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Hailu Mergia’s 1978 Ethiopian Soul & Funk Album Gets The Vinyl Treatment

Awesome Tapes From Africa unearths the vintage Ethiopian sounds of Hailu Mergia and Dahlak Band with the reissue of "Wede Harer Guzo."


Legendary Ethiopian keyboardist, accordion player and composer Hailu Mergia had his band’s collection of Ethiopian songbook classics, Wede Harer Guzo, hidden in his closet for 30 years before it was finally unearthed a few years back. Now, the 1978 cassette is getting the vinyl treatment courtesy of the the folks at Awesome Tapes From Africa.

The Dahlak Band’s unique sound helped them reach new audiences during times of political instability in Ethiopia. " ‘Wede Harer Guzo’ (meaning ‘Journey to Harer,’ which is a town in Eastern Ethiopia) was recorded during a period of military-imposed curfews when clubs had to stay jamming until sunrise because people weren’t allowed on the streets at night” says Brian Shimkovitz of Awesome Tapes From Africa. Their unconventional sound appealed to younger listeners and offered an alternative to classic Ethio-Jazz.

The remastered version of Wede Harer Guzo drops on June 17, marking the first time that the album will be available on vinyl. Pre-order it here and listen to one of its featured tracks “Sintayehu” below. Haliu Mergia will continue his world tour this summer with stops in Brooklyn, Baltimore and at the Stolkholm Jazz Festival. Check out the dates underneath.

Hailu Mergia Tour Dates

June 18- Creative Alliance, Baltimore, MD 

July 1- Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, NY 

October 10- Stockholm Jazz Festival 

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(Youtube)

7 Gengetone Acts You Need to Check Out

The streets speak gengetone: Kenya's gengetone sound is reverberating across East Africa and the world, get to know its main purveyors.

Sailors' "Wamlambez!"Wamlambez!" which roughly translates to "those who lick," is the cry the reverberated round the world, pushing the gengetone sound to the global stage. The response "wamnyonyez" roughly translates to "those who suck" and that should tell you all you need to know about the genre.

Known for its lewd lyrics and repetitive (often call and response) hooks, gengetone makes no apologies for belonging to the streets. First of all, most artists that create gengetone are grouped into bands with a few outliers like Zzero Sufuri riding solo. The songs themselves often feature a multiplicity of voices with screams and crowds coming through as ad libs, adding to this idea that this is definitely "outside" music.

Listening to Odi wa Muranga play with his vocal on the track "Thao" it's easy to think that this is the first, but gengetone fits snuggly in a history of sheng rap based on the kapuka style beat. Kapuka is onomatopoeically named, the beats have that repetitive drum-hat-drum skip that sounds like pu-ka-pu-ka-pu. Artists like Nonini were asking women to come over using this riff long before Ochungulo family told them to stay home if they aren't willing to give it up.

Here's seven gengetone groups worth listening to.

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