Video

Video: Njideka Akunyili's 'Everyday Stuff'

Nigerian artist Njideka Akunyili paints beautiful, thought-provoking and in demand collages.


Nigerian-born artist Njideka Akunyili's collage paintings are beautiful, thought-provoking and sell like hotcakes. She just wrapped up a year-long residency at The Studio Museum and to mark it, the folks in Harlem have uploaded a three-minute video interview. The US-based artist talks about what drives her work, how fellow artist in residence Meleko Mokgosi has influenced her visual narratives, and her choice to represent domestic and intimate scenes:

"I think of my work as capturing the very ordinary, just normal everyday stuff. But I think there is something beautiful and powerful in the things that happen daily, intimate situations, sensual situations. Things people don't get to see. I think there's a beauty in that..."

Akunyili's commitment to documenting the mundane situates her within a cohort of African writers and artists who eschew the 'big' narratives which for some time dominated African cultural production. Instead of taking war, famine, hunger or the 'postcolonial question' as themes, their work foregrounds individual lives and realities to reveal, in Teju Cole's words, 'a whole world of ongoing human experience that is often ignored or oversimplified'.

Check out her website and watch the interview below:

[embed width="620"][/embed]

Music

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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