Audio

Listen to Zaki Ibrahim’s Impressive Sci-Fi Soul Album ‘The Secret Life of Planets’

Zaki Ibrahim releases her first album in six years.

Canadian-based South African singer-songwriter Zaki Ibrahim just released her long-promised third album The Secret Life Of Planets. This is her first full body of work since 2012's Every Opposite.

In 2016, the artist got us ready for The Secret Life of Planets when she released a four-track EP titled ORBIT: A Postcoital Prequel. ORBIT revealed a shift in mindstate for the artist.

While her music used to be themed in colors (Eclectica [Episodes in Purple], Shö [Iqra In Orange]), in this new chapter, she's fascinated by the cosmos, hence the titles of both the EP and album. The EP's release coincided with the supermoon­–the biggest view of the moon we've had in 70 years.

On The Secret Life of Planets, the artist worked with co-producer and co-writer Alister Johnson and multi-instrumentalist Casey MQ.

While Ibrahim was making the album, she had to deal with the death of her father, and getting ready to be a mother.

She told the Canadian website Exclaim!:

"I was in the middle of writing this album when this was happening. It actually allowed me to deal with what I was feeling, and to explore a lot of themes of outer space, time travel, memories, and nostalgia. It took me away, but at the same time, got me even deeper into who I am. What, surprisingly, came out was more joy than grief. Making the album kind of helped me through all of this stuff."

The Secret Life of Planets has a vintage soul and R&B feel to it, with sprinkles of both nostalgia and future by way of synthesizers and 808s.

Listen to The Secret Life of Planets below, and download it here.

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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