On August 25, Rophnan officially released his album in Addis Abeba. The My Generation concert was a major event attended by thousands – with a queue twice as long outside! The event was much more than a release party, it was the culmination of weeks of sky rocketing buzz around Rophnan, who’s come to embody the hopes of his generation.
Let’s rewind: last February, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned unexpectedly, in the midst of massive protests across the country. His successor Abiy Ahmed was appointed in April, and since then a wave of hope has been sweeping across the country. Rophnan’s album and EP came out exactly at this time, and has incarnated the aspirations of his generation. The political context, combined with the very nature of the music, pioneering the junction of EDM with Ethiopian instruments and traditions, have propelled Rophnan into exponential growth.
Rophnan has become a symbol, not just for the club scene which he emerged from: his hype has gained the critical mass to push him onto the mainstream stage. His manager points out countless symptoms of this incredible growth: the number of booking requests, which now come in at half a dozen per day – most of which are turned down; Rophnan’s performance in front of 13,000 people on Mezkal Square, or more anecdotally cars blasting Rophnan’s songs even in remote villages.
It’s no surprise to see this music revolution spilling beyond Ethiopia’s borders: Rophnan’s song Get to Work is featured on Major Lazer’s recent Afrobeats mixtape, one of the very few underground songs within a line up of usual suspects: Davido, Tekno, Maphorisa etc – stream it here.