Controversial

Afrobeats Artists May Want to Reconsider a Chris Brown Co-sign After This Recent News

As Chris Brown's deals with another questionable incident with the LAPD, should afrobeats arists continue to associate their music with him?

Please stop jumping on afrobeats songs, Chris Brown.


Or—

Hey, please stop letting Chris Brown ruin your song.

That was the think piece I was writing this morning right before the latest mess hit the news.

Chris Brown’s slimy verses have graced a fair number of afrobeats tracks (see here and here) in an attempt to ride the afrobeats wave straight to the bank. The incident that’s still happening as I type just further emphasizes why he’s still trash.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Brown is the sole suspect in a criminal assault investigation, after a woman called 911 and told the police that he threatened her with a gun after an argument in his home.

According to TMZ, he had friends in his home, including Ray J—who was supposedly getting a tattoo—when “uninvited guests” appeared inside the house and were asked to leave.

“At that point, the story gets murky,” TMZ continues.

“The guests included a man who was invited, and two women who were not—one of the women who'd been asked to leave is the one who made the police report, claiming Brown pulled the gun on her. Someone inside the house insists Chris was asleep the whole time.

At some point Ray J left the house and when he got to the base of the driveway, police handcuffed him and seized his BMW. They checked his ID, uncuffed him and let him go, but kept his car as evidence. He Ubered home.”

As this story develops, Brown is in his house and assumed to be armed. The police knocked on his door, and according to a live streamed press conference, detectives have been trying to get in contact with him. The SWAT team was even en route to his residence as LAPD’s been in the process of obtaining a search warrant.

Brown’s rants on his Instagram for a second made me want to give him the benefit of the doubt:

But nope.

Recent reports now say Brown threw a duffel bag out of the window of his home, where LAPD found at least one gun and other weapons and drugs.

All year, especially this summer, we’ve seen cool cross-cultural collaborations between afrobeats artists and the artists of the diaspora.

But after this, should afrobeats artists continue to want Brown’s co-sign on their tracks? This is the man who sent Rihanna to the hospital, among others. If an artist chooses to work with him, does their silence around his actions equal complicity (and another example that the issue of domestic violence goes unnoticed in the African community)?

These (and more) are questions that need answers, especially as we get more details around this incident.

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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