Featured

Arise Magazine Editor Releases 'New African Fashion' Book

 


Last week the Okayafrica team attended the book release party for 'New African Fashion' by Arise magazine editor Helen Jennings (center above) at the New York Public Library. The event was attended by Jennings and key members of the African fashion community Bethann HardisonAyaan and Idyl MohallimMimi Plange and Enyinne Owunwanne for Heritage 1960 (all pictured above). The new book is a great review of contemporary African fashions complete with profiles of the most innovative designers. Speaking of innovation, we couldn't help but notice Mimi Plange's ability to seamlessly incorporate scarification and influence from other African cultures into her designs (see here). Be sure to buy this thoroughly researched, and incredibly insightful book here.

Also check out the OKA TV piece we did on Arise Magazine's runway show at New York Fashion Week!

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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