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Soundhunters: Ethiopian Producer Mikael Seifu's Interactive Lagos Documentary

Ethiopian electronic producer Mikael Seifu shares short Soundhunters film documenting his experience sampling the busy streets of Lagos.


Soundhunters is a new musical documentary project that allows users to sample the infinite sounds of the world. The interactive experience includes an app and a 'music machine' that lets users collect soundbites from their daily lives and use them to form their own musical creations. The project is described as a shared experience where "people from all over the world are invited to record sounds and create music tracks on a collaborative platform which draws the line of our sonic world."

As part of the project, Soundhunters has released four short documentaries that follow artists from different parts of the globe as they go about discovering sounds in various urban cities and creating new music. Ethiopian electronic beatmaker Mikael Seifu took a trip to Lagos, where he set out to explore the unifying role of Nigerian Pidgin English and its impact on the country's musical landscape. The short film shows the producer attempting to learn the dialect while connecting with industry insiders and using a hand-made parabolic microphone to record the booming sounds of the fast-paced city. At the end of the episode, viewers can create their own song using Seifu's samples. Watch the 15-minute Lagos-based short below, and check out other Soundhunters episodes with Daedelus in Berlin, Luke Vibert in New York and Simonne Jones in São Paulo. For more from Mikael Seifu, revisit his recent singles "The Lost Drum Beat" and "Brass".

>>>Stream Mikael Seifu's episode of Soundhunters in Lagos

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(Youtube)

7 Gengetone Acts You Need to Check Out

The streets speak gengetone: Kenya's gengetone sound is reverberating across East Africa and the world, get to know its main purveyors.

Sailors' "Wamlambez!"Wamlambez!" which roughly translates to "those who lick," is the cry the reverberated round the world, pushing the gengetone sound to the global stage. The response "wamnyonyez" roughly translates to "those who suck" and that should tell you all you need to know about the genre.

Known for its lewd lyrics and repetitive (often call and response) hooks, gengetone makes no apologies for belonging to the streets. First of all, most artists that create gengetone are grouped into bands with a few outliers like Zzero Sufuri riding solo. The songs themselves often feature a multiplicity of voices with screams and crowds coming through as ad libs, adding to this idea that this is definitely "outside" music.

Listening to Odi wa Muranga play with his vocal on the track "Thao" it's easy to think that this is the first, but gengetone fits snuggly in a history of sheng rap based on the kapuka style beat. Kapuka is onomatopoeically named, the beats have that repetitive drum-hat-drum skip that sounds like pu-ka-pu-ka-pu. Artists like Nonini were asking women to come over using this riff long before Ochungulo family told them to stay home if they aren't willing to give it up.

Here's seven gengetone groups worth listening to.

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