See Onipa's Bracing Video for 'Promised Land' - Rolling Stone
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See Onipa’s Bracing Video for ‘Promised Land’

U.K.-based group offers blunt indictment of contemporary inequality on new visual for We No Be Machine cut

The band Onipa, which specializes in merging traditional African musical styles with contemporary electronics, shine a light on the “everyday struggles of hard working people” in their new video for “Promised Land.”

The lyrics offer a blunt indictment of contemporary inequality. “There was a promise of a promised land/Milk and honey, streets of gold, the promise of a dying man,” lead singer Kweku Sackey intones. In reality, that has become “a promise where love for all is indeed love for some, a twisted tale of emotional control, where only the fortunate ones are a part of this master plan.” “Where is the promised land?” Sackey wonders.

“Promised Land” was born “in a whirlwind writing session in Kweku’s rehearsal studio in Sheffield,” guitarist Tom Excell explains in an email. “I’d driven a four-hour journey from London and within four hours of getting there we had four songs written and recorded — we barely even said hello to each other.”

The musical bed for “Promised Land” nods to “Malian and Taureg artists such as Ali Farka Touré, Bombino and Tinariwen,” Excell continues. “Framing these traditional melodies in synth-driven grooves [creates something] akin to U.K. dance music.”

“Promised Land” appeared last month on Onipa’s debut album, We No Be Machine. In addition to Sackey and Excell, the group includes Dwayne Kilvington on synthesizers and Finn Booth on drums. “Promised Land” also incorporates Kora playing and vocals from Jally Kebba Susso. 

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