There’s so much music out there that it’s hard for even the most loyal fans to stay up with their favourite artists or what’s new and hot right now. That’s why we’ve created #BumpThis – a daily series that features the one song you need to listen to, every day. Don’t say we never did anything for you.

It took one single for Barry Jhay’s vocal ability to become apparent. Sung mostly in Yoruba, “Aiye”, his official debut, was one of the biggest crossover songs of 2018. But anyone who felt the Surulere-born singer would be under the pressure of heightened expectations need not have worried.

After a year of sleeper hits, Barry makes his claim to the summer with “Melanin”, an upbeat celebration of black beauty. It is a testament to his strengths – Barry flexes his vocal chords like we know he can – that also shows how fluid he can get.

“I’m in love with this African woman, I don’t know”, Barry seems totally bewildered by this woman who could be from South Africa, closer home in Ghana, or down east in Tanzania.

Barry glides on production that is lush and celebratory by Tee-Y Mix. Beach clubs & bars will play this one for a while this summer. But what makes it also fit for a personal listen and gives it replay value is that Barry’s songwriting asks to follow his lead, in a matter that reminds one of 9ice and another of his influences, Chronixx.

It’s not a mix that you’d expect of someone you’d consider a street pop artist – which makes sense because he isn’t – and “Melanin” is easy proof that Barry can insert his love of Yoruba tradition and panegyric lyrics into modern pop and dancehall music.

“Barry Back”, his debut body of work, will be released in December 2019, and if his recent releases are anything to go by, it will be a rich update of traditional pop and the indigent culture that has inspired it for decades.

He’s always had big shoes to fill – and there’s no reason to think Barry Jhay won’t.

Stream Barry Jhay’s “Melanin” here.


Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.