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‘Zelalem,’ An EP & Vintage Ethiopian Folk Mixtape From Producer Mikael Seifu

Ethiopian beatmaker Mikael Seifu shares his new EP 'Zelalem' and a 50-minute vintage Ethiopian folk mixtape.

Zelalem EP cover.


As we’ve told you, we’re really excited for Mikael Seifu’s new EP Zelalem. The Addis-Ababa-based producer’s had a hold on our ears since we first came across his Ethiopiyawi Electronic style—a blend of traditional Ethiopian folk sounds with UK garage & house beats—and his latest EP only furthers those sonic experiments.

Zelalem, which means “Eternity” in Amharic, is made up of five songs that sample and reshape the Masenko and Krar instruments used by Ethiopia’s azmaris to create hypnotizing productions that Seifu calls “eternally Ethiopian.”

“Mikael’s music does not westernize or electronicize extant Ethiopian music," Seifu’s label RVNG Intl. adds. "Instead, Seifu uses Ethio-Jazz’s spirit of brewing estranged styles for his own musical tincturing.”

Zelalem, out today via RVNG Intl., is accompanied by a 50-minute cassette mixtape from Seifu that compiles Ethiopian and African folk music. There's no tracklist or much more info out there about the mix, so if you recognize any of the tracks give us a shout.

Stream the Zelalem mixtape below and, if you’re in NYC, head to Mikael Seifu's EP release party tonight (details in the flyer underneath).

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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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