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You Need to Hear This New 'Import-Export Mogadishu' Mixtape

A new mixtape of rare synthesizer, drum machine and laptop music from 1990s & 2000s Somalia.

Vik Sohonie, founder of Ostinato Records, tells us about his new upcoming compilation, Sweet As Broken Dates Chapter 2, and shares a new mixtape.

In 2017, Sweet As Broken Dates, our Grammy-nominated compilation of stellar Somali music from before the country's civil war was released. The songs revived heartwarming memories of a lavish Mogadishu and Hargeisa not known too many non-Somalis, and in many ways allowed the Somali diaspora to reconnect with a time and place ransacked by the wicked fates of history.

All our due diligence and research led us to believe that some of finest music ever made firmly stopped when the war started. Hibo Nuura's song on the compilation, "If the Artist Lets You Down," added to this perception, as the widely respected Nuura chastised her fellow musicians for what she saw as a failure of their responsibility to keep the country's rich music culture alive amid tragedy.

But we were wrong. The music did not stop. Both famous and obscure Somali musicians quietly kept their culture alive in the 1990s and 2000s on drum machines, synthesizers, and laptops. The Somali pentatonic sound melded perfectly with new digital equipment, almost exhibiting an even more authentic sound as analog western instrumentation vacated the repertoire. Most of these recordings were kept private or shared in small circles, never reaching the same audiences in luxurious venues as the music of the 70s and 80s.


This is Chapter 2 in the Somali music story, not Vol. 2.

At Ostinato Records, we want to reimagine the sequel for music compilations. Too often, "Vol. 2" is filled with the choice cuts that simply did not qualify for the first volume. As storytellers and image-makers, this approach needs a rethink. We have a responsibility to carry the story forward, to not simply rehash what has already been available, and to give agency to the recent past rather than constantly hark back to the 70s and 80s.

"Import/Export Mogadishu" is the side A of a mixtape to announce that we are deeply immersed in producing, Sweet As Broken Dates Chapter 2, and to give fans who relished the first compilation a sneak peak into the direction we're headed. Side B of the mixtape will be an insight into Chapter 3.

The selection begins with a slow-burning groover by the lively Xabib Shaarabi, a key Somali music figure in the 1990s whose digital disco style was celebrated in a short but viral documentary by The Guardian. We are also proud to announce that Xabib Shaarabi along with lifetime achievement award winner, Cabdinuur Alale, will be performing in Berlin on March 23 as part of the Find the File Festival.

These are the next stages in the Somali music revival: the advancement of a story with endless chapters and the resurrection of former greats and live bands, reunited to showcase what no war could vanquish: the resilience and adaptability of the Somali experience.

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 10: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on stage during a campaign rally at the Target Center on October 10, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images).

Trump Attacks Ilhan Omar & Minnesota's Somali Community In Disparaging Anti-Immigrant Campaign Speech

Trump stepped up his demonization of Minnesota's Somali community in front of a braying crowd of MAGA-hat wearing supporters.

On Thursday, US President Donald Trump held a campaign rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota and—in typical white-nationalist fashion—used a significant portion of his speech to disparage the local Somali community, and once again take shots at the state's Somali-born Representative Ilhan Omar.

"As you know for many years leaders in Washington brought large numbers of refugees to your state from Somalia without considering the impact on schools and communities and taxpayers," said Trump, echoing the countless anti-immigrant statements he's made in the past. "You should be able to decide what is best for your own cities and for your own neighborhoods and that's what you have the right to do right now, and believe me, no other president would be doing that," he added as his supporters cheered him on.

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Listen to Ghanaian Artist $pacely's New Project 'Fine$$e Or Be Fine$$ed'

The La Même Gang member shares his first solo project.

La Même Gang is an urban Ghanaian hip-hop/alté collective based in Accra. The group is made up of six members that include Darkovibes, Kiddblack, Nxwrth, RJZ, $pacely and Kwaku BS.

Today, $pacely is dropping his first solo project entitled Fine$$e Or Be Fine$$ed. The 10-track project shows of the artist's versatile sound and certainly has a number of bangers worth listening to.

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Kais Saied is Set to Become Tunisia's Next President

While official results have not been published, the retired academic reportedly secured 76 percent of the votes according to the exit polls.

Last week, Tunisia held its legislative elections, according to reports by Aljazeera. The Ennahda Movement obtained 52 seats in the 217-member parliament while the Karoui's Heart of Tunisia party came second, with 38 seats. While the presidential elections were only scheduled to take place in November, they were pushed forward after the country's first democratically-elected president, Beji Caid Essebsi, passed away in July. Two independent candidates, media mogul Nabil Karoui and retired law professor Kais Saied, have been facing off in the presidential runoff. However, recent exit polls suggest that Saied secured between 72 and 77 percent of the vote.

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Illustration by Simone Martin-Newberry

A 15-Year-Old Nigerian Student Lends Her Voice to the Fight Against Boko Haram With Graphic Novel

Aisha Mustapha's graphic novel about her experiences under Boko Haram was published today for International Day of the Girl.

Aisha Mustapha, is a 15-year-old student from Nigeria, using her voice to tell her own story. The young writer recently penned a graphic novel about her experience fleeing Boko Haram, locating her family and trying to further her education. It's a heavy subject, obviously, but with her graphic novel, she offers a voice for young people directly affected by the crisis in Northern Nigeria.

The book was published today to mark the International Day of the Girl, a day established by the United Nations in 2011 to "highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls' empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights."

Aisha's talent for storytelling has previously been highlighted in Assembly, a by-girls-for-girls publication by the Malala Fund that brought Aisha's graphic novel to life, premiering it today in conjunction with International Day of the GIrl. Tess Thomas, Assembly's editor, elaborated on the purpose of the publication saying, "We believe in the power of girls' voices to generate change. Our publication provides girls with a platform so their opinions and experiences can inform decisions about their futures."

Aisha's words were illustrated by artist Simone Martin-Newberry, who had this to say about the process of creating the visuals for the graphic novel: "I was very moved by Aisha's story, and really wanted to treat it sensitively and do it justice with my illustrations. My aim was to capture the real emotions and actions of the story, but also keep my artwork bright and colorful and full of pattern, to help reflect Aisha's amazing youthful spirit."

Check out some excerpts from the piece below and head here to read it in full.
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