Photos

Photos: James Barnor 'Ever Young'

Photos from one of the greats of African photography.

Legendary Ghanaian photographer James Barnor has shot gorgeous fashion spreads, as well as remarkable scenes from life on the continent and abroad for over 50 years. While National Geographic snapped photos of lions, Barnor captured an amazing array of images that are crucial to a broader understanding of Ghana's past and present. For the first time in Ghana, a retrospective of his work will be on exhibit at Accra's Silverbird Lounge June 30-July 2. For more info on the event go here. To view more of Barnor's photos go here.

James Barnor is one of the first photojournalist from Ghana who lived his passion for photography by embarking on his entrepreneurial venture of taking portraiture style pictures of his subjects in his makeshift tiny studio in Jamestown, Accra, which he dubbed “Ever Young,“ where he would later return to after gaining international notoriety, to establish the first color lab that would bring color photographs to the Black Star Nation of Ghana.

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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