Audio

East African DJ Collective Santuri Safari's Uganda Exclusives

East African DJ collective Santuri Safari premieres hip-hop and house tracks recorded at a pop up studio at DoaDoa in Iganga, Uganda.


Photo of Saint Evo The Myth by Link Reuben for Sauti za Busara

Santuri Safari are a loose collective of DJs, producers and musicians based in East Africa. Responding to what they perceive to be contemporary East African music's identity crisis in the face of global influences (specifically citing the influence of mainstream hip-hop and R&B), the project brings electronic and hip-hop DJs/producers together with local musicians to make "underground" electronic dance music in east Africa. So far they've run production workshops and studio sessions in Zanzibar (at the Sauti Za Busara Festival) and Uganda (at the DoaDoa Festival). Later this month they'll set up their third pop up studio at Kenya's Rift Valley Festival in partnership with Nairobi creative hub Creatives Garage. Ahead of the event, the Santuri team shared two tracks with us recorded at their DoaDoa sessions in Iganga, Uganda, back in April.

First up is a pan-East African hip-hop collaboration entitled "Tusimame." Building on a foundation of samples recorded from a mbaire xylophone, Dar-based producer Ambrose “Dunga” Akwabi and Kampala producer/rapper DJ Rachael teamed up on a call for east Africa's hip-hop community to stand up. Ugandan crooner Giovanni Kremer Kiyingi lays down an easy breezy hook while six rappers from across the region (Reco Lyco, 
Ram Emcee, Ugly Emcee, Shamsila, DJ Rachael, and Bamulumba Yasin aka Jungle De Maneater) lend freestyled verses in Luganda, Swahili, Luga and Luso dialects. Listen on below and watch Santuri sound engineer Sam Jones break down the process behind the xylophone sample in a video here.

"Kanekasi (Esa's Dark Meme Remix)" is proper club music that uses the same xylophone sample as "Tusimame." Ugandan folk artist Joel Sebunjo, though known for his kora playing, contributes vocals as Giovanni Kremer Kiyingi and Kenya's Sarabi lend their fiddle and guitar to production from Nairobi's Celsius Degree head honch Saint Evo The Myth, Kampala's DJ Ivo and UK/South Africa's Auntie Flo collaborator Esa Williams. Ambrose (Akula Akwabi), Esa and Uganda’s Dark Meme (Ken Mvvalye) tagteam on a psychedelic house remix, which you can listen to below.

Find out more about Santuri Safari via their facebook page here. Their next pop up studio hits Kenya's Rift Valley Festival August 29th-31st.

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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