Meet Kassmasse, the star lighting up Ethiopia with his new ‘perspective’

Fikru Sema (stage name: Kassmasse) is the hottest young artist in the Hip Hop scene of Ethiopia. His sudden rise to fame came two years ago in 2021 with the release of his first EP called ‘Maleda’. Kassmasse quickly became a point of intrigue for me when I learned that we had gone to the same school for some time.

In this debut EP he mixes traditional sounds and instruments that have been the backdrop to Ethiopian music for past decades with his modern flow and inspirational bars. This type of music is the first of its kind in Ethiopia, and as a result, Kassmasse has come forward to name his creation ‘Ansar‘ (which means ‘Perspective’ in Amharic). The traditional sounds sampled by Kassmasse are from the jazz-influenced ‘Tizita’ genre that is popular amongst the older generation. His exploration of old sounds in addition to his use of cultural attire and tradition has garnered a lot of praise from the older heads that want to preserve the Ethiopian culture, while still keeping in touch with the young generation of Hip Hop fans. This makes Kassmasse a bridge between generations in Ethiopia, which has propelled him forward in his short career.

In his song ‘Negen Letizita’ (Tomorrow for nostalgia) Kassmasse starts off by explaining the importance of looking to the past to learn about the future. He mentions how his family has helped him be who he is today through lessons learned from their mistakes. He raps over a mellow beat of traditional drums and guitar that are usually never associated with Hip Hop. This sound helps emphasize his message about the need to keep oral traditions going as he believes it is from the past that Ethiopians can get the power to overcome the struggles of the present. He ends this compelling argument for the value of elderly wisdom by giving a nod to the biggest thing his parents bestowed upon him- his name. At the end of his last verse, he repeats the phrase “Fikir yisema”, which translates to “may love be heard”. His name Fikru Sema means “his love is heard”. 

There is one thing that is for sure, he will not have to be repeating that phrase anymore, Kassmasse will definitely be heard.

Dagem Teferra

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