Afro B and Ian Mcquaid talk us through five of their favourite tracks on new compilation Moves: The Sound of UK Afrobeats.
The hardest part of putting together Moves was the sheer amount of amazing artists there are producing bangers in the UK right now. For every track that made it, there could have easily been another three and I think we can assume that there’ll be a part two at some point in the future. The track list was decided by myself and Afro B comparing lists of artists and discovering that we had near identical names that we wanted to feature. We then sat down and listened to around 50-60 tracks and whittled it down, with Afro having the final say on what went in. It feels a bit weird only picking out 5 tracks, cos there’s not a cut on there I don’t rate, but here we go…
TG Millian, Naira Marley & Blanco – Money on the Road
TG and Blanco are both members of Harlem Spartans, the Kennington drill crew that have had the now inevitable stamp of approval from Drake. Basically they’re ruling the streets right now by releasing banger after banger, but this track – which started life as a solo joint from TG – is something completely different from their usual crud sound. Produced by Fresh Money P, the beat is a madness, a stop starting, tick tocking 100 bpm afrobashment rhythm that sparkles with real beauty. TG’s hook is perfect, Blanco’s verse is sick, and Naira Marley is the final part of the puzzle. His bars are typical Naira – i.e. road as fuck but delivered with such a cheeky grin you can kid yourself he’s just joking… The track has been a huge hit on the streets, even the leaked, unfinished version hit hundreds of thousands of plays.
GB and Prof – Some of Me
GB and Prof are members of the IRAY MVMT crew, and I love how this track (recorded exclusively for Moves) shows them going so hard down their own lane. While many artists try and emulate the mid tempo Afrobashment of J Hus or Kojo Funds- with varying success- the IRAY crew (which includes Jaij Hollands and producers MB and Kev Mundo) are forming their own signature style, a mix of Ghanaian 4/4 dance styles like Azonto and Alqyeida with grimey UK synth work. Some of Me is a sick example of this, MB’s stabbing violins and rumbling bassline propelling the track forward while GB’s tongue twisting Ghanaian flow contrasts and compliments Prof’s UK Rap bars. Look out for a dance video dropping later this year.
Bace – 50
Bace is a new artist who was introduced to us by Notch from New Age Muzik (on a side note, Notch seems to know everyone; he brought through about 4 tracks to the compilation that he and his production partner Bones had worked on). 50 is an outright banger, effortlessly breezing along, pop sensibilities mixing up with dancefloor percussion and an addictive, afrobeats vocal delivery. Bace’s vocal is full of unfulfilled yearning and the track seems to capture the summer vibes perfectly.
IQ – Tell A Paigon Try
This track is firmly on the more ‘bashment’ side of afrobashment. IQ is a remarkably talented Jamaican/British teenager who’s learnt his craft from his elder brother QQ, himself an established performer out in Jamaica. Only 16 when he recorded the track, Tell A Paigon Try sees IQ channelling his musical heroes (the likes of Popcaan, Alkaline and even Canadian RnB artist Trey Songs) and delivering a UK road anthem. Aiming shots at his enemies over a stripped down and uplifting dancehall beat produced by JB (in house producer at Finesse Forever, the crew IQ runs with) – Tell A Paigon Try has become a huge underground hit, with IQ and Finesse Forever now playing all round the country to audiences of increasingly frantic teens. There’s going to be plenty more coming from this lot over the next year.
Afro B – Lover
Naturally I was gonna put this one in… Afro B is one of the people really getting to grips with what this new sound coming out of the UK can be made to do. In the past he’s released pure afrobeats tracks, and given numerous afro hooks to UK rap acts (probably most successfully on his tracks with Tion Wayne), but increasingly his own music is pushing towards a highly accessible fusion of all of these elements, pointing towards a new pop sound for Britain and beyond. You can hear rap, bashment, afrobeats and commercial production co-existing all the way through his recent AfroWave mixtape, and on Lover he melds all four. There are lyrical nods to Chaka Demus and Pliers, a highly polished afrobeats rhythm from the in demand production trio Team Salut, and one of the ear worm hooks he excels in running through the chorus. It’s a tricky thing to make something that can work on daytime radio without losing its street appeal, but I think on Lover he’s smashed it.