Bole 2 Harlem

Bole 2 Harlem’s New Ethiopian Style: The Melodic Rhymes and Beats of a Harlem Crew. While hip music enthusiasts are digging through record bins for Ethiopian funk and soul of the ’60s and ’70s, a diverse crew of Ethiopians, other Africans, and Americans in New York’s Harlem have created a new sound with positive Ethiocentric rhymes, funky horns, lively percussion and booty-shaking beats. Bole2Harlem represents the emergence of a new musical identity for the Ethiopian diaspora and a sonic bridge between New York’s uptown “Little Africa” and Bole, Ethiopia’s (air)port of entry. But there is a reason why a sound that some might think of as “out of left field” feels so catchy and danceable: it was created purely for fun among friends. Bole2Harlem is the brainchild of American producer, percussionist, and musician David Schommer, who has written and produced songs for Carole King, the Baha Men and Donna Summer, among others. Schommer keeps a collection of drums at a friend's French-Moroccan downtown restaurant called L'Orange Bleue. And Saturday nights are all about celebration, collaboration between live musicians and the house DJ, and dancing. A range of friends who met during these jam sessions joined Schommer at his 123rd Street studio to create Bole2Harlem, Volume 1, including the well-known Ethiopian singer Gigi’s sister, Tigist Shibabaw, Amharic Rap vocalist Maki Siraj, Brazilian percussionist and Vocalist Davi Vieira, cellist Dave Eggar, Ethiopian bassist Henok Temesgen, and Malian kora-player Balla Tounkara. The result of this spontaneous beat-driven collaboration simultaneously reveals an Ethiopian essence, a multicultural worldview, and an unprecedented modern sound. Some of the songs, like ‘Hoya Hoye,’ are like a walk down the street in Harlem. “I go to my corner bodega and hear the best salsa and merengue,” explains Schommer. “I walk down to the Ital juice store and hear the best reggae. The Senegalese and Malian vendors are blasting their traditional and modern music. Our album has a little bit of all those musical elements in there. I heard one of the Baseball hat vendors playing an old school break-beat and thought, ‘Of course! That’s the same tempo as Hoya Hoye!’ Then I came upon one of Harlem’s church choirs spilling onto the streets on a Sunday morning. That inspired the opening line of the song that goes ‘Feelin’ alright!’ We used riffs that could be either from the American Blues or from Amharic Tizita. We are open to all the sounds of Harlem and the experiences of Ethiopia.” “Bole2Harlem is a journey", says Siraj, "One that takes you thousands of miles from one place to another.” One of the Harlem Crew, Siraj, is getting calls from friends in Ethiopia’s capital who are hearing it played in taxi cabs everywhere, one of the best indicators that the crew have struck a chord. On their last visit to Ethiopia, one cab driver put it plainly, possibly paying the émigré group the highest compliment: “We can’t re-mix this. You’re already speaking our language. There is nothing we can add.” Read more on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.