Of the many publications that release EOY music lists, one of the best and most diverse (outside of our own 😉 ) continues to be NPRs. While listening to the list last year, I was first introduced to Ghana’s Mohammed Ismail Sherif Kwaku Frimpong (aka Black Sherif). The twenty year old rapper/singer released his first single in 2019, started to get attention with his next songs released in 2021, and finally made a breakthrough with the excellent track “Kwaku the Traveller”.
The hip hop track simmers over a subdued beat, with a light, atmospheric melody heightening the intensity and melancholy of the song. Other tracks on his debut album The Villain I Never War lean into more traditional reggae sounds, like the sunny sonics of “Oh Paradise”. “45” has a relaxed, mellow groove, though Sherif isn’t taking it easy with his lyrical delivery. And as he “sends love to my Rastas” on “Sad Boys Don’t Fold”, one can hear a bit of Bob Marley in the young MC’s spirit.