Photos

Beatenberg Brings South Africa to Okay Space at Mumford & Sons' 'Johannesburg' Pop-Up Exhibition

Take a look at images from the evening featuring a live, intimate set from Beatenburg and portable studio from Found Sound Nation.

The sun from the hot, Brooklyn Saturday—days before the official start of summer—couldn't even stand the heat coming from Okay Space at the one of many finales of Mumford & Sons' 'Johannesburg' South African Experience Pop-Up Exhibition.


Walking in—right across the illuminated photos of Mumford & Sons and the squad who featured on their new mini-album that released this week: The Very Best, Baaba Maal and Beatenberg—was a portable studio set up by Found Sound Nation. There, with the help of Freshlyground's Kyla-Rose Smith and emcees from Cape Town's township, Nyanga, attendees were invited to lay down instrumentals, freestyles and vocals and see the process of the cypher come to fruition.

Those who joined us at Okay Space weren't just there to check out the art show that was well received by visitors all week, but to also experience a live, intimate set from Beatenberg. Cooling down during the evening with Extra Pale Ale and IPA craft beers from our friends over at Atlanta's Sweetwater Brewing Co. (who's been in the NYC for three months and is available for purchase in the metro area), the group's small league of fans and curious listeners alike gathered around the trio to hear the soothing Cape Town sound.

Senegalese living legend, Baaba Maal, came by to hear his friends' set too, as he signed vinyl copies of  'Johannesburg' and soaked in well wishes (I definitely had a fangirl moment too—as he convinced me that it's high time I take a trip to Dakar) from fans. Mumford & Sons member Winston Marshall also popped in to chill with fans hang out in the pop-up space.

Soon after the group performed their hits including, "Pluto," "Rafael" and "Beauty Like A Tightened Bow," drummer Robin Brink hooked his laptop up to the speakers, filling the room with a banging South African house set until the doors closed.

Take a closer look into the evening with the images below, brought to you by, Jammi York Photography:

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Photo by Jammi York Photography.

Interview
Photo: Shawn Theodore via Schure Media Group/Roc Nation

Interview: Buju Banton Is a Lyrical Purveyor of African Truth

A candid conversation with the Jamaican icon about his new album, Upside Down 2020, his influence on afrobeats, and the new generation of dancehall.

Devout fans of reggae music have been longing for new musical offerings from Mark Anthony Myrie, widely-known as the iconic reggae superstar Buju Banton. A shining son of Jamaican soil, with humble beginnings as one of 15 siblings in the close-knit community of Salt Lane, Kingston, the 46-year-old musician is now a legend in his own right.

Buju Banton has 12 albums under his belt, one Grammy Award win for Best Reggae Album, numerous classic hits and a 30-year domination of the industry. His larger-than-life persona, however, is more than just the string of accolades that follow in the shadows of his career. It is his dutiful, authentic style of Caribbean storytelling that has captured the minds and hearts of those who have joined him on this long career ride.

The current socio-economic climate of uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrusted onto the world, coupled with the intensified fight against racism throughout the diaspora, have taken centre stage within the last few months. Indubitably, this makes Buju—and by extension, his new album—a timely and familiar voice of reason in a revolution that has called for creative evolution.

With his highly-anticipated album, Upside Down 2020, the stage is set for Gargamel. The title of this latest discography feels nothing short of serendipitous, and with tracks such as "Memories" featuring John Legend and the follow-up dancehall single "Blessed," it's clear that this latest body of work is a rare gem that speaks truth to vision and celebrates our polylithic African heritage in its rich fullness and complexities.

Having had an exclusive listen to some other tracks on the album back in April, our candid one-on-one conversation with Buju Banton journeys through his inspiration, collaboration and direction for Upside Down 2020, African cultural linkages and the next generational wave of dancehall and reggae.

This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.

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