Kamasi Washington Reveals South Africa's Influence on the Foundation of his Career

We caught up with Kamasi Washington at the 18th Annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival where he was a headliner.

Kamasi Washington is a generous performer.

The talented saxophonist, who released his debut studio album Epic in 2015, was in South Africa recently for the 18th Annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival, where he headlined Saturday's performance.

As this was his first time in the continent, one would think he'd use the stage to exclusively showcase his talent, but instead he allowed a range of performers to play or sing alongside his band. Having performed with Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus and Thundercat in the past, the mild-mannered musician opened up about collaborative work and his love of the evolving genre of jazz.

"When I first got into jazz it was through my dad's record collection," Washington told OkayAfrica about his love of African music. "And his first record that he ever got was Hugh Masekela's The Americanization of Ooga Booga, so when I got into jazz that's like one of the first records he gave me too. I've always been a huge Masekela fan and Fela definitely impacted me a lot."

The 36-year-old contends that while it may not be distinctly heard in his songs, he infuses his love of artists of the Diaspora into his work.

"My music is a fusion of all the music that I listen to," he said. "I don't usually target one thing in any one song. I want it to be the best that it can be, so I pull from anywhere I can."

Signed to Brainfeeder, the independent record label founded by Flying Lotus, Washington just released his first single in over two year, "Truth." He's also announced a new EP, Harmony of Difference, and a global deal with Young Turks.

Washington is constantly around creatives who blend sounds and genres. During his performance at what's considered to be one of Africa's biggest music festivals, he gave his best friend and keyboardist, Brandon Coleman a solo in addition to a quick scratch from Battlecat who was along for the trip.

When asked if he'd ever venture into other instruments, Kamasi kept it honest.

"I can play a lot of different instruments, but the only one to really tap into my soul and express myself is the saxophone... and almost only on tenor saxophone."

Adding, "It takes a lot. When I was younger I would probably spend eight, nine hours a day, so it takes a lot of time to really connect with an instrument like that. The connection between a person and the instrument takes a lot. It's not a free one."

For more on the festival, check out how the Women of Cape Town International Jazz Festival showed the beautiful diversity of "Africa's Grandest Gathering."

#SouthAfrica #Beautiful

A post shared by kamasi washington (@kamasiwashington) on


Adekunle Gold Is Living His Best Life

We speak to the Nigerian star about how marriage and fatherhood have led him to find both newfound happiness and newfound freedom as an artist.

''I'm having the time of my life,'' says Adekunle Gold over a Zoom call while seated in his office in Lagos. ''I'm making songs that are so true to my current energy, my current vibe.'' When I got on the call with the 34-year-old artist on a Wednesday afternoon, the first thing I noticed was his hair tied up in little braids, the second was his wide smile. As we speak, the crooner laughs multiple times but it's his aura that shines through the computer screen, it lets you know better than his words that he's truly having the time of life.

Born Adekunle Kosoko, the popular Nigerian singer got married barely two years ago to fellow artist Simi. Last year, the power couple welcomed their first child. As we talk, Gold points to his journey as a father and a husband as some of the biggest inspirations at the moment not just as far as music goes but as his perspective in life and how he now approaches things.

''My [artistry] has changed a lot because being a father and being a husband has made me grow a lot and more.'' Adekunle Gold tells OkayAfrica. ''It has made me understand life a lot more too. I'm feeling more responsible for people. You know, now I have a kid to raise and I have a wife to support, to be a real man and husband and father for.'' He credits this journey with both his newfound happiness and a newfound freedom as an artist.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox


The 5 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Fireboy DML, Juls, Adekunle Gold and more.