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Okayafrica TV: Freshlyground's New Edge

We caught up with South African music staple Freshlyground at NYC's Gotham Hall to chat briefly about the band's shift in sound and aesthetic from "happy and positive" to surrealist and edgy.


After emerging from a two-year recording hiatus, South African afro-pop staple Freshlyground released their 5th studio album, Take Me To The Dance. This album marked many firsts for the band, which has been a collective for ten years. TMTTD was the first time they recorded with Grammy Award-winning producer and session player Steve Berlin, and it was the first time they took charge of all their own marketing and distribution, partnering with South African retailer Pick n Pay for the release. Freshlyground also brought a new sound and style to the album. When we premiered their music video for the infectious electronic single "Take Me To The Dance," FG fans were surprised by the shift in aesthetic. Instead of what Kyla-Rose Smith describes as "happy and positive and Rainbow Nation," the video for "Take Me To The Dance" is rather dark, surrealist, and edgy.

We caught up with the women of Freshlyground, violinist Kyla-Rose Smith, and lead vocalist Zolani Mahola, on their latest venture to New York City to accept the 'Next Generation' award at the Shared Interest Awards Gala. Freshlyground were dressed to the nines to perform for fellow award winners of the evening, singer, actor and activist Harry Belafonte, and freedom fighter and social justice activist Father Michael Lapsley. Before accepting their award we briefly chatted about the choice to rejuvenate their sound. Catch the full interview below and DL Take Me To The Dance here.

[embed width="640"][/embed]

Producer: Allison Swank

Interviewer: Emma Tammi

Videographer: Henry Jacobson

Editor: Samuel Bathrick

 

Interview
Photo: Shaughn Cooper

Ras Nebyu Is Washington, D.C.'s 'Uptown Lion Walkin'

We talk to the Ethiopian-American rapper about his new album, his Washington Slizzards crew, and the impact of gentrification on D.C.'s music scene.

Ras Nebyu is caught up in the crowd at Howard University's homecoming tailgate, where he can barely walk a block without shaking hands with another person who he knows. Although he didn't attend Howard University, the campus and the surrounding neighborhood forms as much of a part of his narrative as any student.

The Ethiopian-American rapper hails from uptown Washington, D.C., a neighborhood he uses to inform his latest album, Uptown Lion Walkin, a project that pays homage to his ancestral upbringing, as well as his thoughts on making money, love, happiness, and the government.

There's a twoness to Nebyu's identity that allows him to create from a place of historical-cultural reverence while pushing forward new ideas. He was raised in a Rastafarian household by an Ethiopian dad and African-American mother.

Nebyu doesn't hold much back when he speaks, like his music. He preaches about belonging to his community, gentrification and the diaspora. His work serves as a strong soundboard, for not only his Ethiopian community but D.C. natives.

In 2011, Nebyu co-founded the Washington Slizzards, a collective of Ethiopian creatives in D.C. What started as a joke, tacking on "slizz" to everything, became a buzz-worthy crew. Around the same time as the group's inception, he began releasing music into the world.

Nebyu first ventured into making music as a producer, but soon found it frustrating getting artists to use his beats. He decided to begin experimenting with using his own voice and hasn't slowed down since. OkayAfrica caught up with Nebyu to discuss the new album and growing up uptown.

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Audio

Mr Eazi, Duncan Mighty, Afro B & Mayorkun Join DJ Neptune On 'Tear Rubber' Remix

Listen to the "All Star Remix" now.

"Tear Rubber," one of the standouts from DJ Neptune's latest album, Greatness, gets a big remix that'll jump start your week.

The track, which originally featured Mayorkun, now gets a massive revisit featuring Mr Eazi, Duncan Mighty and Afro B.

All three are potent additions to this laid-back and addictive Young John-produced track which was already getting a lot of spins.

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popular

Listen to Sade's Beautiful New Song—'The Big Unknown'

Sade has graced us with her second single of the year—this time for Steve McQueen's highly anticipated film, "Widows."

We now have two new Sade songs to shed thug tears to before the end of 2018, y'all.

The queen herself released a lyric video for her new track, "The Big Unknown." This single will be played during the end credits of Steve McQueen's highly anticipated film, Widows, which is due to be released in theaters November 16, Highsnobiety reports.

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