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Victoria Kimani in "Boom"

The 9 Best East African Songs of the Month

Featuring Diamond Platnumz, Karun x Blinky Bill, Victoria Kimani and more.

July came through with a diverse range of East African sounds. In no particular order, here are our best picks of the month.


Victoria Kimani "Boom"

Kenya's afro-pop diva Victoria Kimani serves up another sizzling music video for her new single "Boom" and it's the perfect vibe for summer!

Rayvanny "Chombo"

Tanzanian sensation Rayvanny dropped yet another massive bongo flava single this month. The track was produced by S2kizzy, Rashdon & Lizerclassic and it's well on its way to becoming his next hit.

Aslay "Totoa"

Aslay is keeping that traditional bongo sound alive with his latest release, "Totoa", a stunning piece of music dedicated to his pregnant lover.

Vinka "Nkubika"

Vinka is one of Uganda's most exciting new pop artists. She returned to the scene this month with a dancehall-infused track "Nkubika," Kampala's hottest new party number.

Diamond Platnumz "Baila" ft Miri Ben Ari

East Africa's topflight artist Diamond Platnumz continues to assert his dominance with his new music video for "Baila," a romantic love song that features the Grammy award-winning Israeli-American violinist, Miri Ben-Ari.

Rema "Touch My Body"

Uganda's sweetheart, Rema, dropped her new single "Touch My Body" this month. This sweet love ballad shows us a more fun and flirty side to the popular singer and it's already making its way to the top of the Ugandan charts.

Kagwe Mungai "Super Seena"

Kagwe Mungai is one of Kenya's most versatile afro-pop artists. His new single 'Super Seena' samples a very popular Kenyan childhood nursery rhyme sang in estates and schools in the late 1990s to early 2000s. Adding a twist of nostalgia to a trap song is definitely one of the most creative ideas we've seen in a while… and it's catchy too.

Karun "Make Believe" ft. Blinky Bill

"Make Believe" is the new smooth alternative R&B track from former Camp Mulla vocalist Karun. Featuring Blinky Bill and produced by Samuel Sichangi, this track has an ambience of its own.

Buravan "Garagaza"


Yvan Buravan collaborates with his own father, Michel Burabyo, on his new track "Garagaza". Buravan is well-known for his romantic love ballads but we are loving this more upbeat sound from the Rwandese R&B crooner.

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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