Audio

Photo Diary: Dancehall Star I-Octane In Gambia

Browse through a gallery of photos from I-Octane's trip to Gambia and stream a remix of his collaboration with Gambian rapper T. Smallz.

I-Octane, the Jamaican dancehall star behind hits like "Happy Time" and "Lose A Friend," recently embarked on his first trip to Gambia, where he performed a concert at Banjul's National Stadium and collaborated with Gambian rapper T. Smallz on "Fire Dancer," a track which will be the subject of a forthcoming remix EP on KickRaux & Future Dancehall Records.


"This was my first trip to Africa," I-Octane explains in an exclusive with LargeUp. "I was looking forward to experiencing it for myself because I’ve always heard people talk about going back to their roots. My only knowledge of it was what I saw on TV, in books and what I’d hear, but I wanted to have my own experience. It was finally my time."

"It was a blessing to start with Gambia. I found it to be a lot like Jamaica. It was a spiritual elevation that has heightened my sense of purpose. The way I was embraced there, I feel Gambia will always be a part of me. I have to big up T. Smallz and the Katato team— A dem seh, Conquer the Globe! I’m hoping to go to other countries soon, places like Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Kenya. Our team is working towards doing a tour of the full continent in the near future."

Stream I-Octane and T. Smallz' "Fire Dancer," plus our Okayafrica and LargeUp joint premiere of producer Kush Arora's "Fire Dancer" remix, which takes the dancehall-meets-Gambian hip-hop style of original into bhangra reggae territory, below.

Scroll through selections from I-Octane's photo tour diary above and view the complete gallery over at LargeUp.

Music
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.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.