Music
Maurice Louca Photo: Alexander Mahmoud

Meet the Vanguard of Contemporary Egyptian Jazz

We talk to Egyptian jazz musician Maurice Louca on his new album, Elephantine

The French composer Claude Debussy once famously said "Music is the space between the notes." Decades later, jazz great Miles Davis echoed this sentiment by saying "It's not the notes you play, it's the notes you don't play."

For Maurice Louca, a musician based in Cairo, the concept of the space between the notes–the absence of sound and how he plays with it–has been an integral part of his life and musical progression. Louca is releasing his latest work, Elephantine, on February first. He says it is his "most ambitious work yet." In it, Louca (who plays guitar and piano) leads a 12-piece ensemble through a swirling, hypnotic jumble of cosmic jazz that has a feeling of perpetual motion. Think Kamasi Washington if he had grown up listening to mesmerizing Yemeni chants and Egyptian shaabi pop.

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Culture
Image via UGood's Instagram

The Ugandan Chef Introducing the Rolex to the World​

How the beloved food from the streets of Kampala made its international entrance in an unlikely place.

Chapatis, eggs and vegetables—these are the three humble ingredients needed to make Uganda's ubiquitous snack food, the Rolex. A play of words on 'rolled eggs,'—no relation to the watch— the Rolex is said to be traced back to a single chapati-maker in the eastern town of Busoga but it gained popularity at Makerere University in Kampala. No wonder the students loved it; it's fast, cheap and delicious. The Rolex is now found all over the country and there's even a Rolex festival, which celebrated its third year this August. This year the festival drew chefs from Kenya, Mexico and India who wanted to show off their take on the dish. Safe to say, this poor man's snack has morphed into a source of national pride.

Unlike other country's national dishes, it can be hard to find abroad. The one exception is in the tiny country of Denmark where in 2015, Sylvester Bbaale opened UGood—the world's first Rolex joint outside Uganda. He even has an award from the King of Buganda certifying it.

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Writing
Image via TONL

On Behalf of My Unborn Son: Thank You African Male Artists

African men's openness towards exploring different kinds of masculinity gives me hope for the future.

First things first: I'm not pregnant. But, like many people, I contemplate the world I'll be bringing my children into whenever they so choose to arrive. I don't know who or what their father will be. Ghanaian-Swedish? Haitian-Italian? American – who knows? What I do know for certain is that any son I have will be, at least, half black.

I've long struggled with the seeming paradox of the black imagination. One the one hand, our creative conscious imagines entire lifestyles into existence. We create global trends in fashion, music, dance, language, poetry and literature. Our minds are ground zero for creating entire cultures. But when it comes to ourselves, we seem to be unable to imagine being seen as whole human beings. I feel like even in our imaginations we don't dare to imagine ourselves truly respected and truly free because that freedom might threaten others. It's a problem I have in myself, it's a problem I'm not proud of.

So when I imagine the world my son will enter, I'm hesitant about bringing a son into a world that won't make room for the multitudes he will contain—that all of us contain. I worry that he won't know that he can be all the things he needs to be and be black.

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