Ethiopian muisc samples in HipHop.


This podcast is about American, Jamaican and Somalia artist that helped to promote the Ethiopian music on a global scale. The artists that I will cover on this podcast are two American and one Jamaican native.

Just to give a brief background about Ethiopian music and the different modals. Ethiopian music uses a distinct modal system that is pentatonic, with characteristically long intervals between some notes.

The music of the highlands uses a fundamental modal system called qenet, of which there are four main modes: tezeta, bati, ambassel, and anchihoy. Three additional modes are variations on the above: tezeta minor, bati major, and bati minor. Some songs take the name of their qenet, such as tizita, a song of reminiscence. When played on traditional instruments, these modes are generally not tempered (that is, the pitches may deviate slightly from the Western-tempered tuning system), but when played on Western instruments such as pianos and guitars, they are played using the Western-tempered tuning system.

Music in the Ethiopian highlands is generally monophonic or heterophonic. In certain southern areas, some music is polyphonicDorze polyphonic singing (edho) may employ up to five parts; Majangir, four parts.

So the artists that I have chosen to speak about today which had sampled etiopian music in the past are Nas, The weekend also known as Abel and Kanaan the somalin native rapper.

I have copied the links to the songs below:

Nas  and Jr Gong Marley–

On this song the original song that is sampled is by the famous Ethiopian artists tilahun gessese. Nas and Jr Gong Marley took the music from the song and went with the freestyle. You can tell that the music has a very unique tone which is pentatonic.

The Weekend (The hills)–

The Canadian artist born from Ethiopian mother and father grew up listening to the songs of Aster Aweke and Mulatu Astatke. His vocals kinda resembles that of the priest that you find when you go to Ethiopian churches. I really appreciate the fact that he plugged in the old school Ethiopian artist in his songs.

Kanaan –

Kanaan as he is from a Somalian family, its only fair to assume that he grew up listening to Tilahun Gessese. Hence, that is why he sampled his music.


Bekele, Birhanu Teferra and Shiferaw. “Analysis of the formation and structure of the Ethiopian scale system .” Analysis of the formation and structure of the Ethiopian scale system (2009).

Frangou, Chris. “Common Ethiopian Pentatonic scales or Qignit.” Common Ethiopian Pentatonic scales or Qignit (2017).

Stanley sadie, george Grove. A Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Oxford University Press, 1879. English.


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