Africa In Your Earbuds


Chico Mann is the solo moniker of Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra's guitarist/singer Marcos García. Raised in a Cuban householod in New York  — to a record store owner father and pianist mother — Chico grew up with all sorts of Afro-Cuban musical stimuli.

Among his favorites are Willie Colón, Lisa LisaAfrika Bambaataa, and of course Fela Kuti, whose Africa 70 band serves as the model for Antibalas. Chico brings this convergence of 1970s Afrobeat, 1980s Freestyle & Afro Cuban and mainstream to AIYE #11: Call and Response. In his own words,

"It's no secret that I love the funky, African music of the past.  It's an endless source of inspiration and in that spirit, I submit these selections. They are dominated by one band, It's no secret that I love the funky, African music of the past.

It's an endless source of inspiration and in that spirit, I submit these selections. They are dominated by one band, Orchestre Poly-Ritmo de Cotonou. The simple fact is that the band is amazing. They capture many moods, their scope is vast, and their musical concepts are fresh and highly relevant. If you've yet to hear them, now is the time."

Stream and download Chico Mann's  AIYE #11 below! And big up to Underdog for the incredible cover art!


1. Another Man's Thing - Joe King Kologbo & His Black Sound (Nigeria)

2. Acid Rock - The Funkees (Nigeria)

3. Se We Non Nan - Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou (Benin)

4. Kenimania - Mono Mono (Nigeria)

5. Otachikpopo - Bongos Ikwue & The Groovies (Nigeria)

6. Mi Ve Wa Se - Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou (Benin)

7. Malin Kpon O - Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou (Benin)

8. Finger Toe - Tabukah X (Nigeria)

9. More Bread to the People - The Action 13 (Nigeria)

10. Na Mi Do Gbé Hué Nu - Honoré Avolonto (Benin)

11. Dancing Time - The Funkees (Nigeria)

12. Agboju Logun - Shina Williams & His African Percussionists (Nigeria)

13. Mi Ni Non Kpo - Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou (Benin)

14. Houe DJein Nada - Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou (Benin)

15. Vimado Wingnan - El Rego Et Ses Commandos (Benin)

16. Ma Dou Sou Nou Mia - Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou (Benin)

17. Noude Ma Gnin Tche De Me - Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou  (Benin)



6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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