Africa In Your Earbuds

AFRICA IN YOUR EARBUDS #67: JIDENNA & NANA KWABENA

Jidenna and his DJ & co-producer Nana Kwabena curate an Africa In Your Earbuds mixtape packed with classic staples and afro-house bangers.


Cover artwork by Underdog.

It's been a colossal year for Jidenna. With the help of radio-hit earworms like "Classic Man" and "Yoga," the Nigerian-American artist has positioned himself as an emerging star across the U.S. and one of the leading lights of Janelle Monáe's Wondaland Records. During his rise, the singer — who was born in Wisconsin to an Igbo father and an American mother — has promoted his Nigerian identity by penning impassioned open letters and crediting "Nigerian excellence" as the inspiration behind his breakout single. It is fitting that Jidenna's name means “embracing the father” in Igbo.

Though less in the spotlight, Nana Kwabena has played a big role in the rise of the "Classic Man" and the renaissance of his dapper aesthetic. As Jidenna's DJ, co-producer and member of their social club Fear & Fancy, the Ghanaian-bred musician has earned songwriting & production credits on Jidenna's two biggest hits to date, as well as formed an integral part of his live show.

"Africa's influence on American culture has been longstanding." Jidenna & Nana tell Okayafrica in an email. "Over the past half decade, there's been a wave of African culture in the American marketplace. Now debates about Nigerian and Ghanaian Jollof have a worldwide Twitter stage; Ntoma has a Tumblr and Pinterest page; Azonto has found its way to Chris Brown's choreography and Ankara is a part of Beyoncé's wardrobe."

"Africa has long embraced American pop culture and previous American generations have reciprocated that appreciation, particularly within music. From Quincy Jones' and Michael Jackson's cultivation of "Off The Wall" and "Thriller" to Paul McCartney's weeping after witnessing Fela play for the first time, to James Brown sending his arranger to The Shrine in Lagos to study Tony Allen's drum grooves."

"Fast-forward and now Africa has solidified a home in America's mainstream within the millennial generation. It's about time. 'Soon come' has long arrived and, at the risk of preaching to the choir, it suffices to say that Africa is no longer relegated only to the future. It is the here and now. This mix was inspired by the need to continually bridge the gaps within the Diaspora and to allow transcultural diffusion to pave the way for cross-collaboration amidst a new generation of thinkers, tastemakers and social architects."

Stream AIYE #67: Jidenna & Nana Kwabena above and read the mixtape's full tracklist below. View our previous Africa In Your Earbuds releases listed underneath.

Tracklist:

01. Fela Kuti - Roforofo Fight [Nigeria]

02. R2Bees - Lobi [Ghana]

03. Rihanna - BBHMM Mavin Remix feat. Tiwa Savage & Reekado Banks [Nigeria]

04. Mafikizolo - Khona ft Uhuru [South Africa]

05. WizKid - In My Bed [Nigeria]

06. Mafikizolo - Happiness [South Africa]

07. Drake - Know Yourself (Fasta & Kid Kayne Afro Bootleg) [Netherlands]

08. Buraka Som Sistema - Komba feat. Kaysha [Portugal]

09. Janelle Monaé - Tightrope (Salah Ananse Remix) [United States]

10. Fela Kuti - Eko Ile [Nigeria]

11. Oscar Sulley - Bukom [Ghana]

12. Seun Kuti - Mosquito Song [Nigeria]

13. Fela Kuti - Colonial Mentality [Nigeria]

14. Fela Kuti - Ariya [Nigeria]

15. Femi Kuti - Look Around [Nigeria]

16. The Lijadu Sisters - Not Any Longer [Nigeria]

17. Sarkodie - Dumsor [Ghana]

18. Jidenna - Classic Man ft. Kendrick Lamar (OxV Official Remix) [United States]

19. WizKid - Ojuelegba Remix ft. Drake & Skepta [Nigeria]

20. Stonebwoy - Baafira ft. Sarkodie [Ghana]

21. Navy Kenzo - Game ft. Vanessa Mdee [Tanzania]

22. E.L - Shelele [Ghana]

23. Iyanya - Applaudise [Nigeria]

24. Patoranking - My Woman, My Everything ft. Wande Coal [Nigeria]

25. Burna Boy - Follow Me [Nigeria]

26. Stromae - Ave Cesaria [Belgium]

27. Four Tet - TTIBPTPKAAATJUIHRAMADPOBR [England]

28. Sauti Sol, General Pype & Sasha P - Mara Hio Hio (Instrumental) [Kenya/Nigeria]

29. Kiss Daniel - Laye [Nigeria]

30. Various Artists - Racines [Cameroon]

31. Timaya - Some More [Nigeria]

32. Criss Waddle - Pepeepe ft Mugeez [Ghana]

33. Alikiba - Chekecha Cheketua [Tanzania]

Get more African mixtapes from Africa In Your Earbuds:

OWINY SIGOMA BANDDJ UMBTEJU COLE — NICKODEMUSMARAMZADOOKOOM — MIKAEL SEIFUGARTH TRINIDAD — DJ SPOKO — CAPTAIN PLANETTHE HAPPY SHOWCLAP! CLAP!DJ GIOUMANNEALEXIS TAYLOR OF HOT CHIP— CARLOS MENA — ZACH COWIE — ELIJAH WOOD — KOOL A.D. — SOL POWER ALL-STARS — DJ NUNAS — NIC OFFER OF !!! — LARRY ACHIAMPONG — KYLA-ROSE SMITH OF FRESHLYGROUND— THE GTW — RADIO TANZANIA — JON THEODORE — DESMOND & THE TUTUS — MATHIEU SCHREYER II — YOUNG FATHERS — BBRAVE OF AKWAABA — OLD MONEY — DJ NEPTUNE — SAHEL SOUNDS — BEATENBERG — M1 [DEAD PREZ] — BODDHI SATVA — L’AFRIQUE SOM SYSTEME — NOMADIC WAX —  THE BROTHER MOVES ON — LV — BEN ASSITER [JAMES BLAKE’S DRUMMER] — JAKOBSNAKE — CHRISTIAN TIGER SCHOOL — SAUL WILLIAMS — TUNE-YARDS — MATHIEU SCHREYER — BLK JKS — ALEC LOMAMI — DJ MOMA — AWESOME TAPES FROM AFRICA — PETITE NOIR — OLUGBENGA — RICH MEDINA — VOICES OF BLACK — LAMIN FOFANA — CHICO MANN — DJ UNDERDOG — DJ OBAH — SABINE — BROTHA ONACI — DJ AQBT — JUST A BAND — STIMULUS — QOOL DJ MARV — SINKANE — CHIEF BOIMA

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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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