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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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Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Image

#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.



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