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London To Addis cover.

UK Grime Meets Ethiopian Music In 'London To Addis'

A new 18-track release from No Hats No Hoods Records.

London To Addis follows various grime producers as they take cues from the instrumentation, time signatures, and musical scales of Ethiopian music.

The project started out in Addis Ababa, where No Hats No Hoods label co-founder Peter Todd (DJ Magic) spent a week recording traditional Ethiopian instruments like the krar, washint, masenqo and drums.

He then sent those raw recordings to an array of grime produces—the likes of Dexplicit, Ignorants, J Beatz and TC4, JT The Goon, Wize, Shudan, Proc Fiskal and Captain Over—for them to make into their own tracks.

"The inspiration for the project came when we visited Ethiopia in 2016 to shoot the video for Elf Kid's "Reload That" video," Peter Todd tells OkayAfrica via e-mail. " While we were there we met up with local producers and musicians but didn't get chance to work with them properly."


"We were lucky enough to be awarded a new Arts new Audiences Grant from the British Council which helped fund the project. Lots of UK Black music, including Grime, draws heavily from West Africa and Jamaica, so it was a nice challenge to use Ethiopian instruments and explore a small part of their music scene," he continues.

"I found it inspiring to riff on the Ethiopian sounds; it allowed me to navigate a refreshing unexplored space," mentions producer Shudan. "I spend a lot of time thinking about how we can push the sound of Grime and bring something new to the table, instead of returning to the old sounds. I think we can move forwards by combining new concepts and ideas like this project."

Get into London To Addis below and stream it here on all platforms.

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Photo by Hamish Brown

In Conversation: Lemn Sissay On His New Book About Re-claiming the Ethiopian Heritage Stolen From Him by England’s Foster Care System

In 'My Name Is Why,' the 2019 PEN Pinter award winner passionately advocates for children in the institutional care system, and in turn tells a unique story of identity and the power in discovering one's heritage.

It took the author Lemn Sissay almost two decades to learn his real name. As an Ethiopian child growing up in England's care system, his cultural identity was systematically stripped from him at an early age. "For the first 18 years of my life I thought that my name was Norman," Sissay tells OkayAfrica. "I didn't meet a person of color until I was 10 years of age. I didn't know a person of color until I was 16. I didn't know I was Ethiopian until I was 16 years of age. They stole the memory of me from me. That is a land grab, you know? That is post-colonial, hallucinatory madness."

Sissay was not alone in this experience. As he notes in his powerful new memoir My Name Is Why, during the 1960s, tens of thousands of children in the UK were taken from their parents under dubious circumstances and put up for adoption. Sometimes, these placements were a matter of need, but other times, as was the case with Sissay, it was a result of the system preying on vulnerable parents. His case records, which he obtained in 2015 after a hardfought 30 year campaign, show that his mother was a victim of child "harvesting," in which young, single women were often forced into giving their children up for adoption before being sent back to their native countries. She tried to regain custody of young Sissay, but was unsuccessful.

Whether they end up in the foster system out of need or by mistake, Sissay says that most institutionalized children face the same fate of abuse under an inadequate and mismanaged system that fails to recognize their full humanity. For black children who are sent to white homes, it often means detachment from a culturally-sensitive environment. "There are too many brilliant people that I know who have been adopted by white parents for me to say that it just doesn't work," says Sissay. "But the problem is the amount of children that it doesn't work for."

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Michael Tewelde/Getty Images

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has Been Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

The prize acknowledges his efforts to "achieve peace and international cooperation".

According to the BBC, there were 301 candidates, 223 individuals and 78 organizations, that were nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. In the running was Germany's Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and activists involved in the current Hong Kong protests. The prestigious Swedish academy has, however, awarded the prize to Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, for the work he has done since taking up office in March of last year. Ahmed joins a number of notable Africans who've won the prize including South Africa's late former president Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the late Ghanaian former UN Secretary-General, Koffi Annan.

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Check out Cameroonian Crooner Vagabon’s New Ode to Female Power

The singer dropped a video for new single "Every Woman" today, shot by fellow Cameroonian director Lino Asana.

Cameroonian-born singer-songwriter Laetitia Tamko, better known as her stage name Vagabon, has been spoiling us with delights as of late. First, the crooner teased us with two singles, "Flood" and "Water Me Down" from her forthcoming sophomore album, Vagabon, a work she wrote and produced herself. And today, she surprised us with a new single and video for "Every Woman"—a track Tamko claims is the "thesis of the album," as per a press statement reported by The Fader magazine

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First All-Female Made Film in Uganda Wins Art House Prize in UK

Bed of Thorns, a movie about gender-based violence, takes home the Africa Focus Award.

This weekend saw a film from Uganda, Bed of Thorns (#Tosirika), claim the Africa Focus Award at the London Art House Film Festival. The film, directed and produced by Eleanor Nabwiso, tackles the subject of gender-based violence by weaving together the many tales of abuse within a circle of women as they prepare for their friend's wedding—not knowing that she, too, is being abused by her soon-to-be-husband. Comedian Martha Kay and media personality Malaika Tenshi made their film acting debuts to help tell the tale. The film also featured an all-female crew for the first time in Ugandan history.

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