Africa In Your Earbuds

AFRICA IN YOUR EARBUDS #60: MIKAEL SEIFU

Download Ethiopian beatmaker Mikael Seifu's Africa In Your Earbuds, a hazy journey through reinterpreted Ethiopian sounds.


Cover Artwork by Underdog.

Ethiopian beatsmith Mikael Seifu made his impressive debut this year with the 4-track Yarada Lij EP and loose single "Tuff Ruff" — a striking hybrid of house & UK garage production with secular azmari folk and sacred music traditions of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The Addis Ababa-based producer, who cites labelmate Endeguena Mulu, Burial, traditional Ethiopian folk, and Scott Storch as his influences, is the torch-bearing artist on the newly formed Washington, D.C. imprint 1432 R.

For his Africa In Your Earbuds mixtape, Mikael Seifu delivers an astounding, hazy journey through reinterpreted Ethiopian folk sounds. The producer mentions, "The last two songs are the only unaltered from the mix. I basically went for it and picked artists of Ethiopia or who are Ethiopian. That being said I used bits and pieces of their works and composed on top of that for the mix. One can say the majority of the mix is technically original stuff with it's major influence and theme being Ethiopian folk."

Download AIYE# 60: Mikael Seifu below. Check out the mixtape's sample & tracklist, plus our previous Africa In Your Earbuds releases, listed underneath.

Samples Used For Mix/Tracklist:

Ethiopian Folk

Tommy T-Oromo Dub (Cushitic Dub)

Gash Abera Molla- Enkutatash & other

Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou: The Last Tears of a Deceased

Addis Acoustic Project: Soundcheck at Jazzamba Club

Hailu Mergia- Ambassel

Seifu Yohannes- Yekermo Sew

Zion Rebels ft. Lion Heart Soldiers, Tiger & Black Haze: Dess Yebelesh

Lema Guebre-Hiwot: Medina Zelessegna

Get more African mixtapes from Africa In Your Earbuds:

GARTH TRINIDADDJ SPOKOCAPTAIN PLANETTHE HAPPY SHOWCLAP! CLAP!DJ GIOUMANNEALEXIS TAYLOR OF HOT CHIPCARLOS MENAZACH COWIEELIJAH WOODKOOL A.D.SOL POWER ALL-STARSDJ NUNASNIC OFFER OF !!!LARRY ACHIAMPONGKYLA-ROSE SMITH OF FRESHLYGROUNDTHE GTWRADIO TANZANIAJON THEODOREDESMOND & THE TUTUSMATHIEU SCHREYER IIYOUNG FATHERSBBRAVE OF AKWAABAOLD MONEYDJ NEPTUNESAHEL SOUNDSBEATENBERGM1 [DEAD PREZ]BODDHI SATVAL'AFRIQUE SOM SYSTEMENOMADIC WAX THE BROTHER MOVES ONLVBEN ASSITER [JAMES BLAKE'S DRUMMER]JAKOBSNAKE CHRISTIAN TIGER SCHOOLSAUL WILLIAMSTUNE-YARDSMATHIEU SCHREYERBLK JKSALEC LOMAMIDJ MOMAAWESOME TAPES FROM AFRICAPETITE NOIROLUGBENGA RICH MEDINAVOICES OF BLACK LAMIN FOFANA CHICO MANNDJ UNDERDOGDJ OBAHSABINEBROTHA ONACIDJ AQBTJUST A BANDSTIMULUSQOOL DJ MARVSINKANECHIEF BOIMA

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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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