Harmonize's "Anajikosha"

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

Featuring Bensoul, Harmonize, Khaligraph Jones, Zuchu and more.

January was a big month for East African music, with several hit songs being released from the heavyweights in the industry as well as talented newcomers rivaling for the top spot.

Check out our favorite East African music releases of the month featuring Bensoul, Harmonize, Khaligraph Jones and more.

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

Harmonize 'Anajikosha'

East African superstar bongo artist Harmonize continues to be consistent with his releases in 2021 and he certainly didn't disappoint with his newest banger "Anajikosha." This track is the bongo-flava king's amazing take on the Amapiano craze, and he nailed it!

Khaligraph Jones x Sarkodie 'Wavy'

Popular Kenyan rapper Khaligraph Jones teamed up with legendary Ghanaian rapper Sarkodie to drop one of the major tracks of the month. This highly anticipated collaboration has certainly been making major waves since it dropped with the two decorated rappers going back and forth with fast-paced aggressive verses.

Bensoul 'Nairobi' ft. Sauti Sol, Nviiri the Storyteller, Mejja

Sol Generation artiste Bensoul secured the number one spot on Kenyan music charts this month with his newest single "Nairobi" featuring Sauti Sol, Nviiri the storyteller and Mejja. This track tells the truth about the Nairobi dating scene and how everyone is sharing their partner with someone else.

Tucker HD 'Mind Games'

Tucker HD is a talented rising rap artist from Kampala, Uganda. He shows off his lyrical and rap prowess in his latest track "Mind Games" over an upbeat, poppy instrumental.

Zuchu 'Sukari'

Tanzanian bongo newcomer Zuchu continues her winning streak with a new hit to start off the year. "Sukari" is a sweet love song about a love that is as sweet as "sukari" (sugar) that you can't get enough of it.

Alikiba 'Infidèle'

Legendary Bongo-flava star Alikiba made his return with a new track titled "Infidele" produced by Yogo beats and under Kiba's record label Kings Music Records.This comes after his highly successful collaborations in 2020 with Tanzanian singer Nandy and producer, DJ Sbu of South Africa.

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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