Wachu know about Burntface? 102 Comments

The lack of progress in Ethiopian music is talked about. Personally I don’t think there is lack of progress in Ethiopian music in general. The lack from my perspective is in some Ethiopian artists rather than in the whole Ethiopian music.

Ethiopian music is progressing to uncharted territory. Hip hop and Reggae is being introduced in the music. You guys know who Johnny Ragga is? Did you listen to Teddy Afro’s latest album?  Do you Ethiopian Hip Hop artists there are?

I’ve been listening to Burntface for almost 2 years now.  I have almost every album. So I’m gonna beat it in your head.  YeteQatele Feat Yebalalu.  Podcasted are two of my favorite tracks from various albums. The Amharic vocalist at the end of the ‘Cab Confessions’ track is the late great Surafel Assaminew.

This for the green, the yellow, and the red.
You heard I said.
Yo we gonna beat it in your head.
Yo we gonna beat it in your head.

102 Responses to “Wachu know about Burntface?”

  1. 1 Zi

    Nice posting, as Usual!!! I really don’t understand what progress mean. Is it when Ethiopian musicians:
    1. play the contemporary genres of American or ‘western’ music beautifully?
    2. follow the trend and make their ‘ET’ music(in any Ethiopian language) sound like one from New Orleans, St. Louis or NY?
    3. play ET music in alien beats?
    4. recieve raving reviews from world listeners when a single is up in the world billboard chart?
    5. emulate Mike Ellis?

    I think all those Ethiopians (mostly residing in the diaspora) who play jazz, blue, soul, Hip Hop etc should deservedly be praised for their talent and for a job well done. I would gladly place and listen: Wayna alongside Billie Holiday and Burntface alongside public enemy, unfortunately I can’t find a serious reggae musician that I can put with Raga. Is it possible to label their (excluding Johnny) music Ethiopian where the ‘Ethiopian element’ in their music (where there is) is hardly traceable? Is their success a yardstick for the progress of ET music as a whole? Or are the analogs on different billboards?

  2. 2 Chereka

    Nolawi, thanks for the tracks. I really enjoyed them. Your timing in posting this piece is really interesting in that it followed a rather heated discussion about Bole to Harlem and what people thought of thier music.

    I met these guys (Burntface) here in LA a few months back at a Teddy Afro concert. I actually wrote a brief thing about them on my blog. http://lelatensae.blog.com/ I wouldn’t desribe myself as a big time Hip-Hop fan nor am I from the Hip Hop generation, but, I must say I found these guys to be very entertaining. I had a little chat with one of the guys and found their take on being African and Ethiopian to be very refreshing and interesting. You can read the brief blurb on my blog.

    But, getting back to what I mentioned above, the one thing I can say is that, for my money, I will take Burntface over ‘Bole to Harlem’ any day of the week, including Sunday morning. ;-) I like their lyrics, their fresh ideas, and their, like they say in the Hip Hop language, their ‘keepin it real’ in terms of keeping their identity and actually singing about it.

    I will keep supporting them and wish them well. Yes, I wish Bloe to Harlem well too. :) Thanks again Nolawi.

  3. 3 Ethio Jazz

    I’ve listened to Burntface–no problems with their sound. Its actually good. My only beef with them is they never give credit to the original singers/writers they sample some of their music from. It may be that the song is public domain but it’s every artists responsibility to acknowledge the original artists/writers/song titles.

  4. 4 Nolawi

    cherekah, i couldnt find what u wrote about burntface on lela tensae?

    ethio- cab confession song is a sampling of an old telahune song right? i know the beat.. anyways i dont think the artists ever deny the sampling.. anways they need to give credit…

  5. 5 Ethio Jazz

    Nolawi: The song is from Mahmoud Ahmed’s “Aynotche Terabu”

  6. 6 meska

    Personally I really do not like any of the Burntface material, mostly because they never have came up with orginal beats… They always steal something from both ethiopian and american music…

    Let us listen to an original song if you have one Bernos?

  7. 7 mamo kilo

    It wasn?t bad. Definitely not original, but not bad. But again, not every song needs to be original?we need to keep in mind the commercial value of the product.

    The ?mo fo? piece (if that?s what they are saying) was completely unnecessary. I am not sure why artists feel such expressions are necessary (although they have every right to use them.) To me, profanity in music is like an appendix or a uvula (Entil). It is there, but you really don?t know its purpose? I think the music could survive without it.

    I give it an overall B. I like the name very much ? burntface!

    Give the song a Uvulaectomy or an appendectomy on its profanity, and I may even give it a B plus

  8. 8 SoSit

    I have been exposed to Burntface music like 2 yrs. ago and I like them, even though not much originality in the lyrics and beat of their latest album… but after all the best borrow from the best, right? It was interesting comparison to see between Burtface and Bole 2 harlem?? First of all it’s 2 different music style and language used, Burntface is mostly in English (American Rap-Style beats) and Bole 2 harlem is in Amharic with Ethiopian/African music inspired theme. It’s like comparing appel and oranges… But I like them both it depends what mood I’m in. :) Both have some quality they should be recognized by! I wonder who is going to make it between 2 of them, I mean International level recognition… My money is on Bole 2 harlem cause Europeans would love the beat and Amharic flow on the songs… and American would mostly be on the board as always following Europeans Hits… African hip-hop is the next generation music.


    From UK

  9. 9 Chereka

    Nolawi, click on the ‘MUSIC’ link under ‘categories’ on the right side. It’s there.

    meska, I think they are following the same trend the current US hip hop artists have set these days. A lot of the music that we hear these days in the mainstream hip hop is a recycled version of an oldie. I am not a big fan of recycled stuff either, but I can see what they are trying to do. I am all for new ideas and creativity.

  10. 10 Nolawi

    chereka, did i mention i found it..

  11. 11 Nolawi

    who is mike ellis? i keep seeing his name assciated wiht ethiopian music?

  12. 12 yonas

    Mike-E – http://www.addislive.com/content/view/45/150/
    Addis Live also did an interview. I remember listening to it, not sure if the article above links to it too.

  13. 13 konjit

    I like this guys! I must say they can rap…especially their first album was quite entertaining!

  14. 14 sahia

    ive heard of them but never checked them out i definetly love johnny ragga he is too cool ya id dip my injera wit him any time lol

  15. 15 Mitu

    I heard a song of theirs like two days ago. I forget the name of it but it sampled Ere Mela Mela by Mahmoud Ahmed (a fav of my parents). so i checked out their website and their other tracks. I thought it was definately a start and overdue one at that. The whole concept of “Burntface” is interesting and original, although their sound isn’t. Its more of a hybrid of the A-town sound with a ethio rhythms thrown in for good measure. While I may not personally be a fan I do think that we need a group like theirs if only for variety. but we need non-rapping ethio artist and poets as well, i mean this could really be a movement.

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