Yasiin Bey & Kenyan Style Duo 2manysiblings In Nairobi

Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) links with brother-and-sister Kenyan style duo 2manysiblings in Nairobi.

All photos by Sarah Waiswa

Last month Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) was in Nairobi for what was being publicized as his first “first trip to East Africa.” While in town Bey linked with Kenyan brother-sister style and art enthusiast duo 2manysiblings. The meeting was a follow-up to siblings Velma Rossa and Papa Petit's interview feature on the rapper's website, A Country Called Earth, which he and Chicago-based journalist Ferrari Shepard conceived during a trip to Morocco last year.

According to Velma Rossa, "He [Yasiin] came down to Kenya for a music performance and our good friend Buddha Blaze, one of the organisers of Yasiin's trip down here, hooked us up." Papa Petit added, "we were afforded the opportunity to simply hang out and be part of his travel experiences. We attended the artist's panel talk at Pawa254 where he shared his insights on being a creative, hopes of easing creative-based movements across borders... inspirations."

On what they wanted to show Bey in their hometown, Papa Petit tells us "we took him to a couple of spots we like. Kuona Trust art centre where he met artist Cyrus Kabiru and purchased some funky eyewear. Had some good food at Juniper's Kitchen, the nightlife at THE BUS and did an impromptu photo shoot (his brilliant idea) with photographer Sarah Waiswa which we are very excited about." Velma added, "basically he got to experience our nighlife, art, creative and food cultures... I think the crazy / chaotic traffic on our roads is also some sort of culture experienced?"

See more from 2manysiblings impromptu shoot with Yasiin Bey, shot by Ugandan-born, Kenyan-based photographer Sarah Waiswa, via A Country Called Earth. Stay tuned for news on Papa Petit and Velma Rossa's thrift socials, an initiative they say blends creative cultures (musicians, photographers, and  thrift vendors) to give back to their community in Nairobi.

Follow 2manysiblings on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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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