Audio

Meklit Is Crowdsourcing Afros For Her 'Kemekem (I Like Your Afro)' Video

Ethiopian-American soul/jazz singer Meklit puts out a call for Afros to be featured in her video for 'Kemekem (I Like Your Afro).'


Photo by Jeremy Valencia

When last we reported on Ethiopian-American jazz-influenced songstress Meklit Hadero she was on the verge of launching a hip-hop space opera from her afrofuturistic crossover project CopperWire  along with fellow Ethiopians rapper Gabriel Teodros and producer Burntface. These days Meklit remains otherworldly. Her latest solo venture We Are Alive (out now via Six Degrees Records) has been garnering a steady stream of accolades (WSJ, USA Today, San Francisco Bay Guardian) for its seemingly effortless melding of traditional azmari soundscapes, soul, jazz and R&B.

"Kemekem (I Like Your Afro)," featuring Ethiopian pianist Samuel Yirga, is a standout off the new record. Sung entirely in Amharic, Meklit’s smoky vocal stylings breathe new life into the traditional Ethiopian love song, making it ripe for reinvention. Meklit recently put out an open call for “Afro coiffed folks of all ages” to be featured in the upcoming music video for the track. Interested participants are asked to send in a short video featuring their Afros in various states. We'll let Meklit explain the crowdsourcing campaign herself:

“WE ARE CROWD SOURCING AFROS!!! You can send in a 15-30 (ish) second video of you and your Afro representing you however you would like. You can be talking on the phone, cooking, dancing, looking in the mirror, picking out, braiding, unbraiding, smiling, frowning, clowning... it can be a group shot, a selfie, a duo, trio, any matter of Afro beauty. One section of the video will feature these videos”

Submissions are open now through July 23rd. Find out more information on the campaign and listen to "Kemekem (I Like Your Afro)" below.

[audio:http://www.okayafrica.com/wp-content/uploads/meklit-kemekem-i-like-your-afro-samuel-yirga.mp3|titles=Meklit "Kemekem (I Like Your Afro)"]

>>>UPLOAD YOUR AFRO VIDEO VIA JOTFORM

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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