Words by: Blossom Maduafokwa
Specializing in Afroswing, Afrobeat, and Drill, 4PLAY have distinguished themselves as the collective you need to watch.
Anyone who listens to Afroswing group NSG’s music will have heard these two names sung melodically before each song: “Jae5” and “4PLAY.” While the second might be harder to put a face to, it is just as influential in the world of Afroswing, and, like JAE5, is dedicated to showing the world just how far the genre – or any genre, for that matter – can stretch.
To put it simply, 4PLAY needs to be understood as a movement. Masterminded by NSG’s OGD, 4PLAY embodies the essence of fusion in every way possible. They are masters at bringing a slower Afrostreet sound to conventional Afroswing and creating something both hard and melodic, something that makes you want to both sing and gbe body. It’s a specific balance that no other collective outside of West Africa has been able to strike – a balance that has brought African street music to a global level.
It takes a rare type of talent to make tracks like “Colonization” and “Kate Winslet” chart in the UK while they are both at their core underscored by the African street sound. Songs like Keeya Keys’ “Accroholic Freestyle” (whose release to Spotify & Apple Music is highly awaited by, literally, everyone) or NSG’s “After OT Bop” are even harder, carrying with them a type of ingenuity that almost begs the invention of a new genre to mark it as a sound that no one has ever before created.
Of course, it doesn’t stop at Afroswing for 4PLAY. In the true spirit of fusion and just being damn good at production, 4PLAY can do it all: they created a summer Garage banger with Keeya Keys’ “Bebey”, a hard Drill tune with A-MVN and C.P’s “Christened”, and a full on Afrobeats track with WES7AR 22’s “Holy Water”. The ability to glide through this many genres with ease and skill can only come from an innate understanding of music, and how to bend and manipulate it while never once failing to deliver on quality.
What’s more, is that – to put it simply – 4PLAY seems to be hellbent on happiness. Everyone they work with performs infectiously and comes to every track with a combination of cheek, audacity, and vim (and vim, believe it or not, is hard to find these days). Keeya Keys has never once failed in the realm of delivery and bars (or music in general, for that matter), A-MVN has consistently made us screw up our faces in awe of his flow, while WES7AR 22 has shaken us with the sheer talent displayed in his debut.
There’s a strong sense of community around the collective, whether it comes from the fact the same faces are always present in each music video, or the fact that each video unfailingly has a crowd, a group dance routine, amongst other things. For 4PLAY, enjoyment is the status quo. Listening to and watching them, there’s a feeling that you might be eavesdropping on something that is highly sophisticated, just as much as it feels like the brainchild of a few friends who just wanted to have fun. 4PLAY, essentially, are the undisputed kings of jaiye, heralding in a fresh new wave of Afrofusion, and the world can only anticipate what they might do next.