Express Yourself

Zezi Ifore’s ultimate guide to alternative listening

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Zezi Ifore
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Zezi Ifore

Your audio diet should be every bit as varied as the one you eat.

We’re in an exciting era where pop culture is being turned on its head and reinvented before our very eyes. When I started Palm Wine Club (my Africa-focussed arts show on NTS Radio), the word ‘afrobeats’ was often met with a blank stare. Nowadays, it’s bonafide pop music with leading lights like Wizkid selling out the o2 and collaborating with everyone from Nike to Major Lazer. In publishing, books like Slay in Your Lane and the forthcoming Don’t Touch My Hair are shifting the gaze and shaking the table. The narrow scope of what was mainstream is widening, things are changing, dinosaurs are falling and, while some of the major broadcasters’ programming is yet to fully catch up with this cultural shift, apps like TuneIn mean that amazing, relevant audio – that which is truly reflective of today – is but a swipe away.

Your audio diet should be as varied as the one you eat, because new sounds and perspectives stimulate new ideas and fresh thinking. Feast on some of my favourites here…

For every conceivable circumstance… 

NTS Radio

NTS Radio will have you covered. With a 2000+ strong community of artists and DJs - not to mention studios in London, LA, Manchester and Shanghai - the cult station, which is home to my very own Palm Wine Club Show (Saturday afternoons - ideal to tidy up to!) more than lives up to its strapline of “DON’T ASSUME”. The station has a show for all seasons, all moods and all grooves. Among my many many favourites are Martelo’s bi-weekly jaunt into global bass, Fatima’s dreamy and delirious Maple Syrup Waffle Show and the sublime Black Classical (their History of Spirtual Jazz series is pure heaven).

For when you want to be on the pulse:

Born ‘n’ Bread

Speaking of NTS, I have to shout out the fabulous Born ‘n’ Bread girls: their bi-weekly show is a riot of joy. Peckham’s answer to the Spice Girls, this creative collective of childhood friends define what I find exciting about the modern world: multi-tasking, totally DIY and having a blast. They make ‘zines, throw wicked parties and are excellent DJs. No staid playlists here, they mix everything from Nineties R’n’B classics to rap and afrobeats and are often joined by the great and good of the underground including rising stars Slow Thai to Cosima. Press play and then update your playlists pronto!

For when you’re in need of a top tastemaker:

Josey Rebelle

Josey Rebelle’s show on Rinse FM makes up my favourite two hours of radio every week: it is the ideal way to spend your Sunday. Each episode, Josey takes us on a musical odyssey of electronic music, from soul and rare groove to house with jungle and garage and whatever else she’s feeling. Despite being an internationally acclaimed DJ (she’s currently touring the US having just opened for Kraftwerk at Dimensions - no biggie) she approaches her show with the thrilled delight of a bedroom enthusiast: her joy is infectious and totally wonderful. Treat your ears, you’re worth it babes!

For bookworms:

About Race with Reni Eddo Lodge

About Race is a brilliant podcast by author and journalist Reni Eddo Lodge, which continues the conversation started in her best-selling book, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. Excellently produced by Renay Rich, who deserves shouting out for this masterclass in quality storytelling and journalism, and featuring interviews with Riz Ahmed, Akala and Dianne Abbott, this series is searing and insightful as the book that preceded it. Bravo Reni!

For culture vultures:


Stance is the culture show of dreams, presented by transatlantic pals Heta Fell and Chystal Genesis (whom are based in San Francisco and London respectively). Shining a spotlight on amazing artists, authors, musicians and culture-makers from around the world, their truly global outlook to arts and culture is refreshing and vital. And they consistently invite amazing guests on to the show, too, from the names you know (Kaytranada, Kelis, Jessie Ware) to those you need to (Inua Ellams, Phoebe Collings-James, Li Maizi). Essentially, every episode leaves me hungry for the next – I love, love, love this podcast!

For fashion addicts:

Omondi Presents: The Cutting Room Floor

Recho Omondi is the cult New York fashion designer behind this brilliant and illuminating podcast, which aims to demystify and unpick the fashion industry. This insiders’ look also features fascinating interviews with legends such as Bethann Hardison (activist and pioneering model) and Julie Zerbo, founder of The Fashion Law. Hit subscribe to claim your seat on the FROW pronto.

For avid people watchers:

Everyone Else

If, like me, you’re obsessed with human nature and people – what they’re thinking, feeling, doing – then this is the podcast for you. Everyone Else tells the stories of strangers: their hopes and dreams, lessons and fears. The deceptively simple format of ‘just letting people say whatever they want’, according to producer Eva Kryziak, gives rise to amazing tales that you sometimes can’t quite believe you’re hearing. The ‘Amalfi’s Bastet’, which features an 80–year-old grandma’s expletive-filled look back on the lessons learned over a long life is incredible. I don’t know how they do it, but it’s magic. 

For fun-loving listeners:

Thirst Aid Kit

Ah, Thirst Aid Kit. I want Bim Adewumni and Nichole Perkins to host everything going forward, be it the news, a late night chat show, culture show… EVERYTHING. Why? Because these amazing writers are two of my favourite, favourite voices and I’d welcome their perspective on every conceivable subject, whether it be gastronomy to golf. Until then, their brilliant podcast Thirst Aid Kit – a cerebral and hilarious dissection of lust – more than scratches my itch. The Chris Evans episode, in which they speak to Captain America himself, is a favourite of mine, but, in all honesty, it’s all solid gold. Do you know what a drabble is? No? Then listen and find out this instant – you’ll be squealing on the tube. I promise!

Image: Ollie Trenchard