The three musicians, Shalipopi from Nigeria, Manana from South Africa and Joshua Baraka from Uganda are the latest additions to the Radar Africa list.

Spotify’s Radar program’s objective is to bring rising talent to the forefront globally, showcasing what is next in sound, and lifting artists by helping them expand their global reach on their path to superstardom.

Speaking about the trio’s selection, Phiona Okumu, Spotify’s Head of Music, Sub-Saharan Africa said: “This cohort represents some of the continent’s most promising artists. As African artists continue to rise globally, Spotify is excited to continue playing its part in the rise and discovery of local artists, showcasing their diverse talents to the world.”

In this interview, the three speak about the program and the influences that shaped their music.

How would you describe your musical style and what are some of the influences that have shaped your sound?

Shalipopi: My music is experimental music or what I call Afro-talk. It’s just my own type of sound. 

Manana: I would say I make alternative RnB, with a singer-songwriter twist. 

My influences are a combination of training from my upbringing, harmonies from choir school, chord progressions from jazz studies and then the rest is from hearing RnB and neo-soul music from my brother’s CD collection.

Baraka: I’d describe my musical style as an interpretation of what I feel at the time I’m making that particular piece of music. 

Basically, my music is who I am so I’d describe my music as another version of me. I’ve been influenced by a lot of gospel musicians because I grew up in a staunch Christian family. 

As I grew up and got access to more genres of music, I became obsessed with Bob Marley, Chronixx, jazz music in general and every RnB artist I could find.

I’ve also been influenced by Ugandan artists like Radio from the duo Radio and Weasel, Maurice Kirya and Elly Wamala.

How does it feel to be one of this year’s Spotify RADAR artists? 

Manana: Feels good. It’s a privilege, I’m very grateful. It is reassuring and encouraging to see that the work we’re putting in is appreciated.

Baraka: It feels really good to be chosen to be a part of this year’s RADAR artists. I feel like a part of something bigger than myself. 

It’s a step in the right direction and vision which is to shine light on Uganda and East Africa in general.

Shalipopi: It feels great. It’s an opportunity for more people to meet me at the front. This is just the beginning.

Artists often face unique challenges. What has surprised you most about the music industry so far?  What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned on your musical journey?

Shalipopi: Nothing surprises me about the music game – I’m enjoying it. The big lesson is not to give up. Just do what you’re doing and listen to the people close to you. 

Baraka: What surprised me the most about the music industry is how different it is from whatever you see on TV and the internet. 

It’s not as smooth and easy as it’s made to appear. My biggest lesson so far is that you need to show up regardless of how you feel and do what you need to do.

That is the price for growth.

Manana: I don’t think I’ve had any surprises. But I think the struggle I had to deal with is comparison. 

I think social media has given us access to parts of the world that previously weren’t easily accessible, but has also exposed us to this feeling of inadequacy that maybe isn’t warranted.

I think focusing on what I’m doing and not trying to make music that would be viral or “challenge-friendly” has been my biggest lesson.

Looking ahead, what are you most excited about in your musical journey?  

Manana: Growth. Every year I start with that being my goal. I’m not sure what that looks like exactly but I know consistent growth has no limit. So that’s the hope for the future.

Baraka: I’m excited for the day Uganda is recognised on the music scene globally because we have a lot of talents, tujja tujja. 

For myself, I’m excited to share all the new music I have been working on and some serious work coming up. I’m excited about where all this journey is headed.

Shalipopi:  I’m excited about everything because this is my dream. Doing music back to back, I’ve been doing music since I was a child so everything about it is exciting.

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