Africa In Your Earbuds

AFRICA IN YOUR EARBUDS #9: DJ OBAH - 'HEY MAMA'


New York's own DJ Obah takes a alternately angled shot at our Africa In Your Earbuds series. Instead of crafting a purely African-bred mix, Obah opts to "feature artists who aren't born or based on the continent, but yet have been inspired by the history, sounds, and culture of African music." He then bridges the gap by including a couple of classics from the diaspora.

The result is Africa In Your Earbuds #9: Hey Mama — a stew of hip-hop cuts from Kweli, Mos Def, Common and Jay-Z peppered with tunes from Tony Allen, Manu Dibango and Osibisa. The name pays homage to Africa as the motherland. Obah explains, "it's like saying 'Hey Mama'... look what I've been up to."

AFRICA IN YOURS EARBUDS #9: DJ OBAH - 'HEY MAMA' by okayafrica

TRACKLIST

1. Reflection Eternal - Africa Dream

2. Mos Def - Fear Not of Man

3. Hypnotic Brass Brand - Water

4. Jay Z - Pray (Mike Love's Nigerian Gangsta Remix)

5. Ty & Bries - Unsung Heroes

6. Common - Heat

7. Tony Allen - Asiko

8. Manu Dibango - New Bell (MAW Remix)

9. Rocky Dawuni - Masterplan (Dj OBaH Remix)

10. The Pimps of Joytime - Gosalo

11. Dj Spinna - Deep rooted

12. Oscar Sulley - Olufeme (Natural Self Remix)

13. The Sahara All-Stars - Enjoy Yourself

14. Osibisa - Music for Gong Gong

15. Mulatu Astataque - Yegelle Tezeta

16. Damian Marley & Nas - As We Enter

Previously on Africa In Your Earbuds: SABINE, BROTHA ONACIDJ AQBTJUST A BANDSTIMULUSQOOL DJ MARVSINKANECHIEF BOIMA.

Music

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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