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Kelela: "White People Don't Understand. Black People Don’t Have The Space To Suck"

Kelela gets real in a cover story for The FADER ahead of the release of her debut album "Take Me Apart."

Kelela laid down the truth with some choice words about her journey to releasing her upcoming debut album, Take Me Apart, in a recent cover story for The FADER.

After years of feeling as if it was "too late" to start her career, Kelela, a second-generation Ethiopian American, finally built the courage to write her first song when she was 25 years old.


The courage that she gained helped her to overcome self doubt and to persevere over misogynoir (the intersection of racism and sexism directed at black women).

The album title, Take Me Apart, demonstrates the importance she places on honest self-expression, and her belief that everyone should take risks.

Kelela knows that it's not easy and that it takes courage.

She told The FADER's Lakin Starling, “When you demand somebody take you apart, then you're the boss. It's so strong. You must have a lot of confidence to say that comfortably. It feels risky, I feel my heart pound a little bit harder, but that's who I am."

She's particularly attuned to how this struggle falls upon black women in the music industry, for whom the stakes are particularly high. It's not necessarily that black people are more "artistically inclined," she said. "It's because we don't have the space to suck."

The album, which was produced by Jam City, is true to Kelela's affinity for electronic music, but is also "fully grounded in R&B's brave emotional honesty," according to The FADER.

At a time when dishonesty goes unchecked more often than ever, this type of straight talk is unfortunately rare. We're glad to have Kelela and Take Me Apart is right on time.
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Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images.

Angélique Kidjo on Africa Day: 'We demand not to be at the mercy of our circumstances anymore.'

We speak to the inimitable Angélique Kidjo who shares some of her refreshing thoughts on Africa Day.

Today is Africa Day and while primarily a commemoration of the formation of the African Union (AU) back in 1963, it has also become an opportunity to unapologetically celebrate Africa while providing a moment for reflection on how far we've come as a continent and as a people.

With this year's theme focused on "Silencing the Guns in the context of the COVID19", there has never been a more important time for deep reflection on our collective present and future as Africans.

And who better to share in that reflection than the legendary and inimitable Beninese musician Angélique Kidjo? A fierce African and artist who has paved the way for many of her contemporaries including Burna Boy, Davido, Thandiswa Mazwai, and several others, the four-time Grammy award winner emphasises the urgent need for unity among Africans. 'It's about time that people start realising that Africa is a continent. I've been saying this my entire career,' she says passionately.

OkayAfrica spoke briefly to Kidjo who shared some of her refreshing thoughts on this year's Africa Day.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Thandiswa Mazwai to Host 'Play Your Part Africa' Virtual Concert

'King Tha' will commemorate Africa Day with a virtual concert set to take place on May 30th.