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Brandy Performs To An Empty Stadium in South Africa

Brandy performs to a crowd of 40 in a stadium that seats 90,000 in Soweto, Johannesburg


According to reports on Twitter, this past weekend was not good for Brandy's comeback. On Saturday the singer performed at Soweto's Soccer City to a crowd of 40 people — in a stadium which seats 90,000. After just two songs, Brandy walked off the stage, presumably embarrassed and fed up.

First reports of the debacle came via South African musician Kabomo who tweeted: "lol. I have no words for what I have just witnessed" "Brandy [just] performed to an empty stadium. With the stadium lights on." Earlier in the day, tens of thousands of people had filled the stadium for the Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day. Billed only as a "surprise guest," festivalgoers were not told that Brandy was set to play, and they trickled out during performances by David Jenkins, Elvis Blue, Salif Keita and D'Banj. By the end, one tweet announced, "Brandy [was] performing for the chairs!"

The issue, it seems, was not with Brandy — who has been to SA before at the invitation of Minister of Sports and Recreation Fikile Mbalula (another trip plagued by controversy) — but with logistics and publicity. A number of concertgoers complained about poor production, staging and sound. "They disrespected and frustrated us as fans. Sound quality, production and structure of the concert were questionable." To add insult to injury SABC, the national TV channel, ended their broadcast of the concert before Brandy had even reached the stage. Neither Brandy nor the concert promoters have commented on the gig. But, in the words of her "rival" Monica, we're gonna encourage Brandy not to take it personal.

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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