Events

NYC: The Most Remote Music Festival In The World


The Sahara Desert is the most unsuspecting spot for a music festival of this magnitude, but The Festival in the Desert continues to draw crowds to Timbuktu every year. Despite travel warnings, folks come out to hear music from West African, Tuareg, and Malian musicians, as well as big-name western acts such as Jimmy Buffet and Robert Plant. The Essakane Film , (trailer above) is about the battle to keep the festival going. This Thursday, Nov. 17, there will be a fundraiser and cocktail party for the film at The Player's Club in Gramercy Park in NYC from 7:30-11:00pm. You don't want to miss performances by  Essakane Film stars, the renowned Tuareg poet-guitarists Tinariwen, and American musicians JeConte and Leni Stern, as well as sneak peek footage from the film. Manny Ansar, the director of the Festival in the Desert, will also be flying in from Mali to attend. For more info click here. Purchase discounted tickets here.

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.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

How Nigerian Streetwear Brand, Daltimore, is Rising To Celebrity Status

We spoke with founder and creative director David Omigie about expression through clothing and that #BBNaija pic.