News Brief
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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Lemn Sissay. Photo by Hamish Brown 2017 (Red Magazine).

British-Ethiopian Author, Lemn Sissay, Wins 2019 PEN Pinter Prize

Sissay's win marks the second year in a row that an author of African descent will be taking home the prestigious prize.

The UK's prestigious PEN Pinter Prize is awarded every year to a British writer who shows "outstanding literary merit" by casting an "unflinching, unswerving' gaze upon the world." This year, the coveted prize has been awarded to author, playwright, preformer and broadcaster Lemn Sissay.

Sissay, has enjoyed a long and successful literary career. He was the first poet commissioned to write for the 2012 Olympics in London and was awarded an MBE for his services to literature by the Queen of England. He is Poet Laureate of Canterbury and the winner of a NESTA New Radical Award for his work as a poet and a children's rights campaigner.

Sissay, who was born in England to an Ethiopian mother and has written extensively about the abuse he faced growing up in foster homes. He shared his story in a TED Talk entitled "A Child of the State" in 2014.

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News Brief
Abyssinia Rise cover artwork.

Te'Amir Explores His Ethiopian Heritage In the 'Abyssinia Rise' EP

The LA-based producer's latest project celebrates his Ethiopian roots.

Te'Amir is a Los Angeles-based drummer and producer who tours and records with soul singer Aloe Blacc.

In addition to that, he's played with many musicians from LA's unique hip-hop, soul and jazz scenes such as Kamasi Washington, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and others.

In his latest EP, Abyssinia Rise, Te'Amir continues to explore his Ethiopian heritage. He expertly blends electronic beats with traditional Ethiopian samples to create lively soundscapes that draw you in right away.

"The project was a way for me to connect to Ethiopia. I've never been there so I use the music to take me there," he mentions.

The EP is comprised of four standout tracks that transport the listener through the winding rivers and busy fields of the old Abyssinian empire before closing with an ascending sense of peace. There's no doubt that this project is a transcendent experience, filled with fresh and exciting sounds.

Listen to Te'Amir's new EP Abyssinia Rise below.

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Interview
Justice Mukheli. Courtesy of Black Major/Bongeziwe Mabandla.

Interview: Bongeziwe Mabandla's New Album Is a Calm Meditation On Relationships

We speak with the South African artist about his captivating new album, iimini, love cycles, and the unexpected influence of Bon Iver.

"I've been playing at home for so many years and pretending to be having shows in my living room, and today it's actually happening," Bongeziwe Mabandla says, smiling out at me from my cellphone as I watch him play songs on Instagram Live, guitar close to his chest.

Two weekends ago, Mabandla was meant to be celebrating the release of his third album, iimini, at the Untitled Basement in Braamfontein in Joburg, which would no doubt have been packed with some of the many fans the musician has made since his debut release, Umlilo, in 2012. With South Africa joining many other parts of the world in a lockdown, those dates were cancelled and Mabandla, like many other artists, took to social media to still play some tracks from the album. The songs on iimini are about the life and death of a relationship—songs that are finding their way into the hearts of fans around the world, some of whom, now stuck in isolation, may be having to confront the ups and downs of love, with nowhere to hide.

The day before his Instagram Live mini-show, Mabandla spoke to OkayAfrica on lockdown from his home in Newtown about the lessons he's learned from making the album, his new-found love for Bon Iver, and how he's going to be spending his time over the next few weeks.

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Interview
Lueking Photos. Courtesy of emPawa Africa.

Interview: GuiltyBeatz Proves He's Truly 'Different'

The Ghanaian producer talks to us about his debut EP, Different, the massive success of "Akwaaba," producing for Beyoncé and more.

GuiltyBeatz isn't a new name in the Ghanaian music scene. A casual music fan's first introduction to him would've likely been years ago on "Sample You," one of Mr Eazi's early breakout hits. However, he had scored his first major hit two years before that, in the Nigerian music space on Jesse Jagz' and Wizkid's 2013 hit "Bad Girl." In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists.

In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists, having worked with the likes of Efya, Pappy Kojo, Sarkodie, R2Bees, Stonebwoy, Bisa Kdei, Wande Coal, Moelogo and many more over the last decade. The biggest break of the talented producer's career, however, came with the arrival of his own single "Akwaaba".

In 2018, GuiltyBeatz shared "Akwaaba" under Mr Eazi's Banku Music imprint, shortly afterwards the song and its accompanying dance went viral. The track and dance graced party floors, music & dance videos, and even church auditoriums all around the world, instantly making him one of Africa's most influential producers. Awards, nominations, and festival bookings followed the huge success of "Akwaaba." Then, exactly a year later, the biggest highlight of his career so far would arrive: three production credits on Beyoncé's album The Lion King: The Gift.

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