Osa North Credit: Julien Carr

Osa Obaseki, aka rapper-singer Osa North, grew up in Uptown, but in 2006 his parents sent him to live with his aunt and uncle in the capital of Nigeria’s Edo State, Benin City. He was 11 when he arrived, and he lived there for five years, soaking up Nigerian culture as he came of age—he took a particular liking to Afrobeat. North returned to Chicago in 2011, and within a year he’d recorded his first rap song, working with his younger brother. Since launching his music career, he’s been keen to enrich his growing catalog with percussion and melodies borrowed from Nigerian pop. On his second EP of the year, June’s 5 Boys 3 Cars, he bounces between two types of songs: straightforward rap tracks with trap drums and hard-boiled verses, and joyous Afrobeat-inspired cuts with sun-saturated synths, bubbly syncopated rhythms, and lighter-than-air singing. The Afrobeat material seems to be winning out—on the title track, North’s slippery vocals play off a simple, glassy synth melody and a minimal dancehall beat that supercharges the song’s summertime glow.   v