Arts + Culture

LargeUp Feature: Kehinde Wiley Takes On Jamaica

Kehinde Wiley takes his classic nobility portraits to Jamaica, view his entire new exhibit.


Our Caribbean family over at LargeUp recently dove into Okayafrica favorite Kehinde Wiley's latest exhibition The World Stage: Jamaica, which launched this week at the Stephen Friedman Gallery in London. For his latest series, Kehinde took his classic nobility portraits of modern young black men to Jamaica,

"a place where moggling is a sport — [that is] perfectly suited to Wiley’s method, in which he casts for models literally on the street. The World Stage: Jamaica also differs from many of Wiley’s previous exhibitions in that it features a mixture of women and men— perhaps an acknowledgment of the assertive role females have always played in Jamaican society and public life."

>>>Read the review and see the full Kehinde Wiley exhibit over at LargeUp

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.

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