Arts, Culture & Media

Pitch your beat to the Beat Making Lab and join Marco and The World's staff as they dance Azonto

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IntraHealth International

A recording session gets under way at the Beat Making Lab studio in Addis Ababa.

The Beat Making Lab is going back to Ethiopia.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

The Addis Ababa lab is the fifth installment of Stephen Levitin and Pierce Freelon's project to help people all over the world make beats, but it's the first time they've been able to step back and revist the work they did with the lab in the country where it happened.

Their experience collaborating with youth in Addis Ababa could be summed up in the title of the final song, "Des Yelal," which means "feels good." Written by a young woman named Gelila, and co-produced in collaboration with 15 of her peers, Des Yelal is a culminating final product of the project's 14-day residency in Ethiopia. 

The music video was filmed when the group had just two days left in the country. Filmmakers David Hambridge and Saleem Reshamwala worked closely with local filmmaker Tsgaye Ermias and a local dance troupe to capture striking visuals to complement the energy of the genre-bending song. 

But the program was about more than just making music. Sponsored by Intrahealth, the program also aimed to explore the crossroads between music and health. One of the first songs written took a darker tone, where student-poet Marta told a story about a health-related death. The lyrics in the final song, Des Yelal, reflect a more positive outlook for health, "yehew hulum wedeanchi zore / sel’anchi mote mesmat qere" (everyone is working for your benefit now / we don't hear about your death any longer) / "des des des yelal / yalefew hulu qert’wal" (translation: It feels really good / everything in the past behind you). For a full translation of the lyrics visit: www.BeatMakingLab.com

Before they return to Ethiopia, though, they've issued a challenge to beat-makers around the world. Think you can top their beat?

The competition, the fourth from the Beat Making Lab crew, will be judged by Fuse ODG.

In order to participate, you'll need to sample these two sounds, an Ethiopian soccer chant and a clip of music from a masinko.

You can't just create your song in any style, of course. It has to be in the style of Azonto/Afrobeat Dance. Submit your entry by uploading your song to this group on SoundCloud, and tweeting a link to the song @BeatMakingLab and @SoundCloud.

Submissions are due in just a few days — by Nov. 9. Winners will receive a free SoundCloud Pro account and loads of publicity, including a posting at Mad Decent. Winning songs will also be included on a free EP titled “Des Yelal,” released by Mal Dicen x Latino Resiste x ARTVSM.

Winners will be announced on Mad Decent and on PRI's The World on Nov. 13. 

Editor's Note: Check back next Wednesday for another update in the continiuing series on the Beat Making Lab.

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