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No, Jay-Z Is Not Releasing an African-Themed Album Named 'Ascension'

We thought pandemics cancelled out April Fools' jokes.

Jay-Z's name has been making the rounds on Twitter today, April 1, because of a track list and cover artwork circulating around his "new album" Ascension.

The "rumors" show a track list that includes features from African stars like Sarkodie, Nasty C, Femi Kuti and Olamide, promoting it as a new African-themed album from Jay-Z.

Of course, neither Jay-Z, Roc Nation nor any official associates of the rap mogul have confirmed or mentioned anything about a new album.

The April Fools' joke seems to have started on African blogs/accounts like Charts Africa and NotJustOk, who initially posted the track list image.

NotJustOk took the joke even further by publishing a "quote" from Jay-Z attributed to a Roc Nation press statement: "I've always wanted to get in touch with my roots and connect to the motherland. You know, Africa is blessed with so much talent and I felt like it was time to tap into that resource. The Ascension is not just talking or focusing on Africa but it's also about me giving back to the people, familiarizing with the culture and connecting more with the motherland."

While we wish it were true, it's not. To be honest, the cover art alone should've given this away.

See some of the tweets and reactions below.









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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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