Video

Kojey Radical On His Starkly Beautiful 'Bambu' Video

We talk to Ghanaian-British artist Kojey Radical about this "Bambu" music video, the lead single from his EP due later in 2015.


In mid-March, British-Ghanaian artist Kojey Radical dropped "Bambu," the darkly enthralling single from an EP due later this year. The spoken-word artist, poet, and creative director recently shared the song's music video, a starkly beautiful piece of work that shows Radical searching for truth in a gray, money-raining town. As the visuals circulate around the internet, the London-based artist and the video's South African director Alex Motlhabane spoke to us via e-mail about its creation, the meaning of "street poetry," and the relevance the video has for Africa.

Okayafrica: How did you go about making the already frighteningly vivid "Bambu" song into a music video that is even more so?

Kojey Radical: Vision, we had clear intentions when making this video. It wasn't about simply dictating a narrative it was about taking the exact words you've used to describe the visual and using that to paint a portrait. This visual is something we want people to discover and discuss; the pace of music and popular culture these days often causes us to skip over the details. The song already highlights everything I wanted to say about societal and cultural issues; what the video does is offer another perspective.

OKA: What went into the creation of such jarring images as money raining down on the main character and the woman, for example, or the main character gravely eating an orange?

Alex Motlhabane: We really just set out to put up powerful images to accompany the song. And those references are straight from the song. Everything just came together organically. It's just making sure you shoot them in the right context. Aesthetically the young black woman, the chain mail dress & the money raining down is simple enough but its the connotations that give it depth.

KR: Every scene has a connotation, some even strangely ironic but all the while presented with such an air of serious confidence. We spent a while writing a lot of scenes and when it came down to the shoot days we left a lot of those ideas behind and trusted our voices as young creatives and film makers.

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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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