The Latest News From Neptune #15: Mc Kekel, Empire Sounds, Kalash & More


Loads of African diasporic business this month – kicking off with Brazil…

MC Kekel – Namorar Pra Que

I don’t really know if Baile Funk is a term Brazilian’s use – but whatever you want to call Brazil’s frantic paced ghetto music, it’s been undergoing a quiet revolution since Diplo first got his thievy paws all over it a decade back. This track from MC Kekel is a pretty perfect indicator of where the sound has gone – a really unusual mix of strong, melodic vocals rolling over a ton of bass and a deconstructed beatbox rhythm that’s challenging any notions of traditional dance music. The massive view count shows that there are clearly plenty of peeps checking for Kekel in South America, but I’m surprised he isn’t better known over here yet – I’d love for someone to bring him over, I get a feeling that he’d smash it live. The channel this is on is well worth a dig through, it’s packed with this stuff. 

Kalash – Rouge et Bleu // Booba – DKR

I’ve been on a mad one for French bangers this week. MHD has been calling his stuff AfroTrap, and I think the French are the only people who make stuff that genuinely sounds like the term fits – like they’re mixing African melodies with hard 808 bangers. As with MC Kekel above, Kalash appears to be massive in the Francophone world but relatively unknown outside it. It’s tempting to go with a lazy description and call him the French Future, but his melodies are distinctive enough that he deserves to be considered as bringing something new to the table. I’ve got hold a copy of his most recent album Kaos and it is packed with absolute shellers from start to finish. At times he gets a bit reggaeton, at times a bit bashment, I keep switching favourites – opener Bando is nuts, but I’m gonna post the track Rouge et Bleu featuring Booba – it takes a beat reminiscent of Kendrick’s Swimming Pool and manages to ramp up both the introspection and the dance-y-ness. Booba himself has a massive kora driven tune called DKR that’s got, like 30 million plays. I’ve posted underneath – check those finger clicks. Serious business. 

Empire Sounds – Moto

Back in the UK, the Empire Sounds crew have been making moves this year. Vianni’s Recognise has been a solid hit for them – a smooth piece of afrobeats flavoured RnB that sounds like a radio hit and deserved to be much bigger (and still might be – it’s still bubbling away and sounds better by the day). This new cut Moto features Vianni alongside KB and Captain Hook dropping hooks over an alkeyida rhythm that sounds like UK Funky replayed at 110 bpm. Although these dance jams are rarely as popular as the more sentimental ballads, I could listen to this sort of track for hours, here’s hoping they pull out more. Whenever I hear someone claiming that there’s no underground music culture anymore because internets, this is the kind of video I can pull out; kids pulling intricate synchronised moves to a new form of dance music with no major label backing? Looks and sounds like the underground is alive and well…  

Olu Maintain – Pardon My French

Thanks to Brackles for putting me onto this one, I’d totally slept on it. Olu Maintain is a Nigerian pop star, and here he’s dropping bars in French over an insane beat. This is the kind of tune I spend hours hunting for – Maintain’s flow is just weird – he keeps switching between this slightly creepy falsetto and this normal bassy flow, while the beat does a lot with very little. I feel like a lot of UK DJs could do damage with this one. 

Solo Wonda – Bugatti Ikebe

Sticking with Nigeria for this final cut, we have Bugatti Ikebe. I’ve been playing this track every set for the last month- it’s a lot of fun to mix and sounds great over massive speakers. There’s been less and less of this 120 bpm+ sound coming out of Nigeria over the last couple of years, and I miss it – I may be alone though, the soundcloud link has only got four (!) plays, and I’m fairly sure I’m responsible for three of them. It’s pretty safe to say Solo isn’t a big man to overly promote himself – if this track had come out in the UK I would have had 15 What’s App messages about it by now… Currently, as with so much of the Nigerian Afrobeats, there’s not a decent quality version available, but if you ask Solo nicely via twitter he may well send you a 320 mp3…

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