Posts Tagged ‘music’
The Cooper Square Hotel, New York City, June 5, 2011.
Mariam kept asking the audience, in between songs, “Are you all right?”
“Yes!!” we replied.
She would hold on to Amadou’s tunic, sometimes caress his head or back, both of them swaying in time to the music. It was a cloudy and cool day, and their ornately woven outfits (her in a dress of pinks, purples, and greens that melted together, him in an elegant long shirt and pants) were well suited for the half-uncovered penthouse roof where they were playing. He broke it down on his guitar and she smiled underneath her sunglasses. At the end, when they rocked out with classics like “La triste réalité,” I thought, for the millionth time, when am I going to Mali?
The remix of “La triste réalité” with Jacky and Mokobe:
I first heard about Spoek Mathambo because of his hot group Sweat.X. But I almost missed that he released an awesome solo album late last year; the hybrid sounds are teasing and unexpected and in your face and usually political.
Below is his song “Mshini Wam,” which is a contraction of the phrase “Umshini Wami” and means “Bring me my machine gun.”
I’ve heard of Buraka Som Sistema in various ways over the years, from indie outlets like Pitchfork and The Fader and on random, disparate playlists, but I’ve never really listened to the music group until recently. Based in Portugal, with heavy Angolan influences (Angola is a former Portuguese colony), Buraka has become a major player in the intriguing, bouncy kudoro genre.
Kuduro music was born in Angola in the 1980s, then moved into Lisbon in the 90s. Angolan music producers created the genre by pushing African percussion samples into basic calypso and soca rhythms. It’s been likened to dancehall music in Jamaica, and you can see why: the vibrating beats, the contagious movement of the songs. With a modern fusion of dance electronica and kuduro, Buraka is one interesting music project.
Below, one of their first singles and one of my favorites, “Yah!”:
Photo via The Fader
Certain things make up the memory of my childhood, usually weird, insignificant events and people — but one of the major things is the music my mother played on her shiny vinyl records in the living room. The music was often pulsing and often of Fela Kuti, or Jimmy Cliff, or maybe some funky Nigerian highlife. One man in particular, whom I heard at home, or at banquets or parties the African community in my Alabama hometown would hold, was the great King of Juju, King Sunny Ade.
He uses the talking drum, guitars, synthesizers and other random instruments in this melodious blend of poetic lyrics and kinetic rhythms. It’s funny now to see that trendy kid-friendly bands like Vampire Weekend claim inspiration from Ade, whose rousing but utterly traditional songs got everyone up dancing, or at least dancing in their chairs. He’s one of those living legends. Listen to “Samba” below:
I love South African rock, as I’ve said here before, and especially the members of Blk Jks (pronounced Black Jacks). The still-new band was the headliner of World Cup. As usual, they lit up the stage with their blend of moody, punk-ish, rousing music. One of my favorite songs of theirs is the short hymn “Mzabalazo” (they played an expanded version at the Cup).
Listen to it below:
Photo via The Fader
I can’t even describe the intensely visceral reaction I had to Baloji‘s first single “Karibu ya bintou” (Welcome to life in limbo) from his recent album Kinshasa Succursale. I was watching the accompanying music video and was just enthralled by the strangely beautiful visuals and the mesmerizing lyrics and bass of the song. Who is this guy and why haven’t I heard of him before now??
Luckily, other, more in-the-know, people have heard of this amazingly talented young Congolese-born, Belgian-raised rapper/singer. Oroma Elewa, editrix of Pop’Africana, interviewed him for the current issue, where you can find out a little more about this mysterious man whose name means “sorcerer” or a curse in Chiluba and Swahili. Both Baloji and the video for “Karibu ya bintou” are brimming with a charismatic, slightly off-kilter energy. The video takes us through his personal Kinshasa. In the video for his latest single “Independance Cha-Cha,” Baloji adopts a sapeur-like style as he updates a traditional Congolese hymn. I can’t wait to see more from him. Below, the “Karibu ya bintou” video:
I almost can’t believe I haven’t mentioned The Very Best here before. They made my favorite album of last year (and to be honest, this year, too) and are one of a few new acts that I have fallen in love with recently. Made up of Malawian singer and musician Esau Mwamwaya and British DJ-outfit Radioclit, The Very Best is this weird, wonderful, addictive mix of southern/eastern African and electronic music that somehow became the hit of clubs in both Kinshasa and New York.
Mwamwaya and Radioclit happened to connect one day in London after one of the Radioclit guys bought a bike from Esau (aren’t bicycles great?). The rest is music magic. Listen to “Salota” from their album below:
Photo via The Fader