News

Okayafrica’s Top 15 Albums of 2015

From Malian desert rock to Afro-Cuban chants to ‘Noirwave’ and beyond, we list the 15 best albums of the year.


Ibeyi ‘Ibeyi’

Twin sisters Naomi & Lisa-Kaindé Díaz debut album as Ibeyi masterfully introduces their alluring blend of Cuban santería themes, cajón & batá percussion, downtempo hip-hop elements and electronic sounds. The self-titled LP, produced by XL Recordings label head Richard Russell, is heavily indebted to the Parisian-born sisters’ Afro-Cuban heritage (they’re the daughters of famed Cuban percussionist Anga Díaz).

The 13 songs on Ibeyi include elegies to their deceased family members—“Think Of You” is about their father, “Yanira” their late older sister—and run through a host of references to Yoruban orisha spirits (“Eleggua” and “Oya”). Ibeyi’s compositions are beautiful, and often deeply personal, reflections on love, loss, family and spirituality.

Prev Page
Next Page
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.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

How Nigerian Streetwear Brand, Daltimore, is Rising To Celebrity Status

We spoke with founder and creative director David Omigie about expression through clothing and that #BBNaija pic.