Awesome Tapes From Africa

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Awesome Tapes From Africa is a record label and web site operated by Brian Shimkovitz based in Los Angeles, California. The site was founded in 2006 in Brooklyn, New York.

The site was created as a way for Shimkovitz to share music he had come across while on a Fulbright scholarship in Ghana. He was interested in the variety of genres and artists he found, distributed largely on cassette tapes at markets, but that he had not come across outside West Africa.[1] In 2011, Shimkovitz transitioned the site from just a blog with posted recordings of collected tapes posted without the artists' permission to a commercial record label.[2] The goal of the company is to seed and expand an audience for the artists presented as well as provide opportunities to sell albums and tour.[3] Artists are paid every six months and receive 50% of the profits from an album.[4] Tapes presented on Awesome Tapes come from a variety of sources: gathered in Ghanaian street markets, purchased in stores in the US, or sent by others over the internet.[5] In addition to the website, Shimkovitz DJ's concerts, clubs and at festivals as Awesome Tapes From Africa, as well as hosts a show on Dublab.[6]

Most Awesome Tapes From Africa releases are official rereleases of out-of-print cassettes from African musicians and bands. SK Kakraba's Songs of Paapieye is the first album to consist of a new release.[7] Although music is distributed in Africa via MP3 on mobile phones, Shimkovitz says the widest variety of music in West Africa is still available on cassette tape.[8] In the journal Public Culture, Awesome Tapes From Africa, along with record labels Sublime Frequencies and Parallel World, is discussed as being emblematic of "World Music 2.0" for combining the "open source ethics of online networks with long-standing countercultural networks of circulation" within cassette culture and music distribution in developing nations.[9]



updated 12 March 2016[10]

  • ATFA001 - Nâ Hawa Doumbia: La Grande Cantatrice Malienne, Vol. 3, 2011
  • ATFA002 - Bola: Volume 7, 2012
  • ATFA003 - Bola: Remixes
  • ATFA004 - Dur-Dur Band: Volume 5, 2013
  • ATFA005 - Dur-Dur Band: Remixes, 2013
  • ATFA006 - Hailu Mergia: Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument: Shemonmuanaye, 2013
  • ATFA007 - Hailu Mergia: Remixes, 2013
  • ATFA008 - Penny Penny: Shaka Bundu, 2013
  • ATFA009 - Penny Penny: Remixes, 2014
  • ATFA010 - Aby Ngana Diop: Liital, 2014
  • ATFA011 - Aby Ngana Diop: Remxes, 2014
  • ATFA012 - Hailu Mergia and the Walias: Tche Belew, 2014
  • ATFA013 - Hailu Mergia and the Walias: Musicawi Silt b/w Tche Belew, 2015
  • ATFA014 - Ata Kak: Obaa Sima (album), 2015
  • ATFA015 - Ata Kak: Obaa Sima (single), 2015
  • ATFA016 - Ata Kak: Daa Nyinaa, 2015
  • ATFA018 - SK Kakraba: Songs of Paapieye, 2015


  1. ^ "Resident Advisor: Awesome Tapes From Africa Biography". Resident Advisor. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  2. ^ "A Decade Of Music: Awesome Tapes From Africa". KCET. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  3. ^ "Collateral Damage: Awesome Tapes". Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  4. ^ Lanz, Michelle (1 October 2015). "Awesome Tapes from Africa brings obscure musicians to a wider audience". 89.3 KPCC. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  5. ^ Smith, Caspar Llewellyn (1 October 2011). "Awesome Tapes: The hunt for Africa's lost treasure trove of music". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  6. ^ "Shows: Awesome Tapes From Africa". Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  7. ^ "SK Kakraba 'Songs of Paapieye'". Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  8. ^ Hendrickson, Tad (28 September 2011). "Q&A: AWESOME TAPES FROM AFRICA'S BRIAN SHIMKOVITZ ON CASSETTE DJING, HIS NEW LABEL, AND HIS OVERFLOWING MAILBOX". The Village Voice. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  9. ^ Novak, David. "The Sublime Frequencies of New Old Media". Public Culture. 23 (3). doi:10.1215/08992363-1336435. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  10. ^ "Label: Awesome Tapes From Africa". Retrieved 12 March 2016.

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