In the final week of 2012 we reflect on the soundtrack to this eventful year in music and name check ten producers behind the sounds that stood out the most for us.
THE ONES TO WATCH
Studio Magic (Nigeria)
It took Aaliyah to bring out the best Timbaland. The same thing happens when star-in-the-making Ajebutter 22 and Studio Magic get together.
Studio Magic’s work on rapper M.I’s M.I.2 the Movie and on Joe Budden’s A Loose Quarter, for instance, is decent, but the London-based production duo truly live out their moniker on tracks like Ajebutter’s UK funky-leaning Senrenre
…and the bashment-tinged freestyle Badman
http://content.omroep.nl/ghettoradio/musicblog/ajebutter_badman_freestyle.mp3 DOWNLOAD Badman freestyle
Anytime Soon is the title for the forthcoming mixtape on which Studio Magic and Ajebutter 22 collaborate, and it can’t come soon enough!
Parker Ighile (Nigeria/UK/USA)
Parker with Nicki
The first most had heard of this young producer was when Nicki Minaj announced that he was the premier signing to her fledgling record label. Besides Minaj’s Hell Yeah, on which he also sings the hook, Ighile has writing and production credits on songs by the likes of Rihanna, Jessie J and Rita Ora. He has relocated from London to Atlanta to kick-start his solo career in earnest. Look for a mixtape early in 2013.
Fuse ODG’s Azonto may be what catapulted the Ghanaian dance craze from the realms of local to global phenomenon, but Sarkodie’s U Go Kill Me produced by E.L. did most of the groundwork.
Once respected in more underground circles, E.L’s newly acquired mainstream appeal was the launchpad for his debut solo album Something Else, which included the monster hit Obuu Mo, and stands to date as one of 2012’s best urban African music albums.
DJ Juls learned his trade as a producer by peering over the shoulders of his former college mate EL, and then went leftish to define his own style. His penchant for classic East Coast Hip-hop and High-life music create pioneering blends that reflect in his DJ sets, remixes, reinterpretations of Ghanaian Hip-hop classics and original production.
Juls and FOKN bois never miss a beat when placed together. They gave us this free gift before Christmas. As with most things FOKN Bois-related this carries a PG warning
http://content.omroep.nl/ghettoradio/musicblog/fokn_bois_beatrice_prod_by_dj_juls.mp3 DOWNLOAD Beatrice (Produced by DJ Juls)
DOWNLOAD The Jungle Book Beat Tape I
DOWNLOAD The Jungle Book Beat Tape II
Boddhi Satva (Central African Republic)
Boddhi Satva brings something very distinct to the sometimes generic structure of Afro-house. Ndombolo style percussion and soulful synthesizers only partly make up the DNA of his signature sound, Ancestral Soul. You’ll also pick up the ethereal nature of Boddhi’s renowned remixes, original production and his DJ sets.
Listen to and download Boddhi Satva’s enchanting take on some of the biggest mainstream dance, R&B and pop songs of the past year.
Check out Nankoumandjan featuring the late Malian singing legend Mangala Camara.
THE HIT SQUAD
Trybe records’ resident super-producer has a monster catalogue of which even Don Jazzy is in awe – after winning the NEA Producer of the Year award, the luminary producer passed it on to Sarz. His standouts from this year alone include the back-to-back bangers from eLDee’s album Undeniable.
No African wedding this year would have been complete without this song on the playlist.
What Chris Brown had to say about this Sarz-produced number when he was out performing in Lagos a week ago: "Hardest song out right now!!!! I f**k wit this shit tuff!"
Look out for Sarz’ debut full-length album in 2013.
Formerly a church pianist, Killbeatz broke into the rap scene with a group from around the way known back then as Camp Yard. Today they are R2Bees, one of the most prolific groups Ghana has got, and he is their go-to guy for beats.
This highly anticipated Samini and Wizkid collaboration produced by Killbeatz appeared just in time for the year-end party season. But with Antenna, Fuse ODG’s brilliantly promoted follow-up to the break out anthem Azonto, Killbeatz demonstrates he has the major West African urban markets as well as the UK’s Afrobeats scene cornered.
Larry Achiampong (Ghana/UK)
Larry Achiampong released his first LP late in 2011, a concept beat tape titled MEH MOGYA (SAMPLE OF ME). The sequel MORE MOGYA followed this year. It’s a project born of ongoing conversations with the Bokoor African Popular Music Archives Foundation Accra and sounds like what Madlib could sound like if he looked for Highlife records to fill his crate with. Hopefully this innovative beat aficionado plans to invite other artist and producers to his lab and get some collaborations going. He’s too good to keep to himself.
DOWNLOAD MORE MOGYA via BandCamp (name your price)
Oskido (Zimbabwe/South Africa)
The legacy of South Africa’s heaving house music scene goes back to the early 90s when a young Zimbabwean-born Oscar ‘Oskido’ Mdlongwa hung out outside the infamous Razzmatazz nightclub in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, waiting for his chance to spin. When he finally got it, he employed a trick whereby he would slow down the American house tracks popular at the time. The trend caught on and behold, the “sound of a generation” was born. From that moment of inception through its golden era to its present status, Oskido helmed the record label-cum-DJ/producer collective Kalawa Jazmee, and remains ever present as a producer, remixer, club and radio DJ and influencer in general.
Technically, out of his arsenal of talent, it was Mnek’s vocal splendour that made him the most noise in 2012. The 18-year-old, who has had a publishing deal since age 14, is known as “the voice” for Spoons, the excellent deep house anthem by the UK production house Rudimentals which he co-wrote.
When he is not writing and chart-topping hits for pop singers The Saturdays, Girls Aloud, Mnek is busy bringing back the late 80s and early 90s to pop records for Sierra Leonian pop princess in the making A*M*E like this
Not many would dare do this, but that’s one of the great things about youth – no pesky inhibitions to get in the way of a great refix.
Don Jazzy (Nigeria)
For better and for worse, Don Jazzy was arguably the most talked about African music producer in 2012. His infamous split with D’Banj brought the two larger-than-life Nigerian entertainment figures a fair amount of controversy. To recap: D’Banj kept Mo’Hits, the record label they had both headed up for 8 years until they decided to go their separate ways earlier in 2012 citing irreconcilable differences, while Don Jazzy went off to start a brand new empire in the form of Mavin Records, comprised mostly of Mo’Hits’ former roster.
With his new label now in place, the real work of making it - as Don Jazzy’s statement of intent went - “the power house of African music in the shortest possible time” remains to be done.
What a year!