Audio

Ms. Lauryn Hill Just Dropped New Music

Listen to ‘Rebel/I Find It Hard To Say,’ a new version of Ms. Lauryn Hill’s tribute to Amadou Diallo.

Here’s something no one’s said in a very, very long time: Ms. Lauryn Hill has new music. Sort of.


The Diaspora Calling curator has just shared “Rebel/I Find It Hard To Say.” It’s an updated version of “I Find It Hard To Say (Rebel),” which originally appeared on 2002’s MTV Unplugged 2.0.

The song is streaming exclusively on Tidal. If you’re not subscribed you can still listen to a 30-second preview.

Hill wrote "Rebel" about Amadou Diallo, the 23-year-old Liberian-born college student who was shot and killed by four NYPD officers in the Bronx on February 4, 1999. At the outset of the MTV Unplugged version, she explained "It was such a hot time in the city at that point, I was afraid that if I put the record out, people would misunderstand what I meant by 'Rebel' and they just take it to the streets."

The song carries a haunting relevance in 2016 America. “Old tune, new Version, same context, even more relevant now: sick and tired of being sick and tired,” MLH said in a statement.

Ms. Hill is currently in the middle of her Diaspora Calling! tour alongside special guests like Nas, Machel Montano, Kehlani, Talib Kweli, Little Simz, Noname, Seun Kuti, Jojo Abot, EL and a number of other artists from across the diaspora. Head here for the full list of dates.

In more MLH news, the singer pretty much made Nicki Minaj's life this weekend. The two of them–one of whom is the idol and source of a high school yearbook quote for the other one–met backstage Saturday night at the TIDAL X: 1015 benefit concert in Brooklyn. Do yourself a favor and check out their encounter below. It's pretty amazing.

I quoted her in my HS YEARBOOK!!!!! Like ????????

A photo posted by Nicki Minaj (@nickiminaj) on

?????????????????????? #MsLaurynHill

A photo posted by Nicki Minaj (@nickiminaj) on

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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