Tracka De Day: King Driis ft. Shadow Boxxer 'Hold On'

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Shadow Boxxer is a Freetown, Salone (Sierra Leone) MC that looks to have a promising career as an international artist. Growing up in Sierra Leone and returning to the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) area, he linked with childhood friends to formed WAF (West African Family) with a powerful goal "to assemble all West Africans to strive for unity, empowerment and progression."

Fast forward to 2012 and you'll hear a matured Shadows Boxxer flowing about all aspects of life in the DMV and repping the Green, White, and Blue hard. Don't get it twisted and think he's just some international rapper. Check him on the 9th Wonder produced track with King Driis (Idris Elba) "Hold On" above.  In the song he displays Enlighsh and Krio chanting with hip hop grit and swag, as Driis complements with an equally impressive and fun flow for the head nodders. Shadow's versatility is expressive of his life's experiences. A lil grit, love, party, pain, life, and heart.


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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