Ayalew Mesfin’s Soulful Ethiopian Funk From The ’70s Is About To Get Its First Wide Release

With the amount of music that continues that gets released daily, it feels inevitable that there will be hidden gems that don’t get the shine they deserve. While this may seem like a modern problem, history has proven that this has actually been happening for a while.

Case in point: Ayalew Mesfin was part of an Ethiopian musical movement known as Ethio-Groove, a genre that combined the best parts of funk, soul, big-band jazz, Afrobeat, and traditional Ethiopian music. Mesfin’s work wasn’t really heard outside of the country, due in part to a tumultuous political climate marked by the Ethiopian Civil War that began in the mid-70s. Now, though, the best of Mesfin’s singles and tapes have been compiled for the first time ever and will be released as Hasabe: My Worries.

The record is getting a pretty exclusive physical release: It’ll be vinyl-only, as Record Me, Please’s record of the month for February 2018. Stream the whole thing below.

Vinyl Me, Please’s Head Of Music, Cameron Schaefer, says of the release

“With Hasabe: My Worries, we make the case that Ayalew’s music deserves to be in the canon of Ethiopia’s ’70s greats, from Mulatu Astatke to Mahmoud Ahmed to Alemeayehu Eshete. And we attempt to show how a century of political tumult and musical revolution came together in this unconquerable East African nation to make some of the most compelling music of the latter half of the 20th century: Ethio-Groove, still thrilling and vibrant when heard as new, today.”

Mesfin, who currently lives in Denver, has held onto these recordings in his personal collection for years now, and he seems excited about what this release could mean for his music: “I still have the dream and stamina to get back to working my music someday, though!”

He’s apparently spry enough for a brief tour, since he’ll spend a few days in February playing concerts in Colorado and California. Check out Mesfin’s upcoming dates below, listen to the album above, and learn more about the Vinyl Me, Please release of Hasabe: My Worries here.

2/10 — Denver, CO @ Cervantes
2/11 — Berkeley, CA @ Cornerstone
2/13 — Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex