News

FELA! Comes To Chicago — Grab Discount Tickets!


As seen at our Okayplayer main channel, FELA! the musical hits Chi-town soon:

Like we told you, Fela!–the musical theater phenomenon that basically reinvented Broadway for the Okayplayer generation a few years ago—has hit the road. Next stop: Chicago. The musical devoted to the life of “Africa’s first rock-star” Fela Anikulapo Kuti, will be taking over the Oriental Theater at 24 West Randolph Street in Chicago for an extended run from today, March 27th-April 15th.

As a nod to our Okay-familia we're hooking FELA! Chicago audiences up with a 30% discount if you use promo code "AFROBEAT" when buying tickets online. Cop tickets here and see full details below!

FELA!

Theatre : Oriental Theatre, Chicago Illinois

Dates : March 27, 2012 – April 15, 2012

FELA!, the joyous dance, theater, music spectacle, has thrilled audiences in three continents. The Tony Award® winner, directed and choreographed by Bill T. Jones explores the extravagant world of Afrobeat legend, Fela Kuti. FELA! comes to Chicago’s Oriental Theater following its sold-out run at London’s prestigious National Theatre where The Guardian’s Michael Billington exclaimed, “It breaks down conventional barriers between stage and auditorium and joins passion and politics. The dancing is ecstatic, the music lifts the spirits, and the stage is alive with movement.” After Ben Brantley of the New York Times raved, “There should be dancing in the streets!” Bill T. Jones earned a Tony Award® for Best Choreographer. He was also given the Astaire Award and received a 2010 Kennedy Center Honor along with Oprah Winfrey.

Ticket prices are $25 to $90.

Groups of 15 or more, now on sale!

Call 312-977-1710

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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