SXSWest Africa: Portraits Of Ice Prince, Sarkodie, R2bees, Samini & More

Portraits of Ice Prince, Sarkodie, R2bees, Samini and more from SXSW 2015 in Austin, Texas

Photos: @solomonsfam

Last week we went down to Austin, Texas to witness West Africa's unprecedented invasion of SXSW firsthand. On Friday, Nigerian heavy-hitters Ice Prince and Emma Nyra joined Ghana's Sarkodie, R2Bees (aka cousins Faisal "Paedae da Parlem" Hakeem and Rashid Mugeez) and Samini in a packed-out room at the Austin Convention Center for the "Meet Africa's Leading Musicians" panel, hosted by comedian Eddie Kadi.

Later that night the whole gang — with the notable additions of Davido, Côte d’Ivoire’s Serge Beynaud, and DJ Spinall on the decks — brought Lagos and Accra to Austin's 6th Street for the first ever Sounds From Africa official showcase (produced by Rickie Davies PR, Winnie K Mgmt, and Coyah Productions). In what turned out to be the closest thing to a hot and sweaty West African nightclub SXSW has ever felt, the party saw Sarkodie and Ice Prince, arguably the two hardest emcees in Austin that night, on stage together to perform their "Shots On Shots" collaboration live. Meanwhile, superstar Davido closed out the night with a slew of his hits, including a "Dami Duro" sing-along.

While we were in Austin, Okayafrica TV caught up with a few of the artists on the roof of the Convention Center (more on this to come soon...), where NY-based photographer/filmmaker Garth von Glehn snapped some behind-the-scenes portraits of Ice Prince, Sarkodie, R2bees, Emma Nyra and DJ Spinall. Browse through a gallery of von Glehn's pictures above.

Naija history at #sxsw--@davidoofficial to close out the #soundsfromafrica showcase. #davido #damiduro

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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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