Events

Vanessa Mdee and Jojo Abot Added to Sauti Sol’s NYC Show

Okayafrica presents Sauti Sol live at Highline Ballroom in New York City with Vanessa Mdee and Jojo Abot.

East Africa’s Africa’s biggest band officially kicks off their 2016 U.S. tour this Sunday in New York City. Okayafrica is presenting Sauti Sol, the celebrated Kenyan afro-pop outfit, for one night only at NYC’s Highline Ballroom.


What’s more, Vanessa Mdee and Jojo Abot have just been added to the show.

After starting off as the first-ever Tanzanian MTV VJ, Mdee has risen to become one of the most popular recording artists on the continent. She's behind such hits as "Niroge," "Hawajui," "Never Ever," and the K.O-featuring "Nobody But Me."

Dividing her time between Accra, Copenhagen and New York City, the Ghanaian-born Abot should be a familiar face to Okayafrica readers. Most recently, the singer has been touring with Ms. Lauryn Hill on the Diaspora Calling tour.

Sauti Sol are coming off the release of their long-awaited third album, Live and Die In Afrika, which features huge singles like “Sura Yako,” “Nishike” and “Kuliko Jana,” and was one of our favorite releases of 2015.

The album climbed the Kenyan charts and received global attention—even President Obama was filmed dancing to “Sura Yako.” Last Saturday, they took home Best Group at the 2016 MTV Africa Music Awards in Johannesburg.

Now, the four-piece group—comprised of Bien-Aime Baraza, Willis Austin Chimano, Polycarp Otieno and Savara Mudigi—are bringing their pop blend of soulful vocal harmonies and Kenyan rhythms to NYC as part of a U.S. tour which also includes stops in Seattle (November 3), Minneapolis (November 4), D.C. (November 5), Raleigh (November 11) and Dallas (November 12).

Join us for a Facebook live chat with Sauti Sol, Friday, October 28th at 5pm EST.

Buy tickets to Okayafrica presents Sauti Sol with Vanessa Mdee and Jojo Abot at Highline Ballroom in New York City on Sunday, October 30.

Music

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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