Diamond Platnumz "Naanzaje" cover art (detail).

The 6 Best East African Songs of the Month (August)

Featuring Diamond Platnumz, SilversTone Barz x Boutross, Ibraah, Nviiri the Storyteller and more.

The month of August featured an array of incredible releases from East Africa's pop royalty as well as promising newbies.

Follow our East African Grooves playlist on Spotify and Apple Music.

SilversTone Barz 'If It's On' ft. Boutross

Fast-rising Kenyan rap princess Silverstone Barz returned this month with a fresh single "If It's On" featuring shrap pioneer Boutross. This track is catchy and great for a party vibe. Silverstone is looking to take over Kenyan rap in the next couple of months with her upcoming EP and big collaborations and we are totally here for it!

Nviiri the Storyteller 'Kitenge'

Sol Generation artiste Nviiri The Storyteller finally released the video for Kitenge" off his newest EP of the same title. Nviiri explores the realities and societal pressures of being in a relationship in this track.

Ibraah 'Jipinde'

Konde Gang music artiste Ibraah released a new single titled "Jipinde" this month. The young Tanzanian star continues to rise with a consistent string of high quality bongo flava bangers.

Diamond Platnumz 'Naanzaje'

WCB Wasafi boss Diamond Platnumz came through with a new banger titled "Naanzaje" produced by Lizer. The East African superstar doesn't disappoint with this sweet bongo flavour ballad.

Rayvanny 'Sweet' ft. Guchi

Wasafi hitmaker Rayvanny links up with Nigerian songstress Guchi once again for "Sweet." This comes after their collaboration on Guchi's smash hit "Jennifer." The Nigerian rising star gives the track that afro flavour and sweet vocals and Rayvanny brings his bongo flava style making for a perfect collaboration.

H_art The Band 'My Jaber ft. Brizy Annechild

Kenyan boy band H_art the Band released their smash hit single "My Jaber" this month from their Simple Man album which is a story about love, resilience, following your dreams, and life — the never-ending journey.

Follow our East African Grooves playlist on Spotify and Apple 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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