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Song You Need to Know: Niniola, ‘Omo Rapala’

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The Nigerian singer Niniola reunites with the great producer Sarz on “Omo Rapala,” a propulsive new single released on Friday.

These two artists have a stellar musical history: In 2017, Sarz helped produce Niniola’s “Maradona” and “Sicker,” a pair of gleaming house cuts full of assured singing and compulsively danceable drum programming. “Omo Rapala” pulls from the same playbook, letting Niniola carry the melody while a skeletal, heavily syncopated beat throbs in the background. The only indulgence is a slick instrumental hook that seems designed to inspire popular dance videos.

While Niniola borrows from house music, which often favors long builds over six or seven minutes, she keeps “Omo Rapala” concise and punchy, a tight three minutes and ten seconds. That helps ensure the track can work as well on the radio as it will on a dance floor.

Niniola has been popular in Nigeria since 2014. Since the release of 2017’sThis Is Me, her international profile has been growing rapidly. After “Maradona” became a major chart hit in South Africa, DJ Snake remixed the track, Drake requested it on a live radio program, and Beyoncé interpolated it on “Find Your Way Back.” “Sicker,” which is speedier and maybe even stickier than “Maradona,” also earned the attention of Major Lazer, who included the track in a mix dedicated to afrobeats.

As more music from Nigeriagains commercial acceptance in the U.S., all this international attention puts Niniola into a strong position as she works on her next album.

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