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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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Still from RTN TV's YouTube page.

Prominent Somali Activist Almas Elman Shot and Killed In Mogadishu

The organizer and sister of activist Ilwad Elman, was shot dead while riding in a car on Wednesday.

Almas Elman, a prominent Somali rights activist and organizer was killed today in Mogadishu. She died after being hit by a bullet while riding inside of a car in the Halane compound, reports the Somali news site Hiiraan.

Though details surrounding her death remain uncertain, according to security on the ground Elman "was riding in a car along a road inside the airport," Mohamed Omar, a Somali security official told News 24. "A stray bullet hit her, and she died within a few minutes." The complex is also the headquarters of African Union soldiers.

She was believed to been heading to the airport after attending a meeting at the Elman Peace Centre, which was founded by her mother Fartuun Adan in 1990.

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Somalia Has Announced It Will Grant 'Outstanding' Somali Diasporans the Hodan Nalayeh Award

The new and annual prize has been established in honor of the journalist and founder of Interactive TV who was recently killed in an attack in Somalia.

As Somalis and Africans alike continue to mourn those lost in an attack by Al-Shabab last week, the Somali government has taken the steps to honor them—one of whom being Hodan Nalayeh.

The foreign ministry has announced the Hodan Nalayeh Award—a new, annual prize which will be given to "outstanding" individuals from the Somali diaspora who've made positive contributions to their country, according to BBC.

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Still from YouTube

The Gorillaz Enlist Fatoumata Diawara for New Track 'Désolé

A stunning collaboration that we didn't even know we needed.

The Gorillaz enlist none other than Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara for their latest single "Désolé," the second single from the hit-making British band's Song Machine installation project.

"Making Désolé with Fatou was a real moment for me, you know," the band's drummer Russel Hobbs is quoted as saying in a statement via Pitchfork. Désole translates to "sorry" in French, but despite it's apologetic title, the song is a laid-back groove, elevated by vocals from lead singer Damon Albarn and Diawara, who sings in English, French and Bambara.

"She's an African Queen," Russel adds. "This lady made the song what it is, beautiful, like life. What can I say about Désolé? They say sorry is the hardest word, but that's not true.... Try saying antidisestablishmentarianism with a mouth full of gluten free cronuts on a speed boat without licking your lips."

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Diamond Platnumz and Tanasha in "Gere" (Youtube)

The 7 Best East African Songs of the Month

Featuring Diamond Platnumz x Tanasha, Sauti Sol, Rayvanny, Sheebah, Victoria Kimani and more.

February has been dominated by familiar voices in East African music.

Here are our picks of the best East African songs of the month featuring Diamond Platnumz, Sheebah, Rayvanny and more.

Follow our East African Grooves playlist on Spotify and Apple Music.

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