Words by: Blossom Maduafokwa
A non-exhaustive list of Black artists around the world that need to get together in the studio and collab ASAP.
In terms of global music, there is no doubt that we’ve officially reached the era of the African diaspora. 2020 itself, which was a year of many things, was still undoubtedly a year where we witnessed a huge spike in global Black music collaborations. We only have to look as far as a project like Twice As Tall where we saw Afrobeats giant Burna Boy collab with artists from Senegalese music legend Youssou N’Dour to American Hip-Hop greats Naughty by Nature. Even within the historically inaccessible American music industry, Pop Smoke called both Burna Boy and Davido on to his posthumous mixtape Shoot For the Stars Aim For the Moon, Megan thee Stallion featured Popcaan on her most recent project Good News, and Nicki Minaj remixed Skillibeng’s ‘Crocodile Teeth’ on her fresh tape Beam Me Up Scotty. Clearly, global Black collaborations are slowly but surely becoming the status quo. Knowing this, it’s only right to speak into existence some of the many collaborations we would love to see in the future.
TEMS X KOFFEE
It doesn’t take much to see just how much these two would click. The two women are powerhouses in their respective genres of Afrobeats and Reggae, and after a quick listen to their most famous tracks – ‘Damages’ for Tems and ‘Toast’ for Koffee – it’s pretty easy to see how shockingly similar their vocals are. It helps, too, that ‘Damages’ has a clear Bashment influence. With Koffee’s Jamaican singjay flow combined with Tems’ full, soulful voice, a track with both of them would simply run any car ride, club, or party in the summer.
DUSTY LOCANE X ABRA CADABRA
While the UK Drill scene doesn’t need an American collaboration to validate its sound, a collaboration between these two wouldn’t hurt in the slightest. Haitian-American Dusty Locane blew in the New York scene as recently as last year with his smash hit ‘ROLLIN N CONTROLLIN FREESTYLE.’ His barrel-chested vocals and steady flow would make an instant hit with Abra Cadabra’s equally deep voice and rhythmic delivery: Locane would hold down the tune and Abra would elevate it. The implications for the global Drill scene would be immense. For those who frequently think about the magic that would have been a collab between Pop Smoke and Abra Cadabra (I’m certainly included in this), listen to Locane’s ‘Rolando (Caught in the Rain)’: he and Pop sound scarily similar.
ENNY x NONAME
Both Enny and Noname sport chilled alternative flows, sharp tongues, and serious lyrics. What’s more, both have made sure to include Blackness in the music that they make. Noname conveyed an adamant refusal of ‘Blaxploitation’ on her second studio album and recently released a calming ode to Black liberation, while Enny dropped an iconic tribute to all the ‘Peng Black Girls’ and rejected gentrification on her newest track ‘Same Old‘. The two together would definitely give us an extra track for our revolutionary playlist, or simply a song for Black girls to play outside on a warm day in the spring.
J HUS X PA SALIEU
I wish I could describe the lengths I would go to for a joint track between these two. While not as technically global as the other picks – both Hus and Pa are Gambian but raised in the UK – their collaboration is way too anticipated to exclude from this list. J Hus, with heavy Afroswing and Bashment tracks like ‘Friendly’ and ‘Dark Vader’, would create nothing less than a banger paired with Pa Salieu’s hard-hitting flow, evidenced by songs like ‘Block Boy’. The two embody versatility, as well as the power of British African music. A collab is essential and would, without a doubt, shake the scene.
MUSTAFA X KNUCKS
The connection with this one isn’t obvious. After all, Sudanese-Canadian Mustafa produces a soft acoustic sound while British-Nigerian Knucks opts for smooth Rap along with understated, soulful Drill. However, both are serious storytellers. The video for ‘Air Forces’, filmed partly within and around Mustafa’s Regent Park housing building, and hearing the song’s opening words – ‘Don’t crease your air forces / Just stay inside tonight / You know what’s happenin’ outside’ – I couldn’t help but be reminded of Knucks’ ‘Home’. ‘Home’ similarly filmed in front of Knucks‘ North West London housing estate, also laments at its close on the same notion of staying home to sometimes avoid the potential violence of the streets. Both artists have an overwhelming way of bringing to life the stories of ordinary people and humanizing them in a way that is raw. A Mustafa x Knucks tune would be a definite lyrical experience that Black kids – whether they live in London or a borough of Toronto – deserve.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Bella Shmurda x Midas the Jagaban, Abra Cadabra x Gazo, Rema x Koffee, R.A.E. x Tierra Whack, Dave x Mustafa