EMPIRE Presents: Where We Come From, Vol. 01

Various Artists

EMPIRE Presents: Where We Come From, Vol. 01

In March 2022, after premiering a showcase dubbed The New Africa at the SXSW multimedia conference, record label and entertainment powerhouse EMPIRE assembled some of Africa’s finest singers, songwriters and producers at a writing camp in San Francisco. The result is Where We Come From, Vol. 01, a 15-track compilation featuring both EMPIRE and independent stars from across the continent, from Wande Coal, Tiwa Savage and Olamide to Navy Kenzo, Fireboy DML and Kizz Daniel. The sounds traverse east, west and south of the continent, incorporating drill (Black Sherif’s “Run”), amapiano (Kuami Eugene’s “I Feel Nice”), trap (Cheque’s “Off White”) and Afrobeats—to make for a project that celebrates the pursuit of pleasure while navigating between love and lust. “It’s the combination of the talent, really,” Nigerian singer-songwriter BNXN fka Buju tells Apple Music of the experience. “I love how everybody let each other flow. Nobody was trying to control any narrative. Nobody was trying to control any style or sounds. Everybody wanted to be fluid and share their ideas, and it was really welcoming.” Below, four of the album’s contributors talk through their tracks. “Thing for You” (June Freedom feat. L.A.X) June Freedom: “What inspired the song is pretty much the environment we were in and the vibes in the camp. It was a lot of high energy. It felt communal. It was a lot of people going back and forth between different studios and different rooms, and it just felt like a party vibe. The song's about someone that makes you feel happy to be around—party vibes, enjoyment, just turning up with a group of friends that you love. I think that this is actually my first take on the Afrobeats traditional production. I’m usually very experimental with my sounds, and this one’s like, ‘OK, let’s take a crack at it.’ This feels more mainstream, more of what’s current. L.A.X—his energy, the way he flows, his cadences, everything is just, it’s one of a kind, man. This just made sense, the way it went. It flowed so naturally.” “Off White” (Cheque) Cheque: “This was really inspired by [the producer] Happie—he was wearing off-white shoes, and I was living in a lavish lifestyle at that time. I was in San Francisco, so it just fit along with what I was doing. The meaning of the song is just basic lifestyle—looking fresh all the time, looking fly. It’s just basically looking fresh, stylish, confident.” “Bank Alert” (L.A.X) L.A.X: “It was just me in the studio vibing about making money and just spending money and just having fun and just spending money on a girl. It was actually me trying to create music that is like Afropop that can work both internationally and locally.” “In the Middle” (Leil & BNXN fka Buju) BNXN fka Buju: “‘In the Middle’ was actually an on-the-spot thought—an idea that came up when [American producer] Hitmaka played me the beat. The main idea of the song was trying to find a middle ground between two lovers, or two situations, in some sense. One time you want somebody, but you want them to understand that you’re still not grounded for a relationship or whatever. And then you want you guys to have a middle ground to how to make your thing work. It’s an amazing song, very lovely and sensual. I was flexing my R&B skills, and the beat has a little bit of groove to it, so it feels like you’re in a slow-dancing party. It’s an amazing body of work.”

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