Weekend Burners: July's Best Tracks & Music Videos

Download and stream the best tracks and African music videos that came out in July in our monthly column "Weekend Burners."

Image by Anoek Steketee and Eefje Blankevoort [via Yagazie].

We're switching up Weekend Burners to a monthly column that'll highlight the ten best African music tracks, videos, or mixes that came across our desks in the last 30-odd days. Stream & download them below, straight from the Okayafrica bunker, and follow the links for more info:


JR, Okmalumkoolkat & Spoek Mathambo's ‘Bob Mabena’

JHB rap titans Motswako vet JR, reigning king of collaboration Spoek Mathambo and Affine Records’ most recent signee Okmalumkoolkat come together to salute South African radio icon Bob Mabena on his 25th year in the industry. Yanga Ntshakaza, who was also behind AKA‘s “Kontrol” video, directs the partially slo-mo visuals. Read more.


The GTW’s Chigerian Summertime Serenade ‘Calling Cards’

Chicago-based Nigerian The GTW is preparing the release of Chigeria later this year. “Calling Cards,” the self-produced lead single from that upcoming album, features an upbeat 90s tempo song and flattering falsetto from The GTW as he sings “I can’t spell my future with you” in a way one would serenade their high school crush. Read more.


Clap! Clap!'s ‘The Rainstick Fable’ Off His ‘Tayi Bebba’ LP

Italian producer Clap! Clap!, aka Cristiano Crisci, is gearing up for the release of his debut LP Tayi Bebba. The album's lead single “The Rainstick Fable” is a fast paced banger injected with flavors of house, juke and footwork that utilizes Crisci’s contemporary production alongside samples of traditional instruments like the titular rainstick and the mbira. Read more.


Tony Allen & Damon Albarn Reunite On ‘Go Back’

Tony Allen, the father of afrobeat percussion, has a new solo album due out later this year (his first since 2009′s Secret Agent). The first single off Film Of Life reunites Allen with frequent collaborator Damon Albarn on the supremely meditative horn-flanked ballad “Go Back.” Read more.


Sinkane’s Soulful ‘How We Be’

Sudanese-born/BK based sonic-experimentalist Sinkane returns with "How We Be," a soulful composition that builds off some funky keyboard action and stars Gallab’s crystalizing voice. The song is the second single off his upcoming Mean Love LP (DFA/City Slang). Read more.


Tshepang Ramoba’s 67-Minute ‘Mandela Day’ Mix

Tshepang Ramoba's (BLK JKS RAMBO) commemorates Nelson Mandela Day with his Mandela Day mixtape, which is precisely 67-minutes long as a nod to Mandela’s 67 years spent fighting for social justice, as well as the global call to devote 67-minutes of today to “fight poverty and promote peace and reconciliation” through activism. Read more + view the tracklist.


Just A Band’s Phone-Recorded Visuals For ‘Probably For Lovers’

Kenya’s Just A Band recruited their friends to shoot themselves with their phones, singing and dancing along to “Probably For Lovers,” a standout track on their 2012 release Sorry for the Delay. Read more.


Rich Medina’s ‘Afrobeat Since 1969: Created By Tony Allen’ Mix

Rich Medina drops Afrobeat Since 1969: Created By Tony Allen for clothing label 101 Apparel. The mix, an ode to afrobeat co-creator & percussion pioneer Tony Allen, sees Medina navigating through a host of highly complex, horn-backed afrobeat drum patterns from the master himself. Read more.


The Cape Flats-Filmed Visuals for Zaki Ibrahim’s ‘Draw The Line’

Canadian/South African smoldering soulstress Zaki Ibrahim returns with the stunning visuals for “Draw The Line,” the opening track from her 2012 album Every OppositeIbrahim’s earthy, soul-capturing voice floats above clean, starkly beautiful images of the Cape Flats. Read more.


Okmalumkoolkat ‘Holy Oxygen’

Okmalumkoolkat rides on the title track off his upcoming Holy Oxygen I with his signature nonlinear wordplay on a two-stepping futuristic bassline. It’s the official coming of a self-proclaimed “demigod.” Read more. 


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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