Afrobeats Fresh Picks: Tems, June Freedom, Muzi, Rema, Mr. Eazi & More

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The year is winding down, but the hits have kept coming. And the month of October has seen some quality ones, from both established African artists and newcomers dropping new EPs, as soulful singles from the likes of Mr. Eazi and the Soweto Gospel Choir (“Exit”) and the two super producers Pheelz and Young Jonn (“JELO”) mix with edgier cuts from the likes of Rema (“DND”) and ODUMODUBLVCK, Bloody Civilian and Wale (“Blood on the Dance Floor”) for real estate in our monthly roundup.

Tems returns with “Me & U,” her first solo single since “Free Mind” (which was originally featured on her 2020 EP For Broken Ears and, in May 2023, broke the female record for most weeks at No. 1 on Billboard‘s R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart with 17 weeks) and first new music release since her 2021 EP If Orange Was a Place. Gunna getting in his Afrobeats bag was not on our 2023 bingo card, but he nailed his verse on the remix of Victor Thompson and Ehis ‘D’ Greatest’s “THIS YEAR (Blessings),” which he first teased during his L.A. show (as seen in the official music video). And the remix helped catapult the song to No. 1 on Hot Gospel Songs chart last week (dated Oct. 28) and No. 3 on the U.S. Afrobeats Songs chart.

We’ve highlighted 10 of our favorite new Afrobeats (and related) songs that have come out roughly within the last month. Check out our latest Fresh Picks, and catch a vibe with our accompanying Spotify playlist below.

Tems, “Me & U” 

Tems’ first new solo release in two years lands somewhere between a poignant pop ballad and a high-spirited Afrobeats record, but more importantly, it serves as the Nigerian star’s self-reflection observed through her relationship with God. Regardless of all the triumphs she’s had in the last few years – a Grammy award for her appearance (along with Drake) on Future’s Hot 100 No. 1 hit “Wait For U,” and an Oscar nod for co-writing Rihanna’s “Lift Me Up,” to name a couple – Tems reminds those marveling at her journey that she couldn’t have accomplished all of this on her own. When a fan compared the singer-songwriter to the Yoruba water spirits Yemoja and Oshun in one of the single’s promo photos, she replied, “It’s about Jesus Christ teaching me how to walk on water, to trust Him and not in human understanding. He changed my life. And if you seek Him He will fill you up too.”

Gwamz feat. Tay Iwar & Skeete, “PAMELA” 

Gwamz, Tay Iwar and Skeete individually compose sultry blends of R&B, dancehall, Afrobeats, rap and grime in their music, so it’s no surprise that their collaboration “PAMELA” embodies just that. Twinkling piano keys, bubbling log drums, enticing guitar riffs, suave melodies and lustful verses all come to play on “PAMELA,” who represents a woman all three men can’t resist (which is also how we feel about this song).

Victor Thompson & Gunna feat. Ehis ‘D’ Greatest, “THIS YEAR (Blessings) [Remix]” 

Nigerian gospel singer Victor Thompson and his brother Ehis ‘D’ Greatest inspired the masses (through TikTok) at the top of 2023 with their aspirational anthem “THIS YEAR (Blessings).” Then Gunna came and blessed the record even more with a new verse about how he’s a “walking testimony” after everything he’s endured and worked toward (“They say, ‘Young GunWunna is the G.O.A.T.,’” he sings), seamlessly blending his melodic superpowers with those of the original artists.  

June Freedom, “Diana” 

“Diana” has become an incredibly common song subject in pop music history, from Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana” to Ice Spice and Nicki Minaj’s “Princess Diana.” But June Freedom’s “Diana” — off his latest album, 7 SEAS — is a vibrant, sumptuous ode to the familiar leading lady. The echo of her name on Freedom’s lips, paired with a sexy saxophone and rousing percussion, is the sound of a man who won’t let “Diana” dance alone for much longer.  

Muzi, “Timer” 

While the South African artist and producer takes listeners on a vivid, vulnerable trip down memory lane on his latest album uMUZI, he explores his tumultuous relationship with his father on the LP’s closer “Timer.” “Our time is not through,” he pleads constantly over twinkling ‘80s synth chords and slow-burning electronic beats. Despite its easy-going production, “Timer” provides an important reminder that even when things are tough now, looking back in the rearview mirror and wishing for more time with someone won’t be any easier. 

Mr. Eazi feat. Soweto Gospel Choir, “Exit”

Life doesn’t always move smoothly, and it’s in those moments when it can be most difficult — but also when perseverance is the most important. Those are some of the themes Mr. Eazi addresses in this song, with a gorgeous assist from the Soweto Gospel Choir, as he addresses hardships that have come along the way through his life and career. It’s a propulsive and positive track, and perfectly closes out his latest album, The Evil Genius.

Mayorkun feat. Blxckie, “Lose Control”

Mayorkun has one of the best pure voices making music right now, and the uplifting production on “Lose Control” provides him a perfect backdrop to spin this tale of the beginnings of a relationship alongside South African MC Blxckie, whose verse follows Mayorkun’s melodic lead. It’s a standout of the singer’s new Love… For Free EP, and one of his best songs in recent years.

Rema, “DND”

On his latest EP, RAVAGE, Rema is making music that sounds like nothing else out right now, a melting pot of styles and genres that fits nowhere — but is just as compelling as the simplicity of “Calm Down,” though in entirely different ways. “DND” is a standout on the five-track project, but is by no means the only track worth checking out. For someone who could’ve followed the same formula to repeat success, credit to Rema for continuing to push his own creative limits.

ODUMODUBLVCK feat. Bloody Civilian & Wale, “Blood on the Dance Floor”

ODUMODUBLVCK has been steadily building his profile this past year with a series of hits (“Declan Rice,” “FIREGUN”) that owe their success to his particular uncompromising style. On this track off his latest EP, he links up with fellow Def Jam signees Bloody Civilian and Wale for a song that combines his trademark intensity with a driving production that comes together with all three in the final hook, creating a compelling mix of different styles that mesh incredibly well.

Pheelz feat. Young Jonn, “JELO”

Two of the more prolific Afrobeats hitmakers on the production side that have earned their stripes with big hits as artists themselves in the past few years, Pheelz and Young Jonn certainly know their way around a hook and a catchy beat. This collaboration furthers each of their reputations with a breezy feel-good song that slides seamlessly into each of their catalogs, with a soulful element that elevates the track as a whole.

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