Urban Nigths

Jain: Africa & Pop

Jain: Africa & Pop

Listen carefully. Africa calls you from the verses of Jain. Pure white magic with black roots. Jain is very talented. No doubt. Her lyrics, her aesthetic and her message can not be more cool. Her music has captivated Europe and Levi’s has chosen her song as the soundtrack of one of their iconic campaigns. But what does this millenial hide to captivate the whole world? Find out before her second album becomes a worldwide success.

 The African Diva

The new pop muse hails from France but her Madagascar roots and her trips around the world give us optimistic melodies in which African culture, tolerance and urban rhythms are claimed.  It’s pure freshness. Her life experiences explain this vision of life and its mix of rhythms and trends.

This French girl was born in Toulousse in 1992. Her place of birth is circumstantial since at a very young age she has no choice but to pack her suitcase and travel continents at breakneck speed. Her mother is from Madagascar and her father from France but for work reasons they moved to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

There, the restless Jain finds rhythms that fascinate her. At only 9 years old, she discovers the secrets of oriental percussion. There is no sound that you can not synthesize in your head that burns with every note that passes near it. When she was 15 years old, she moves to another continent. On this occasion, the spiritual heart of Africa.

Her African experience reaches her very deeply. She started composing her own songs about her love for the environment and its millenary culture.  On her ipod, there is never a lack of songs by Youssouf N’Dour, the Senegalese musician who conquered the world in 7 seconds with Neneh Cherry, and the brilliant Fela Kuti. The girl has good musical taste.

In Brazaville, she meets the Congolese beatmaker Mister Flash. Jain’s passion for music moves him and he decides to teach her how to produce her own rhythms. He gives her his first recording software, a Fruity Loops, and shows her how to promote herself on the defunct MySpace. It is the beginning of a path to success.

Jain´s Creativity

Jain begins working with the software and composing at home. Her intimate lyrics and that serene voice that captivates you, soon attracts attention in the network. Dready, a French manager listens to her and does not hesitate to hire her. Shortly after, the French singer-songwriter Yodelice sponsors her after being captivated by her music on Jain’s MySpace profile.

He invites her to Paris in 2013 to get to know each other and decides to go with her. Jain becomes the exotic note of the French scene. Her popularity increases after her appearance in the well-known musical program of the French television Taratata, where it interprets next to Yodelice a cover of Redemption Song.

 African Soul, French Mind and Global Pop

With all the audience of the program in her pocket, comes her first EP, Hope. A work produced by Yodelice. It includes Come, with more than 70 million visits on YouTube. The success is immediate and lays the foundations of its aesthetics and its music. Electropop elegant, positive, with exotic tones and bases inspired by great African musicians like her beloved Miriam Makeba. Its fusion of French electronica, Anglo-Saxon pop and African rhythms wreaks havoc on minds and waists around the world.

Jain and Yodelice in a Jain´s Facebook

Its fresh aesthetic reminds us of the beatniks of the 60s, although Jain usually dedicates more obvious winks to the 90s and the sixties revival of the last decade of the last century. In the video of Come, she is committed to simplicity, visual games and good vibes for his debut. In spite of its tenderness, her first disc, released in 2015 by Columbia France, encloses very committed messages and was surrounded of certain polemic.

 Jain and Mama Africa

The album is a sincere tribute to Africa and specifically to the activist Miriam Makeba, known as Mama Africa. She is remembered for her unforgettable Pata Pata. Her music was key to understanding the fight for civil rights worldwide. Born in South Africa, her whole life suffered for her ideas. Expelled from the United States and her own country, she resided in Guinea raising the flag against apartheid and only returned when Nelson Mandela managed to win the elections at the beginning of the 90s.

The nod to Miriam Makeba invades songs such as the single Makeba, which has made it recognized around the world and prompted a ridiculous controversy. Many voices accused her of appropriating African rhythms. There was also a racial question as to why shewas singing songs with African rhythms if she is a white. She has defended herself in numerous interviews revealing the roots of her music and the intention to spread the African culture that she has lived since she was a child.

Jain in the heights

The release of the Zaneke LP  reached number 7 on the charts in France and achieved a gold record in February 2016 after selling 500,000 copies. She has been enthusiastic in almost all of Europe. In the United States, Makeba reached a peak of popularity after being jabbed by Jaden Smith, son of Will Smith, on an online radio that achieved a worldwide impact.

 The New Blue Jeans of Pop

This song produced by Yodelice has more than 40 million views on YouTube. The video recorded in South Africa defines Jain: Africanism, freshness and global music.

The world of music surrenders to her quickly. She recieved a nomination to the Victoires de la Musique Awards in 2016 as a revelation artist and also performed on the programs of Jools Holland and Stephen Colbert in 2017.  Her music which redesigns the dance in Dynabeat and does not hide influences of Parisian techno, folk, reggae or pop in her songs. A more cheerful, urban and unconcerned pop is felt in Mr Johnson and Lil Mama, recorded in Jamaica. 

Jain in London. Photo by B. Bosredon

In 2017, Levi´s used her song Makeba for their spot Circles ad, created by the agency FCB West. It celebrates diversity through a choreographed look at different cultures.The fascinating dance moves with the song and the power of the subject in the ad made its mark in the United States.The fascination with Jain was as global as her music.

At the moment, she is recording her second LP. Until then, we will have to wait but we will continue humming for the time being, Makeba, makeba ma che bella, can I get to oooh wee, Makeba, make my body dance for you, Makeba… A chorus that has made Jain the heiress of a long list of muses French electropop from Lizzy Mercier to La Femme.

Watching The Future


Leave a comment
  1. Albert

    Wednesday December 11th, 2019 at 02:41 AM

    What African language is Jain singing in towards the end of Makeba? No one seems to know.

    • davidarias

      Friday January 10th, 2020 at 05:06 AM

      Great question! Maybe it’s a Congo language because she was living over there. In Congo, she as introduced to music.

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