Music

First Listen: Making A Million From Grime is Possible for Lethal Bizzle

Lethal Bizzle is back with a new EP. Listen here.

Bizzle is clearly on a victory lap having titled his EP You'll Never Make A Mill Off Grime and the first single as “I Win”.


The song is produced by Skepta who also features, and whose verse is a little more focused than Bizzle’s.

“London” is an ode to the city and it works well as one despite taking its cue from Jay Z and Kanye West’s “Niggas In Paris” in the repetitive use of the new coinage “cray” and the swinging beat.

Bizzle’s victory run continues on “Celebrate” telling of his good life while Donae’o presses the point home on the hook, “We don't need an occasion, we celebrate”.

There's a lot more going on on “Million Pound Dream” than on any other song here.

Rather than belch about acquiring millions from a once (financially) barren genre, Bizzle chooses to give comfort to those who might not know that “not much changes, just security/ you don't need a mill to enjoy your life”.

Released in 2015, “Festerskank” is Bizzle’s biggest hit till date peaking at 11 on the UK singles chart. It was made by Diztortion, the Dutch producer, who a year later would make the similar sounding “Wobble”, only to repeat the same ‘feat’ here on “Hold On”.

The 2017 edition features Mostack who references “Festerskank” in a barefaced bar whose little meta-play makes the rehashing less stale that it wouldn't have been.

EP closer “Dear Rich, Thank You” is a song as letter to a friend who for Bizzle “Kick started the legacy” and to whom he’s “forever in debt”—all good intentions that would have benefited from less plainer chorus.

That aside, it is a fitting way a satisfying EP in a stellar year for grime releases. So yes, you will never make a million off grime - except that you can.

Sabo Kpade is a regular OkayAfrica contributor. His short story Chibok was shortlisted for the London Short Story Prize 2015. His first play, Have Mercy on Liverpool Street was longlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award. He lives in London. You can reach him at sabo.kpade@gmail.com

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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