So I was listening to From New York City to Addis Ababa: The Best of Mulatu Astatke, the compilation just released by Strut Records, when I got to Lanchi Biye and realized the tune has been boosted by Somalian rapper K'naan on his latest effort, Troubadour (which I wrote about earlier this year), for the song America. Now I don't have a physical copy of it, so I couldn't tell you if he cited his source (anyone out there help me on this?), but it should be pretty telling of Astatke's musical genius that he's getting picked up on by a Somalian rapper from the 21st century. Makes you think maybe you should check him out, eh?
I wrote about Astatke earlier this year, when he paired up with the UK collective The Heliocentrics for volume 3 of Strut's Inspiration Information series (read about it here, and listen to one of its tracks below). Even diluted, you could get a sense of his Ethiopian mystique and magic. Probably as a result of that volume's success and the interest it generated, Strut has put together a compilation of his original work in the 60's and 70's. Knowing first hand how hard it is to locate much of that material (I went a-searching after being introduced to him), this comp is incredibly welcome in its breadth. Alongside the 21 tracks are in-depth liner notes detailing the storied career of Astatke and the birth of Ethio-jazz, an eclectic mix of his native music with latin, carribean, highlife, and countless other flavors.
Mulatu Astatke - Lanchi Biye w/Tilahoun Gessesse : New York - Addis - London - The Story Of Ethio Jazz 1965-1975
K'naan - America : Troubadour
one from earlier this year:
The Heliocentrics+Mulatu Astatke - Masenqo : Inspiration Information, Vol. 3