5 Things About Lij Michael

Acclaimed Ethiopian hip hop artiste Lij Michael, famed for the songs Zaraye Yehun Nege and Alrada Larada makes his debut on Coke Studio Africa this year. He is paired with Tanzanian music group Yamoto Band. The artistes, produced by France-based DSK (originally from Ivory Coast), are expected to produce seamless mixes of the best of Ethiopian hip hop and Bongo Flava. While recording the show in Nairobi, Lij Michael took over Coca-Cola’s Facebook and Twitter Page to respond to his fans’ questions. We compiled a few fun Lij Michael-facts from the Coke Studio Africa Artist Takeover:

Respect for the Roots


Fans wanted to know why he goes by the name Faf a.k.a Lij. He revealed: “My real name is Michael Taye and it’s my mother who gave me the nickname Faf. Lij on the other hand is a name I used back in the day as my grandfather is called Lij Tsigey.” The rapper added that he derives a lot of inspiration from traditional and cultural aspects of Ethiopian music: “I always have my roots in me.”


Respect for Hip Hop


Aptly fusing the Ethiopian sound with Hip Hop, Lij is representative of the vibrant new age Ethiopian music scene. He said: “There were some other Ethiopian rappers rapping in English before me but I brought Ethio Hip Hop to the big stage.” Now we all know that Lij prides himself in being a Hip Hop pioneer in the ever-changing industry of Ethiopian music.


Lij’s Role Models


As for Lij’s role models in music, he cites the late legendary Ethiopian artiste Bahiru Kegne and international rap mogul Jay Z as his favourites. When he isn’t listening to their music, Lij says that he loves to read books and hit the gym.


The Real Meaning of Music


Lij is celebrated for his unique style of music and exceptionally gripping performances. Through the Takeover he revealed to fans that he writes all his music himself. He then went on to explain his songwriting process: “[It’s about] telling what you see, feel and [the story] of everything around you.”


On His Coke Studio Africa Debut


Speaking on his grand debut on the show this year and collaboration with Yamoto Band, Lij said, “The beat producer DSK gave us at the studio sounds like the Tanzanian cultural beat and at the same time I found my country’s [authentic Ethiopian] beat. Expect a great performance - it is going to be fire!” He further said the musical and cultural exchange between him and Yamoto Band was amazing.