Video

Check Out This Fascinating Stop-Motion Sierra Leonean Rap Video

A Sierra Leonean technologist and an American sculptor have teamed up on a fascinating stop-motion, GIF-inspired music video.

Screengrab from the "Ar Don Go" music video.


Sierra Leonean technologist, inventor and afrobeat rapper Moinina David Sengeh and American sculptor Joey Foster Ellis have teamed up to create a fascinating stop-motion, GIF and meme-inspired music video.

The four-minute "Ar Don Go" visuals intersperse images of figures such as Malcolm X, MLK and Gandhi with a flurry of pop cultural references, from Ryan Gosling and China’s Tiananmen Square to a factually incorrect depiction of Jesus as white and Antoine Dodson relaying his now infamous warning. Composed of objects and texts derived from Arabic, Hindi, Chinese, Turkish, Spanish, English and Sierra Leonean Krio, the video touches on themes of multiracial identity, immigration and ex-pat culture.

According to a press release, the part-autobiographical song expresses Sengeh’s desire to bring back his outside experiences and knowledge to help influence his native Sierra Leone. The objects and texts featured in the video were collected over a ten-year period from numerous places Ellis has lived, worked and studied.

Accra-based musician Brainy Beatz produced the original beat while the lyrics and vocals came from Sengeh (recording under the name Moi) and his wife, Kate Krontiris (aka K2). Ellis produced the video in a myriad of locations, including Juarez, Doha, Istanbul, Delhi, Kathmandu and Jingdezhen.

“I have loved this piece because of what it represents to how I imagine the world to be—a collaborative ecosystem with respect for everyone’s culture," Sengeh says of the project. "It’s about youth, vibrant colors, taking action, online/digital culture, and inclusiveness.”

Peep the video below.

Music

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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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