Video

Watch Our Premiere of Lulu James' Psychedelic Video for 'Mto'

The British-Tanzanian artist gives us a taste of her upcoming personal explorative album with "Mto."

Lulu James is back, and she's dawned a new moniker: #3rdCultureKid.

"Mto" is the perfect tease for Lulu's upcoming album, which will be a thorough gaze into her background and transition as an artist.


Prior to the production of her latest album, Lulu traveled back to her hometown in Tanzania, a trip which restored her of her Tanzanian roots, familial history, and musical upbringing that inspired her sound. That epiphanic trip birthed "Mto."

In "Mto," Lulu sings about her refuge back home, which provided a place for her to re-center herself, unwind, and be free.

The music video's culmination of complex, psychedelic-like images with an African twist, contracted from images of her body, gives audiences insight into her personal space in an innovative way. The music video is almost eye-flinching with its invasiveness, but Lulu invites the viewer to look and listen further to better understand her world, and obtain a new love for her sound.

"I hung out by the river nearly everyday in a place called Mto Wa Mbu. This is the place where my album was written and the place where my story unfolded. I reconnected with my language, spending time with family and musicians who helped me find my voice in Swahili. Mto is my first single, and hopefully, it paints the picture of the sunny and magical place where we hung out writing music everyday."
— Lulu James

After Glastonbury, WOMAD, Coachella, and many other popular performances, Lulu will be re-grounding herself with new music to come later this year.

In the meantime, enjoy our premier of Lulu James' "Mto," below.

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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