Here’s a new mix I wanted to share with the Dutty familia. OkayAfrica recently conscripted me to do mixing duties on Teju Cole’s dream mix of Nigeria pop songs – a set he put together to accompany a short essay on the Lagos clubbing experience: (more…)
(GIF via Art Becomes You)
Got some more Iswayski for ya! Today’s focus is Azonto beats.
The Ghana dance that’s been wildly popular for the past few years continues to result in a lot of good music. The beat that’s generally associated with it is a super dancey and effective pop formula blended with traditional Ga drumming. Who made the first beat is up for debate, but E.L‘s “U Go Kill Me” is what brought it to the masses.
I’m still surprised I don’t hear more of this in US club sets outside of African nights. It’s impossible not to move your body to, has high production standards, and a lot of the lyrics are even in English. Maybe it’s because so few Western artists are producing it? The UK has Fuse ODG bringing it to the Grime crowds and the whole Afrobeats thing is probably helping to spread it over there. But there’s not much of an American counterpart to any of that. Not that any of this matters as a symbol of the sound’s success, I just personally fuck with it and would like to hear more of it.
So let’s go over a few recent tracks that are doing pretty well that I like a lot:
We are kicking off (B)Lack History Month in style:
On Wednesday February 1st, at 7pm, DJ Rupture and Lamin Fofana will host a special 2-hour live radio show from south Williambsburg’s Spectacle Theater, with Chief Boima (new jams on the way!), Old Money, and a our favorite African video shopowner.
Following the live WFMU broadcast — built primarily from African music videos purchased in the cornerstores of NYC — we will screen God’s Own Country by director Femi Agbayewa. GOC presents the story of a young Nigeria lawyer who immigrates to NYC to discover that life in America is not like he hoped… As Boima explains, “It’s firmly in the Nollywood tradition. The story line is a New York story, and I think it’s the perfect context for the non-Nollywood initiated to get introduced to the industry. . . it is also referencing the tradition of the American hood gangster flick like Belly. Almost an amalgamation of the two.”
Palm wine and kola nuts are included with the $5 admission. Space is limited, so come early!
“There are so many Africas, and so many arts of Africa. Picasso and Matisse thought they had hit on the essence of Africa during the first decade of the 20th century. The African masks and sculpture that influenced such works as Les Demoiselles D’Avignon (1909) seemed to be the very embodiment of a youngish Spaniard’s priapic idea of the primitive: wonderfully, savagely stylised; bursting with a toe-curlingly alien erotic charge. How patronising of Picasso to think that that’s what African art amounted to. Well, perhaps that’s a little unfair. The point was that Picasso, ever grasping, ever restless, was seeking out new ways of representing the female body.
Yes, anthropologists quickly began to prove that Picasso was either wrong or telling just one tiny part of an immensely complicated story. In 1910, the first major excavations took place at Ife, a site in what is now south-western Nigeria, not too far from Lagos. (The walled city-state of Ife, legendary homeland of the Yoruba, flourished for 300 years, from about 1100-1400 AD). Thirty years later, in 1940, another great cull of objects from the same site hit the headlines again: “Worthy to rank with finest works of Greece and Italy”, shrilled the Illustrated London News.
Many of the works that those anthropologists found are now on display in this major show of north-west African sculpture, and the works here lend credence to that headline writer’s claim. At the same historical moment that Andrea del Verrocchio was doing his wonderfully painstaking, high-Renaissance drawing of a female head which can be seen elsewhere in this building, anonymous artisans in Ife were working with brass, bronze – yes, these Africans knew all about bronze casting long before the Europeans arrived to show them how – copper and terracotta to produce a series of exquisite heads that are not only the equal of Donatello in technical brilliance, but also just as naturalistic in their refinement. So much for African primitivism.” – Michael Glover (The Independent) reviews Kingdom of Ife: Sculptures from West Africa, British Museum, London – read the full article here.
A few days ago, I found a CDR compilation labeled Super Hits of Nigeria in the ungoogleable/bootleg section of my CD-DVD collection. It was a gift from my cousin who bought it in the streets of Freetown sometime last year. The opening track from the comp is “Yori Yori”– a massive pan-Nigerian/pan-African (global) hit in 2009 by the duo Bracket. This tune was large from Lagos to Nairobi, Freetown to London, even nightclubs in Guangzhou were unsafe from the contagious tune (Guangzhou has the largest population of Africans in China.) I saw a video for the tune in early ’09 while watching Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) in northern Virginia. Boima also mentioned it over at Ghetto Bassquake.[audio:http://nyc.duttyartz.com/mp3s/Bracket-Yori_Yori.mp3]
Timaya, who appears on at least 6 tracks on the compilation also had a great year in ’09. I saw a few of his videos on NTA – epic, conscious Nigerian rap grooves. Here are two more tracks –[audio:http://nyc.duttyartz.com/mp3s/Timaya-Yankuluya.mp3]
I imagine I like Afrikan Boy, he seems like a fairly relaxed and pleasant person. This new video, shot in the imaginary offices of ‘Afrikan Airlines’ is quite enjoyable. Ever since he did a grime influenced tune a few years back about getting caught shoplifting in Lidl (a very very cheap European supermarket chain where I used to buy groceries in Berlin) I’ve been rooting for him. Also I think it’s cool that he raps in a Nigerian accent, which up til now has been (and still is?) considered uncool, giving rise to a bunch of Africans in grime who try to sound yardie and end up completely unintelligible. via Ghetto Bassquake.
This tune is ill, sort of African funky grime. The video is a class of kids learning the steps to the dance that goes with it, and then making up their own. Thanks to Kingdom for putting me onto this one via his mix for Lower End Spasm, which will be out soon. Apparently the sample is Nigerian. Anyone know what they’re saying? Never heard of the guys who made it, called Fr3e, but it’s wicked.
There is a lot going on here – a world shrinking and expanding, traditional Yoruba ceremonial drums and chants being laced with spacious/spacey (digital?) synth-pads, you can feel the continents drifting closer and apart as the sounds unfold, combine, and mingle, the relationship between Africa and Europe in the 21st century.
I started listening to Rhythm & Sound and Basic Channel around 2004. They, Moritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus, struck me as complex, disciplined, sophisticated musicians. In the video below from sometime late last year, Moritz answers questions, explains his/their history, economic philosophy, work ethic, etc., at length as the audience and the interviewer sip Red Bull and doze off, and vibe to the music. It’s great to hear/see him talk, but you have to brave the aggressive marketing overkill for Red Bull. I would like to read or watch an extensive interview with him conducted in a different environment, but this one is alright for now, I guess –it’s relaxed, and he appears to be comfortable.
As I listened to Moritz’s German accent, I thought about one of Rupture’s point in an interview with Plan B magazine – “the internet contributes to the spread of English-language hegemony.” I also thought about my African/Sierra Leonean accent, which is not very strong but it’s there –a constant reminder that I am speaking other peoples’ language rather than my own. What if the interview was done in German and translated or transcribed for English and other speakers? That would be too much trouble, an unnecessary struggle, right? Red Bull Music Academy is an annual international affair hosted in cities around the world, features guest lecturers and participants, and almost everyone who spoke, had some form of accent (including British.)
Ricky Blaze, BK Autotune dancehall techno pop don goes in with the help of Harlem’s current pitch-corrected ambassador Ron Browz and Nicky Minaj who you might remember from a while back in these pages.
Ricky Blaze – Feel Free ft. Ron Browz, Red Cafe, Nicky Minaj
And apparently he’s been listening to bmore, or something. Chelley is on Blaze’s label Fire Unit Music Group and I’m assuming he produced this.
Chelley – Took The Night
Adding a little zest and balance to that sublime track/post over at mudd up! There’s never enough Balla to go round. I’m not sure what this song is really about. It is a praise song for someone named Moussa Konate (who was a driver? an apprentice? I’ll have to consult my aunt or one of my cousins) but this doesn’t sound like a traditional praise song. This music was designed to blaze dance floors. What was Conakry nightlife like in 1968 or ’71? What about Lagos? or Freetown? I have a bunch of 7 and 12 inches serving as windows, looking into the past and discovering a part of your parents that they’ve abandon a long time ago. Maybe abandon is a strong word. Either way, expect more of these in the future.
Balla Et Ses Balladins – Samba
The Chief Commander of Juju Music Ebenezer Obey is also a praise-singer, combining the rich cultural and spiritual musical traditions of Yoruba people from the Ogun State in South-Western Nigeria with the excitement of Lagos highlife and Christian themes to create melodious, dance floor music and praise songs for the wealthy, famous and the powerful. Listen for the talking drums, which you can also hear these days in NYC underground/subway drummers.
Ebenezer Obey – Oro Nipa Lace