I know, I know… you’ve read articles like these millions of time but have you ever read one that is dedicated strictly to Sierra Leonean artists?
Yes? Ok no worries, read it again anyway.
In music, like many other art forms, there is strength in numbers when it comes to overall exposure and reach. This means amazing artists in countries with small population like Sierra Leone don’t get all the global accolades they deserve.
This article aim to introduce you to at least one album by a Sierra Leonean that you may not be aware of. Not all these albums are strictly ‘Sierra Leone music’ but they are all by artists who identify as Sierra Leoneans.
It has been a tough list to put together as the talent from Sierra Leone bɔku.
This list takes a look at albums, EPs & Compilations released between 2019 and 2020 with more than 30minutes playtime.
10. Majesty – Xzu B
I discovered Xzu B through his version of Childish Gambino’s This is America. It was one of my favourite covers. Since then I’ve gone on to love and relate to the content of Xzu B’s music which include the struggles of the youth, dreaming big, and the (mis)fortunes of love.
My favourite track in this album is ‘More’; it reminds me of what my life may have been if I still lived in Sierra Leone.
Even though we all need more… sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for!Xzu B’s message to the Youth
9. Fit En Gbet – Heyden Adama
Heyden Adama is one of Sierra Leone most consistent pop exports. She stays true to her roots with songs aimed at world audience but with authentic Sierra Leone vibe blended with international sounds. Heyden never misses when it comes to making her listeners just want to fall in love with their sweetheart all over again and this can be heard throughout the compilation. My favourite track in this album is Kele Kele.
Please note that I am not to be held responsible if after listening to this album you decide to ‘Hey Stranger’ your ex.
8. Da Kroo Town Road Borbor Mixtape – Alonzo
I don’t know if this counts as an album but I enjoyed this body of work from Alonzo. The titled track Kroo Town Road Borbor is one of those feel good tracks that make you wanna show appreciation to wherever you grew up as you realise it’s the place that has shaped you into the person you’ve grown to be.
7. Salone – Bai Kamara Jr
It’s not everyday you come across a Sierra Leonean artist that specialises in jazz & blues; let alone one who embraces the country so much, they name a whole album after it.
The video for the opening track ‘Can’t Wait Here Too Long’ is even filmed in Sierra Leone.
6. The Simplay List – Simplay (Label)
Musically, this is the most complete album of 2020 with sounds to cover just about every major genre. My favourite track at the time of release was ‘Bad Man Commando‘ but since then I’ve gone through some changes that I guess I can only describe it now as a guilty pleasure.
5. Mama Salone – Markmuday
Can we even have a list of Salone music without including Markmuday? Right from the title track, Markmuday let it be known that there is no place like home, and urge Sierra Leoneans everywhere to bato one another in moving ahead… very sound advice.
My favourite track on this album is a tough call between Bayo Bayo and Lie To You, both featuring the wonder boy Drizilik.
4. Wi Jonkshon – Kracktwist & Samza
If there was any justice in the world, Kracktwist and Samza would be worldwide household names. These two are hands-down the world’s best duo in music. The title track ‘Wi Jɔnkshɔn’ is a reminder of the sense of community one experiences growing up (or Holidaying) in Sierra Leone. If you’re in search of a feel-good song, you can skip straight to ‘How U See Am’
If you’re enjoying this list, you’ll love the work of the Young Sierra Leonean, a platform for creative and entrepreneurial Sierra Leoneans globally.
3. Testing The Waters – Ejatu
Ejatu is one artist that I feel is criminally underrated, although in fairness, she isn’t very easy to find online so this could partly be why.
A little disclaimer; I happen to be a sucker for love, so yes I’m very partial to albums with love songs I can relate to. The opening track ‘Love Norto Yagba’ is a reminder to listeners that love needn’t be as stressful as the world makes it out to be and I definitely agree with my sister Ejatu. My favourite track in this album is Wata Pass Gari, and yes, it is a love song. I’m grinning the biggest grin as I write this paragraph. I’m looking forward to hearing more from Ejatu.
2. 9 Lives – Emmerson
At the time of writing, this is my most played album released in 2020. I don’t believe I need to say much about this album with it being the most high-profile on this list.
From the get-go in Blessed, Emmerson discusses how grateful he is for everything he’s gone through and I’m sure many can relate. My favourite track in the album is Fana Dem featuring Star Zee.
I hope to see videos of some of the tracks on this album because 80% of tracks deserve endless playback.
1. Nekeh Tombo – Shuaibu
Growing up in East of Freetown, I can relate so much to the title track of this album and that’s why it’s sitting at the top of this list.
I first discovered Shuaibu through the track ‘Black Man’ which is also the second track in this album. Pretty much every track on this album is a feel good song and who doesn’t like feeling good right.
Staying with the theme, my favourite song in this album is also a love song, ‘Classic Girl’. I feel this is a perfect song at just the correct length, nothing more, nothing less.
Wow… are we really at the end? Did I really just do a top 10 list without Drizilik? I can never forgive myself if I didn’t give the wonder-boy himself an honorary mention in this list. The Shukubly album narrowly misses out on this list because it was released in 2018. However, I cannot go without hailing it as one of the most authentic Sierra Leone albums in modern times.
If you’ve enjoyed this list, I’ve curated a playlist of my fave tracks from all the albums mentioned. This is just to give you a taster of some amazing sounds from Sierra Leoneans all over the world.