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In the Lab with Cape Town's Beat Sampras

In our new series, In the Lab, we get to know producers in their natural recording habitat. Here we get to know Cape Town duo Beat Sampras.

In our new series, In the Lab, we get to know producers and beatmakers in their natural habitat, the place where they record their music.


Kenyan-born David Migwalla is a self-taught beatmaker. Dressed top to toe in his habitual all black, the soukous-reared sports management graduate is a pillar of a man––sturdy, softspoken and focused. Head swaying, you can almost hear the cogs moving in his mind as he works. Each time he drops a beat, he lets out a light and satisfied chuckle as he loses himself in the next track.

On the couch beside him, London-born jazz student Dylan Fine is bright and burly. The wiry strings of his Fender Stratocaster twitch in the moving air.

It’s here in this room, on the top floor of Migwalla’s flat in leafy Rosebank, that the Cape Town-based duo made their first sounds in January of this year. Prior to that, Migwalla was making music as the producer and DJ known as Beat Sampras. The two have since coalesced into the well-matched and evenly tempered outfit that is Beat Sampras live. Their music is colourful, emotive and layered with soulful guitar licks. Their DJ sets are seasoned with witty throwbacks and reimagined samples.

I caught up with the two on a cloudy weekend in the Cape for the first instalment of In the Lab.

Photo by Ashiq Johnson

"We knew each other from playing soccer, something as un-music-related as that. And one day Dave said, 'Look, I make hip-hop beats. Do you wanna play with me at CTEMF?' after he heard me playing at a jazz jam around the corner. The cool thing is that hip-hop and jazz go together so effortlessly and I thought I’d really dig to collaborate with someone like him. So CTEMF happened… and I guess the rest is history." ––Dylan Fine

Photo by Ashiq Johnson

"The act has two elements: DJing and the live element, which are quite different. The priority right now is me and Dylan as the live act. You make what you listen to, and I learnt a lot of lessons from DJing which I apply to my live set. The live sets are designed to do something. Designed to make people respond in a certain way at certain times." ––David Migwalla

Photo by Ashiq Johnson

"I would like to get to a point where I can play some of the music we make in a DJ set, and [see] a remix culture in South Africa that is not just house music. That’s why I’ve been messing around with all these re-edits and remixes of tracks that I really dig." ––DM

Photo by Ashiq Johnson

"My guitar is a vintage Japanese Stratocaster. I wish I knew for sure how old it is. There was a golden period in the 80s when Japan was making the best ones. I bought it second-hand with the frets all worn like that. It has remarkable character which comes through in its sound and hence, our music." ––DF

Photo by Ashiq Johnson

"Either I’ll have a beat and Dylan will just listen and start to play over it, or Dylan will come over and say 'listen to this.' Then we’ll have to fight it out on the piano. It’s like we’re a company with different departments and we just allow each other to do what we know how to do and play to each others’ strengths." ––DM

Photo by Ashiq Johnson

"Dave comes from a strong Kenyan family. They’re all up in Pretoria and they’re really cool people. He’s got three sisters and one brother, and I got to meet them all when we went to visit. He grew up listening to a lot of Soukous as well so there’s a lot of that in him among other influences." ––DF

Photo by Ashiq Johnson

"I’ve been reconnecting with Africa musically and drawing inspiration from that, and that’s me expressing something of myself. I’ve been developing the skillset to express what I’ve been wanting to say and now I can apply it to creating a piece of art that is accessible to as many people as possible. Like, if you have a piece of music that sounds like it’s been made in Africa, African people are going to gravitate towards it; they feel at home in it. But if you put an 808 behind it and maybe some high hats, then people from somewhere else can recognise something in the same track, bringing the two worlds together. Imagine some soukous with some Timbaland behind it. I’ve grown up around golden era hip-hop as well and all of that is a part of me. I’ve never been one to look down on the new school either." ––DM

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Introducing OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 List

Celebrating African Women Laying the Groundwork for the Future

It would not be hyperbole to consider the individuals we're honoring for OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 list as architects of the future.

This is to say that these women are building infrastructure, both literally and metaphorically, for future generations in Africa and in the Diaspora. And they are doing so intentionally, reaching back, laterally, and forward to bridge gaps and make sure the steps they built—and not without hard work, mines of microaggressions, and challenges—are sturdy enough for the next ascent.

In short, the women on this year's list are laying the groundwork for other women to follow. It's what late author and American novelist Toni Morrison would call your "real job."

"I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else."

And that's what inspired us in the curation of this year's list. Our honorees use various mediums to get the job done—DJ's, fashion designers, historians, anthropologists, and even venture capitalists—but each with the mission to clear the road ahead for generations to come. Incredible African women like Eden Ghebreselassie, a marketing lead at ESPN who created a non-profit to fight energy poverty in Eritrea; or Baratang Miya, who is quite literally building technology clubs for disadvantaged youth in South Africa.

There are the builds that aren't physically tangible—movements that inspire women to show up confidently in their skin, like Enam Asiama's quest to normalize plus-sized bodies and Frédérique (Freddie) Harrel's push for Black and African women to embrace the kink and curl of their hair.

And then there are those who use their words to build power, to take control of the narrative, and to usher in true inclusion and equity. Journalists, (sisters Nikki and Lola Ogunnaike), a novelist (Oyinkan Braithwaite), a media maven (Yolisa Phahle), and a number of historians (Nana Oforiatta Ayim, Leïla Sy) to name a few.

In a time of uncertainty in the world, there's assuredness in the mission to bring up our people. We know this moment of global challenge won't last. It is why we are moving forward to share this labor of love with you, our trusted and loyal audience. We hope that this list serves as a beacon for you during this moment—insurance that future generations will be alright. And we have our honorees to thank for securing that future.

EXPERIENCE 100 WOMEN 2020

The annual OkayAfrica 100 Women List is our effort to acknowledge and uplift African women, not only as a resource that has and will continue to enrich the world we live in, but as a group that deserves to be recognized, reinforced and treasured on a global scale. In the spirit of building infrastructure, this year's list will go beyond the month of March (Women's History Month in America) and close in September during Women's Month in South Africa.

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Burna Boy 'African Giant' money cover art by Sajjad.

The 20 Essential Burna Boy Songs

We comb through the Nigerian star's hit-filled discography to select 20 essential songs from the African Giant.

Since bursting onto the scene in 2012 with his chart-topping single, "Like to Party," and the subsequent release of his debut album, L.I.F.E - Leaving an Impact for eternity, Burna Boy has continued to prove time and again that he is a force to be reckoned with.

The African Giant has, over the years, built a remarkable musical identity around the ardent blend of dancehall, hip-hop, reggae, R&B, and afropop to create a game-changing genre he calls afro-fusion. The result has been top tier singles, phenomenal collaborations, and global stardom—with several accolades under his belt which include a Grammy nomination and African Giant earning a spot on many publications' best albums of 2019.

We thought to delve into his hit-filled discography to bring you The 20 Essential Burna Boy Songs.

This list is in no particular order.

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Image courtesy of Lula Ali Ismaïl

'Dhalinyaro' Is the Female Coming-of-Age Story Bringing Djibouti's Film Industry to Life

The must-watch film, from Lula Ali Ismaïl, paints a novel picture of Djibouti's capital city through the story of three friends.

If you're having a tough time recalling the last movie you watched from Djibouti, it's likely because you have never watched one before. With an almost non-existent film industry in the country, Lula Ali Ismaïl, tells a beautiful coming of age story of three young female Djiboutian teenagers at the cusp of womanhood. Dhalinyaro offers a never-before-seen view of Djibouti City as a stunning, dynamic city that blends modernity and tradition—a city in which the youth, like all youth everywhere, struggle to decide what their futures will look like. It's a beautiful story of friendship, family, dreams and love from a female filmmaker who wants to tell a "universal story of youth," but set in the country she loves—Djibouti.

The story revolves around the lives of three young friends from different socio-economic backgrounds, with completely varied attitudes towards life, but bound by a deep friendship. There is Asma, the conservative academic genius who dreams of going to medical school and hails from a modest family. Hibo, a rebellious, liberal, spoiled girl from a very wealthy family who learns to be a better friend as the film evolves and finally Deka. Deka is the binding force in the friendship, a brilliant though sometimes naïve teen who finds herself torn between her divorced mother's ambitions to give her a better life having saved up all her life for her to go to university abroad, and her own conviction that she wants to study and succeed in her own country.

Okayafrica contributor, Ciku Kimeria speaks to Ismaïl on her groundbreaking film, her hopes for the filmmaking industry and the universality of stories.

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Stogie T Enlists Nasty C, Boity, Nadia Nakai and More, for ‘The Empire of Sheep’ Deluxe Edition

Stream the deluxe version of Stogie T's EP 'The Empire of Sheep' featuring Nasty C, Boity, Nadia Nakai and more.

Stogie T just shared a deluxe version of his 2019 EP The Empire of Sheep titled EP The Empire of Sheep (Deluxe Unmasked). The project comes with three new songs. "All You Do Is Talk" features fellow South African rappers Nasty C, Boity and Nadia Nakai. New York lyricist appears on "Bad Luck" while one of Stogie T's favorite collaborators Ziyon appears on "The Making."

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