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Five Songs By Somali Singers & Rappers To Listen To This Summer

We round up five standout Somali tracks to bump this summer from Omvr, Robin Banks, Cherrie Hersi, Top5 and Layla Hendrix.


Photo: OMVR via facebook.

K’naan’s been on hiatus for awhile now but that’s okay! Somali artists from Europe to the United States to Canada have been holding it down for him while he gears up to take the music world by storm yet again. These artists, like the artists in our previous Ten Somali Artists & Entertainers To Watch In 2015 list, are killing the game and poised to take over this summer. Below, we’ve compiled some of their music videos and new releases from across the globe.

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“Hold You Back” by OMVR

OMVR, also known as Omar, is Norway’s answer to Sam Smith. In “Hold You Back,” his velvety, androgynous voice is splayed over a funky, electronic beat. The lyrics, contemplative and emotional, paint the portrait of a complicated man (Omar) navigating the messiness of a relationship that’s ended. Showcasing stellar vocals, heart and something to dance to, Omar is not holding himself or his former lover back.

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“Up Next” by Robin Banks

“Up Next” is the Somali diaspora’s answer to Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen.” It’s catchy, upbeat and has an infectious, radio-friendly hook. Robin Banks is the kid who coined the phrase "TT right now,” which Drake recently used as an Instagram caption.

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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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