It sets the tone for the rest of the year, as many artists choose to release albums early to capitalize on the post-holiday season. To add on, January releases frequently provide an early glimpse into the musical trends and themes that will dominate the coming year. For music fans, the start of a new year is an opportunity to discover new artists and sounds, as well as to begin compiling a playlist to last them through the coming months. Overall, the music released in January has a significant impact on the musical landscape of the year, and it can serve as a source of inspiration and excitement for both artists and fans. Here are some releases you can start adding to your playlists this year:
DJ Jawz X Dee Xclsv ft Gobi Beast “Tletse”
DJ Jaws and Dee Xclsv’s song Tletse is an upbeat and energetic track that blends elements of Hip-Hop and Amapiano. The song features catchy lyrics delivered in a mix of English and venac, as well as a lively instrumental with pounding drums and infectious melodies. Tletse is a celebration of being present and living life to the fullest, with Dee Xclsv’s confident flow perfectly complementing DJ Jaws’ dynamic production. Tletse is a fun and exciting track that gets listeners moving and grooving.
Espacio Dios “Collapse All Rules”
Collapse All Rules can be interpreted as a holistic submission to the significant other. Speaking on the tenets of this song, Espacio Dios said “Collapse of All Rules was inspired by the beautiful ideas in life that were coming to me and in that moment; I was in a space where I felt like I could submit to the process and be vulnerable. Whether the outcome was/is bad or good, I still embraced it and took them as liberating moments where I was living in the now, the moment.” The Pelo singer and producer goes on to describe the making of his newest single from his upcoming album; “I was in studio and I started with the beat first. I was trying to grasp on what I wanted the song to be about so I just freestyled. I played around a lot and I was super happy with the result. That’s when I solidified the verses and eventually, the song came together.” Espacio Dios fans can look forward to more singles ahead of his album release later in the year – following the release of Pelo featuring Maglera Doe Boy.
Gee Baller “New Chapter”
Nigeria’s fast-rising musician, Gee Baller, shared a two-minute-long Rap freestyle called ‘New Chapter’ to commemorate his twenty-seventh birthday. The song is a self-introspection note. He opens up about his fears and insecurities, and also boldly pronounces his strengths and talents. ‘New Chapter’ is a Rap ballad with a soulful stripped-down instrumental, one typically Jay Z and Rick Ross would jump on. The cover of ‘New Chapter’ is a picture of Gee Baller in a black formal suit and tie, his head clad in a soot barrette, eyes behind dark shades, standing steadfast on the street, while other pedestrians zooms past him. It represents how Gee Baller is calm and collected when building to leave a mark in the global music industry. In an interview, he hinted that he was planning to have his Greatness Music LLC release fresh music weekly until the end of March to service the market. It’s a new chapter for the twenty-seven-year-old talented music and entrepreneur.
Msaki & Tubatsi “Zibonakalise”
Maski x Tubatsi is a new project formed by fast-rising South African solo star Msaki (a double winner at the 2022 South African Music Awards) and Tubatsi Mpho Moloi of Johannesburg band Urban Village (also a member of the Keleketla! collective alongside Tony Allen, Shabaka Hutchings and Joe Armon-Jones). They dropped their single, ‘Zibonakalise’ from their upcoming joint debut album ‘Synthetic Hearts’ coming out in March 2023 through Nø Førmat! records (Ballaké Sissoko, Oumou Sangaré). The record also features French cellist Clément Petit (who’s previously collaborated with Aloe Blacc, Ballaké Sissoko and Blick Bassy) – the 3 artists originally encountered each other when Msaki & Petit guested on Urban Village’s critically acclaimed 2021 debut ‘Udondolo’ (praised by Uncut, Loud & Quiet, The Quietus, Sunday Times), which examined both the contemporary experience of black South Africans and the horrors of Apartheid.
Jayden Lanii & DJ Sickoo “Excellent”
The ever-growing record label, Black Is Brown, known for finding breakout talent, just signed new kids on the block, Jayden Lanii and DJ Sickoo, who are set to take the label’s hit-making status up a notch. Jayden Lanii & DJ Sickoo kicked off their 2023 with hitmaker, abuti wadi operations, Mr JazziQ & Sizwe Alakine, with their single ‘Excellent’. When speaking about the inspiration behind ‘Excellent’ Jayden Lanii shares: “I had a friend named Kabelo who we used to call Kabaza. We’d chill together and whenever we had conversations he would always interject; so we would tease him and say ‘Kabaza why uthanda uku fakaza,’ which is a lyric on the song. I then added the lyrics – dedela bonela fakaza Kabaza cabanga walaza fakaza excellent.” On how he produced the beat DJ Sickoo said: “I made the beat for ‘Excellent’ on my birthday. It was the first beat I made and it came out excellent because I was just in a really good mood.” In true Black is Brown style ‘Excellent’ is accompanied by the ‘Excellent’ dance challenge that has gained high popularity and has multiple creations on TikTok. The single has been teased on the social streets for a while, tantalizing fans and the streets for yet another smash hit from the label.
Enny Man Da Guitar “The Legacy EP: The Rise Of A Legend”
Bacardi composer & producer Enny Man Da Guitar, debuted his new EP titled ‘The Legacy EP: The Rise Of A Legend’. From the new EP, Enny Man released two tracks titled ‘Rekere & Ashu’ end these dropped late last year. With the Bacardi sound making its way into the streets and emerging in the music space, Enny Man hopes that this ep will give people the true sense of Bacardi and has produced it as raw as it’s known from the olden days. When asked why the is EP titled ‘The Legacy EP: The Rise Of A Legend and what inspired the making of the EP, this is what Enny Man said, “It is titled The Legacy EP because I would like to leave a mark on the music industry for the young ones, The Rise Of A Legend means that it is time I rise since I became a number one Bacardi producer. We got the inspiration from our fans after making a hit ‘Tse Nnyane’ they expected more music from us”– Shares Enny Man. Enny Man also shared that he would like to work with Focalistic, Makhadzi, Nkosazana Daughter, Cooper Pabi & Young Stunner in his future projects. For this year Enny man has another EP coming soon titled “The Legacy 2”, followed by the album and more videos.
TSN “God First”
Award-winning vocalist TSN dropped his new EP titled “God First.” The star has produced a few singles like Club Controller (Prince Kaybee & LaSoulMates feat TNS & Zanda Zakuza) that went platinum seven times for DSTV Multiviewers Choice Song Of The Year, Banomoya (Prince Kaybee ft Busiswa Gqulu & TNS) which was a Ukhozi FM song of the year and also went platinum six times and etc. He needed to be closer and give gratitude to God in 2023 as his bar keeps on rising higher because of the grace of Unkulunkulu. This star-studded body of work features the likes of Scelo, Zaba, Skillz, and Jojo, and he aims to empower young, upcoming artists that look up to him as a testament that everything is possible when you put your mind to it. The melodies and the message of this masterpiece speak to your soul and brings you nearer to God and prayer so that those who are planning your downfall don’t succeed. It also has a feel of motivation to keep on believing in what you do and what you are called for.
Bongeziwe Mabandla “Noba Bangathini”
January saw the release of “Noba Bangathini”, the first single off Bongeziwe Mabandla’s upcoming album. A song about being imperfect and in love and loving an imperfect person, the much-anticipated new music from the multi-award-winning South African artist sees Mabandla exploring love’s frontiers in moving depth. “Noba Bangathini” also signals the onset of a fresh creative surge from Mabandla and producer Tiago Correia-Paulo – one that effortlessly springboards the music into a rich and captivating terrain where synthesisers or drum loops are as vital as Mabandla’s signature acoustic guitar. “For me, this song is about surviving and overcoming situations with someone else,” says Mabandla of his new release. “It’s about seeing all the obstacles and heartache that comes with sharing your life with another, but still choosing to do so, in spite of it all.” “Noba Bangathini” captures a narrator rationalising his decisions and views of companionship. Listen closely (or follow along the translated lyrics) and you can feel what it means to justify making something, once harmful to you, work again.
Fast rising African star, KHAID, releases his first single of 2023 ‘Jolie’, an Afro Classic song filled with themes of love. ‘Jolie’ is full of smooth melodies and lyrics, dedicated to the girl he desires but can’t seem to pin down. He expresses his love to her, describing his attempts and persistence over a track drenched with an infectious hook, drumbeats and KHAID’s alluring voice. He began nurturing his talent from the early age of 12 years old via freestyle videos and performing on the streets of Ojo, Lagos State Nigeria where he was discovered by Sydney Walker, one of Nigeria’s biggest comedians and owner of Neville Records where he is signed too. His debut single ‘With You’ become one of the country’s top hits with over 3.7 million views on YouTube and 3 million Spotify streams. Following this, he released a 6-track project ‘Diversity’. He has now gained over 80 million streams on all platforms and is pegged to be the ‘Next Big Thing’ at the age of 18 years old. Marking a fresh chapter for the year with a new EP on the way that is due to make an explosive entrance onto the music scene. KHAID is definitely one to watch.
Jimmy Nevis “Things We Don’t Talk About”
Jimmy Nevis released his much anticipated fourth studio album ‘Things We Don’t Talk About’ which is out across all digital platforms now. We need to talk about who we really are and what defines us. What we tell the world and what we sweep under the carpet. We need to talk about the evolution of Jimmy Nevis. Jimmy Nevis, an acclaimed Pop and R&B star who had us dancing to his number-one hits Heartboxing, 7764, All About It, Balloon and Hey Jimmy is breaking the mould with a new 11-track album. Titled Things We Don’t Talk About, the project explores the intimate spaces of our minds, the taboo and the playful side of life, love and the quirky things in between. Nevis takes his fans on a musical journey they’ve never experienced before where they will find confessions, secrets and playful concepts to set their imaginations free. It’s an updated version of the Jimmy Nevis we’ve grown to know and love. “My work and my personal life have been so closely linked to each other and sometimes it’s easy to be so professionally focused, that you forget to update your personal life. There were a lot of personal updates over the last five years and I felt like I needed to update the music, to sync with who I am right now,” he explained. Nevis’s new album Things We Don’t Talk About explores the meaning of identity, who we are as individuals, the boundaries society places around us, and the limits we place on ourselves. It’s a return to the singer-songwriter conceptual storytelling of Nevis and his life, a culmination of the past 10 years of an unforgettable music journey.
TYLA “Been Thinking“
Kicking into high gear for 2023, African superstar singer and songwriter TYLA revealed an energetic and undeniable new single and music video entitled “Been Thinking” via FAX Records/Epic Records. The video is directed by the almighty Meiji Alabi (Beyonce, Burna Boy) and co-choreographed by the legendary Fatima Robinson (Michael Jackson, Aaliyah). The track’s driving beat sets the pace as her dynamic vocals dip in and out of the groove. She alternates between confessional verses a la “I’ve been trying not to lose control, but I lose control” and a fiery and flirty hook, “All day, all night, I’ve been thinking about you.” The accompanying visual vividly brings these vibes to life onscreen. From intimate vignettes of her singing in bed to showstopping African-inspired choreography in a packed club, it reflects the track’s spirit.
Mr Eazi “Werser”
Mr Eazi released “Werser,” his new single, a feel-good record from Mr Eazi’s third dive into Amapiano following the success of his first-ever Amapiano record “Patek” and follow-up track “See Something”. Having received several accolades by industry colleagues, fans and music critics – Mr Eazi is on a mission to “chop life” while creatively exploring all the facets of his artistry. Produced by DJ Tárico, who is now arguably renowned for his vast and successful portfolio in Amapiano hits ranging from “Patek” to “Yaba Buluku” and more; it is exactly as they say: “Never change what works” – this is evident in the incredible synergy between Mr Eazi and DJ Tárico has proven by the two hit records (with one in the making) they have created so far. After a super exciting dance routine created by a Ghanaian dance group breaks the internet spanning off into hundreds of user-generated videos and millions of views, Mr Eazi responds with a video of himself joining the viral challenge and announcing the official release of “Werser”. “This year, I am focusing my energy on creativity and top-line sh*t”, says Mr Eazi as he prepares to follow up his record with an Amapiano mixtape in the coming months – the pressure indeed is getting werser.
This is a list and a half! Let us know which releases are your favourites!