Vegan Chef Turns To Ethiopian Beats With Take Out

Oakland-based chef and activist Bryant Terry released his latest cookbook The Inspired Vegan earlier this year. In the book, he creates soulful playlists for each of his elaborate vegan menus. For Tell Me More's occasional series, "In Your Ear," Terry talks about the music that inspires him — in and out of the kitchen.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now it's time for the occasional segment we call In Your Ear. That's where we hear from some of the guests on the program to find out what songs they've been listening to. This time we're checking in with chef and cookbook author Bryant Terry. His cookbook "The Inspired Vegan" paired each menu with its own playlist, so you can bet he was willing to tell us about the music he listens to when he's cooking for his family.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ADIDAS TO ADDIS")

BRYANT TERRY: Hi, this is Bryant Terry and this is what's playing in my ear.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ADIDAS TO ADDIS")

CUT CHEMIST: (Sung in foreign language)

TERRY: "Adidas to Addis" by Cut Chemist.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ADIDAS TO ADDIS")

CHEMIST: (Sung in foreign language)

TERRY: My wife and I have a 10-month-old daughter and sometimes it's just it's too much for us to think about making a meal at the end of the day, so there's this Ethiopian restaurant in Oakland that we love getting take-out from. And we bring it home and, you know, this song is just a perfect backdrop sometimes because it's kind of drawing from traditional Ethiopian music but, you know, he's kind of chopping up the songs and adding a lot of cuts and breaks in. So it's kind of like a hip-hop interpretation of traditional Ethiopian music to go with our meal.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ADIDAS TO ADDIS")

CHEMIST: (Sung in foreign language)

TERRY: When I'm chopping onions, I like to listen to "Yeah You" by Shabazz Palaces.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YEAH YOU")

SHABAZZ PALACES: (Rapping) Filthy notes, playing parts, never sharp. It ain't their art. It ain't going to stop. Eurocentric. Zero pimpin'. Too bad they're going to be your descendent.

TERRY: The song is so intense and fiery end and it's such a brilliant indictment on conspicuous consumption and, you know, folks forgetting about they history and just really not working towards a more just world. And so, I don't know, it just, along with the onions and the intensity and me crying because I'm chopping onions, I feel like that song just puts me in kind of a meditative zone to get through it, you know...

(LAUGHTER)

TERRY: ...get through chopping the onions without giving up.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YEAH YOU")

PALACES: (Rapping) ...soup, clones on thrones, slipped out drones, never made they bone. I know to make they wealth they'll break they self or they would stamp a paper, news and caper. Love they haters. Desire to jealous by their lovers, cry in front of us. Lies and coverups. Self promoters. Slippery slope, speculate how they...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANGEL")

MASSIVE ATTACK: (Singing) Come from way above to bring me love.

TERRY: I'm also listening to "Angel" by Massive Attack, featuring Horace Andy, the brilliant dub reggae singer.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANGEL")

ATTACK: (Singing) Love you, love you, love you, love you, love you, love you, love you love you, love you, love you, love you, love you, love you, love you, love you, love you, love you, love you, love you...

TERRY: Since my daughter was born, we really wanted to make sure that the music that she was listening to was just mellow and positive and beautiful, so mostly at her home we play reggae and dub. And this is more of I guess you can say a trip-hop song because of Massive Attack's kind of upbringing in that genre or at least being some of the leaders in that genre. But, you know, Horace Andy has been one of their main vocalists that they work with and, you know, my daughter is my angel and it's just such a great song to help me get pumped up for the task of feeding her and having food flying over the place and having her trying to grab the spoon and attempting to put it in her mouth...

(LAUGHTER)

TERRY: ...putting the food in her mouth.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANGEL")

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANGOLA")

TERRY: Another song I'm listening to is "Angola" by the late Cesaria Evora and it's such a beautiful song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANGOLA")

CESARIA EVORA: (Sung in foreign language)

TERRY: When the weather permits, we love to have meals in our backyard and I'll put the speakers out the window of my daughter's room and that song just warms me up and reminds me of the beautiful spirit and soul of Cesaria Evora. And, you know, just seeing her performing live in concert is one of the most positive memories that I have of seeing a live musician. So I love having that song playing when we're eating meals outside.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANGOLA")

EVORA: (Sung in foreign language)

MARTIN: That was chef and cookbook author Bryant Terry telling us what's playing in his ear. To hear our previous conversation, as well as get some tips on eating vegan, just go to our website npr.org, click on the Programs tab and look for TELL ME MORE.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANGOLA")

MARTIN: And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANGOLA")

EVORA: (Sung in foreign language)

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