News

16 Year-Old Ebony Oshunrinde aka WondaGurl Crafts Beat for Jay-Z

16 Year-Old Candadian/Nigerian Ebony Oshunrinde aka WondaGurl makes beat for Jay Z's platinum-selling album Magna Carter Holy Grail


The internet is abuzz with news of the precocious 16-year old producer WondaGurl, who helped craft a beat that made it onto Jay Z's platinum-selling new album, Magna Carta... Holy Grail. The track "Crown," was created by the Nigerian-Canadian teen Ebony Oshunrinde who has been making beats since since she was 9 years-old.  At 14 she entered Toronto's Battle of the Beatmakers but was eliminated in the quarterfinals. Not to be deterred, she returned the following year when WondaGurl took first place.  Success followed success and was signed by Black Box. Apparently, when she sent a track to Houston rapper Travi$ Scott he replied a few days later with the words: "I'm about to change your life." Scott played the track to Jay-Z, and then came the phonecall "You are on Jay Z's album, congratulations."

Despite her prodigious success, Ebony's Nigerian mother Jozie Oshunrinde is adamant that she keep studying. After winning Battle of the Beatmakers WondaGurl said in an interview "I just make sure I get my credits cause I know if I don't, my mother will not be okay with that at all, and possibly take all my music stuff away..."

You'll want to follow this girl wonder: @WondaGurlBeats. Here she is talking about her experience:

* Wondagurl with her mother Jozie Oshunrinde

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.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

How Nigerian Streetwear Brand, Daltimore, is Rising To Celebrity Status

We spoke with founder and creative director David Omigie about expression through clothing and that #BBNaija pic.