Petite Noir’s Noirwave Playlist

With his sophomore LP MotherFather out now, Yannick Ilunga shares 20 essential tracks from the musical and cultural movement he coined.

Petite Noir’s Noirwave Playlist

With his sophomore LP MotherFather out now, Yannick Ilunga shares 20 essential tracks from the musical and cultural movement he coined.

Words: Mike LeSuer

April 18, 2023

Prior to the unveiling of MotherFather last week, it had been four years since Petite Noir last released music under the moniker—a particular blend of art-pop pulling from his South African roots which he logically describes as “noirwave.” Equally importantly, it’s been four years since he’s been heavily implementing the term within and outside the context of his own music, sharing mixes and speaking to the term’s significance far beyond the reach of music categorization.

With MotherFather, Noir continues the conversation by not only fine-tuning his own sound but drawing artists he sees as flying under the noirwave banner into the fold. Most notably, Zambian rapper/singer Sampa the Great appears on the record’s second track, “Blurry,” while Floridian jazz-fusion trumpeter Theo Croker guests later on the tracklist, proving just how broad the term’s reach is in both genre and setting.

Before moving on to the next chapter of Petite Noir, Yannick Ilunga is continuing to establish the musical and cultural movement that is noirwave by compiling yet another tracklist of recent faves which fit the bill. From category-defying pop by the likes of Yves Tumor and Young Fathers to the beatdown intensity of Zulu, check out the playlist he created for us below. You can also stream or purchase MotherFather here.

Reinel Bakole, “Sørry”
I love Reinel. She has one of the most beautiful voices that I’ve heard in a while, and has an amazing visual aesthetic to match. The energy is definitely unmatched.

Damso, “Y. 2 Diamants”
Damso is currently my favorite artist right now. His way of storytelling is by far the best I’ve heard in a while. The production of this song is right up my alley, too—mellow yet beautiful, and moody.

Pierre Kwenders feat. Anaiis, “Heartbeat”
Pierre Kwenders is a good friend and amazing artist. Love his energy and vibe. He’s part of the amazing collective Moonshine.

Hamza, “Fake Friends”
Hamza is one of my favorite rappers. I listened to him a lot when I went through hard times. He just does it all with ease. I like this song in particular because I’ve been there!

Hamza, “Codéine 19”
I love the production on this song—the strings mixed with the rapping and the beats. One of my favorite tracks from his new album, too.

Lous and the Yakuza, “Monsters”
I went through a break up and I had this song on repeat. It taught me how a song could hold so much memory and feeling.

Aya Nakamura feat. Tiakola, “Cadeau”
This is a fun song and a family fave. My family loves this song, and we all love Aya Nakamura. Who doesn’t?

Zulu, “Where I’m From”
My favorite band right now. Bold, hard sounds—they keep pushing the envelope. A true wonder of the hardcore/metal scene!

Ballista feat. Kat Moss, “Law of the Jungle”
I listen to this song all the time. I love the way they do their thing. In this song in particular, the draw card was the part where Kat comes in. She’s a proper powerhouse!

Fally Ipupa, “Alliance”
Fally is just thé greatest Congolese Rumba artist right now. Hands down. This is my favorite song from his new album, Formule 7.

Yves Tumor, “Heaven Surrounds Us Like a Hood”
Yves is another hero of mine—one of the best to do it! I want to be like Yves when I grow up. This is my fave off his new album.

Cruel Santino, “Tapenga”
I love Cruel Santino from Nigeria. He’s definitely pushing the limits with this song and with his new album.

Young Fathers, “Tell Somebody”
I love Young Fathers—one of the greatest of all time. This is a go-to from their new album. I love the vocals and the way it rises in energy. Always makes me feel good when I listen to it.

Petite Noir feat. Sampa the Great, “Blurry”
Taken from my new album, MotherFather, this is a song that I will forever hold close to my heart.

Sampa the Great, “Never Forget”
My favorite from the latest Sampa the Great record. I love everything about this track, and Sampa obviously delivers with the bars.

W.I.T.C.H. feat. Sampa the Great, “Avalanche of Love”
Love Zamrock! It’s a parent genre and a massive influence, and it’s really good to have the legendary W.I.T.C.H. releasing music again!

Danny Brown & JPEGMAFIA, “Steppa Pig”
A banger off the new album. I’ve collaborated with Danny before, and it seems like he just keeps getting better and better. The production on this is insane. Beautiful.

Moonshine, “Off-White”
I love the moonshine mixtape Thayer released earlier this year. This song is produced by the great Vanyfox. An amazing producer from Angola based in France. Def a big fave, and it sounds huge on a dance floor.

Petite Noir, “777”
This is one of my favorite songs that I’ve ever written. I played guitar on it, and Thomas Pridgen (ex–Mars Volta) played the drums. The guitars came out really nice.

Dani Bumba, “Rosa” (Remix)
Great artist from Paris of Congolese origin. This remix took his sound to a new level. Love it!