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A Look Into Oakland's Scene

Okayafrica contributor Candi Martinez runs down a a look into Oakland's scene.


From artist collectives to all night dance parties, copious farmer's markets and an official holiday honouring hip-hop, Oakland never skips a chance to come together and celebrate life. With its diverse population of immigrants, artists, radicals, educators, taste makers, and free thinkers, the city is a cultural oasis, where nearly anything is possible. Here's a guide to a handful of groups, venues and events in Oakland dedicated to sharing and celebrating culture from across Africa and the diaspora.

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Visual Artists

Photo of Keba Konte

This list would be incomplete without honoring Oakland's artists. Painter/sculptor Eesuu Orundide blurs the line between fine art and street art. His 16 Cowries series (a semi-permanent installation at SF's African American Art & Cultural Complex) elicits conversation about how we define wealth. Photomontage artist Keba Konte (above) is known for his complex and layered historical narratives created by combining photography with clever woodworking techniques– his distinguished pieces grace many Bay Area cafes, galleries and theaters. Kenyan-born painter Omiiroo Nyeusi employs a wicked color base to push viewers beyond expectations– the result of which is a fresh take on the Black experience that features elements of music, politics and identity. Catch Eesuu Orundide’s “Sugar.0” opening April 4th at Sole Space (1714 Telegraph).

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Here's a Playlist of Chill Songs to Relax to at Home

Keep calm with this playlist afro-jazz, funk, alternative, and R&B tracks from Nigeria, South Africa and more.

It's a time of uncertainty and stress right now for people all over the world. As we socially distance and quarantine ourselves, it's expected that we deal with feelings of anxiety and loneliness. But it's also good to remember that we're all in this together and music can certainly help with that.

For that, we've curated a playlist of Chill Songs to Relax to at Home with music ranging from afro-jazz, funk, alternative, and R&B that can help you relax but also maintain perspective during these days.

Listen to this playlist on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Photo credit: Hugo Glendinning & Gavin Rodgers

The 13 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Niniola x Femi Kuti, Darkovibes, Dope Saint Jude, Tony Allen x Hugh Masekela, Rema and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our best music of the week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Image by Sabelo Mkhabela.

This Is What It Takes for South African Musicians to Succeed Abroad

Jeremy Loops, Shimza, Moonchild Sanelly and GoodLuck discuss what it took to build their names overseas.

Disclaimer: The conversation which this piece makes reference to took place before the COVID-19 pandemic hit South Africa.

"I said it for 10 years that I'm going to work with Beyoncé, and everybody laughed for those 10 years. And I said it with conviction. Today, I'm on a Grammy-nominated album [on a song] with Beyoncé right now," says Moonchild Sanelly referring to the song "MY POWER" in which she's featured in alongside Busiswa, Nija, Yemi Alade, Tierra Whack and of course Queen B herself. The track is a fan-favorite from the Lion King: The Gift soundtrack album curated by Beyoncé. Moonchild is pulling out these receipts to elaborate a point she just made about self-belief which helped her build a career that's recognized globally, a feat very few South African artists have achieved.

A few of those artists— Jeremy Loops, Shimza and Juliet Harding (a member of the versatile electronic band GoodLuck)—are on the podium alongside Moonchild during the Midem Africa Conference in Langa, Cape Town towards the end of February. The four musicians are in conversation with Trenton Birch, musician and founder of Bridges for Music Academy, sharing their secrets to breaking into the highly competitive and advanced music markets of mainly Europe and the US.

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Interview: Buju Is the Blooming Afro-Fusion Artist You Should Know

Over the last year, Buju has gone from a viral sensation to one of Nigeria's young music stars pushing afro-fusion to new heights.

When chasing a dream from Nigeria, one needs a surplus of that secret sauce called belief. Young Nigerians in the music space have always forced the issue of their recognition as new viral sensations coming out with fresh, innovative styles are delimiting the shine of the limelight.

Late last year, "Spiritual," was the new record on everybody's lips. While hip-hop sensation Zlatan served as the poster boy for the single, the voice of a new melody twister carried most of the track. 22-year-old Daniel Benson, popularly known as Buju or BujuToyourEars in full, piqued the interest of industry giants and has been on an upward trajectory since then.

Around four million streams later, a handful of major performances, Headies nominations, and a remix of his hit single "L'Enu" featuring his idol Burna Boy on the way, the stars don't seem to be the limit for Buju.

Meet Buju, the latest addition to the list of young Nigerian stars pushing the new generation into the conversation.

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