Video

The Missing Female Inmates In Zomba Prison Project, Malawi’s Grammy-Nominated Prison Band

“The women’s contribution” says producer Ian Brennan “has been overshadowed by coverage of the official men’s band at the prison.”

Image courtesy of Zomba Prison Project.


Much of what’s written about the Zomba Prison Project’s Grammy-nominated album I Have No Everything Here—a collection of songs written and recorded by inmates at a maximum security facility in Zomba, Malawi—has focused on the men.

“The women’s contribution,” say producer Ian Brennan and filmmaker Marilena Umuhoza Delli, “has been overshadowed by coverage of the official men’s band at the prison.”

This isn’t completely unwarranted, as the jail already had its 12-man band routinely practicing in a makeshift rehearsal space before recording even started back in 2013.

It’s the women inmates, however, that ended up writing the majority of the songs on the 20-track album.

“Ironically, the men’s band is not featured on the Zomba Prison Project album hardly at all, while the women— who, unlike the men, have no instruments other than two hand-drums and some homemade percussion— contributed over half of the songs to the Grammy-nominated World Music album,” explains Brennan, who previously produced Tinariwen’s Tassili.

The new music video for “House of Dance” celebrates those women, many of whom are in Zomba prison for life, with footage of their communal dancing and singing, something the outnumbered female inmates frequently did to lift their spirits.

Interview

Sarkodie Is Not Feeling Any Pressure

The elite Ghanaian rapper affirms his king status with this seventh studio album, No Pressure.

Sarkodie is one of the most successful African rappers of all time. With over ten years of industry presence under his belt, there's no question about his prowess or skin in the game. Not only is he a pioneer of African hip-hop, he's also the most decorated African rapper, having received over 100 awards from close to 200 nominations over the span of his career.

What else does Sarkodie have to prove? For someone who has reached and stayed at the pinnacle of hip-hop for more than a decade, he's done it all. But despite that, he's still embracing new growth. One can tell just by listening to his latest album, No Pressure, Sarkodie's seventh studio album, and the follow-up to 2019's Black Love which brought us some of the Ghanaian star's best music so far. King Sark may be as big as it gets, but the scope of his music is still evolving.

Sonically, No Pressure is predominantly hip-hop, with the first ten tracks offering different blends of rap topped off with a handful of afrobeats and, finally, being crowned at the end with a gospel hip-hop cut featuring Ghanaian singer MOG. As far as the features go, Sark is known for collaborating mostly with his African peers but this time around he branches out further to feature a number of guests from around the world. Wale, Vic Mensa, and Giggs, the crème de la crème of rap in America and the UK respectively all make appearances, as well as Nigeria's Oxlade, South Africa's Cassper Nyovest, and his fellow Ghanaian artists Darkovibes and Kwesi Arthur.

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