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Nine Female Artists From Egypt, Tunisia, And Libya Record 'Sawtuha'

Nine female artists from Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya record the 'Sawtuha' compilation, featuring production from Oddisee and the Knife's Olof Dreijer.


Earlier this month Egyptian songstress Maryam Saleh's Oddisee-produced "Nouh Al Hamam" landed a new Tunisian-based recording effort on our radar: the Sawtuha compilation of female artists from Libya, Tunisia and Egypt exercising their rights to freedom of expression. The full album, which along with Sudanese-American hip-hop scholar Oddisee features the production hand of Olof Dreijer (one half of the Knife) and remixes from french producer Blackjoy and Austrian beatsmith Brenk, takes the listener on a journey through French pop, Arabic infused hip-hop and accordion-heavy production.

On the Oddisee-produced languid ballad "Figurine," Nawel Ben Kraiem's vocals nod towards classical French influences (she sounds like a cross between Edith Piaf and Barbara), and yet they're layered with enrapturing Tunisian melodies. Olof Dreijer's distorted beats and pitched-down vocals provide a backdrop Medusa's flow on the head-nodding "Naheb N3ch Hayati" (a force in the Tunis hip-hop scene, we hear Medusa is a name to look out for). A protest against "corruption, despotism, patronization and narrow-mindedness, Sawtuha is purposeful fresh air. Stream the full compilation below, out now on Jakarta Records.

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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