We have a little grumble every so often about the parallel universes of Francophone and Anglophone African urban music, so it's sort of a treat whenever one breaches the other, even if the breach is short-lived.
The Nigerian artist Ice Prince's Oleku, ft. Brymo (from the album Everybody Loves Ice Prince) was such a monster hit across the continent, that that it broke through the usual French-English language barrier. It is easily the most remixed and covered single from Africa in recent times. Nonetheless, it wasn't inevitable that a French cover would emerge, but it has with Ivorian rapper/sound engineer Anofela the Black Prez's Voleku.
Download the mp3 of Voleku
Hip hop fans might remember Anofela from Jayprez Blackmixtape, the Jay Z-inspired mixtape he released in 2010. That wasn't a particularly impressive effort - on Empire State of Blackprez, for instance, it felt like he paid more attention to attitude than he did to his flow, as if he wanted to sound like a "hard" American gangsta rapper who just happened to be rapping in French. Same thing on 225 Problems. In contrast, his coupé décalé remix of Run This Town hinted at what could be if he just relaxed and put more of himself into it. I mean, he talked in the past about being inspired by his roots and culture, and by Fela Kuti, and while that doesn't mean it's necessary for us to hear "Africa" in his music, it felt like he was stifling himself by not being himself. Except on Run This Bled.
With Voleku, he sounds relaxed again. He doesn't try to sound like he's mimicking Ice Prince in French, and he's clearly thought about how to make the song his own, rather than a cheap cover or remix. Little touches like the gentle guitar licks make a world of difference.
More Anofela music and downloads at Reverbnation and Soundcloud, and you can follow him on Twitter here.