Africa In Your Earbuds

AFRICA IN YOUR EARBUDS #2 - SINKANE

Sinkane curates this installment of Africa in Your Earbuds, featuring Weynoow, Take Your Soul, Dahomey, Little Clown and more.


 

If we start namedropping all the elite indie bands that Sinkane (aka Ahmed Gallab) has played with (…currently Yeasayer, previously Caribou, of Montreal, and Born Ruffians…), you're going to accuse us of being hipster-than-thou. Which we probably are.

But more to the point: Sinkane is the musical mastermind behind our second installment of Africa In Your Earbuds - the mixtape series of African and African-inspired music curated by the best and brightest of our homies.

Ahmed's musical influences originate in his homeland of Sudan, where he lived on and off throughout his childhood. In 1989, with the coup that brought current North Sudanese dictator al-Bashir to power, his politically active family was exiled – many of their friends were disappeared or imprisoned.

Being the newly American kid that he was, Ahmed preferred the sounds of punk to what seemed like the "cheesier" sounding Sudanese music his pops played. (Ah, youth.)

But all that has come full circle now; as Ahmed puts it, he feels drawn to the energy of these sounds – the African psychedelic rock from 60's and 70's (which, in turn, were heavily influenced by James Brown and Parliament among others) - a perfect mix of African and American funk and R&B. Throw in some classic country, singer/songwriter, and Dylan-esque folk, and the beautiful synergies that inspire Sinkane emerge.

For the mixtape (tracklist after the jump), Ahmed crate dug from his father's era and beyond, and came up with some greats from Sudan, Somalia, Zambia, and West Africa. One of our fave touches? Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay" into Fela's eternal words.

So strap on your earbuds, people, and enjoy the open blue sky and sweltering heat of summer - you'll prolly wanna alight some serious trees. In other words, the mix is super f'ing psychedelic.

New Yorkers: check out Ahmed, the mastermind behind Sinkane, performing with Yeasayer tonight and tomorrow night (and hey, might as well stay for the Flaming Lips and Weezer) - and every Sunday at midnight at the Manhattan Inn.

 

DOWNLOAD AFRICA IN YOUR EARBUDS #2: SINKANE

Listen to Africa in your Earbuds #2: Sinkane

TRACKLIST:

1. Iftin – Weynoow (Somalia)

2. The Sahara All Stars of Jos - Take Your Soul (Nigeria)

3. Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo de Contonou – Dahomey (Benin)

4. Iftin - Lamahuraan (Somalia)

5. The Witch - Little Clown (Zambia)

6. Shar Habeel - El Bambi (Sudan)

7. Chrissy Zebby Tembo & Ngozi Family - Coffin Maker (Zambia)

8. Sinkane - Runnin' (US/Sudan)

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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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