Video

Okmalumkoolkat's Hyper-Surreal 'Allblackblackkat' Video From Chris Saunders

Watch Okmalumkoolkat's hyper-surreal video for 'Allblackblackkat' from Johannesburg photographer/director Chris Saunders.


Last week we went inside the mind-altered world of Okmalumkoolkat with his VHS'd "iJusi" video, a film by Gregor Lehrl which we premiered on Okayafrica. Today we take a darker look at Future Mfana through the lens of Chris Saunders, the prolific Johannesburg-based photographer/director whose photos of South African puppeteer Macdonald Mfolo blew us away earlier this month. Since OKA's conception, Saunders has been behind more than a few of the most striking videos to come to light, including Nozinja‘s “Tsekeleke” (an early frontrunner for video of this year) and his 2012 video of the year for LV and Okmalumkoolkat's "Sebenza."

On their reunion, Saunders and self-proclaimed "demagod" Okmalumkoolkat bring Holy Oxygen I to spiritual life. The "Allblackblackcat" video, which premiered today over on the Fader, is a hyper-surreal take on a Zulu cleansing ceremony performed on a male member of the family before funerals, a ritual which Okmalumkoolkat himself experienced as a child. It's a pantsula nightmare (or daydream, however you want to look at it) that vies with Saunder's own Nozinja dance clip for the most striking video of 2014. Watch "Allblackblackkat" below, which as the Fader explained, "plays with memory, reality and generational shifts." The four-track Holy Oxygen I EP, co-produced by Vienna's Cid Rim and The Clonious, is out now via Affine Records. For more from the Future Mfana mastermind download Spoek Mathambo's all-Okmalumkoolkat Future Sound of Mzansi mix plus get the scoop on "Holy Oxygen," "Fancy Footwork," and "iJusi" off his debut EP.

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.

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