screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Tag: Nigeria

Introducing… Ozonna

Anyone who says that electro-pop is devoid of humanity has never heard the music of Ozonna. This Nigerian artist who lived in London and is now based in New York wears his heritage proudly and combines raw and honest savagery with contemporary electronic dance music, tribal rhythms, world music and a smooth-as-silk voice in his just-released video for “Wonderland.” Filmed in Africa with a large cast of furry co-stars, this compelling, dramatic video would likely make a great tourism ad. It’s incredibly beautiful and it soars along with the swelling chorus.

Raised in London after his family migrated from Nigeria, Ozonna’s music fuses the culture of his birthplace and his adopted country. He performed around London, opening for artists such as Kyla La Grange, Alice Gold and Chrystal Fighters. On early singles (which can be heard on his bandcamp), he added ukelele along with the electro, giving him a unique sound and showing his versatility. When his single “Me & You On Top” was put into rotation in a half dozen U.S. markets and received some serious blog love (in 2013), it attracted some major label attention. His debut performance in New York was hosted by Rahim Wright, an Atlantic Records exec. He ended up moving to New York City that year and released his debut EP Believe It To See It last October. The official video for the title track also featured African heritage and scenery as a backdrop.

This EP features the contributions of many of music’s heavy hitters, including Grammy-nominated producer Jimmy Greco (Paramore, Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus), Grammy Award-winning producer Scott Jacoby (Alicia Keys, Vampire Weekend, John Lennon) and producer and hit songwriter Russ DeSalvo (Santana, Celine Dion, Trisha Yearwood). Listen to four of the tracks below and pick up the 5-track EP on iTunes.

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The strong, soulful sound of Nneka touches down at TT’s Monday night (3/26)

Nneka, photo by Jens Boldt

Nigerian-German songstress and activist Nneka Elise Egbuna has important things to say concerning social justice, human dignity, and the soul’s journey, and she’s been doing it in elegant fashion since 2004, when she first started working with German hip-hop producer DJ Farhot, performing in Hamburg, where she lived at the time. Singing in both English and her native Igbo, she cites hip-hop as her main influence, and her powerful social commentary touches on the best traditions of that genre, but her sound is unique, melding hip-hop beats with shuffling reggae rhythms, African pop and authentic ’60s/’70s soul, with strong tribal roots.

Taking from the best of all worlds, she creates an atmosphere that wraps perfectly around her amazingly agile vocals.

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