Focalistic marries hip-hop, amapiano and kwaito in new EP 'Quarantined Tarantino.'

Focalistic’s New EP ‘Quarantined Tarantino’ is a Satisfying Blend of Hip-Hop, Kwaito and Amapiano

Stream Focalistic's new EP 'Quarantined Tarantino.'

In his latest EP Quarantined Tarantino, Focalistic manages to strike a balance between the South African artist's hip-hop roots and his recent flirtations with amapiano and kwaito.

For the first three songs, Quarantined Tarantino traces the relationship between 90s' kwaito and amapiano, sometimes blurring the line between the two. One of the project's many highlights "Patrice Motsepe" follows the same format and manages to simultaneously sound nostalgic and current.

The beats on the rest of the project lean towards trap. His interpretation of the production and the usage of Pitori slang are some of the factors that differentiate him from his counterparts.

Quarantined Tarantino is presented as a collection of scenes from Focalistic's life story. Explaining the title, which is play on words on famed director Quentin Tarantino and the current lockdown due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the rapper said:

"When the lockdown was commissioned, I felt like a lot of people were feeling trapped. A lot of people felt like this was a moment where they couldn't do anything about everything. Especially the ones in the arts. My way of resistance is the EP. I'm resisting becoming complacent, resisting the temptations of leaving my art, and hopefully I can inspire people to be as productive as they can."

Focalistic's imprint 18 Area Holdings teamed up with the label Vth Season to release Quarantined Tarantino. "He is one of the most complete artist package we have seen in SA," said Raphael Benza of Vth Season in a press release. "A genius wordsmith in multiple languages, versatile producer and exciting entertainer." No lie detected.

Focalistic has been releasing music consistently since his emergence circa 2017. He has collaborated with the likes of Cassper Nyovest, Emtee, Major League DJz and Mr JazziQ among a few others.

Stream Quarantined Tarantino on Apple Music, Spotify and Deezer.


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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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