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Ballantine’s True Music Highlights of 2022

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This year we travelled the globe with True Music Studios. As 2022 comes to a close, we look back at some of the artists from each city currently setting their scene on fire, highlighted and discussed by the contributors we’ve worked with along the way. 

In 2022, as more lockdown restrictions were lifted, we were able to get back on the road and do what we love doing most. This year, we had True Music Studios shows across Medellín, Nairobi, Yaounde, Luanda, Granada, Amsterdam and Angola. Alongside this, we asked contributors to take a look at the history of the genres we were exploring from their retrospective cities, highlighting the legacy leaders whilst exploring some of the people currently holding the torch for these sounds, showcasing these on our True Music playlist. So to round off the year, we’re shining a light on a few selects from each city and their best tracks from 2022 whilst looking back at the articles we shared this year.

Catherine Assogo is an entrepreneur from Cameroun. Candela Scorp is a journalist and club promoter from Granada. Rofhiwa Maneta is a freelance arts and culture journalist from Cape Town. Eduardo Pérez Waasdorp is a past director of DJ Mag Spain, and an expert on all things Spanish techno. Tash LC is a London DJ and selector heading up her own label and club night Club Yeke. 

Without further ado, here are eight tracks from the artists setting these cities alight in 2022.

Ms Nina & Jedet – Las Reinas

Two pop culture icons came together for one of the biggest reggaeton hits of the year. A self-styled reggaetón feminist, Argentina-born, multifaceted artist Ms Nina is one of the pioneers of the urbano movement in Spain. Having cut her teeth at the early stages of the new Spanish wave, she moved to Madrid when she connected with a network of hyper-creative outcasts. Here she shaped her quirky club-ready music, which carries consistent messages of empowerment, sex-positivity, boldness, and strength. After her 2019 album, ‘Perreando Por Fuera, Llorando Por Dentro’, was released, Ms Nina’s profile went global, currently being one of the most in-demand artists in the perreo circuit.

On the other hand, Jedet is one of Spain’s most renowned actresses and LGBTQI+ activists. Being a trans woman herself, her journey of transformation has been enlightening. Jedet rose to icon status after starring in the critically acclaimed TV series ‘Veneno’ (A3Media/HBO), depicting the young life of one of Spain’s most famous trans vedettes in the 90s, La Veneno (real name Cristina Ortiz Rodríguez).

Read the full article here written by Eduardo Pérez Waasdorp, celebrating our ‘In Conversation with Ms Nina and Jedet for True Music Studios, Madrid.

Young Stunna – Adiwele

Young Stunna (whose real name is Sandile Msimango) moves beyond the constraints of time. Part of his success is how easily he merges diverging genres. Often, it feels like his mind is constantly bursting with ideas, and once he’s released them to the public, he’s happy to move on to the next. 

He’s often made mention of the fact that, to him, rap and amapiano aren’t that dissimilar. It’s all the same thing to him. Young Stunna’s magnetism is clear, Adilwele, the album’s opener, with Kabza De Small and Maphorisa, features a throbbing bassline and sparse drum work.

Read the full article here about Young Stunna’s journey so far, written by Rofhiwa Maneta in celebration of our True Music Studios, Johannesburg.

Khuza Gogo – Dbn Gogo, Blaqnick & MasterBlaq

The last few years have been nothing short of seismic for South African DJ and producer DBN Gogo. “It’s amazing what I’ve been able to achieve in the last few years,” says the Khuza Gogo hitmaker. “It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. I’ve also just curated my first-ever Boiler Room line-up, and the experience was different from anything I’ve previously done. If I’m not mistaken, I’m the first black South African woman to do so. That’s a big deal.”

Born Mandisa Radebe in Kwazulu Natal, DBN Gogo started DJing in 2017 and has quickly become an omnipresent figure in the South African club scene and a figurehead in the nascent amapiano genre. In the short time she’s been a DJ, she’s become one of the most booked DJs in the country, performed at Afropunk South Africa and was the first South African artist to be chosen for Spotify’s Equal Music Program.

With amapiano currently occupying the prime position as South Africa’s most in-vogue genre, it’s only a matter of time before one of the genre’s most prominent vocalists become international stars. 

Read the full article here written by Rofhiwa Maneta in celebration of our True Music Studios, Johannesburg.

 

Salatiel – Sucré Nouveau 

The climb to the top for the new generation in Cameroon has been challenging. Despite the impacts of major music labels, the new generation is not running towards immediate success. Instead, they desire the stabilization of their career through sustainable ecosystems. These artists understand today that they generate income with partnerships, advertising contracts, sponsorship, paid services collaborations and more. 

Collaborations between the artists of the old and new generations have benefited both parties in Cameroon. In 2022 we saw Cameroonian artist Salatiel collaborate with the local and living legend of Makossa. For the legacy artists, this return to the forefront allowed them to replay specific classics that have rocked many generations that very few of them did not know. Some of them have been revisited, and new sounds have been added. For younger generations such as Salatiel, this collaboration has helped the young star rise and see significant success for the artist in 2022.

Read more about how the new generation of artists is shaping the sounds of Cameroon, written by Catherine Assogo here in celebration of our True Music Studios Yaounde.

Ryan Castro – Mujeriego

For almost three decades, reggaeton producers have challenged themselves repeatedly, raising the sonic level, the technique and the meticulousness behind the different components involved in creating a song from scratch and then releasing it to conquer the entire planet. Every hit we know today has a methodical chef behind it, heroes who, from the shadows, have decided to trade pillows for keyboards and synthesizers to see their neighbourhoods. Their streets and their people enjoy a product made with care and sacrifice from the humility of an old desktop computer in a small, dark room.

One of the highlight artists of 2022 was none other than Ryan Castro. The artist has had an incredibly successful few years producing hit after hit, anthem after anthem. He even coined a phrase that would become a sort of reggaeton war cry that would resonate throughout the country: QUÉ CHIMBA, SOG!

“Mujeriego” was a formula for a song that was not on anyone’s radar but was instantly another hit and one of the most prominent sounds in Reggaeton for 2022. 

If you want to learn more about the history of Reggeaton and some of the critical artists of the scene today, read more here, written by Santiago Orrego Gallego, in celebration of our True Music, Medellín.

La Zowi – Terapia de Choque

Trap music, the sound heir to Gangsta rap and American Dirty South, had its explosion of popularity in Spain around 2015 and had a significant moment in 2022. Influenced by the American trap sound of the late 2000s, its fusion with other staple sounds created countless subgenres along the way. There is no doubt that trap artists have left their mark and legacy in terms of influence over modern Spanish culture and music.

It would be a mistake to think that women in trap are a new tendency in Spain. Without question, women have had and have a major role in the Spanish trap scene, redefining the genre by refusing to stay in the background. One of the biggest references in the genre is La Zowi, who started making headlines in 2013 with her track ‘Raxeta’.

Nowadays, working along with producer Mark Luva, they form one of the strongest duos in the scene. Creating parallelism with 70s punk, which broke many barriers of gender inequality, La Zowi reasserts herself with every single track, taking back and owning the slur language associated with men, creating her own codes. La Zowi’s influence is more than needed for the future generations of trap and prejudice-free artists in any genre. The rise of artists like Blondie, La Favi or Albany shows evidence of this explosion of talented women in the scene.

Read the full feature on the history and future of Spanish Trap here written by Candela Scorp in celebration of our True Music Studios, Granada.

Titica – Olha a banana – Feat: Kelmer Pastilha & Mauro Xtraga

Certain sounds just make you move. Like a kind of inner body calling that can’t be fought or resisted. A connection between beat and body that is loud, urgent and unexplainable. It calls at you, and you have no choice but to answer immediately, every body part responding of its own accord and following the music in a guttural and instinctive way. This is Kuduro. 

A number of very successful Kuduro pop artists have found mainstream success in and out of Angola. Acts like Titica and Preto Show have broken new ground to become stars who have brought Kuduro to international audiences in the US and Europe, often headlining showcases and Kuduro festivals.

This track here by Titicia was released earlier this month and is already in the tens of thousands of views. A late runner to 2022 but no doubt one to remember before we end the year. 

Read more about the history of Kuduro, its originators and innovators here, written by Tash LC for our True Music Studios, Angola.

MAANDY X MEJJA – “KA UNAWEZA”

As Kenyan drill (and Kenyan hip-hop culture generally) leaps farther into national and international spotlights, the success of artists like MAANDY, who dropped her video for Shash Na Lipgloss in 2020, a bad b*tch anthem, set ablaze any notions of traditional respectability. This sound and movement have been embraced by a generation of young Kenyans exhausted by constrained representations of femininity.

Hip-Hop is significant as a medium because of the spirit of defiance and radical individuality at its core. It is an avenue through which Kenyan women have been lauded and uplifted for speaking and acting in ways outside rigid traditional notions of femininity. Such a loud and public expression of sexuality from a young woman defies a prevailing culture that typically only rewards modest displays of femininity.

MAANDY’S track KA UNAWEZA with MEJJA, released earlier this year, blew up online, reaching over 1m views worldwide.

This year’s Ballantine’s True Music series in Nairobi celebrated and discussed the rise of Kenyan Drill. In this accompanying piece, read about the three trailblazers of Kenyan hip-hop, music journalist Tela Wangeci, DJ IV, and rapper Steph, to get their perspective on the state of the scene and what they would like to see more of from the community.

Thank you 2022, it’s been great.

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