaystudios business . There hasn’t been any challenges so far
setting up , if serving and working hard is a challenge then that’s my only
challenge be cause I still serve and work very hard as well”

3. As a young photographer living in Ghana, what would you say has been your biggest setback?

“My biggest set back was often
procrastination”

“My biggest set back was often procrastination”

4. How is it that people know a Kay Studio image when they see it? Is this something that’s intentional? How would you explain it?

“Well, I’m sure God’s plan wasn’t regular for me so he need me to be a difference, I have always wanted to be different among other photographers with the intention of making my pictures look different”

5. Every new project you work has a completely different vibe from the previous one. What’s your creative process like and where do you draw your influences from? And, Do you have a favorite project? And why?

“I’m someone whose by God’s blessed with humility, I Love to learn new things, thus far I’m never too big to ask other photographers for Tuition. I see any beautiful piece out there, I proceed to ask how it was achieved, then I learn, add to mine and create magic so everytime I’m learning and creating new stuff. All my works are my favorite and clients favorite because they love the outcome and results of my works everytime and is by grace”

6. Do you ever face any troubles or complications interpreting your ideas and bringing them to life?

“I do find troubles sometimes especially
when I really want it to execute the exact piece of work I have imagined but
lack of resources I sometimes have to improve”

“I do find troubles sometimes especially when I really want it to execute the exact piece of work I have imagined but lack of resources I sometimes have to improve”

7. You’ve worked with a lot of musicians and brands, including Stonebwoy, Bisa Kdei etc. over the past few years. What does it feel like to be the creative brain behind a great number of album covers and promo shoots? Your experience

“I will say I feel blessed to be a part of
all these big brands it’s jut not a chance but the favor of God and my
preparation met the opportunity so I grapped it . My experience with them has
been amazing and they are big brothers to me, and This relationship has made
both artist built and good working respect and connection”

8. Regarding Stonebwoy, he seemed like a very strong personality, was he picky about how he wanted to be photographed or he allowed you to take full control over the shots and angles?

“With Stonebwoy is always collaboration you know creativity is collaboration so we bring ideas and then execute all the time , and we have a great understanding so I know what he wants to see and how he wants to look we just have our way of communicating for the pictures and visuals”

Connect with Kay Studios below;

Instagram – Kay Studios

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MEET FRANKY 5: The Tale Of A Banker Turned Journalist

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He started off as an astute Banking Executive, after he had the opportunity to undertake his National Service assignment with Akuapem Rural Bank at Mamfe, Akuapem in 2005. Following this feat achieved, he worked professionally at the same bank for 24 months as an Assistant Accountant. Later in 2008, he joined United Bank for Africa (UBA) as a Retail Banking Officer. Due to his dedication to work, he won the Most Outstanding Staff award and later was poached by Access Bank, where he worked as Head of Asian Corporates desk.

In less than 3 months at Access Bank, Frank Kwabena Owusu liabilities portfolio had risen to $25million, unprecedented in the history of the bank, as he got recognized by the Board of the bank. Then he moved to Unibank as Head of Commodities Banking, later to Fidelity Bank as Head of Exports desk then finally left to First Atlantic Bank as Branch Manager at North Industrial Area, where he reigned to follow his passion in music and media.

Prior to the banking experience, he had his basic school education at the Alajo Basic School and had his secondary school education at Koforidua Secondary Technical School in Koforidua. He had his first degree at Valley View University where he studies Business Administration (Accounting option) and graduated with 2nd class upper division.

Franky5 has become a household name and one of the most talked about radio personalities in recent times. He is the host of “This is Gospel” radio show on Hitz 103.9 fm, a Multimedia Group. During this period he has conducted big interviews with top showbiz names such as Sarkodie, Stonebwoy, CK Akonnor, Prince David Osei, Obrafour, Yaw Sarpong, Joe Mettle, Diana Hamilton, Nacee, etc, and also securing two nominations, one each at the Ghana DJs Awards – 2019 and
RTP Awards – 2018.

Franky5’s entry into radio space started when he was into Artist Business Management where he managed Gospel music stalwarts such as Nacee and No Tribe music group, Ceccy Twum, One Voice Choir and OJ. There, he developed great love for radio as he encountered and studied top radio hosts such as Kuami Sefa Kayi, Akwasi Aboagye, Andy Dosty, Abeiku Santana, etc.

Later in 2016, he decided to divert to radio and television. His first application was to host the TIG Show on Pluzz fm which fell off along the way, until Mark Okraku-Mantey (Programs Director at Hitz fm) decided to give him a chance to develop his passion at Hitz fm in the same year.

Absolute belief and faith has been his guiding principle in the processes that has led him throughout his career. “If you don’t believe you can absolutely transform your life and get what you want, then you might as well forget about goal setting and do something else”. If you are in doubt, look around you. Everything you can see began as a thought. Make your thoughts turn into reality. The ultimate is to be able put a smile on someone’s face by virtue of my service to God and humanity.

Having worked in the corporate world, creative arts and the media space, his dedication to work and excellence has positioned him to serve on the Board of the 2nd biggest music awards scheme in Ghana, ‘3 Music Awards’ as the only Gospel representative. He also serves as an Academy member the biggest music awards scheme in Ghana, VGMAs. He is also a consultant to Africa Gospel Awards Festival and the Ghana National Gospel Music Awards. He also served on the Board of Zylofon Arts Fund, Ghana Tourism Authority Film Support Fund and currently a member of the “Beyond the Return” planning committee.

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Shatta Wale Curates A 10 Track Playlist For Essence [LISTEN]

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I wanted to personally thank you all for making the Mariah The Scientist edition pop in a major way! That piece did so well that we’re evolving the format of ESSENCE’s The Playlist to feature more song selections by your favorite rising and established artists, such as this week’s co-curator, Shatta Wale.

The Ghanaian reggae-dancehall talent from Nima, burst onto the American scene thanks to his show-stealing appearance alongside Beyoncé in Disney’s Black Is King. And although here in the U.S., people are warming up to the sounds of Afrobeat, Afrovibes, and more—Shatta Wale has always professed himself to be a worldly talent and his latest single, “Winning Formula,” proves why the crown is secured firmly on his head.

“In life, if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” Shatta tells me. “You need to have a plan, a strategy, and stand for something. ‘Winning Formula’ will be your key to always being triumphant.

It also doesn’t hurt to shine brightly alongside Queen Bey in “Already,” a standout moment from Black Is King. I asked Shatta what was like when he first arrived on set and what lessons he learned after the experience, to which he said, “It was a superb feeling because I wasn’t just representing Shatta Wale, I was representing Ghana and the entire continent of Africa. I had to bring my A-game alongside the Queen Beyoncé. To be a part of such a masterpiece is an honor and to showcase our Black heritage and the beauty of Africa was a moment never to be forgotten and a lot of fun! The experience reinforced my belief that when it’s your time, no one can take that away from you, and the journey of Shatta Wale is a winning formula within itself.”

Ranked as one of the most influential artists in Africa, Shatta Wale has the unique ability to connect his story to the listener and infuse his charisma with relative ease. “I have been on the top, went down, and now I am back and making all these great moves. [“Winning Formula”] represents all the phases of my hustle [and] I think listeners can learn from these relatable stories to cook up their own recipe,” Shatta says. Whether encouraging the youth through charitable actions (Shatta Foundation) or through his evocative use of song, this Akata has mad respect for the leader of the Shatta Movement and I say “nhyira” to him and all his future wins.

To all my chalés, I say, “Medaase paa,” for enjoying this week’s version of The Playlist, served fresh with a side of Red Red and Waatse!

Shatta Wale & Gold Up — “Winning Formula”

The artist formerly known as Bandana from Ghana kicks off The Playlist with his latest single, “Winning Formula,” via Gold Up. The Black Is King co-star offers up motivating lines about what it takes to bring home championship gold. “Tell yourself that you are more than enough, keep God in your life, and go after what you want,” he shares as advice with yours truly. Wise words indeed, especially when you’re bigging up those who went from nothing to something, and makes me recall a line from Wale’s “God Is Alive”.

“Mɛda w’ase oo yehowa,” which breaks down to “I thank you Jehovah,” a belief that anyone can identify with deeply, and should apply to their own lives to experiment with their own winning formula.

Darey — “Jah Guide Me”

Nigerian’s Darey Art Alade (mononymously known as Darey) released his first single in five years titled “Jah Guide Me”. The Pheelz-produced single is blessed by the Creator and feels (pun intended) like an instant hit. Imbued with hope and positivity—two things we need an abundance in these difficult times—”Jah Guide Me” is an aural experience which anyone from any walk of life can participate in. In short, this song serves a higher purpose, and you cannot lose when following the word of the Almighty.

Kelvin Boj — “Whip It Up” (ft. Gucci Mane)

Shatta Wale’s second pick for The Playlist introduces Kelvin Boj and his Afrobeats and hip-hop blended song called “Whip It Up.” The man formerly known as LayLow connects with Atlanta rap icon Gucci Mane for a carefully crafted blend meant to get you hype and excited for something new from an artist with some substance. “The energy this song gives off is a superb feeling,” Shatta shares. A compliment from the King of Dancehall and Afrobeats is a win that is strong enough to ensure ears will be enticed for this diasporadical ditty.

Cuppy — “Jollof On The Jet” (ft. Rema & Rayvanny)

Cuppy is a supremely talented force on the scene and I really hope that you all add her to your rotation ASAP! The brilliantly titled “Jollof On The Jet” is a smooth slice of Afro-pop from the talented Naija DJ, producer, and all-around star, and features contributors Rema and Rayvanny. Over producer Killertunes‘ celebratory beat, Cuppy and her two cohorts craft a lavish and lush song that, with an extra dash of bongo spice, makes “Jollof On The Jet” a very catchy and irresistible track to play wherever you’re at in the world.

Iwan — Gye Nyame

Iwan, a reggae and Dancehall artist also from Ghana, is known as “Lyrical Gunshot,” and has a reputation in the Gold Coast for being ahead of the curve. As Shatta Wale’s third pick for The Playlist, “Gye Nyame”—which means “there is nothing but creation or God”—is a song that resonates because “in life you only have yourself and God to be a motivator.” With a name that is an acronym for “I Win Always Naturally,” this song should align one’s faith with the energy to make one’s dreams a reality.

Ecool — “Knock“

Ecool and Oshow Beatz as a tandem have put numbers on the boards for a minute. But now, with “Knock,” they add a huge win for pollinating Afrovibes around the world. As DMW Records‘ in-house DJ, Ecool floats over this mid-tempo cut—with its soft major chords, brass melodies, and trademarked Afrobeat drum sequence—and proves that vocal artistry can add a huge W when you’re using love for that special somebody as motivation.

Jada Kingdom — “WiN”

Ghana and Jamaica are connected not just through the love of Dancehall, but through shared familial bonds that date back to the forced Ashanti/Akan emigration to the Caribbean. For Shatta Wale’s next selection, Jada Kingdom‘s “WiN” is a bouncy track that articulates the struggle, what goes on around us, and inspires us all to go for the gold. “This song is uplifting, inspirational, and relatable,” Shatta says. “No matter how many times you fall along the way, put God first and keep going!” If you’re looking for melodic, yet motivational song, then this is it!

DJ Tunez — “Cool Me Down” (ft. WizKid)

DJ Tunez and WizKid are two world-renowned Afrobeats stars and their collaborations are must-see events. Their new offering, “Cool Me Down,” is right for those who enjoy a mellow, yet dance-worthy song after working up a sweat. With WizKid dropping some cheeky lyrics over DJ Tunez solid production, these two make a winning combination that would make Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet envious.

Vybz Kartel — “Big Bizniz” (ft. TeeJay)

By now the entire world should know “A Gaza Mi Sey,” which is a fantastic bop if you haven’t heard it yet. According to Shatta Wale, the street certified Dancehall King, “This song is encouraging to the youths in the ghetto, giving them hope that they can achieve anything if they work hard for it.” Vybz Kartel and featured artist TeeJay pack this song full of wisdom and financial advice for the listeners that want the size of their bankroll to be on championship levels.

Yemi Alade — “True Love”

Award-winning artist (and friend in my mind) Yemi Alade arrives just in time with this record, “True Love.” Fresh from her appearance in Beyoncé’s Black Is King, this song is a refreshing number for those who have had bad luck in romance or are just feeling a bit lost during this COVID-19 crisis. Poised to breakout across the globe, Yemi’s exciting, youthful, and exuberant vibe will not only brings a smile to one’s face, but also prove that the Yoruba and Igbo talent has one of the most beautiful voices inside and outside of the Afrobeat genre.

– www.essence.com

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