NYC: MoMA Nights with Masauko Chipembere

MoMA is closing its exhibition, Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now, with a musical performance by Masauko Chipembere. Apartheid in South Africa restricted opportunities for many artists, but they refused to let racism confine their creativity. Instead, black artists discovered alternative outlets through which they could express themselves – art centers, studios, print workshops, integrated theaters, publications, supportive galleries, and underground workshops and cooperatives. Printmaking, which produced a transportable, inexpensive, flexible, creative and collaborative environment for artists, became the means through ideas were be shared and political opposition was manifested and expressed. The art exhibit is a collection of 80 prints including stencils, books and posters that tell the story of South Africa's political struggle over the past fifty years. Visit the display and you'll see works from artists like Kudzanai Chiurai, Bitterkomix, William Kentridge, John Muafangejo, Sandile Goje, Senzeni Marasela, Claudette Schreuders, Sue Williamson and Cameron Platter.

The 2011 MoMA Nights series, programmed by Olivier Conon, has an international focus, featuring musicians from Africa, Indonesia, China, and South America to name a few. Come out on Thursday August, 11th at 5:30pm to see a favorite, Masauko Chipembere – multi-talented singer-songwriter-guitarist from Malawi but born in LA (to activist parents in political exile) – he fuses African styles like marabi, mbira, marrabenta, mbaqanga, kwasa kswasa, and afrobeat with American influences like soul, jazz, funk, and hip-hop. Masauko has collaborated with Ladybug Megga (Digable Planets), RZA (Wu-Tang Clan), and Brian Jackson (former band leader of Gil Scott-Heron). He'll be joined on stage with South African-Malawian friend, mentor, and songwriter Mongezi Ntaka, dancer Jamie Philbert, and singer Yolanda Sangweni. The artists will perform songs from Masauko's upcoming album, Family Album, and pay tribute to anti-apartheid activist and songstress, Mariam Makeba. The show lasts until 8:30. While you're enjoying some awesome tunes, grabs some drinks at the Sculpture Garden or food at Terrace 5.


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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