Cover of Mariam Makeba's album 'A Promise' and Lady Donli's 'Classic'

Sample Chief, a Go-To Platform for African Music Knowledge, Share 5 of Their Favorite Samples

From highlighting vintage Guinean records in rap songs to Nollywood references in afropop, Sample Chief wants to be an "all-knowing wizard" that "shares African music intelligence on a deeper level."

Samples are the foundation of just about all of our favorite songs whether we know them or not. For music lovers, discovering a rare song within a song can feel like stumbling upon a gem, leaving us to wonder what other musical treasures lie hidden in the songs we listen to regularly. Sample Chief is the digital platform dedicated to helping music nerds find these rare cuts by unearthing the African sounds at the heart of contemporary African music and other genres.

From rare Cameroonian-Nigerian samples on Tyler the Creator's Igor, to samples and interpolations of Nollywood movies in today's African pop, the primarily Instagram, Twitter and YouTube-based platform aims to be an "all-knowing wizard" that "shares African music intelligence on a deeper level," says Sample Chief's founder Ore Sami-Orungbe.

Sami-Orungbe, a Toronto-based student and DJ who runs Sample Chief with his business partner Sandrine Somé, decided to create the page after realizing that there were no solid outlets to go to for the discovery of samples both in and of African music. "I was on a plane listening to 'Sicker' by Niniola and thinking, 'there's a huge sample on it, (she samples "Alaye" by L.K.T) but is there a database I could go to if I feel like I've heard a song before and want to know where the sample came from? There wasn't. So I thought maybe I should fill the void." He adds that with Sample Chief, the goal is to "be a platform that brings a community of users together and opens up a space where they can share their knowledge of African music. We break down songs and highlight the influences, the samples, interpolations, and the references behind it."

The site isn't just for sample-obsessed audiophiles either, it's for people who simply appreciate quirky music facts like knowing the most mentioned women's names in Nigerian music—as one of the site's most widely shared videos reveals—and listeners want to know more about the African cultural influences in popular music.

The platform is shaping up to be an all-encompassing source that explores the musical thread between today's African music and the songs of the past, while highlighting the continent's musical influence on other major genres as well—particularly hip hop. A recent video lists every African sample found in Kanye West's discography and another does the same for Nas and Damian Marley's Distant Relatives. Highlighting these cross genre, cross-cultural connections is a major part of Sample Chief's mission. "There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes and there really isn't a platform that digs deep to analyze the DNA of our music and the culture too, so we put that at the forefront of what we do."

We caught up with Sample Chief's founder to hear about some of his favorite uses of samples from African music. Check out his selections below.

'Freaky" by Santi featuring Bridge & Nonso Amadi (2019)/ "Shoobeedoo" by Ikechukwu (2008)

I like this one because it's a Nigerian song sampling a Nigerian song—which from our research, that's pretty rare. There are a lot of interpolations which means that they just replay the melody or re-sing it and tweak the lyrics a bit, but don't actually copy the song directly or use an actual portion of it. This song, however, actually uses a direct sample and it does it pretty well. Santi's "Freaky" is produced by Genio and samples the 2008 track by Ikechukwu called "Shoobeedoo." We included it on our "Samples You Probably Missed."

"Can't Get Enough" by J.Cole featuring Trey Songz (2011)/ "Paulette" by Balla et ses Balladins (1980)

This is a really good sample. It's heard throughout the whole track, so it's the foundation of the song. The sample, (by Guinean dance music orchestra Balla et ses Balladins) is a really important layer.

"Classic" by Lady Donli featuring Kida Kudz (2018)/ "Quit It" by Miriam Makeba (1974)

[This song features] a very lovely sample produced by Toye Aru. He sampled "Quit It" by Miriam Makeba. This was one of my favorite samples of last year—one of my favorite collaborations in general. It features Kida Kudz.

"Keepin it Tight" by Busta Rhymes (1998)/ "New Bell" by Manu Dibango (1972)

The "Keepin it Tight" sample [of legendary Cameroonian musician Manu Dibango's "New Bell"] is just fresh—a good marriage between African jazz and the 90's boom-bap era. The snare placement is genius. It's a very fun track, with Busta Rhymes being known for his whimsical lyrics back then.

"Regular Trademark" by Bridge (2018)/ "Sorrow Tears and Blood" by Fela Kuti (1977)

I think it's an important hip hop track for Africa period. Bridge, one of the most skilled lyricists of this generation, paying homage and rapping over a Fela sample from 1977. The song is produced by the talented Odunsi. Two young artists respecting the craft of the pioneers; that's how you keep the fire alive!


Sample Chief is currently developing their website and are looking for collaborators. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram to learn about how you can get involved.


Watch the First Episode of Flame’s Documentary Series ‘Welcome To My Life’

Flame takes fans behind the scenes in his new documentary series.

From interviews to smoking sessions, performances, studio sessions and a visit to the hair salon, Flame gives fans a glimpse into his life and adventures.

The South African hip-hop artist and producer shared the first episode of an ongoing documentary series titled Welcome To My Life. The first episode, which he shared today, shows Flame and his affiliates—the likes of Ecco, Mellow and others—going about their business.

Keep reading...

uSanele Releases a New Project ‘uMvelase’ Featuring ASAP Shembe, Windows 2000, Manelisi and Others

Listen to uSanele's new project 'uMvelase.'

South African hip-hop artist uSanele's recently released project is titled uMvelase. "This project," says the artist, "is in honor of my father and family, abakwa Mthembu; all my siblings, extended family and my roots in the heart of KZN, kwaNongoma. It is a calling—if you will—a completion of my journey and all things coming full circle."

Keep reading...
Photo courtesy of CSA Global.

In Conversation with Congolese NBA Player Emmanuel Mudiay: 'I want more African players in the NBA.'

The Utah Jazz player talks about being African in the NBA, supporting basketball in the DRC and how 'everybody knows about Burna Boy'.

Inspired by his basketball-playing older brothers, by second grade, Emmanuel Mudiay already knew that he wanted to play in the American National Basketball Association. Then in 2001 his family, fleeing the war in Democratic Republic of Congo, sought asylum in the United States.

In America, Mudiay saw basketball as a way for him to improve his situation. After impressive high school and college careers, he moved to China to play pro ball. Picked 7th overall in the 2015 NBA draft, the now 23-year-old guard has made a name for himself this season coming off the bench for the Utah Jazz.

Mudiay attests to the sport having changed not only his life but that of his siblings. Basketball gave them all a chance at a good education and the opportunity to dream without conditions. Now he wants to see other talented African players make it too.

We caught up with him to talk about his experience as an African player in the NBA, his hopes for basketball on the African continent and who he and his teammates jam out to in their locker rooms.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Keep reading...

University lecturer and activist Doctor Stella Nyanzi (L) reacts in court as she attends a trial to face charges for cyber-harassment and offensives communication, in Kampala, on April 10, 2017. (Photo by GAEL GRILHOT/AFP via Getty Images)

Jailed Ugandan Activist, Stella Nyanzi, Wins PEN Prize for Freedom of Expression

The outspoken activist, who is currently serving a prison sentence for a poem she wrote about the president's mother's vagina, won for her resistance "in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her."

Stella Nyanzi, the Ugandan academic, activist, and vocal critic of President Yoweri Museveni has been awarded the 2020 Oxfam Novib/PEN International award for freedom of expression, given to writers who "continue to work for freedom of expression in the face of persecution."

Nyanzi is currently serving a 15 month sentence for "cyber harassment" after she published a poem in which she wrote that she wished "the acidic pus flooding Esiteri's (the president's mother) vaginal canal had burn up your unborn fetus. Burn you up as badly as you have corroded all morality and professionalism out of our public institutions in Uganda."

According to the director of PEN International, Carles Torner, her unfiltered outspokenness around the issues facing her country is what earned her the award. "For her, writing is a permanent form of resistance in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her," said Torner at the award ceremony.

Keep reading...

get okayafrica in your inbox