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Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Eli Fola Offers a 'Soundscape to Freedom' With New Performance Visuals

The multidisciplinary artist's latest release "Blackness Be Divine" gives listeners a glimpse into what the musician has to offer.

Nigerian born-Brooklyn based artist Eli Fola is back in our hearts and on our screens, with the latest music video release for his single "Blackness Be Divine" off of his EP, Soundscape to Freedom.

The DJ, saxophonist and producer's release comes from his own production and events label Tech Afrique.

The EP's opening track, "Blackness Be Divine" is, "like a letter of empowerment to all Black people across the diaspora to embrace their brilliance and to know that they are royalty living in this world," he says. "The project was inspired by events that took place this year during the middle of the pandemic with the rise of the black lives matter movement and protest across the country."

Although the EP is only six tracks long, it certainly packs a punch with its hypnotic rhythms, nostalgic house beats and graceful lyrics heard throughout the project. It truly is a unique musical adventure.

Eli Fola's self-proclaimed "Yoruba tech soul" elements are loud and clear in this brilliantly eclectic piece of music.

Watch Eli Fola's performance visuals for "Blackness Be Divine" below.


Eli Fola ft Cyrus Aaron - Blackness Be Divine (Performance Visuals) youtu.be

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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