Summer Wave: Mista Silva is an afroswing pioneer

We launch our new Summer Wave series with Mista Silva, the South London singer whose been fusing afrobeats and UK rap way before afroswing.

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The sound of the summer is a coveted thing. Sometimes it’s one song, sometimes it’s an artist, this year it looks like it’s going to be a whole movement. A heady combination of grime, afrobeats, UK rap and more, the sound of summer 2018 goes by a couple of names, but whether your call it afroswing or afrobashment, the sound remains the same. Now that the weather’s finally warming up, we present our pick of the UK’s finest talent; this is Summer Wave. 

What better way to launch our Summer Wave series than with a relative veteran of the scene, Mista Silva. Hailing from Brockley, Mista Silva has been forging his unique combination of British rap and afrobeats since 2011, working with everyone from Donaeo to Afro B in the process.

Earlier this month he dropped his new EP Out of the Darkest, a more refined, even experimental take on the afro-tinged pop and rap of his earlier work. Throughout the EP Silva flirts with everything from garage to UK drill, taking in the expansive sounds of the UK underground and incorporating them into his infectious sound. While there are subtle production and undeniable hooks throughout, tracks like ‘Body’ and ‘Tic Tall’ seem destined to take over the clubs this summer. We caught up with Mista Silva to talk about the project, why his friends call him ‘the energy god’ and why he’s part of this year’s Summer Wave.

How has the audience for afrobeats changed since you’ve been making music?
Yeah man, I think the audience has grown rather than changed. As the sound is more universal these days, its started to attract audiences all over the world, which is making it interesting. You know people always like to hear fresh sounds and afrobeats has that freshness about it that everyone seems to love right now.

Why do you think there’s been this sudden explosion of interest in Afro-influenced music in the UK?
To be fair, I feel that the industry is waking up to the sound and realising there is a huge audience for it in the UK. From the success on the mainstream charts of Fuse ODG to the underground heat from myself & the likes of Kwamz & Flava, Sona, Timbo, Jaij Hollands and many more since 2011, when the UK industry was kind of static, Afro-influenced music has been killing it. Back then I feel labels and industry folk didn’t realise the scope of the sound and  thought it was a phase but we are here today, the growth has been amazing to witness

I also feel those acts, and their actions have provided the inspiration and catalyst for what we see happening today, with almost every artist having some form of Afro-influenced music in their catalogue. Younger generations are growing up listening to these vibes and in return are making their own Afro-influenced music which brought through acts like Kojo Funds & J Hus.

Above all it’s the vibe of the sound which is a winner: it’s so wavy, and it has a variety of tempos across it which makes it unique compared to other sounds.

Did these changes have an impact on the way you approached your new EP?
I wouldn’t say the changes impacted my approach, but I would say it gave me more assurance in what I am making for the mixtape because the changes showed me that the UK actually loves a bit of Afro-influenced music.

What’s your favourite track on the project and why?
I would say most likely say ‘Tic Tall’ because it has that original energy and sound which I first emerged on to the scene. It’s a very high energy track, and I am an energy man, especially when performing. Friends call me the ‘energy god’.

How did you get involved with Donae’o?
I’ve followed Donae’o from a young age. I look at him as a big brother in this music industry – he has had so many hits, and he is so versatile. I got involved with him when he reached out to me during my emergence on to the scene in 2011; he featured me on two of his singles, and that started the relationship between us.

You’ve spoken before about being into garage, is that a sound you’re thinking of exploring more?
I grew up listening to those sounds, but I don’t think for now I will be venturing into that sound. As I’m very tied to my African roots & heritage, I really want to be more successful with the Afro sound.

What does this summer look like for Mista Silva?
This summer is very busy with performances across the UK and Europe lined up, it should be a great summer. I also plan on doing my headline show &  potentially a world tour of some sort.

What’s your ultimate summer anthem?
My ultimate summer anthem very difficult to choose as I have a few but I would say most likely Sean Paul – ‘Like Glue’ or Sarkodie ft Castro ‘Adonai.’

Featured image: Mista Silva wears Coat and Trousers Blood Brother.

Mista Silva’s new EP Out of the Darkest is out now.

Creative Direction O.G Studios
Art Director & Stylist Olivier Geraghty
Photographer Ioannis Koussertari
Grooming Nicki Buglewicz
Fashion Assistant Terina Tamati
Graphics Tino Mara

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