The independent record label Empire has brought nineteen acts from six African nations together on one album and is set to share it with the world in less than two weeks. The compilation, titled Where We Come From (Vol. 1), which arrives November 30th, first started to take shape at a writing camp in San Fransisco following Empire’s “The New Africa” showcase in March at SXSW. After signees including Fireboy DML, Bnxn (fka Buju), and Wande Coal took the stage in Texas, they jetted to California to collaborate at the label’s headquarters.
“Throughout the whole process, I felt very impacted and learned a lot,” Bnxn tells Rolling Stone. In just a few short years, the young singer has made a name for himself with some of Afrobeats’ catchiest songs, like Wizkid’s “Mood,” Pheelz’s “Finesse,” and his own “Outside.”
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“It’s something that I would like to do again,” Bnxn says of the camp. “Getting to meet amazing songwriters/producers who you’ve heard about, that are excited to work with you, and who love your music is priceless.” Some prolific producers pulled into the project include Chicago’s Hitmaka, Haitian-American Sak Pase, Lagos’s Magicsticks, and Atlanta’s OGParker.
While new bonds were forged, Afrobeats veteran Wande Coal says the familiarity among the performers also inspired collaboration: “Everybody on this album is a family. We’re all involved in each other’s lives which makes it easy to bring out your best self when creating music.” Coal and Bnxn, for example, released a song together this summer.
Coal, who debuted his first album in 2009 at age 22, is one of the artists on the album whose career has had the most longevity, though the camp offered him his first opportunity to write music in the US. He’s proud of the new generation of artists Where We Come From represents. “I appreciate all of the artists on the album, everyone is different but the combination of great sounds is magic,” he says. “Everyone on the album has their own strengths, everybody brought their A-game.”
Three singles have already been released from the project: Coal’s “Umbrella,” Kizz Daniel’s “Cough (Odo),” and Asake and Tiwa Savage’s “Loaded,” which was not previously announced as a part of the compilation.
“Working with my Nigerian sister Tiwa on ‘Loaded’ was a blessing,” says Asake. “We are survivors, the best at what we do, thriving without a doubt.”
Where We Come From (Vol. 1) tracklist:
Kuami Eugene and Group Chat – I Feel Nice (Produced by Kuami Eugene, MOG Beatz)
Kizz Daniel – Cough (Produced Blaizebeat, Philkeys)
Wande Coal & Tolani – Slow Motion (Produced by OG Parker, Tee Romano, Sam E Lee Jones)
LAX – Bank Alert (Produced by Dro Phil Mango, Mike Robbins)
Kidi & Bnxn – Dance for Me (Produced by Hitmaka, AyeYP)
Wande Coal – Umbrella (Produced by Sak Pase, Kheilstone, Say-Zay)
Bad Boy Timz – Faya (Produced by Semzi)
Navy Kenzo & Fireboy – Hold On (Produced by Nahreel)
June Freedom featuring LAX – Thing For You (Produced by Dro, Phil Mango)
Olamide – Wound Someone (Produced by Ezkeez Productions)
Black Sherif – Run (Produced by Joker)
Bnxn featuring Leil – The Middle (Produced by Hitmaka, Tenroc)
Cheque – Off White (Produced by Happie, Frankie Bash, BAK, KDE)
Yaw Tog – Ring My Phone (Produced by Kendi Beats)
Asake & Tiwa Savage – Loaded (Produced by Magicsticks)
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