Africa In Your Earbuds


Download a personal and eclectic Africa In Your Earbuds mixtape from Saul Williams.

Saul Williams is at a point where he can reflect on over a decade of impassioned contributions to the many "mediums" he works in — from open-mic escapades with the Nuyorican Poets to writing/starring in Slam, to albums alongside Rick Rubin and Trent Reznor and collaborations with Nas, Erykah, and The Roots. For AIYE #23, Saul guides us through a personal and eclectic diaspora mixtape. Far better with the pen, we opted to include Saul's full explanation of the mix, which is interspersed with vivid recollections of his own introduction to African music.

My relationship with indigenous African music, in it's most direct/un-abstract sense, begins with Fela Kuti. I was 18 years old, freshman week at Morehouse College, at a club called The Masquerade to hear DJ Disciple. It was around 2AM and I was headed towards the door. The song that came on was "Hot Music" by Soho. I convinced my friends to wait while I danced wildly by the speaker nearest the door. My mother was rushed from a James Brown concert on the night of my birth and anything James Brown related, whether by sample or nature, can usually get me kicking. Of course, the main sample in that song is from a Wynton Marselis song that I discovered months later (I fell asleep listening to the vinyl and it woke me from my dream ... but this isn't about that).

Just as the song was ending, horns and then more horns. It was the beginning of Fela's "Lady." To be honest, I didn't know what the fuck I was listening to at that point but my friends were dancing wildly too, and it was clear, there was no way we could leave. After more horns and more horns and more horns and more horns, Fela started singing. My man Scott, our bear-like leader, was better cultivated than I. He read the look on my face and stated, “It's Fela.” I was in Tower Records the next day and the math from then 'til now doesn't quite add up. I think I may have put in enough hours to have earned a doctorate (or a few wives, depending on how close you're listening) ... Anywayze, since then I've descended down the mountainous top of Afro-Pop into the volcanic mist of indigenous hoo-ha and, at present, these are some of my favorites, coupled with some of my most precious discoveries.

The title comes from Dr. Martin Luther King's "I've Been To The Mountaintop" speech which I used in a composition where I sampled the Mauritanian griot in "Beyt Bieh." Dr. King is explaining why fire hoses didn't work against us during the Civil Rights struggle saying that the police didn't realize that we had [burning in us] a certain kind of fire that no water could put out. Then he quips, “We had known water,” which, to me, seemed to be an allusion to the Middle Passage of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. I've included the raw composition along with the Mauritanian source as a sort of bridge between my diasporic reality and the African continent.

In fact, I guess it's fair to say that my mix begins with a tribute to the middle passage. The first song is a song that has inspired me for years that was written by the South African Miriam Makeba and sung by Nina Simone. It's followed by "Beyt Bieh" and my tribute to both, those who withstood and those who could not stand the harsh conditions of the voyage from there to here (and now there again) before we arrive in the Congo with one of my favorite groups, The Kasai Allstars. From there we travel from field recordings to studio recordings thru an eclectic mix of songs, chants, and prayers that I'm excited to share. It's not particularly a dance mix- — a bit too moody and eclectic for that. But if you got a glass of wine, well, hold it up. And if you're interested in a volume 2, let me know in the comment section below.

-Saul Williams

Saul's upcoming book CHORUS: A Literary Mixtape will be available Sept. 4. Catch him on his CHORUS Spoken Word Tour across North America starting in August. Grab tickets and see the full dates. Download AIYE #23: We Had Known Water Vol. 1 below! Thanks to Underdog for the cover artwork.




"West Wind" Nina Simone (written by Miriam Makeba/South Africa)

"Beyt Bieh" Ensemble El Moukhadrami (Mauritania)

"We Had Known Water" Saul Williams

"Drowning Goat" Kasai Allstars (Congo)

"Mahindi Ya Kulonga" (Tanzania)

"Ishmael" Abdullah Ibrahim (South Africa)

"Forgive Us All" Rob (Ghana)

"Amahamba" Jos Gansemans (Rwanda)

"African Space Craft" Keziah Jones (Nigeria)

"Bigirimana" (Rwanda)


This YouTube Account Is Sharing South African Audiobooks For Free, And We Are Here For It

Listen to audiobooks by Steve Biko, Bessie Head, Credo Mutwa, and more.

Audio Books Masters is a YouTube channel that uploads audio versions of South African books and short stories.

Recent additions include Life by Bessie Head, Crepuscule by Can Themba, Indaba, My Children by Credo Mutwa, among others. South African poet Keorapetse Kgositsile, who passed away three weeks ago, also gets read. You can listen to his poem No Serenity Here. More books you can stream include I Write What I Like by Steve Biko, Africa is my Witness by Credo Mutwa, among others.

Audio Book Masters was started by two friends, Bonolo Malevu (24) and Hahangwivhawe Liphadzi (23).

Malevu is a University of Pretoria BA Drama graduate, who is currently doing his LLB. Liphadzi is an LLB graduate, who is completing his LLM this year.

"I found a hobby of narrating books to craft my art skill after reading Credo Mutwa's Indaba, My Children," says Malevu in an email to OkayAfrica. "After reading the prologue, I knew that this book was meant to be converted [to] many different formats such as stage plays, series, movies and audiobooks."

Then came the idea of creating a YouTube channel. That was when Malevu teamed up with Liphadzi.

They both bought themselves high quality recorders, and started reading, recording and uploading.

Authors from the olden days such as RRR Dhlomo and HIE Dhlomo, whose audio versions of their books are available on the channel, are older than 50 years and their copyrights have since expired.

The rest, though, Liphadzi and Malevu say they are trying to get in contact with the publishers, but it's not easy.

"We have contacted the Department of Trade Industry (DTI) regarding this issue," they say. "We have been in contact with various copyright holders and we are still in the negotiation process. However we are finding it difficult to contact certain publishers, and the consistent uploading of their books is to attract their attention."

The two friends say they started the channel to bring books closer to people who otherwise wouldn't have access, and to get people to appreciate literature, especially African authors. "We want to bring such literature to the digital age in the form of storytelling which has been a unique African form of literature," they say. "The channel also helps develop our voices as we are a voice company that offers all kinds of voice services. We also identified how South African authors lack audio books, and found that there is a gap in this market, and this could really create many job opportunities in South Africa."

The two are currently developing stories in indigenous languages for children in English medium schools. "This is drawn from the fact that in such schools, a lot of African students struggle to speak their own native languages. So we approach various schools to sell them such literature. We are freelance voice over artists who also do radio, content production, news reading and radio adverts."

We are so here for this.

Subscribe to Audio Books Masters' YouTube channel and follow them on Twitter.


Nigerian Actor Sope Aluko On How She Landed a Coveted Role in ​'Black Panther​'

Marvel's Black Panther is already on the brink of being a blockbuster, as it already broke box office records within the first 24 hours of it's pre-sale. Beating Captain America: Civil War's record in 2016, Fandango reports results from a user survey, stating Black Panther was 2018's second most-anticipated movie after Avengers: Infinity War.

One up-and-coming actor who will star alongside Lupita Nyong'o, Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan (to name a few) is Sope Aluko. Come February 16, we'll see the Nigerian-born actor play 'Shaman' in the film. Her previous credits include recurring roles on Netflix's “Bloodline," NBC shows “Law & Order SVU" and “Parks & Recreation" and guest appearances on USA Network's “Burn Notice" and Lifetime's “Army Wives."

Her film credits include supporting roles in feature films including Identity Thief, 96 Minutes, Grass Stains, The Good Lie and more. Raised in the UK, Aluko studied acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA). Aluko speaks four languages, including her native language, Yoruba, French, and Bahasa, an Indonesian language.

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Femi Kuti Spreads Some Much-Needed Peace In the Video For 'One People One World'

Watch the music video for the first single off Femi Kuti's upcoming EP "One People One World."

Femi Kuti drops the music video for his single "One People One World," the title song from his forthcoming 10th studio album.

The energy boosting music video sees Femi Kuti delivering an electrifying performance in the Kuti family-owned New Afrika Shrine in Lagos.

On the track, the accomplished musician promotes an unwavering message of peace and unity—things that the world could perhaps always use more of, but especially so in today's Trump-dominated political climate. His message of positivity is illustrated with graphics that appear throughout the video, showing various country flags and symbols of love and peace.

"Racism has no place, give hatred no space," Kuti sings atop brassy instrumentals. "Let's settle the differences, it's best to live in peace. Exchange cultural experiences; that's the way it should be," he continues.

"One People One World," (the album) is a plea towards global harmony and solidarity. When you look at what's going on in Africa, Europe and America, it's important to keep the dream of unity alive," the artist told OkayAfrica in November.

"When I was a boy, I listened to funk, highlife, jazz, folk songs, classical music and my father's compositions, so you will hear those things in the music."

"One People, One World" by Femi Kuti and his band, the Positive Force, drops on February 23 via Knitting Factory, and is now available for preorder.

Femi Kuti, 'One People One World' cover.

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