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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.

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

More at the Okayafrica shop

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

More at the Okayafrica shop

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

More at the Okayafrica shop

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

More at the Okayafrica shop

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.

Music

Listen to Samthing Soweto’s Album ‘Isiphithiphithi’

Samthing Soweto's highly anticipated album is finally here.

One of the most anticipated albums of the year, Isiphithiphithi by Samthing Soweto is finally here.

The South African artist's project consists of 12 songs and features Makhafula Vilakazi, Shasha, Kabza De Small, DJ Maphorisa and Mlindo The Vocalist.

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Gallo Images/Getty Images

South African Telenovela 'The River' has Been Nominated for an International Emmy

This is the popular telenovela's first International Emmy nomination.

One of South Africa's beloved telenovelas, The River, has received its first ever International Emmy nomination in the category of "Best Telenovela", according to IOL. The River will go up against other telenovelas from Columbia, Argentina as well as Portugal. The 47th installment of the International Emmy Awards will take place on November 25th of this year and will be held at the Hilton in New York.

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Culture
Photo (c) John Liebenberg

'Stolen Moments' Uncovers the Namibian Music That Apartheid Tried to Erase

The photo exhibition, showing at the Brunei Gallery in London, highlights artists from Namibia's underground scene between 1950-1980, a time of immense musical suppression prior to its independence.

Before its independence in 1990, a whole generation of Namibians were made to believe that their county had no real musical legacy. Popular productions by Namibian artists from previous eras were systematically concealed from the masses for nearly 30 years, under the apartheid regime—which extended to the country from South Africa following German colonization—depriving many Namibians of the opportunity to connect with their own musical heritage.

"Stolen Moments: Namibian Music Untold," a new exhibit currently showing at London's Brunei Museum at SOAS University of London, seeks to revive the musical Namibian musical traditions that the apartheid regime attempted to erase.

"Imagine you had never known about the musical riches of your country," said the exhibit's curator Aino Moongo in a statement of purpose on SOAS' site. "Your ears had been used to nothing but the dull sounds of country's former occupants and the blaring church and propaganda songs that were sold to you as your country's musical legacy. Until all at once, a magnitude of unknown sounds, melodies and songs appear. This sound, that roots your culture to the musical influences of jazz, blues and pop from around the world, is unique, yet familiar. It revives memories of bygone days, recites the history of your homeland and enables you for the first time to experience the emotions, joys and pains of your ancestors."

Photo (c) Dieter Hinrichs

The 'Stolen Moments" project began in 2010 in an effort to champion Namibia's unsung musical innovators. For the collection, Moongo and Assistant Curator, Siegrun Salmanian—along with a group of international scholars, artists, photographers and filmmakers—curated a large-scale photo exhibit that also features a 120-minute video projection, focusing on the dance styles of the era, along with listening stations, a sound installation that features "100-hours of interviews with musicians and contemporary witnesses," and displays of record covers and memorabilia from the period between 1950-1980.

The musicians highlighted, produced work that spanned a number of genres—a marker of the country's vast and eclectic underground scene. Artists like the saxophonist Leyden Naftali who led a band inspired by the sounds of ragtime, and the psychedelic rock and funk of the Ugly Creatures are explored through the exhibition, which also centers bands and artists such as The Dead Wood, The Rocking Kwela Boys, Children of Pluto and more.

"There are many reasons why you've never heard this music before," Moongo continues. "It was censored, suppressed, prohibited and made almost impossible to listen to. Its creators are either long gone or have given up on music making, by reasons of adversity, death and despair. And yet this beautiful music exists with a liveliness, as if it had never stopped playing. It is still in the minds of the few who can remember, with the ones who played it, and on those rare recordings that have survived in archives and record collections scattered around the globe. Allow me to share these stolen moments with you."

Photo (c) Dieter Hinrichs


Photo (c) John Liebenberg

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"Stolen Moments" is now showing at the Brunei Gallery in London and runs through Sept 21.

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Foul Language and Depictions of Rape Spur a Book Recall Campaign in Kenya

Kenya's Top Book seller pulls a South African book for youth due to foul language.

A main book supplier in Kenya, Text Book Centre, has announced that they would not stock a book due to its "vulgar and foul language." The book, Blood Ties, was written by South African author Zimkhitha Mlanzeli. The banning comes just after a video went viral in Kenya of a school child having a verbal outburst peppered with strong language. As reported by BBC, the removal was sparked by parents showing outrage after excerpts from the book were shared on twitter. These excerpts contained use of the f-word as well as a description of a rape scene.

As per their statement, the Text Book Centre claims they believe in "upholding high moral standards and raising generations of responsible citizens who are not only educated but ethical." The Kenyan publisher, StoryMoja, has defended the book in a statement of their own. They argue that the book is part of a new series showcasing books that deal with "contemporary societal issues" and that this particular book is a fictional story that grapples with the negative repercussions of peer pressure. "In actual fact, the book guides readers on the steps to take should they find themselves in a similar situation and underscores the sensitivity with which victims of sexual abuse should be treated." The statement also highlights the fact that the publishers had listed Blood Ties for readers in high school or above.


The discrepancy is that some schools have recommended the book as a reader – meaning for younger children aged 12 or 13 – though it has not been approved by the Kenyan Institute of Curricular Development (KICD), the entity in charge of managing texts used in schools. In a tweet, the KICD claimed that the book was not approved and that some teachers may be recommending texts without ensuring they were endorsed by the KICD. The dispute is sparking debate as to what should be taught in Kenyan schools.

As of late this morning, StoryMoja is in the process of recalling all copies of the book from stores and schools across Kenya. In a tweet they claim that it is because they have determined the language used in the book is the issue and not the subject matter.

Censorship is always a contested topic, just last month we reported on Nigerian authorities censoring a music video for "threatening security." Also, Kenya's censorship tactics have been in the global eye since a refusal to screen the film Rafiki for its homosexual heroines despite being lauded at international film festivals.

Here are some reactions from Kenyans on Twitter:





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