Juls – Sounds Of My World (Deluxe Edition) (Album)

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Juls – Sounds Of My World (Deluxe Edition) (Album)

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“I would say music is a fruit of life,” Juls tells Apple Music. “There are many fruits of life that we learn to take in, and help us, in one way or another, to either get by or stay in a good place. Music is definitely one.” On his debut album Sounds of My World, the UK-based Ghanaian producer, DJ and multi-instrumentalist recruits a fresh, colourful batch of rising artists and trusted collaborators (including Wizkid, Sauti Sol, Jaz Karis, Fireboy DML and Niniola). “After [2019 mixtape] Colour, I started making new beats as soon as it was done,” he says. “I had a studio built from scratch. And that’s my world, where I discover new sounds. This is an expression of all my mind is going through.” The album forms a dazzling love letter to traditional sounds from Africa—from Ghanaian highlife to South African amapiano via silky-smooth Afrobeat—all filtered though innovative global lenses. “I always want it to be different to the next and the next and the next,” he says of his thirst for bold experimentation. “I don’t want any particular sound, because then I’ll feel like I’ve already done it before.” Here, Juls takes us through his kaleidoscopic album, track by track.

“Close to Me” (feat. Wizkid, Agent Sasco [Assassin] & JAEL)
“This is dictating the vibe: We’ll start off slow, and then pick it up. Jaël opens the album; he’s an amazingly diverse artist from the Moluccan Islands, but based in the Netherlands. We met in Amsterdam and connected, in the sense that we’ve been bouncing ideas via emails and WhatsApp for a year. I wanted to create a song that cuts across lovers rock, dub reggae and Afrobeat, with some old and new-school elements of those sounds at the same time. With this one, Sasco took the lead with the sound and gives it that bounce—JAEL, too, but he also brings soulful feeling to the song.”

“Summer in the Ends” (feat. Jaz Karis & George the Poet)
“I’ve been wanting to make more house records, because I’m a fan of Bucie, Black Motion, Black Coffee, and so much Afro-house from South Africa. I feel like this is an early example of the music I’ll be making in the next few years: more uptempo, to get people dancing. I made [2020 single] ‘Soweto Blues’ with Jaz Karis, and anytime we link up, it’s magic.”

“Makossa Riddim” (feat. Haile)
“The title is an indirect tribute to [Cameroonian musician] Manu Dibango, who released a song called ‘Soul Makossa’—which is a genre of music from Africa that has this certain groove. So my guitarist came in and played a similar groove, I’ve flipped and given it an amapiano sound, then Haile came in, adding a Caribbean vibe. So, if you listen closely, you’ll realise so many cultures that can relate to this song.”

“Love Me” (feat. Niniola)
“It gives a Kuti-family-type vibe—I can definitely see something like this being played live at the [New Afrika] Shrine. Niniola is someone I’ve wanted to work with for a very, very long time; I knew she’s the only person that can bring this energy.”

“My Size” (feat. King Promise, DarkoVibes & Joey B)
“These are two of Ghana’s greatest exports. Joey B has been around for a minute; he’s one of our most prolific rappers. And DarkoVibes is a part of [Ghanaian rap group] La Même Gang. He’s been very experimental in his sound—he’s tried trap [music], and the trippy stuff, but he also loves to do traditional stuff and speaks in his dialect, which is also my local dialect, Ga. That’s the language that people from the capital speak.”

“Intentionally” (feat. Fireboy DML)
“I was trying to do some stuff for Fireboy’s [APOLLO] album, but we didn’t get it in on time. Things were swamped then—we met about two years ago, at Wizkid’s concert at The O2. I made this in a flat with [Ghanaian DJ and producer] Guiltybeatz, and his guitarist. We were working on a bunch of beats. And I got to finishing this one for Fireboy, after the guitarist laid some chords and riffs on there.”

“Wish You” (feat. Bas & Mannywellz)
“I’ve noticed, based on stats and numbers, that I have a huge American fanbase. So with this track, I decided to experiment more and tap into a sound that I started listening to quite frequently during the pandemic. I made a project with [Seattle producer and DJ] Sango called Fufu & Grits. He introduced me to a lot of baile funk and funk carioca, and I introduced him to amapiano and a few other sounds from my side.”

“Wicked” (feat. Knucks, kadiata & Sam Wise)
“This track continues the energy in terms of that uptempo baile funk vibe, but I’ve added some garage elements to it. This track is bouncy, it’s youthful and quirky, and even though a lot of the young kids like it, I didn’t want to do the whole TikTok thing—that just comes across as forced. In my opinion, these three rappers are the future of rap music in the UK. They’re all about the fashion, having fun and good vibes. That’s what ‘Wicked’ is all about.”

“Alarm” (feat. Prettyboy D-O & Suspect OTB)
“I was working with Prettyboy D-O in the studio and he starts freestyling; everything he says on this record is freestyled. After, I was thinking, ‘Who can I slap on here from the UK that would give a similar energy and spirit?’ It had to be Suspect. But he took forever to send his verse; he wanted to attack it perfectly.”

“Mare” (feat. Sauti Sol)
“I went to Kenya at the beginning of the year for a show. And afterwards, Sauti Sol invited me to their home for such an amazing experience. They’re very animated and fun to work with; their energy was just great throughout. It’s probably the best session I had making the album. I’ve tried something a little bit different, to give a reggae feel to it, like old-school Shabba Ranks and Super Cat-style.”

“Love Language” (feat. Mayra Andrade)
“A friend in Ghana told me: ‘There’s this lady from Cape Verde, but stayed in Cuba and Portugal and France—she’s so eclectic with her sound, and has this amazing voice!’ And that’s how I was introduced to Mayra Andrade’s music. I shot her a couple of ideas, and I don’t think they pushed her. But when I sent this, she was like, ‘Yeah, this is it!’”

“Say You Love Me” (feat. A2, Karun & Xenia Manasseh)
“This track started with just the girls, Xenia Manasseh and Karun, from Kenya. Even before my session with Sauti Sol, I was intent on making a connection with East Africa on this album. I was really inspired by Sade at the time, trying to get into a zone by playing with some loops and drums, and sent this song over. We ended up forming a group chat to work over ideas, and I was expecting them to send back separate verses. They surprised me with a duet and their vocals bouncing off each other.”

“Melly Melly” (feat. Oxlade)
“Oxlade is my little bro. I’m very proud of where he’s at right now. He’s a champion. He was on Colour, and ‘Angelina’ did so well, I really wanted him again. I was looking for a bit of a highlife bounce but not with an artist from Ghana; the Ghanaian song had to be the perfect song—and that’s ‘My Size’. But Oxlade ended up adding a bounce to this that’s reminiscent of [traditional] Igbo music, in a way.”

“M.O.O.D” (feat. Kojo Funds)
“For this song I had to stick it on Kojo: ‘This is the beat I’m working on, there’s no excuse,’ because he’d been ducking me for a while. I love making songs for the ladies, and I think Kojo should make more, too, because the music lives forever when it’s on in the dance.”

“Chance” (feat. Projexx & Tay Iwar)
“Tay Iwar and I have loads of songs, hopefully you’ll be hearing more soon. He’s an incredible artist, writer and producer, one of Nigeria’s best-kept secrets, and he needs to be celebrated more. He dictated the road for the classic we made, ‘True Love’, for Wizkid’s [Made in Lagos] album. This track was actually made before ‘True Love’, or at the same time as I was making records back-to-back with both Tay Iwar and Projexx. Our first together in 2016 is a record called ‘December’—it’s a fan favourite—and we’ve been friends and in touch ever since.”

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