Nikki & Rich Video for “Next Best Thing”

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Nikki & Rich premiered this new video for “Next Best Thing” on Ellen’s website, and performed the single live on her show this morning. Go to Ellen’s site for more video of Nikki & Rich! And check out the Nikki & Rich Documentary Trailer we posted in January.

Mulatu Astatke: The Man & His Influence

Mulatu Astatke is a musical titan, in the same league as the likes of Fela Kuti and King Sunny Ade, yet he was first recognized to most people when The Paris-based world music record label, Buda Musique devoted the entire 4th installment of their respected series, Ethiopiques, to his compositions in 1998.

Astatke was born in 1943 in a town called Jimma in Ethiopia. His family sent him abroad to Wales to study chemical engineering, and instead, he came home with a degree in Music and a whole new sound brewing in his head. After Wales, he proceeded to the prestigious Berklee College of Music becoming the first African student to attend, studying the Vibraphone and percussion.

Mulatu Astatke – “Asosa” (from Mulatu Steps Ahead on Strut Records)
 

Read more, grab a few downloads, samples and more Ethiopian-influenced hip-hop after the jump.

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“Vote” by Alsarah ft. Oddisee, For Sudan

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Alsarah is a Brooklyn based singer, songwriter and Giant Step team member hailing from Khartoum, Sudan. She loves to travel, does not like long walks on the beach, and prefers kimchi to cake. 

Alsarah shares her experience:

Today I go to vote for the first time as a Sudanese citizen. Three weeks ago I could not contain my excitement about this momentous occasion, but today I sadly know it won’t count for anything. Despite the reports flooding in about rampant cheating in the electoral process, not to mention the recent withdrawal of the majority of other presidential candidates, I like to tell myself at least I am getting some practice in on my right for self determination.

This being the first election since 1985, it has been getting a lot international attention, and a lot of media is being produced on the country in general. Among the international organizations focusing on the topic is Media in Cooperation and Transition, aka MICT, in association with the German Foreign Office, who have been running an online campaign covering the elections in general, and released a compilation of songs by Sudanese singers and song writers, of which I was one, relating to the elections titled Sudan Votes Music Hopes. I was in Berlin for the SVMH release party when I received the news that most of the candidates running for the elections had withdrawn from the race a mere few days before people were due to go to the ballots.

While deeply dejected, I feel that at least now so many of the people of Sudan had made it clear they seek a democratic change, and that gives me hope to look forward to the possibility of a fair elections in the not so distant future.

Alsarah explains how her song, “Vote,” came to be: Alsarah Video Interview

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RIP Steve Reid

“Devastated by the news that my friend drummer Steve Reid passed away last night in New York – a true inspiration who will be greatly missed.” – Gilles Peterson 4/13/2010

We were lucky enough to have Steve Reid, the legendary drummer at a classic Giant Step 2005 event in NYC: Gilles Peterson Presents ‘The BBC Sessions Live’. The night featured Steve Reid and Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet) with artists like Larry Mizell, Dwele, Bilal, Jazmine Sullivan, Amp Fiddler, Robert Glasper and Heavy. It’s a very fond memory for us, and it was a small but memorable step in the story of Steve Reid, a musical giant who previously played with James Brown, Sun Ra, Dexter Gordon, Gary Bartz, Peggy Lee, Lonnie Smith, Horace Silver, Freddie Hubbard, Dionne Warwick and countless others.

Photos by Donna Ward