Arts + Culture
Photo by Fifo Adebakin.

Photos: This Is What the Melanin Unscripted x Native House Pop-Up Looked Like

Young African creatives gathered in community to discuss the state of contemporary African culture and music today.

As Lagos and Accra continue to buzz with plenty of concerts and parties to revel in the festive season as well as ring in the new year, young African creatives are also taking the time to gather like minds in community.

Melanin Unscripted, the agency and media platform headed by Nigerian-American visual multi-hyphenate Amarachi Nwosu, recently linked with The NATIVE to host Native House. Guests from near and far came through to the African Artists Foundation in Lagos for a day-long pop-up of cultural activations including a photo exhibition and a series of panels to discuss the state of contemporary African culture and music today.


"The Futurist Exhibition" amplified young African photographers you should know who are challenging stereotypical narratives of Africa, showcasing the work of Nwosu, Manny Jefferson, Stephen Tayo, Lawrence Agyei, Jerusa Nyakundi, Flo Ngala, Wami Aluko, Josef Adamu (Sunday School), Nwaka Okparaeke and TSE.

While attendees perused through the photo exhibition, three panels were held, focusing on West African music being today's newest cultural currency to African youth shifting their continent's narrative through imagery.

Journalist Ivie Ani moderated "The New Scramble for Africa" panel featuring Teezee of The NATIVE, Chin Okeke of GidiFest, Olive Uche, Wale Davies of Show Dem Camp and Dipo Faloyin, managing editor of VICE UK. Ani and the panelists touched on the history leading up to the "scramble," how to maintain authenticity in West African music during this moment and more. Nwosu then gathered Lawrence Burney of The FADER, record exec Tunji Balogun, as well as Nigerian artists Tems and WurlD in conversation for the "Music in Migration" panel for a talk on the importance of online platforms have in the ever-growing music industry on the continent, risk-taking, giving credit to the past while paving a way forward and the industry's future.

To close, journalist Stephanie Smith-Strickland led a panel discussion entitled "The Futurist," where she was in conversation with the featured photographers in the exhibition, touching on African youth culture and the role visual arts' play in shaping the creative landscape on the continent.

Take a look at select images from Native House below, with all photographed by Fifo Adebakin.

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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