Sinkane Explores NYC Through Dance In His 'How We Be' Video

Sinkane explores New York City's neighborhoods through dance in his "How We Be" (off 'Mean Love') video featuring Beacon's Finest Step Team.

Sinkane's highly-anticipated new record Mean Love hit the stands last week. The 10-track LP is the Sudanese-born/Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist's first full-length release since 2012's Mars, a classic on the Okayafrica shelves that featured the singles "Jeeper Creeper," "Runnin" and "Warm Spell." "Mars expressed a lot of my African side," Sinkane told T Magazine. For his new record, he explained in the interview, he wanted to explore his American influences. The first official video to come from the album is a beautifully shot glimpse inside the concrete playground in which Sinkane crafted Mean Love. "How We Be," which premiered today on Buzzfeed, is a walk-on-clouds exploration of New York's neighborhoods through dance. Directed by Nick Bentgen, the video sets the day-dreamy, floating synth lullaby to a cross-borough medley of step, ballet, breakdancing and other dance styles (featuring the phenomenal Beacon's Finest Step Team). Bentgen explains:

“I love Sinkane’s music because it’s vividly original. 'How We Be' is especially that, and I wanted to express the joy of listening to that song for the first time. Ahmed and I talked about making a dance portrait that plays around with time -- moving backwards, forwards, at high speed, in slow motion. We wanted to fill the video with all kinds of movement.

We collaborated with Beacon's Finest Step Team, two Parkour fanatics, and a Jooker from Memphis who just moved to New York that same week. We filmed dancers from New York City Ballet, B-boys from Boston, and we even got Ahmed to perform in the video. Sinkane’s new album is so expressive and expansive, it’s near impossible for me to categorize or put into words why I like it. It’s just easier to dance to."

Watch the "How We Be" video below. Mean Love is out now on DFA / City Slang. For more from Sinkane and read "Sinkane On Being The Musical Director Of ‘ATOMIC BOMB! The Music of William Onyeabor"

and download his Africa In Your Earbuds mixtape. Listen to a dubbed out "How We Be" remix from Lexx here.

Sinkane 2014 Tour Dates

09.10.14 - La Badadoum - Paris, FR

09.11.14 - Shacklewell Arms - London, UK

09.12.14 - La Peniche - Lille, FR

09.13.14 - Big Next Festival - Ghent, BE

09.16.14 – Iboat – Bordeaux, FR

09.17.14 - Scopitone Festival - Nantes, FR

09.18.14 - Palace - St. Gallen, CH

09.20.14 - Reeperbahn Festival - Hamburg, DE

10.05.14 - Baby's All Right - Brooklyn, NY *

10.07.14 - Johnny Brenda's - Philadelphia, PA *

10.08.14 - DC - Washington, DC *

10.09.14 - The Southern - Charlottesville, VA *

10.11.14 - Zanzabar - Louisville, KY *

10.12.14 - Schubas Tavern - Chicago, IL *

10.13.14 - Turf Club - Saint Paul, MN *

10.17.14 - Barboza - Seattle, WA *

10.18.14 - Mississippi Studios - Portland, OR *

10.19.14 - The Independent - San Francisco, CA *

10.21.14 - Echo - Los Angeles, CA *

10.22.14 - Casbah - San Diego, CA *

10.23.14 - Last Exit Live - Phoenix, AZ *

10.24.14 - Club Congress - Tucson, AZ *

10.26.14 - Empire Control Room - Austin, TX *

10.27.14 - One Eyed Jacks - New Orleans, LA *

10.28.14 - Bottletree - Birmingham, AL *

10.29.14 - Exit In - Nashville, TN *

10.30.14 - Ohio State University (Wexner Center) - Columbus, OH *

11.1.14 - Smiling Moose - Pittsburgh, PA *

11.2.14 - SOB's - New York, NY *

11.22.14 - Sonic Visions Festival - Luxembourg, LX

11.23.14 - Pret A Porter Festival at Karlstorbahnhof - Heidelberg, DE

11.24.14 - Atomic Cafe - Munich, DE

11.25.14 - Conne Island - Leipzig, DE

11.26.14 - Lido - Berlin, DE

11.29.14 - Week-End Festival at Stadthalle Mühlheim - Cologne, DE

12.1.14 - Oslo - London, UK

* with Helado Negro


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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