Okayafrica & Okayplayer Present Saul Williams At Brooklyn Bowl [5/7]

Catch Saul Williams' MartyrLoserKingdom show at Brooklyn Bowl with Haleek Maul & Sons Of An Illustrious Father, plus stream his new single.

Okayafrica and Okayplayer are excited to present Saul Williams' upcoming Brooklyn Bowl show in support of his sixth, self-produced full-length MartyrLoserKing. Written and recorded across Senegal, Reunion Island, Paris, Haiti, New Orleans and New York, Saul Williams' upcoming LP is described as a multimedia work that presents a digital conversation between the First and Third Worlds, and their respective street sounds.

“In Senegal, I was buying iPhones for $20, Beats for $10, because they get all the influx from China, with no regulation,” Williams explains in a press statement. “So everyone’s online. Everyone’s high tech.” The poet and musician also cites Beyoncé, Fredo Santana and Haitian field recordings as some of the eclectic influences on MartyrLoserKing. 

Catch Saul Williams live at Brooklyn Bowl for his MartyrLoserKingdom concert alongside Haleek Maul and Sons Of An Illustrious Father on May 7. For a taste of what's to come check out his new single "Burundi," a song that focuses on the Southeast African nation's coltan trade & black market networks, below. Enter for a chance to win tickets to the show over at our Facebook page.

>>>Buy Tickets To Saul Williams, Sons Of An Illustrious Father & Haleek Maul at BK Bowl


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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