The independent spirit lives in all of Ethiopia’s musicians. Originating from Africa’s oldest sovereign nation inspires these five acts to conjure wild and fierce tones, ranging from jazz to hard rock. Flutes and fine vocals invite listeners to Addis-Ababa and beyond.
This young man with a baby face and a genteel style has been winning over audiences since his stint on Ethiopian Idol. Tracks like the mellifluous “Mizanish Tezaba” have been compared to those of the Weeknd and other alt R&B contemporaries.
Think hard rock, pop and folk doesn’t mix? Give Jano Band a listen, and your tune will change. Championed by Iggy Pop and Herbie Hancock collaborator Bill Laswell, Jano Band embrace heavier tones than usually heard in Ethiopia. Songs such as the buoyant “Darigne” recall Evanescence and Metric. The 10-piece group was recently nominated in the Best African Rock category by AFRIMA.
“Victory is never achieved by individuals,” goes the Teddy Yo-Joe Lox joint “Algentaye.” Teddy Yo in particular is one of dozens of Ethiopian rappers trying to make a name for themselves while fighting the establishment. His Isreunya album translates to “Prisoner,” a label he relates to as he battles censorship. This Talib Kweli acolyte is breaking the chains of the conventional with his art. (Thank you to Aljazeera America for the recommendation.)
Esoteric dreams are made of the ambient sounds of Mikael Seifu. His self-proclaimed Ethio-Jazz glides on the heavens and circumvents EDM clichés. The Guardian and Pitchfork have showered him with praise, and EPs such as this year’s Zelalem have made Addis-Ababa a hotbed for exciting music.
Swaggering and sultry, Hadero has a style all her own. Born in Ethiopia and currently living in San Francisco, she blends her home country’s polyrhythms with the boho chic of her adopted town. Her mélange of torchy pop and multilayered folk have led to international acclaim and even to her own TED Talk.
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