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Win Tix to 'Mic Check: Hip-Hop From N. Africa & The Middle East' at BAM!

Win a pair to Tickets to 'Mic Check: Hip Hop from North Africa and the Middle East' 7-9th March 2013 to see Shadia Mansour, Deeb, El Général, Amkoullel


This week, some of the dopest Arabic MCs will descend on Brooklyn, NY. BAM has paired up with curator Zeyba Rahman to present Mic Check: Hip-Hop from North Africa and the Middle East to bring Mali's Amkoullel, Egypt's Deeb,  Shadia Mansour from the UK and Palestine, and Tunisia's El Général together to talk about their work, the social and political change sweeping the Arabic-speaking world, and to perform live.

Banned, exiled and imprisoned for their political defiance, these four artists share a commitment to conveying their realities through hip-hop. Okayafrica is giving away a pair of tickets to one lucky winner who'll attend the talk on Thursday March 7th, 7pm and the live show on Saturday March 9th, 7:30pm. To win, tweet us @Okayafrica with hashtag #MicCheckBK by 9AM Thursday 7th. Read a little about the artists here and good luck!

SHADIA MANSOUR

Born in London to Palestinian parents, Shadia Mansour grew up listening to and singing music in Arabic. She began rapping in Arabic 'as a hobby' before deciding to 'claim a voice and identity'. That voice was Arabic and the identity Palestinian. Avoiding the pressure many non-white first-generation Brits feel to call themselves British and nothing else, the young emcee began rapping in Arabic and make representing the daily realities of Palestinian life the driving force of her creative output. Often dubbed the first lady of Arabic hip hop Shadia has collaborated with Narcysist and M1 of Dead Prez.

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DEEB

Born in Cairo in 1984, Deeb cut his teeth with Egyptian hip hip ground Asfalt. He's been making waves since then and is currently working on his solo EP 'Cairofornia'. He is passionate about hip hop, and his work harnesses the form's power as a 'language for resistance against cultural, ethnic or social discrimination and corruption.' He affords that power to 'the spirit of its roots' in African American culture, paying homage to the black Americans who found power in rap to speak out against oppression. For him the most remarkable thing about the January 25 demonstrations was that Egyptians 'broke the fear barrier'. His music was very much part of the movement; marching with protestors he heard the lyrics to his track 'Stand up Egypt' being sung.

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AMKOULLEL

Amkoullel is one of the best-known hip hop artists out of Mali, and he's been passionate about the form for a long time. At 13 he was banned from Malian radio for his forthright, critical rhymes, and a year later he was using scholarship money to stage his own rap concert. Naturally, he's been very vocal about the situation in northern Mali which he sees as a threat to democracy and Malian sovereignty. In response, he formed the collective Plus Jamais Ça (Never Again), and on April 25th 2012 gathered 1500 people to form a human chain to symbolise solidarity with the population of the North. His track S.O.S. attempts to bring awareness to the gravity of the situation in northern Mali and

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EL GÉNÉRAL

On December 24, 2010 El Général was arrested by the Tunisian police and imprisoned for three days. Two days before, the second of his protest songs - his track 'Tunisia Our Country' - had been released. The first, 'Rais Lebled' an angry protest banger, that addresses the Tunisian head of state (then NAME), has been described as the 'anthem of Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution'. Catch this revolutionary while he's around: Mic Check is El Général's US debut.

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Introducing OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 List

Celebrating African Women Laying the Groundwork for the Future

It would not be hyperbole to consider the individuals we're honoring for OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 list as architects of the future.

This is to say that these women are building infrastructure, both literally and metaphorically, for future generations in Africa and in the Diaspora. And they are doing so intentionally, reaching back, laterally, and forward to bridge gaps and make sure the steps they built—and not without hard work, mines of microaggressions, and challenges—are sturdy enough for the next ascent.

In short, the women on this year's list are laying the groundwork for other women to follow. It's what late author and American novelist Toni Morrison would call your "real job."

"I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else."

And that's what inspired us in the curation of this year's list. Our honorees use various mediums to get the job done—DJ's, fashion designers, historians, anthropologists, and even venture capitalists—but each with the mission to clear the road ahead for generations to come. Incredible African women like Eden Ghebreselassie, a marketing lead at ESPN who created a non-profit to fight energy poverty in Eritrea; or Baratang Miya, who is quite literally building technology clubs for disadvantaged youth in South Africa.

There are the builds that aren't physically tangible—movements that inspire women to show up confidently in their skin, like Enam Asiama's quest to normalize plus-sized bodies and Frédérique (Freddie) Harrel's push for Black and African women to embrace the kink and curl of their hair.

And then there are those who use their words to build power, to take control of the narrative, and to usher in true inclusion and equity. Journalists, (sisters Nikki and Lola Ogunnaike), a novelist (Oyinkan Braithwaite), a media maven (Yolisa Phahle), and a number of historians (Nana Oforiatta Ayim, Leïla Sy) to name a few.

In a time of uncertainty in the world, there's assuredness in the mission to bring up our people. We know this moment of global challenge won't last. It is why we are moving forward to share this labor of love with you, our trusted and loyal audience. We hope that this list serves as a beacon for you during this moment—insurance that future generations will be alright. And we have our honorees to thank for securing that future.

EXPERIENCE 100 WOMEN 2020

The annual OkayAfrica 100 Women List is our effort to acknowledge and uplift African women, not only as a resource that has and will continue to enrich the world we live in, but as a group that deserves to be recognized, reinforced and treasured on a global scale. In the spirit of building infrastructure, this year's list will go beyond the month of March (Women's History Month in America) and close in September during Women's Month in South Africa.

100 women 2020

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Burna Boy 'African Giant' money cover art by Sajjad.

The 20 Essential Burna Boy Songs

We comb through the Nigerian star's hit-filled discography to select 20 essential songs from the African Giant.

Since bursting onto the scene in 2012 with his chart-topping single, "Like to Party," and the subsequent release of his debut album, L.I.F.E - Leaving an Impact for eternity, Burna Boy has continued to prove time and again that he is a force to be reckoned with.

The African Giant has, over the years, built a remarkable musical identity around the ardent blend of dancehall, hip-hop, reggae, R&B, and afropop to create a game-changing genre he calls afro-fusion. The result has been top tier singles, phenomenal collaborations, and global stardom—with several accolades under his belt which include a Grammy nomination and African Giant earning a spot on many publications' best albums of 2019.

We thought to delve into his hit-filled discography to bring you The 20 Essential Burna Boy Songs.

This list is in no particular order.

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Justice Mukheli. Courtesy of Black Major/Bongeziwe Mabandla.

Interview: Bongeziwe Mabandla's New Album Is a Calm Meditation On Relationships

We speak with the South African artist about his captivating new album, iimini, love cycles, and the unexpected influence of Bon Iver.

"I've been playing at home for so many years and pretending to be having shows in my living room, and today it's actually happening," Bongeziwe Mabandla says, smiling out at me from my cellphone as I watch him play songs on Instagram Live, guitar close to his chest.

Two weekends ago, Mabandla was meant to be celebrating the release of his third album, iimini, at the Untitled Basement in Braamfontein in Joburg, which would no doubt have been packed with some of the many fans the musician has made since his debut release, Umlilo, in 2012. With South Africa joining many other parts of the world in a lockdown, those dates were cancelled and Mabandla, like many other artists, took to social media to still play some tracks from the album. The songs on iimini are about the life and death of a relationship—songs that are finding their way into the hearts of fans around the world, some of whom, now stuck in isolation, may be having to confront the ups and downs of love, with nowhere to hide.

The day before his Instagram Live mini-show, Mabandla spoke to OkayAfrica on lockdown from his home in Newtown about the lessons he's learned from making the album, his new-found love for Bon Iver, and how he's going to be spending his time over the next few weeks.

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Lueking Photos. Courtesy of emPawa Africa.

Interview: GuiltyBeatz Proves He's Truly 'Different'

The Ghanaian producer talks to us about his debut EP, Different, the massive success of "Akwaaba," producing for Beyoncé and more.

GuiltyBeatz isn't a new name in the Ghanaian music scene. A casual music fan's first introduction to him would've likely been years ago on "Sample You," one of Mr Eazi's early breakout hits. However, he had scored his first major hit two years before that, in the Nigerian music space on Jesse Jagz' and Wizkid's 2013 hit "Bad Girl." In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists.

In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists, having worked with the likes of Efya, Pappy Kojo, Sarkodie, R2Bees, Stonebwoy, Bisa Kdei, Wande Coal, Moelogo and many more over the last decade. The biggest break of the talented producer's career, however, came with the arrival of his own single "Akwaaba".

In 2018, GuiltyBeatz shared "Akwaaba" under Mr Eazi's Banku Music imprint, shortly afterwards the song and its accompanying dance went viral. The track and dance graced party floors, music & dance videos, and even church auditoriums all around the world, instantly making him one of Africa's most influential producers. Awards, nominations, and festival bookings followed the huge success of "Akwaaba." Then, exactly a year later, the biggest highlight of his career so far would arrive: three production credits on Beyoncé's album The Lion King: The Gift.

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