Video

Okayafrica TV: Tabi Bonney in the LES

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We caught up with Togo-born, DC reppin' tabi Bonney at the Rocksmith store in NYC's Lower East Side where he spoke to us about recording his album The Summer Years and the influence of his father, famous Togolese Afro-funk musician Itadi Bonney. Tabi's love for his father's music is evident in the vintage-sounds of "On Jupiter," the first track on The Summer Years in which he samples one of Itadi's early songs. The Bonney clan was featured in a PM Magazine TV piece back in the day. Peep tabi as a kid and listen to his father's music in the video below. For more on what influences tabi's career(s) as a fashion designer, music video director/producer, and MC (dude does it all) check out his vibrant blog.

OKA TV video produced by Will Whitney, shot and edited by Jay Sprogell.

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Music

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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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