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Okayafrica TV: Tanzania's Fid Q In Brooklyn

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We met up with Tanzanian hip hop superstar Fid Q at an old-school Brooklyn house party. Like all parties, you never know who you're gonna run into. We found ourselves in the company of Fid's stateside pals, most of whom are movers and shakers in the music-as-activism world. Check out our brief backyard interviews with Fid Q, DJ Xpect, Toni Blackman, and Maya Azucena.

Fid tells us about his Fidstyle Friday MC project, Xpect hips us to his youth empowerment projects in the United States and Africa, Toni has been stationed in places all over Africa as the first ever hip-hop artist to work as an American Cultural Specialist for the U.S. Department of State, and Maya has been lending her soulful voice to the drive to reach Millennium Development Goal #5 for maternal and reproductive health. These folks are constantly globe-trotting so we feel special to have caught them in one place at one time - cyphering fireside no less.

Video shot by Myo Campbell.

Interview
Photo: Shawn Theodore via Schure Media Group/Roc Nation

Interview: Buju Banton Is a Lyrical Purveyor of African Truth

A candid conversation with the Jamaican icon about his new album, Upside Down 2020, his influence on afrobeats, and the new generation of dancehall.

Devout fans of reggae music have been longing for new musical offerings from Mark Anthony Myrie, widely-known as the iconic reggae superstar Buju Banton. A shining son of Jamaican soil, with humble beginnings as one of 15 siblings in the close-knit community of Salt Lane, Kingston, the 46-year-old musician is now a legend in his own right.

Buju Banton has 12 albums under his belt, one Grammy Award win for Best Reggae Album, numerous classic hits and a 30-year domination of the industry. His larger-than-life persona, however, is more than just the string of accolades that follow in the shadows of his career. It is his dutiful, authentic style of Caribbean storytelling that has captured the minds and hearts of those who have joined him on this long career ride.

The current socio-economic climate of uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrusted onto the world, coupled with the intensified fight against racism throughout the diaspora, have taken centre stage within the last few months. Indubitably, this makes Buju—and by extension, his new album—a timely and familiar voice of reason in a revolution that has called for creative evolution.

With his highly-anticipated album, Upside Down 2020, the stage is set for Gargamel. The title of this latest discography feels nothing short of serendipitous, and with tracks such as "Memories" featuring John Legend and the follow-up dancehall single "Blessed," it's clear that this latest body of work is a rare gem that speaks truth to vision and celebrates our polylithic African heritage in its rich fullness and complexities.

Having had an exclusive listen to some other tracks on the album back in April, our candid one-on-one conversation with Buju Banton journeys through his inspiration, collaboration and direction for Upside Down 2020, African cultural linkages and the next generational wave of dancehall and reggae.

This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.

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