In an interview with Quartz in April, Sohonie said, besides preserving the past, he wanted to dispel the “single story” coming from war-torn countries like Somalia—or other Afrophone nations. His company has also released two compilations of music from Haiti (Tanbou Toujou Lou) and Cape Verde (Synthesize the Soul). “The stories coming from these places lacked so much perspective and history,” he said.

Over the last few years, crate-digging has become a big trend in Africa, with independent labels unearthing a treasure trove of African music and rescuing musicians and their work from obscurity. These include Analog Africa, Sublime Frequencies, Sahel Sounds, and Awesome Tapes from Africa. But the trend has also proved controversial, with some saying that white ethnomusicologists’ search and compilation of these rare records is one more Western scramble for Africa.

Sohonie, who was born in India and grew up in Africa, Europe, and the United States, says the nomination was a “real testament” to the rich Somali music and culture. Somalis in the diaspora, he said, had written to him saying the album allowed them to reconnect with their parents and to “relive with them those memories of Mogadishu and Hargeisa.”

The Somali album was also his most successful of all three, selling several thousand copies.

“We knew the music was great,” Sohonie said. “It was just the matter of ‘Will the world like it? Will they relate to it?’ Our job was to present it in a way that people were able to access it, understand it, and consume it. I guess it’s mission accomplished on many levels.”

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