Video

Okayplayer & Converse Rubber Tracks Present Player Xchange: Bez x Sene

Check out "Player Xchange" our new series with Converse Rubber Tracks in which we pair an African artist with an emerging American act to create an original track.


We've teamed up with Converse Rubber Tracks to create Player Xchange, a new video series curated by Okayplayer and Okayafrica in which we'll be linking up African artists from around the continent with emerging American acts to write and record an original song.  First up on the series is "Big Promise," a collaboration track between Nigerian pop crooner Bez — whom you might recall from his hit "That Stupid Song" — and Brooklyn-bred rapper/producer Sene. Watch a behind-the-scenes video chronicling the creation of the song and stream/download the track. produced by Basement Batman, below. And learn more about Player Xchange from the lips of el jefe Questlove in a recent WSJ article profiling our new series.

Video credits:

Videographer + Editor - Jay Sprogell

Motion Graphics - Thea Norman

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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