International Picks Of The Week: Ayra Starr, Kes, Tayc, Pheelz, & More

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HOT 97 is a platform that strives for inclusivity and diversity. In this new music column, some of the best international musicians that are impacting listeners here in the U.S will be highlighted each week.

Ayra Starr – “Sability”

Since the release of her EP, 19 & Dangerous, in 2021, Ayra Starr has been dropping back to back bangers that clearly shows the evolution of her sound from being R&B-influenced to Afropop. On Friday (Feb. 10), Ayra Starr debuted her first single of the year, “Sability,” and it is already the No. 1 song on Apple Music’s Top 100 Nigeria chart. The dance floor-ready bop, which was produced by London, samples Congolese legend Awilo Logomba’s 1998 classic “Coupé Bibamba.”

The title of the record portrays the term “sabi girl” which the Nigerian singer popularized. The term refers to a woman who knows herself and her craft. “Oni reason why dem dey call me oloyin / While you beefing, I’m still leading / Kill anything I no fit miss / You no go fit in my shoes / High fashion, Jimmy Choos / Wanna sip some gin and juice / Tomorrow will be okay,” Ayra Starr sings. “Sability” is the follow-up to her hit record “Rush” which recently reached a new peak of No. 153 on the Global Spotify chart with over one million streams as of Feb. 11, according to Chart Data.

Kes feat. Busy Signal and Michael Brun – “HoneyComb”

Trinidad & Tobago soca stars Kes also known as Kes The Band just dropped their latest single “Honey Comb” which features Jamaican dancehall artist Busy Signal and Haitian DJ Michaël Brun. This dancehall inspired track was produced by Brun, whom Kes previously worked with for their 2022 single “Liki Tiki” featuring J. Perry. It arrived ahead of the group’s upcoming album, Man With No Door, which is set to be released later this year.

Kes is gearing up for the return of Trinidad & Tobago Carnival with their IzWE Festival after three years. They’ll be performing on Tuesday, Feb. 14th at Brian Lara Stadium alongside Busy Signal, Brun, Shaggy, Nailah Blackman, Mical Teja, Viking Ding Dong, Ravi B, and many others. 

Tayc – ROOM 96

After a two-year hiatus to focus on himself, Cameroonian-French singer Tayc surprised his fans for Valentine’s Day with a new EP, ROOM 96. The 10-track project opens up with a charming flow, which teases the rest of the songs that drifts into a mixture of Afrobeat rhythm and his slow R&B vocals. As you go through the romantic journey in the EP, Tayc’s versatility is shown in the tracks “Carry Me,” with a tint of gospel and “Success,” with a feel of old school Hip Hop. Set to be released later this month, the single “Encorps” will be accompanied by a music video.

Tayc is globally known for his 2020 hits “Le Temps” and “N’y pense plus,” which were released as part of his last multi-platinum selling album Fleur Froide.

Pheelz Pheelz Good

Nigerian record producer turned singer Pheelz just dropped his EP, Pheelz Good. The eight-track project, which is a combination of Afropop-tinged production and melodic R&B songs, consists of hit singles “Electricity” featuring Davido and “Finesse” featuring BNXN. The album is sort of like a diary that documents the many experiences of the artist. “Tell me is it real life or is it only just a fantasy? / Is this my reality? Am I really this high? / Am I really this fly?,” Pheelz sings in the opening track, “Baller,” as he contemplates his newfound success. “Welcome king of the dancehall / ‘Cause they told me that I couldn’t do it / But I did, full stop / Man, I paid my dues, blood and sweats / Work hard, play harder, nonstop,” he continues.

“Pheelz Like Summer” seems to be the latest single off the EP.

Look out for more each week. What are your thoughts so far?