Colour is a Juls Led Coalescence on the West African Diaspora
Evan Dale // July 31, 2019
The West African Renaissance bubbling over the pot of Nigerian and Ghanaian international diaspora is in full swing as the world’s most important modern cultural explosion. Music, art, fashion, photography, and cinematography are being largely governed by artists from Lagos to Accra, subsequently Kingston to Georgetown, and subsequently again London to Toronto. But the influence goes deeper than that. Not only do classic rhythms and afro-beats inform the stylings of reggae, experimental R&B, grime, and trap. They’ve seemingly infiltrated every scene and every spectrum of musical invention globally.
From the roots, deliveries this year from afrobeat veterans like Adekunle Gold (Kelegbe Megbe) have reaffirmed what the lane is known to produce. And from the reach, transcendent newcomers like Burna Boy (African Giant), Santi (Mandy & The Jungle), GoldLink (Diaspora), and Kojey Radical (Can’t Go Back, No Gangster, Ground Control), have expanded and redefined what West African influence means to global pop culture. As a diverse, encompassing collection, Juls’ Colour is likewise one of the most wide-ranging exhibitions of boundless Afrofuturistic explorations to emerge from it all.
The British-born, Ghanaian producer boasts in insane resume, but per usual in the career of modern composers, his name is not yet so widespread. But Juls is a name that should be on everyone’s radar. Producing for Lauryn Hill, Burna Boy, GoldLink, Tyler, the Creator, Masego, Wande Coal, and many more, his name carries with it a lot of powerful friends. Naturally, Colour is colorful.
Hip-hop influenced alternative songwriter, Worlasi – Ghana.
Spoken-word poet turned poetic rapper, Kojey Radical – London / Ghana.
Distinctive Afro-Swank multi-creative – Essex / Nigeria.
Transcendent songwriter / soulstress, Ms. Banks – London.
Hip-Hop / Grime lyricist, Pa Salieu – UK.
Rapper and vocalist, Falz – Lagos.
Experimental Garage / Afrobeats DJ, Oxlade – Lagos.
Reggae-inspired producer, Big Zeeks – London.
Reggae vocalist and DJ, Sweetie Irie – UK.
Afrobeats superstar, Mr Eazi – Nigeria / Ghana.
Dancehall DJ, Agent Sasco (Assassin) – Kingston.
R&B-edged singer / songwriter, Sway Clarke – Toronto / Berlin.
Experimental producer & rapper, Knucks – London.
Neo-Soul / Jazz Experimentalist, XamVolo – London.
Self-described, ‘Anime-watching rapper / songwriter’, Che Lingo – London.
Neo-Soul Vocalist & Songwriter, Tiggs Da Author – Tanzania.
Songwriter, producer & vocalist, Santi – Lagos / Dubai.
And though each of the myriad contributors to Colour’s greater gradient host a unique and vibrant signature aesthetic, all come to coalesce under the collective banner of Juls and his affirmed ability to unearth something wide-ranging yet cohesive. And that’s because Juls is a student of West African diaspora. His knowledge on music of course underlines the traditions of Nigeria and Ghana, but also explores the Caribbean, North America, and his home, the UK. The understanding that all of these places are firmly connected by the tether of West African rhythm transformed into a diverse dichotomy of broad-based musical stylings is what grants Juls and subsequently Colour,its wide lens. There are seemingly endless sources from which to draw inspiration for a collaborative album exploring the West African diaspora rooted in stemmings from Afrobeats, reggae, hip-hop, R&B, and grime, but Juls whittles down his contributors to a perfected list of complimentary diversity focused on how the modern West African cultural Renaissance will translate into a an era of post-genre globalism.
And it succeeds.
It more than succeeds. Colour thrives beyond the speakings of West African culture exploding onto the mainstream and proves that in 2019 we’re in the throes of something special. It isn’t only Afrobeats – it’s dancehall, R&B, grime, hip-hop, neo-soul, jazz, funk, and electronic. It isn’t only Ghana, Nigeria, The Caribbean and London. It’s Toronto (PartyNextDoor), New York (SAINt JHN), Washington DC (GoldLink), and Dubai (Santi). It’s global. And so is Juls. And so is Colour.
If there are particular standout tracks to the album, it’s only based on pre-existing biases to certain musical stylings. Colour is balanced in quality and stylistic exploration, but it is incredibly wide-ranging. For the Afrofuturistic hip-hop lane, Kojey Radical’s Normal is an explosively lyrical cut. For the undeniable club banger, Kida Kudz, Ms. Banks, and Pa Salieu make any listener wish they were stepping out onto a sweaty late-night dancefloor in Lagos, Accra, or London with Like Tu Danz. For experimental Afrobeat composition, Worlasi’s Nyafa Riddim is meditative and foot-tapping. For Neo-Soul’s expanding explorations of West African musicality, Sway Clarke’s Sweetie Odo and Knucks, XamVolo, and Che Lingo’s collaborative track, No Lie are sensitive and instrumental powerhouses.
But what makes Colour a great album isn’t necessarily that it is so wide-ranging, but that it is inviting and assimilating for listeners of one stylistic arena to explore others with such ease and complimentary cohesiveness. And for being the steady hand behind it all, Juls is a genius addition to the greater West African cultural Renaissance mosaic.