Sure, the rest of the world likes One Dance, a slinky number by Drake that was streamed more than 245m times in its debut week. But the song has special resonance in Toronto, where Drake is from. Used to musicians who move south and assume an American persona, Torontonians like that he flaunts his roots. His latest record “Views” name-checks local neighbourhoods and the album cover features a moody shot of him atop the CN Tower. Once dismissed as so dull that it was like New York if New York were run by the Swiss, Toronto feels suddenly, surprisingly cool.
Fans awaiting Davido’s second album have a new single to tide them over. Back 2 Back blends African drums, R&B and butt-grinding hip hop, a recipe that has turned Davido into an Afropop sensation. His genre-melding music, sung in English, pidgin and an assortment of Nigerian languages, is getting hips swinging in bars from Abidjan to Atlanta. “Life is all about the money,” he preaches in “Fans Mi”, a collaboration with American rapper Meek Mill possessed of undeniably universal appeal. Little wonder that Sony just signed Davido in the biggest international deal ever to come out of Africa.
Kartika Jahja’s fiery punk song, Tubuhku Otoritasku (“My Body, My Authority”), has struck a chord in Indonesia, which is engaged in debate about violence against women after a girl was gang-raped in April. The lyrics came to Jahja (above) a few years ago when she was travelling alone on a bus. “I was scared for my life,” she says. “How was I dressed? Provocatively. But why should I have to question what I’m wearing?” So she wrote the song, and made a video featuring women with slogans like “My Body, My Rules” scrawled across their torsos. When she read about the gang-rape, she started a social-media campaign to get the government to do more to stop sexual violence. The campaign went viral.
At the heart of Japan’s biggest celebrity story of the year is Becky, a TV star whose wholesome image took a hit in January when news of her affair with married singer Enon Kawatani broke. Becky’s career tanked while Kawatani’s took off after he milked the situation with a hit album Ryouseibai (“Both Sides Are at Fault”). Becky has since followed the unwritten rules of the notoriously sexist entertainment industry by issuing a public mea culpa to Kawatani’s wife, the first step toward career rehabilitation. Her former lover, meanwhile, prefers to let his music do the talking.
For his 70th birthday, Germany’s only real rock star Udo Lindenberg released perhaps the best album of his 45-year career. A poetic review of a life of ups and downs, Stärker als die Zeit (“Stronger Than Time”) has been in the top ten for months. Lindenberg is just as into peace, human rights and social justice as he is sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. When Germany was divided, he wrote “Special Train to Pankow”, which dreams of an open border. When the wall came down, he became the first West German rock musician to tour East Germany.