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East African Wave: 5 Young Kenyan Producers are Creating the Sounds of #NuNairobi

The five member crew of Ukweli, Nu Fvnk, Jinku, Hiribae and Muroe form Kenya's coolest new collective EA Wave.

EA Wave (East African Wave) is a Kenyan-based creative collective of artists and producers pushing forward what they’re calling a #NuNairobi sound.


The five member crew of producers Ukweli, Nu Fvnk, Jinku, Hiribae and Muroe craft songs that are loosely tied together by the hazy melodies, rumbling bass and 808s being championed by young beat makers across the globe.

Since their inception last year, the collective has produced for Cosmic Homies singer Karun (formerly of Camp Mulla), Jojo Abot, and, in a an unlikely turn of events, even Willow Smith.

Get introduced to the five members of EA Wave below as ringleader Jacob Solomon aka Jinku tells us about his co-conspirators.

Ukweli

Ukweli. Photo by Nu Fvnk, edited by Ukweli.

19-year-old producer Brendern Denousse aka Ukweli creates electronic music based on a collage of varying elements: African percussion, R&B influences, hip-hop, indie rock, and more.

Ukweli's also a visual artist, taking photos and editing the striking artwork that accompanies his and his peers’ releases (see above). You can check out his visual work over at his Instagram and ‘African Renaissance’ Tumblr.

“Ukweli is currently working on several different EPs with the likes of Joseph Kiwango, Karun, and MClaire, as well as his own debut EP,” Jinku tells Okayafrica.

Hear the track he produced for U.S. singer JABS, which ended up getting a feature from Willow Smith.

Nu Fvnk

Nu Fvnk. Photo courtesy of EA Wave.

“I am a flamingo. I'm fuckin beautiful,” reads Nu Fvnk’s Soundcloud bio.

Nu Fvnk “pursued music in the hope of becoming a rapper, but being young in the industry with a limited network forced him to begin making beats for himself. As time went by he found myself more into production without even realizing it, still thinking he would enter the rap game,” Jinku mentions.

The beat maker, along with his EA Wave homies, handled most of the production work on Karun's recent Indigo EP.

Stream "Young Sinatra," a collaboration with Jinku, Trizah and Uganda's DJ Rachael.

Jinku

Jinku on the decks. Photo courtesy of EA Wave.

The Nairobi-based Jinku is the alter ego of graphic designer and artist Jacob Solomon.

“Jinku is a space monkey, who made planet earth his second home, over the years he has become a sponge of different influences ranging from rock, classical music to electronic music,” Solomon tells us about his alter ego.

Jinku recently released his debut Amadeyo EP. Check out his slowed-down remix of Dela's "Mafeelings" below.

Hiribae

Hiribae. Photo courtesy of EA Wave.

Hiribae started out as a trumpet player for his school orchestra, only delving into the depths of music production in recent years.

He’s the most soulful member of the EA Wave collective, often coating his productions with layers of airy synthesizers and smooth trumpet lines.

“Hiribae refers to himself as a creator because he explores various art forms all to convey one message: LOVE,” Jinku tells us.

The producer recently got a nod from Just A Band’s Blinky Bill, when he played Hiribae's “Coffee and Cigarettes” on his RBMA show.

Hear Hiribae's "Last Words," his track for EA Wave's #WaveyWednesdays series.

Muroe

Muroe. Image courtesy of EA Wave.

James Mburu aka Muroe has been DJing since 2012. He eventually branched out into producing and singing his own compositions.

Muroe’s tracks sound more unhinged than those from the rest of his fellow EA Wave crew. Song titles like “Jessica Alba” and the Drake-nodding “Days in the East” hint to the eclectic blend of styles and theme heard on his singles.

His TRVE EP has received accolades from acts like Muthoni the Drummer Queen, Just a Band, Patricia Kihoro and Octopizzo.

Hear "Gvrls," a track Muroe co-produced with Hiribae.

East African Wave. Photo courtesy of EA Wave.

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Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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