As we get closer and closer to warmer weather, the song of the summer debate heats up. One of Billboard‘s front runners is Rema‘s “Calm Down” remix with Selena Gomez, but it’s not the only Afrobeats track that’s bound to bring people to the dancefloor all summer long.
The winner of our Song of the Summer Face-Off bracket game last year — Harry Styles‘ “Watermelon Sugar” — has found its African counterpart: Suté Iwar’s “SHUGA PEACH.” Listeners can sink their teeth into this juicy song, or sip on “Casamigos (Pour It In My Cup),” courtesy of Afro B and Sukihana. There’s also the breezy “Trumpet” from Olamide and Ckay, as well as Asake‘s amapiano dance floor banger “2:30” and the effortlessly gorgeous debut single from Inkabe Zezwe. But Davido‘s latest album, Timeless, ensures endless vibes that he explores through various triumphant sounds — and we clearly couldn’t get enough of it, considering we shouted out multiple tracks. Just try getting through the summer without dropping “In the Garden,” “Na Money” or “U (JUJU),” just to name a few.
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 us by listening to our Spotify playlist below.
Davido feat. Skepta, “U (JUJU)”
Davido and Skepta got their girls covered in the utterly enchanting “U (JUJU)” collaboration, from the former’s latest album, Timeless. The Afrobeats superstar worries if he’s stuck under a woman’s spell when he sings in the mesmerizing chorus, “You dey do me like juju, dey worry me” (a nice nod to Ice Prince’s 2011 track “Juju”), and promises her anything she so desires. Meanwhile, the British-Nigerian grime MC commends his partner for sticking by his side and reassures her he won’t leave hers.
Sukihana & Afro B, “Casamigos (Pour It in My Cup)”
British-Ivorian DJ/singer/songwriter Afro B and American rapper Sukihana craft a refreshing summer vibe with “Casamigos (Pour It in My Cup).” While blending his instantly party-starting vocals with her seductive, smooth melodies that slip right off her tongue, “Casamigos” isn’t just an ode to George Clooney’s ultra-premium tequila brand, but just a little taste of warmer weather and the frivolousness that it brings. Once the song’s amapiano production (courtesy of Team Salut and co-producer Oghenekevwe Bojeghre) takes hold of the song toward the end, it’ll have everyone in a chokehold.
Afrobeats star L.A.X only provides the best vibes, as confirmed by his new album No Bad Vibes. On its highlight track “Zaza,” he expresses his feelings for a woman while gassing her up (“On the dance floor you fire them/ On the finish line you finish them,” he boasts in the pre-chorus) – all while staying true to his characteristically laidback demeanor. “Zaza” will have any listener whining their hips to its mesmerizing, chugging beat pattern (courtesy of Clemzy).
Suté Iwar, “SHUGA PEACH”
For those craving another “Watermelon Sugar”-like summer anthem, look no further than Suté Iwar’s “SHUGA PEACH” highlight track from his new album, ULTRALIGHT. The Nigerian singer’s mouth waters at the sight of a “golden lady,” whom he later describes as his “favorite late-night craving” because… well, you get the picture. Iwar wrote on his Bandcamp page that ULTRALIGHT is a “journey that takes you through a range of emotions, from the high energy and excitement of life to the introspection and self-reflection that comes with it.” Listeners experience that entire range in the 3:51 runtime of “SHUGA PEACH,” as its tender keys and sultry saxophone runs accentuate Iwar’s carnal desires, while a wavy guitar and meditative beats introduce his self-aware rap about commitment in the track’s latter half.
Uncle Waffles, Tony Duardo, Jelly Babie & Chley, “Babiee”
Ahead of her historic Coachella performance this month, rising amapiano star Uncle Waffles set a moody, yet mesmerizing tone on her new Asylum project. On the highlight track “Babiee” – alongside Tony Duardo, Jelly Babie and Chley – listeners tiptoe into Waffles’ world with the guidance of a pitter-pattering synth loop that’s supplemented by steadily building percussion. Babie seizes the song’s peak by praising two of South Africa’s house genres, bacardi and amapiano, before chanting hers and Waffles’ stage names until “Babiee” fizzles out in a hypnotic rhythm.
Davido feat. Morravey, “In the Garden”
A simple major-key guitar line, a stripped down drum pattern with a supplementary amapiano log drum and a positive vibe underlines this breezy, beautiful track from Timeless — but it is the power of Morravey’s voice that elevates this track into something special, and possibly the best song on the entire album. It’s at heart a wistful love song, but the driving hook — “I’ll change your status, yeah” — adds a coy determination to take the initiative, while Davido’s verse adds another layer of catchiness to a song that has the capacity to dig into your head and never leave.
Davido feat. The Cavemen. & Angélique Kidjo, “Na Money”
One of the best things about Davido’s Timeless album is how seamlessly he weaves together different styles, and “Na Money” is among the best examples, blending highlife with amapiano through this collaboration with Nigerian highlife duo The Cavemen. and iconic Beninese singer Angélique Kidjo. The result is a driving, upbeat song about the intersection of love and money, with a joyful hook and highlife horns underscoring the production. A standout for its departure from the rest of the record.
Asake has leaned deeply into amapiano in many of his biggest songs, and this latest single, which should be on his forthcoming next album, really drives home the point in an ode to the party life. Log drums propel the verses, while a typically-choral hook gives it some of the space and majesty that has come to define Asake’s biggest records. The only complaint — voiced with some humor by his fans online — is that the actual audio of the track isn’t even 2:30 long. And yet!
Inkabi Zezwe (Big Zulu & Sjava), “Umbayimbayi”
South African rappers and singers Big Zulu and Sjava have linked up for a joint album under the duo moniker Inkabi Zezwe, with “Umbayimbayi” as the first single off that project — and from the opening notes the song unfurls as a gorgeous piano-based ballad that sonically cuts to the soul. The song has already been certified platinum in their home country, which is hardly surprising given its vibe — the Hammond organ flourishes as the song floats to its finish, emphasizing the emotion just as much as the duo’s voices. A special record.
Olamide feat. Ckay, “Trumpet”
A Nigerian hip-hop legend teaming up with one of the most successful young Nigerian singers of the past few years, this track was always going to catch the ear — and its plaintive piano base over some Afrobeats drums gives it an instantly catchy vibe. That it’s essentially a barely-disguised ode to beautiful women and the things they do makes the title amusing, but it’s a great, understated record (sonically, at least) and an absolute earworm.