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9 Vintage African Records You Need in Your Life

From long lost Ghanaian records to Northern and East African record digging finds, this list rounds up our favorite vintage albums.

Check out more lists of great African products here and over at the Okayafrica Shop.


Sometimes the most noteworthy releases aren't new.

From long lost Ghanaian cassette tapes to Northern and East African record digging finds, this list rounds up our favorite vintage albums and compilations releases that have dropped recently.

See OkayAfrica's 2019 #BuyBlack Black Friday holiday shopping guide here

Read ahead for a batch of re-released material from Analog Africa, Now-Again, Awesome Tapes From Africa, Strut Records, and many more.

Listen to the extended Vintage African Records playlist on OkayAfrica's Apple Music curator channel below and check out the individual inclusions underneath.

1. 'Out Of Addis'

Sheba Sound, an Addis Ababa-based record label and sound system collective, teams up with Paradise Bangkok to present Out Of Addis—a 13-track collection of contemporary Ethiopian sounds.

Out Of Addis was compiled after six years of “music digging, road trips, recordings and events, from the northern rocky expanses of Tigray to the central forested highlands of Oromia to the western sweltering grasslands of Gambell," the labels state.

The songs in the compilation are tied together by the sounds of the Ethiopian and Eritrean krar, which can be heard locking down rhythms from across the nation throughout the release.The entire process of compiling Out Of Addis was also filmed and released as a documentary, Roaring Abyss.

Get 'Out of Addis' on Amazon here

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2. Classic Fela Kuti Re-Releases

Six of Fela Kuti's classic albums—Everything Scatter (1975), Beasts Of No Nation (1985), Fear Not For Man (1977), Roforofo Fight (1972), Alagbon Close (1974), and Na Poi (1972) — received a limited edition pressing through a joint effort from Knitting Factory and PledgeMusic.

The afrobeat legend's LPs were each released in an individual vinyl color alongside a new batch of Fela material also includes test pressings, limited edition t-shirts, screen prints and posters designed by Lemi Ghariokwu, the graphic designer, illustrator and artist behind 26 of Fela's iconic album covers.

This marked the first time since their original pressing in Nigeria that some these albums became available on vinyl.

Get the Fela Kuti classics here

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3. Ata Kak 'Obaa Sima'

In 2002 Awesome Tapes From Africa founder Brian Shimkovitz happened upon a cassette copy of Obaa Sima at a roadside stall in Cape Coast, Ghana. In 2006, Shimkovist showcased this cassette gem on his first ever blog post and his readers went wild over the release's infectious & ecstatic dance anthem “Daa Nyinaa." Ata Kak quickly became a cult classic amongst DJs and underground tastemakers.

No one was quite sure who it was exactly that produced the astonishing Obaa Sima, though, so Shimkovist began his search for the elusive Ata Kak.

After spending a considerable amount time traveling, making phone calls and searching endlessly online, Shimkowitz finally tracked down the Ghanaian musician, whose real name is Yaw Atta-Owusu. It was discovered that Atta-Owusu had recorded Obaa Sima in 1994 in Toronto before returning to Ghana in 2006. —Baba Ali

Get 'Obaa Sima' on Amazon here

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4. Rim Kwaku Obeng 'Rim Arrives'

The name Rim Kwaku Obeng might not ring a bell for even the most devoted funk and afrobeat aficionado. The Ghanaian percussionist's music, which includes a string of groove-inducing tunes recorded in the late '70s and early '80s, has remained relatively unheralded despite its blatant appeal in today's retro-tinged musical climate.

The multi-instrumentalist began his career as part of Ghana's Uhuru Dance Band. While recording with the band in Los Angeles, he caught the attention of production maestro Quincy Jones who invited the artist to play in his band. A series of setbacks induced by threats and lawsuits from a fellow bandmate led to a sorely missed opportunity and soon Obeng's band abandoned him in LA, leaving him stranded and resourceless for 6 months.

The musician's break finally came when he was given the opportunity to record his debut album in San Fransisco. Rim Arrives is a dance-worthy blend of funk, disco and afrobeat hoisted by catchy call-and-response lyrics, reminiscent of Fela Kuti's trademarked sound. —Damola Durosomo

Get 'Rim Arrives' on Amazon here

More at the Okayafrica shop

5. Amara Touré: 1973-1980

Frankfurt-based label Analog Africa's Amara Touré: 1973-1980 anthology showcases the work of legendary Guinean singer and percussionist Amara Touré.

Touré's 30 year-long career began in the late 1950s in Dakar as part of the Senegalese collective known as Le Star Band de Dakar. Touré and the band enjoyed rapid success and became prominent figures in Senegal's booming, Cuban-influenced son montuno and pachanga scenes in the '60s.

The singer-percussionist later went on to form his own band Black and White based out of Cameroon, where he further refined his unique take on Cuban music by fusing spirited, West African mandingue sounds with brass-filled Latin instrumentation — solidifying his status as a pioneer of Afro-Cuban music. —DD

Get 'Amara Touré: 1973-1980' on Amazon here

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6. 'Next Stop Soweto 4'

London-based label Strut Records continue their 'Next Stop Soweto' series with Next Stop Soweto 4: Zulu Rock, Afro-Disco, & Mbaqanga 1975-1985. According to Strut, this era of South Africa's musical history saw such genres as funk and soul being played by bands even as apartheid firmly gripped the country's music culture. It was a time in which energetic American bands like War and Yes, along with SA's own malombo type of music, spurred homegrown groups like Kabana and Harari to incorporate soul and rock into their sound along with Zulu lyrics.

Even though South African music was burgeoning in these years, there were parallel difficulties. Bands would still perform, for instance, but curfews, along with their songs receiving little airplay, made it very hard for these groups to survive professionally. By the 1990s, though, the music of this period paved the way for SA acts like Ladysmith Black Mambazo gaining international popularity. —Z Weg

Get 'Next Stop Soweto 4' on Amazon here

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7. 'Wake Up You! The Rise & Fall Of Nigerian Rock'

Funk, rock and psychedelia had a strong footing in early 1970s Nigeria. Though less popular than Fela's afrobeat, a large number of rock groups formed out of the ashes of the Nigerian Civil War to create some exceptional, footwork-friendly tracks.

34 of these vintage Nigerian tracks, written and played by often forgotten bands and songwriters, are compiled in Wake Up You! from Now-Again Records.

Wake Up You! is presented as a tribute to the many bands that formed this relatively unknown 1970s Nigerian psychedelic circle. It plays like the best dance track you could imagine and includes tracks from Ify Jerry Krusade, The Hygrades, The Hykkers, Waves, The Funkees, Theodore Nemy and many more.

The two volume release also comes with “two 100+ page books full of never-seen photos and the story of the best Nigerian rock bands told in vivid detail by musicologist and researcher Uchenna Ikonne (Who Is William Onyeabor?)" the label explains.

Get 'Wake Up You! The Rise & Fall Of Nigerian Rock' on Amazon here

More at the Okayafrica shop

8. 'Bobo Yéyé: Belle Époque in Upper Volta'

Volta-Jazz-Wêrê-Wêrê-Magne-by-NumeroGroup 'Bobo Yéyé: Belle Époque in Upper Volta' album cover.

Before Thomas Sankara, Burkina Faso was The Republic of Upper Volta. During a period of cultural revolution in the '60s and '70s, the nation witnessed an explosion of new bands and sounds across its large cities.

Centered around the cultural capital of Bobo-Dioulasso, the new compilation Bobo Yéyé: Belle Époque in Upper Volta rounds up several rare and spell-binding tracks from the notable names of the era like Volta Jazz, Dafra Star, Echo Del Africa, and Les Imbattables Léopards.

Bobo Yéyé: Belle Époque in Upper Volta is available as a 3-disc, 37-song box set by archival label Numero Group. It also features a hardcover book of photographer Sory Sanlé's striking and intimate documentation of the faces and the scene of 1970s Bobo-Dioulasso.

Get 'Bobo Yéyé: Belle Époque in Upper Volta' on Amazon here

More at the Okayafrica shop

9. 'The Cosmic Sound of Cabo Verde'

Here's another Analog Africa release. This one's an electrifying compilation of late 1970s and early 80s Cabo Verdean dance grooves.

Space Echo - The Mystery Behind The Cosmic Sound of Cabo Verde Finally Revealed presents some of the earliest electronic recordings from the island nation, reviving its eclectic musical past with trance-inducing songs that combine elements of funk, soul and techno.

The 15-track selection highlights a golden period in the nation's music scene, when the use of synthesizers was first introduced, redefining previously existing styles like morna and funaná—a genre that was charged with being “too sexy" and hence banned under Portuguese colonial rule.

"Musical genius Paulino Vieira, who by the end of the 70s would become the country's most important music arranger, [recorded] eight out of the fifteen songs presented in this compilation with the backing of [his] band Voz de Cabo Verde," the label mentions. As a band leader and keyboardist, Vieira became "the mastermind behind the creation and promulgation of what is known today as 'The Cosmic Sound of Cabo Verde'." —DD

Get 'The Cosmic Sound of Cabo Verde' on Amazon here

More at the Okayafrica shop

Learn more about our 'Vintage African Records' Apple Music extended playlist inclusions Amanaz, William Onyeabor and Witch.

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Introducing OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 List

Celebrating African Women Laying the Groundwork for the Future

It would not be hyperbole to consider the individuals we're honoring for OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 list as architects of the future.

This is to say that these women are building infrastructure, both literally and metaphorically, for future generations in Africa and in the Diaspora. And they are doing so intentionally, reaching back, laterally, and forward to bridge gaps and make sure the steps they built—and not without hard work, mines of microaggressions, and challenges—are sturdy enough for the next ascent.

In short, the women on this year's list are laying the groundwork for other women to follow. It's what late author and American novelist Toni Morrison would call your "real job."

"I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else."

And that's what inspired us in the curation of this year's list. Our honorees use various mediums to get the job done—DJ's, fashion designers, historians, anthropologists, and even venture capitalists—but each with the mission to clear the road ahead for generations to come. Incredible African women like Eden Ghebreselassie, a marketing lead at ESPN who created a non-profit to fight energy poverty in Eritrea; or Baratang Miya, who is quite literally building technology clubs for disadvantaged youth in South Africa.

There are the builds that aren't physically tangible—movements that inspire women to show up confidently in their skin, like Enam Asiama's quest to normalize plus-sized bodies and Frédérique (Freddie) Harrel's push for Black and African women to embrace the kink and curl of their hair.

And then there are those who use their words to build power, to take control of the narrative, and to usher in true inclusion and equity. Journalists, (sisters Nikki and Lola Ogunnaike), a novelist (Oyinkan Braithwaite), a media maven (Yolisa Phahle), and a number of historians (Nana Oforiatta Ayim, Leïla Sy) to name a few.

In a time of uncertainty in the world, there's assuredness in the mission to bring up our people. We know this moment of global challenge won't last. It is why we are moving forward to share this labor of love with you, our trusted and loyal audience. We hope that this list serves as a beacon for you during this moment—insurance that future generations will be alright. And we have our honorees to thank for securing that future.

EXPERIENCE 100 WOMEN 2020

The annual OkayAfrica 100 Women List is our effort to acknowledge and uplift African women, not only as a resource that has and will continue to enrich the world we live in, but as a group that deserves to be recognized, reinforced and treasured on a global scale. In the spirit of building infrastructure, this year's list will go beyond the month of March (Women's History Month in America) and close in September during Women's Month in South Africa.

100 women 2020

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Since bursting onto the scene in 2012 with his chart-topping single, "Like to Party," and the subsequent release of his debut album, L.I.F.E - Leaving an Impact for eternity, Burna Boy has continued to prove time and again that he is a force to be reckoned with.

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The new music video for "Ojah," which we're premiering here today, is equally as stunning and follows the story of someone who doesn't take others' advice. C Natty told us the following about the DK of Priorgold Pictures-directed video:

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