Article by Anthony ‘Fuego’ Sserwada
The road to success for many African musicians is linear and quite predictable: garner a cult-level following in your home country by releasing a string of hit songs, reach out to other successful stars on the continent to stretch your fan base, get nominated for a MOBO/EMA and eventually put out a mediocre collab with Rick Ross (I’m looking at you Diamond and P-Square).
So as we watch Sauti Sol’s star rise ever higher by the day, we all know that their big Rick Ross collaboration is coming soon and it therefore begs the question: Which international artist should the group team up with?
There’s no easy answer to that question because Sauti Sol are musically hard to place; going through their discography you will hear elements of Zouk, Blues, Dancehall, and most recently Reggae (if you haven’t heard the incredible Girl Next Door yet, then you are not doing life right). Their versatility lends them the advantage of being able to accommodate the styles and talents of almost anybody in music right now.
But “accommodating” is not what Sauti Sol should aim for!
Time and again African artists seem to flinch under the limelight of American stars, adopting and taking on styles that don’t suit their sound and rarely complement their art. Take for example the aforementioned collaboration between Diamond Platinumz’ and Rick Ross. Essentially a Rap song, Waka works perfectly for Rick Ross who sounds at home on an instrumental that matches his swag and braggadocio, but one that makes Diamond sound like a fish out of water and forces him to take on a persona that sounds unnatural.
Conversely, consider Everytime by Wizkid featuring Future. Way before the ATL trapper even appears on the track, there is no doubt in your mind that you are listening to a Wizkid song. The beats, the tempo and the vibe are all Wizkid staple. He completely owns the track and simply invites Future to join in on the fun.
And going into the new year, as Sauti Sol roll out their brand new album Afrikan Sauce and continue garnering global attention, it would be great to see them escape the trap of settling for a big name rapper and instead seek out artists who will match their own unique versatility.
Like Ty Dolla Sign!
Boasting collaborations with artists as diverse as Major Lazer, Lupe Fiasco and Africa’s own Mr Eazi, Ty Dolla is a master in musical camouflage; the kind of artist who has no interest in stealing your shine, but does a fantastic job of simply adding gloss to your music.
That is the kind of feature Sauti Sol should reach for because after all, as great as it is to have your name tagged alongside a big international act on a song, it should mean even more for that song to be yours.