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Sate. Image courtesy of the artist.

The Black Indie Artist You Need to Listen to This Month: SATE

You need to hear SATE.

This new series will feature the most exciting independent and alternative artists from Africa and its diaspora. Black artists are complex and multidisciplinary. Twice a month, we'll introduce the hottest, boldest musicians out there that you need to listen to.

When she was a child, SATE's mother, the legendary jazz singer Salome Bey, used to put her on stage as soon as she could carry a tune. This is how Sate's musical career started and she hasn't stopped since.

Born Saidah Baba Talibah, the artist changed her name to SATE as a way to separate her onstage persona from the person she is in her everyday life. SATE was born out of desire to be more raw, vulnerable and confusing at the same time.


It would be unrealistic, despite her confidence and energy on stage, to believe that SATE is not affected by a lack of representation in a scene that is still overwhelmingly white and male. She recalls that every time she's on stage, "people feel the need to feel shock that I—a black woman—like and do rock music. It's funny most times, and then it's just hella frustrating."

At some point, SATE even wondered whether she truly deserved to perform as a rock act and if she really did belong to this world. Thankfully, she remembered, "the foundations and inspirations that are Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton... and I'm part of our ongoing legacy. So I keep walking through the fire in spite of the challenges."

The Toronto-based musician and singer's music is a savvy mix of rock and funk. Growing up, she was very much inspired by her mother and the diversity of music she'd come across while developing her own personal influences like Funkadelic, Fishbone, Living Color, Stevie Wonder and Prince.

SATE is not afraid of taking risks and being vulnerable. In her song "Mama Talk to Me," which she holds dear to her heart, she opens up about the changes in her life following her mother's decision to retire in 2011, and the pain of losing her to dementia and seeing a loved one not being themselves anymore.

"Mama Talk To Me" is featured on her first album, Red Black and Blue, released in 2016 after a PledgeMusic campaign, in which musicians use crowdfunding to raise money for their releases. The twist was that the public had a say in the songs selected, a process that SATE was completely fine with it. After all, they contributed to the piece. She even donated part of the money to a a charity dealing with alzheimer's disease and dementia.

The album's concept is divided in three parts, each one representing animals: the robin (which symbolizes renewal ), the panther (power), and the butterfly (transformation). Red Black and Blue is both SATE's birth and Saidah Baba Talibah's death, an album that starts with endings but yet, is the first of many more to come.

SATE is a artist who hates being told what she should do. She's punk in the purest sense of the world and she encourages her audience, through songs like "Warrior," to set fire what to what holds them down and take their own power back. Unsurprisingly, her songwriting process is just as free as she is: "It depends. Sometimes I'm coming in with a melody idea or I may just sit at the piano. I really let it flow, cause when it's forced it's no fun."

She's currently back to songwriting after a successful first European tour last summer where she played in the UK and France, her second home, as she calls it.

SATE is hungry. Hungry to give more of her music to the world, to empower her audience and to communicate her feelings, thoughts and experiences through her songs, to start a revolution.

What's next is her upcoming album The Fool. Eight songs have already been picked and, following the reception of her previous crowdfunding campaign, she has decided to share her recording process again by showing the whole production process on social media.

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Zlatan "Zanku (Leg Work)" music video.

Is Zanku Set to Be the New Dance Craze of 2019?

Breaking down what could become the year's new dance craze.

With last week's release of the video for "Zanku (Leg Work)," Zlatan Ibile has consecrated himself as the originator of the newest dance craze in afropop.

The specific origin of the name 'zanku' is uncertain but the dance itself, says Ibile in this interview from December, is one he noticed from his visits to The Shrine in Lagos and refashioned into a trend.

The best zanku, so far, works best in beats combining repeated foot tapping or pounding, with hands held aloft, and finished with a flourish—a stylised thrusting of one foot as if to knock down a door. Variations include a faster footwork, mimicry of slicing and screwing hand motions and the brandshing of a white kerchief, all of which is done with vigour and attitude.

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WurlD. Image courtesy of the artist.

WurlD: Nigeria's Most Inspired Star?

We talk to the Nigerian artist about creating a sound that connects to the quintessential Afropolitan mind.

WurlD, the blue-haired singer with a killer voice and deep songwriting, is a wonder. His music sits at the intersection between African vibes and Western delivery. 2018 has been a huge for him, with a deal with Universal Music ensuring that his art has received consistency in release.

Born Sadiq Onifade, the Afro-Fusion artist has had an inspiring journey, moving from the streets of Mushin in Lagos, to the US, from where much of his music has been conceived. The complete creative embrace of that cross-cultural influence has become his strongest point, with songs such as "Show You Off" and "Contagious" offering a unique angle to his sound.

"Moving to America for me gave me the opportunity to learn music and I fell in love with songwriting," WurlD says of his influence. "Atlanta (where I lived) is a creative hub when it comes to songwriting and producing, some of the biggest songs in the world were produced in Atlanta, people round the world go to Atlanta to go meet producers and songwriters in Atlanta. There, I fell in love with music and songwriting."

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Still from YouTube.

France Still Doesn't Know How Racism Works and the Vilification of Nick Conrad Proves It

The French rapper is currently on trial for his music video "Hang White People," which depicts what life might be like if the racial tables were turned.

When the music video "Pendez les Blancs" ("Hang White people") by French rapper Nick Conrad was released, the backlash was intense. The video shows what life would be if black people had enslaved white people. "Hang white people… arm them and let them kill each other" Conrad raps. He is not the first artist to think about a life where Black people would dominate white people. Todric Hall's music video "Forbidden" and Malorie Blackman's novels "Noughts and Crosses" did it before. But in France, a country that still tries to stop Black people from organising as a community, Nick Conrad had to pay the price.

First, he received countless death threats and lost his job at a prestigious French hotel. Everyone, from French personalities to the government called him out. And then, two anti-racist and anti-semitism organizations, the LICRA and L'AGRIF sued him. His trial happened last week. French journalist Sihame Assbague was there to witness it, and what she reports is baffling.

To the prosecution, Conrad is encouraging his audience to kill white people. They believe that anti white racism or "reverse racism" is just as bad as any type of racism and that Conrad is using a "black supremacist language" with words like "queen" "king" when he mentions Africa. In their mind, once Black people stop trying to integrate and start organising themselves, it's just as bad as white people being racist. Ethnocentrism is dangerous.

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