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The 9 Best East African Songs of the Month

Featuring Blinky Bill, A Pass x Fik Fameica x DJ Maphorisa, Navy Kenzo x Diamond Platnumz, and more.

From rising rap kings to renowned veterans of the music scene, we have harvested for you the best East African songs of the month.

Navy Kenzo ft Diamond Platnumz "Katika"

Navy Kenzo feat. Diamond Platnumz - Katika (Official video) www.youtube.com

Tanzanian music duo and power couple Navy Kenzo released "Katika," a fiery banger which features WCB Wasafi boss, Diamond Platnumz. The track is incredibly catchy and dance-ready and is accompanied by a topnotch music video directed by Justin Campos.

A Pass, Rouge, Fik Fameica ft. DJ Maphorisa "Midnight Drum"

A Pass, Rouge, Fik Fameica - Midnight Drum (VJ Edit) ft. DJ Maphorisa www.youtube.com

This month Ugandan artists A Pass and Fik Fameica finally released their song "Midnight Drum." They teamed up with South Africa-based Congolese rapper Rouge and DJ Maphorisa for this contagious gqom-influenced record. The track also boasts a colorful and futuristic music video shot in the streets of Kampala.

Blinky Bill Everyone's Just Winging It & Fly Tales

Blinky Bill - Showdown (Official Video) ft. MVROE, Kiwango www.youtube.com

On his debut solo album, Kenya's Blinky Bill reinvigorates his passion for experimental beat making. He weaves African rhythms together with electronic cuts, hip-hop and funk in order to attain a hard-hitting, inventive and sublime body of work. Read our full review of the album here.

Professor Jay ft Harmonize "Yatapita"

Professor Jay Feat Harmonize - Yatapita (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

A Tanzanian hip-hop veteran links up with biggest bongo flava star of the moment on a new conscious rap track.

Maua Sama ft. Hanstone "Iokote"

Maua Sama X Hanstone - Iokote ( Official Music Video ) www.youtube.com

"Iokote" is the newest offering from the talented Tanzanian songstress Maua Sama and Hanstone. This bouncy afro-pop track will definitely get you in a carefree mood.

Diplo & MØ "Stay Open" feat. Nyashinski

Diplo & MØ - Stay Open [Feat. Nyashinski] (Official Lyric Video) [SMS ‘Skiza 7500477’ to 811] www.youtube.com

Nyashinski announced his participation in the Tuborg Open project this month when he was featured in "Stay Open," a track by renowned electronic music producer Diplo and Danish singer . This is a massive collaboration for the Kenyan artist, and the song has been buzzing since its release.

Alfa Mars Content EP

Alfa Mars is a gem in the Nairobi rap scene and he blessed us this month with a new EP titled Content. With his unstoppable flow and energetic delivery, Alfa Mars will have you nodding your head throughout this ambitious 3-track project.

Meddy "Adi Top"

Meddy - Adi Top (Official Video) www.youtube.com

Stepping away from his usual R&B style, Rwandan singer Meddy released "Adi Top," a groovy and catchy track about letting loose and having a good time.

Chin Bess "Inogire"

Chin Bees - Inogire (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

Tanzania's most promising rap artist Chin Bees returned this month with "Inogire," another sizzling trap banger.

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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