Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sound System 4: Version South Africa

The following is a vertical collage of videos and images taken from our upcoming program Soundsystem 4: Version South Africa, which focuses on a lineage of electric dance music that stretches between 80s Disco / Bubblegum and Shangaan Electro producers in Soweto today. Many thanks to the Afro-Synth Blog and to the 27 Leggies Blog for their inspirations!

Yvonne Chaka Chaka

Brenda Fassie, Weekend Special

Dalom Kids

Hugh Masekela, Don't Go Lose it Baby

Harry Belafonte

Penny Penny - the father of Shangaan Disco

Disco star, Peta Teanet is has a fan page on Facebook!

Shangaan Electro, available for purchase from Honest Jon's

SHANGAAN ELECTRO 5 from outsidemusic on Vimeo.

by Wills Glasspiegel

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dynamic Duo Banning Eyre and Abdouulaye Diabate Return!

Despite what you may think, Afropop is not only a vessel for excellent world music, but it also harbors its own talents. Banning Eyre, Senior Editor, is an accomplished guitarist who will return to the stage with Abdoulaye Diabate, a griot from Mali who has one of the most alluring voices in NYC. After almost a two year hiatus, the duo will be performing original compositions as well as traditional Malian pieces. I heard them play a small backyard show a few weeks back, and take my word for it--you want to go to this. Check them out on Monday, June 29, from 7:00-9:00 at Barbe, 376 9th St. (Corner of 6th Ave) Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pupy y Los Que Son Son

(Posted by Sean)
I’m a big Salif Keita fan so I was in heaven Sunday afternoon when the man with “the golden voice” and his star studded band rocked the SummerStage crowd.

And then I went back to Brooklyn to freshen up and head back into Manhattan for el maestro, Pupy y Los Que Son Son. Pupy was the keyboard player and composer of many hits by Cuba’s Los Van Van. And now he has a great sounding band of mostly young players. Not just great. Fierce! The blasting four piece horn section. The classy rhythm section. Three charismatic singers who took turns soloing and dancing while the two others backed them up. Wow! The level of musicianship, the confidence, the playfulness. It takes me to back in the day when I was lucky enough to travel to Cuba and you just saw band after band that blew you away. See for yourself with these videos I shot.

(Keep an eye out for footage of Salif's show along with Banning's interview...coming soon.)

PUPY @ SOB's--Vid 1

PUPY @ SOB's--Vid 2

PUPY @ SOB's--Vid 3

PUPY @ SOB's--Vid 4

PUPY @ SOB's--Vid 5

PUPY @ SOB's--Vid 6

Winners, Losers, and In-Betweens

(Posted by Alexia)
Today we boast of a productive morning here at Afropop, which consisted of watching the USA v Algeria game. I left my computer to its tantrums and made my way over to Owen's yelps as he remained glued to a livestream of the game. Oohs and Aahs perfectly in order, USA scored during extra-time, moving them out of third place, and into the next round.

                                          USA celebrates victory (courtesy of

As the World Cup makes its way to the first elimination round, we must say our farewells to those who will not be with us for the remaining Cup, and cheer on those who have moved onto the next. We have a number of teams still in the running--including Argentina! Yes, I have assumed the position of primary cheerleader for Argentina here in the office not only because part of my heart belongs to the country, but also because we may have the funniest looking and craziest coach in the whole Cup (I can't help but see a monkey every time the camera catches Maradona's reactions). But I digress...other countries of Afropop interest that are moving onto the next round include Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil. But it's still not over for Ghana, Chile, Cote D'Ivoire, and Paraguay who must play their third game this week. Sadly, we leave behind Honduras, Cameroon, Algeria, Nigeria, and South Africa.

P.S. Shouldn't there be some kind of immunity for South Africa? I mean, it's not like they're hosting the whole thing. In any case, stay tuned to watch Ghana, Chile, and Paraguay in their make-it-or-break-it rounds.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Italian Football Fans Prefer Univision...and you?

(Posted by Matt)
First, I want to apologize for throwing Italy into focus here. But I have no choice. I married an Italian, and rooting for another team other than Italy would mean my certain demise. Now, while, nobody's looking...GO SOUTH AFRICA--YOU CAN MAKE IT! Hey, they're up 2-0 on France right now. You KNOW Italy's gotta love that.

But I digress...

The reason I bring up the 2006 champs: I was at watching the Italy-New Zealand game with my in-laws on Sunday...on Univision. At first, I thought it was because the channel was just closer to RAI, the Italian cable channel that's on 24/7 in their home, and they were being lazy.

I asked why, and my father-in-law responded, "the Spanish commentators are far better than the English ones. You know, they scream GOOOOOOOOOOL and things like that."

"But you don't know Spanish," I said.

"It's OK," he shrugged and got back into the game.


Even without understanding what they're saying, my in-laws prefer hearing the excitement of Spanish-speaking commentators better than the dry Brits that ESPN have hired to replace the lackluster Americans from the last World Cup.

Which begs a question for our dear readers...where are you watching/listening/reading about the World Cup, and why?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Quick World Cup briefing

Ghana v Australia: World Cup group D match - in pictures

Every team has played twice so far, and that means it's time for another update from the soccersorry footballfans at Afropop.

Last week we previewed the Brazil-Côte D'Ivoire match that took place yesterday, and predicted a fun and dynamic game. Hopefully you weren't disappointed, even if it was a little more one-sided than we would have liked to see. Looks like Brazil may be the team to beat this World Cup!

More games to look forward to this week:
  • After being unequivocally robbed of a victory in the waning minutes of their match against Slovenia,  the United States team can move on to the next round with a win against an Algeria team that had its confidence boosted by an impressive tie with England (Wednesday, 10 a.m. EST)
  • One of the many intriguing stories to come out of the Cup, France's team director resigned a couple of days ago and the players actually refused to practice. This is the World Cup guys! Get your act together! A French team in turmoil is exactly what the South Africans wanted, as the two teams will square off on Tuesday and Bafana Bafana will look to give the host country something to cheer for before taking an unfortunate early exit from the Cup (Tuesday, 10 a.m.)
  • The African team with the most promise at this point is probably Ghana, who are leading Group D with 4 points. They will be taking on a daunting, but beatable, German team on Wednesday. It promises to be a fun match since the two teams' styles are polar opposites, not to mention both teams are playing for a chance to move on to the next round (Wednesday, 2:30 p.m.)
  • Portugal (coming off a 7-0 win against North Korea) plays an explosive, top-ranked Brazil teamthis match is truly fit for a World Cup final (Friday, 10 a.m.)
Here's a list of some of the music ESPN is featuring during the World Cup. What do you think, did they do a good job picking music that highlights the best Africa has to offer?

Finally, since the Black Stars of Ghana have been shining so far, we thought we'd feature the music of Ghana for this week. First is a track by the "King of Highlife" E.T. Mensah, then we have a funky and rhythmic song by Sweet Talks called "Akampanye." Enjoy!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Win a Free Copy of Youssou N'Dour Documentary "I Bring What I Love"

In 2004, responding to negative perceptions about his Muslim faith, Youssou N'Dour recorded EGYPT, "a deeply spiritual album dedicated to a more tolerant view of Islam." In 2005, the album was awarded the Grammy for Best World Music Album. Western audiences swooned at N'Dour's musical and political bravery, but in his native country of Senegal, where N'Dour is considered a national hero, the response was vastly different: a religious backlash roared as local media accused him of insulting Islam. I Bring What I Love is the story of this album, the artist who made it, and the obstacles encountered before and after its release.

As part of our summer of love (read: giveaways) here at Afropop, we're going to be giving away a brand new copy of the film to one lucky reader this week. All you have to do to be entered to win is show us a little love on Twitter ( by tagging @afropopww in one of your tweets for either a "Follow Friday" or to help spread the word about our 20/10 in 2010 Campaign.

In addition to the Youssou N'Dour film, we'll also be giving away 5 iTunes download cards good for 20 free songs from Nacional Records! The contest ends next Friday (6/25) so click on over to Twitter now and enter for your chance to win!

Here's a short trailer from the film to give you a taste of what's in store for the winner:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

World Cup Madness! But Where to Go?

If you're living in the NYC Metropolitan area for the next month, I highly recommend you hit up some of these places to watch the World Cup. Not only will you be in the best atmosphere to watch a 'football' game, but you can indulge in some delicious native food and drink. Watch out for who you're rooting for, though, you wouldn't want to find yourself with the wrong fans! Here's the low down:
  • Algeria: Nomad (78 2nd Ave, M)
  • Argentina: Boca Juniors Restaurant (81-08 Queens Blvd., Q), Loki Lounge (304 5th Ave, BK), Novecento (343 W. Broadway, M), Azul (152 Stanton Street, M)
  • Brazil: Favela Grill (33-18 28th Ave., Q), Felix (340 W. Broadway, M), Beco (45 Richardson St, BK), Esperanto (145 Avenue C, M), Miss Favela (57 S. 5th St., BK)
  • Ghana: Meytex Café (545 Flatbush Ave, BK), In God We Trust African Restaurant (441 E. 153rd, BX) Mexico: Papatzul (55 Grand St, M), Cabrito (50 Carmine St., M)
  • Nigeria: EN Restaurant and Bar (120 Lafayette, BK)
  • No Afilliation: Floyd, NY (131 Atlantic Ave, BK--indoor bocce too); Nevada Smiths “where football is religion” (74 3rd Ave, M); Berry Park (4 Berry St, BK); Manhattan Bridge Archway (BK, outdoors on big screen)
  • South Africa: Madiba (195 Dekalb Ave, BK), Braai (329 W. 51st, M)
  • USA: Dempsey's (61 2nd Ave, M); Vanderbilt (538 Vanderbilt Ave., Prospect Heights, BK)

"Hear Brazil" Music Series at MoMa

Every Thursday this July at the Sculpture Garden, the MoMa will stay open late putting on a Brazilian music series. What better a place to spend Thursday nights? Performances start at 5:30 and 7:30. See the full press release and schedule here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Cup check-in

The Kickoff concert was a blast, and the games are coming fast and furious at this point. Congratulations to Ghana for being the first African country to win a game in the World Cup! Switzerland's surprise win over Spain earlier today just goes to show that anybody can win in the World Cup, so make sure you're rooting for an underdog or two. In other good news, Didier Drogba (arguably the world's best player, pictured above) made it out onto the pitch in Côte d'Ivoire's game; his fate was unsure because of a broken arm right before the Cup started, but he looks relatively healthy and ready to fight for Les Éléphants. Here's a run down of what happened in the games we were watching:
  • South Africa tied Mexico and lost to Uruguay
  • Argentina beat Nigeria 1-0 in a close game
  • In one of the most hyped games of the Cup, the U.S. held on and tied England 1-1 (see a fun recap here)
  • Algeria lost to Slovenia 0-1
  • Ghana beat Serbia 1-0
  • Cameroon lost a tight one to Japan 0-1
  • In one of the best games so far, Portugal and Côte D'Ivoire tied 0-0
  • Brazil beat North Korea 2-1 (only?!)
  • Honduras lost to Chile 0-1

If you can't make it to South Africa but want to feel like you're there, head over to our website and hit up one of our shows focused on the host country, like this one about Zulu music and culture. To add to the South African feel, check out one of the amazing galleries on the Boston Globe websitethis one of the opening weekend or this one of the preparation for the Cup. For my money, their Big Picture site has the best photos on the Internet.

At this point every team has played once, and it's time to gear up for the second round of games within the Group Stage. The game we're looking forward to most is when Brazil and Côte d'Ivoire meet on June 20th. They're part of the fabled "Group of Death" this year, which is the group each Cup that's the hardest to get out off. Though Côte d'Ivoire has one of the best teams in Africa, they are going up against the top-ranked team in the world in Brazil. Musically, the scales are also tipped in Brazil's favorat least in terms of quantity. Below are a few videos of completely different styles, two from each country. We want to know who your favorite is, either in the game on Sunday or of the countries represented in the videos below. If you like them all, even better!

Côte d'Ivoire:


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Baaba Maal returns to Central Park SummerStage

Central Park was rocking last night thanks to Baaba Maal and his band, who made clear to the rest of New York that the summer concert season is very much underway. The Senegalese singer brought his energetic live show to a diverse, multicultural crowd at SummerStage that seemed to be perpetually moving, even during breaks between songs when Baaba spoke charismatically about his music and issues in Africa. The set was a mix of songs from his new CD Television, and classics by his band Dande Lenol, like the salsa tinged "African Woman," with New York's own Somi making a vocal guest spot.

Baaba's lively interactions with his longtime tama (talking drum) player Massamba Diop were as dynamic and playful as ever, and veteran backing singer Mansour Seck was on hand in fine voice as well. Missing was any of Baaba's acoustic material, which generally makes an appearance even in his most high-energy shows. But tonight it was non-stop adrenaline. The highlight of the show was near the end when audience members were invited onstage to dance with the band. Though the enthusiasm of a few of the guest dancers during that song was impressive and entertaining, it was still Baaba and his voice that stole the show in the end. The opening band was Playing for Change, a multinational group whose musical variety was as much a weakness as it was a strength.

Photographs by Banning Eyre.

In the spirit of the World Cup, BLK JKS kick it with kids for a great cause

A couple days ago South African group BLK JKS attended the pre-registration for a week long soccer and education program for local youth in the Khayaletisha township in Cape Town. The camp, hosted by (RED) and Grassroot Soccer (a youth HIV/AIDS education organization that uses the power of soccer to fight HIV), is one of more than 40 programs Grassroot Soccer will be hosting throughout South Africa during the World Cup. For more info, visit: or Thanks to Brian Shimkovitz for the tip and the awesome photos!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Congrats to Fela! for winning three Tonys!

The Tony Awards were held last night in New York, and Fela! danced away from the gala event with three awardsBest Choreography (Bill T. Jones), Best Costume Design (Marina Draghici), and Best Sound Design (Robert Kaplowitz). Obviously everyone at here at Afropop thought they should have won in all 11 (!) categories they were nominated for, but three Tony Awards is an outstanding achievement and we are very excited about the news.

For the first time journalists did not have a vote in the proceedings, which may have taken away from the chances Fela! had of winning the big awards it was nominated for like Best Musical and Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical. Though already critically lauded, these awards will certainly help add even more buzz to the dynamic and unique musical. The show, based on the life of the incomparable Fela Kuti, is traveling overseas to the Olivier Theater in London later this year.

You can stream the new CD Fela! Original Broadway Cast Recording using this link.  

Below is an exclusive interview Afropop conducted with Fela's son Seun Kuti about the musical and his father's life, including footage of the show itself. You can read the transcript of the interview here.

Also, here's a feature that provides some insight into the vision behind the musical and the process of making it. Hope this inspires you to go out and see it if you haven't already!

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup of Music: Day One

We've come up with some choice music selections from the countries that did battle on the pitch today. So, on music alone, which of the four countries (Mexico, South Africa, Uruguay or France) came out on top today? Let us know in the comments section!

Here's a selection from Mike Laure y Sus Cometas. The group was popular in Mexico in the late sixties for their unique combination of cumbia and rock & roll.

South Africa:

We've mentioned BLK JKS before, and as long as they keep up their infectious driving rhythms we'll be sure to mention them again, and again, and again.  Yesterday, they participated in the FIFA 2010 Kick Off event, here's a video of them performing with Alicia Keys!


One of the world's most famous tango tunes, "La Cumparsita", was composed by Uruguayan Gerardo Matos Rodriguez while sitting in the music room of the Club Nacional de Futbol. Here it is a recording by Juilo Sosa

And just for giggles, here's the number one single in France right now:

"8 Goals For Africa" Fuels UN Millennium Development Goals

8 Goals For Africa from 8 Goals For Africa on Vimeo.

Thanks to Michael Fleshman for the heads up on this:
Eight of Africa's best known musicians have written and performed a song and accompanying music video entitled "8 Goals For Africa" as a part of the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The campaign began at the Millennium Summit in 2000, where 170 heads of state committed their nations to a global partnership with an eight-point agenda to reduce extreme poverty by 2015. The video will stream during the World Cup and all across public viewing areas. On the day of the finals, the artists will perform at the Soccer City Fan Fest in Johannesburg. The video features Baaba Maal, Angelique Kidjo, Oliver Mtukuzi and Hugh Masekela.  Check out their website for more information.

Ch-Ch-Check It Out: Afropop's New Blog, Summer Plans

So we've been waiting for someone to win today, so we could share some great music from that country, but it looks like we're just going to have to do all four. We here at Afropop will prevail through these tragic events and continue to give our all in the line of duty. So keep a look out for some great recommendations later today.

In the meantime, we hope you've had a chance to find your way around our new blog layout. We're still working a few kinks out of the way, so let us know if there's anything you'd like to see added to the site.

Also, be sure to link up with us on our reintegrated and reinvigorated Facebook and Twitter pages so you can  keep up with all of our summer plans and World Cup festivities:

15% Off All-Inclusive Trip to Zanzibar International Film Festival!

When: July 12- July 22, fully hosted and all-inclusive with tour leader

Who: Zanzibar Festival Tours

Why: Because I can't. What else do you have to do this summer? Nothing, exactly. You couldn't make it to South Africa for the World Cup, so Zanzibar is close enough. Join this small group for a fantastic trip filled with film, music, art, women's workshops, and of course, delicious food. All the while you will become a part of the breathtaking landscape, translucent ocean, and culturally fascinating  Zanzibar. Even better, book through Afropop and part of your fee will go toward supporting us!

How: email or call us 718-398-2733 and we will forward you to the tour operator for further details. Also, visit our website for more details including an itinerary for the trip

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Guide to the World Cup: The Countries

We hate to pick favorites here at Afropop, but when it comes to the World Cup, it's understandable that we particularly like countries with rich musical traditions tied to Africa and the diaspora. That means South Africa, Cameroon, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, Algeria, Ghana, Brazil, Argentina, Honduras, Mexico, and of course the United States. In addition to prowess on the pitch, these countries all have unique troves of musical talent. A guide to our favorite countries playing in the World Cup, musically and, below.

Basic overview of the World Cup:
  • 32 teams qualified after extensive competition to get in
  • Teams divided into eight groups of four
  • Each team plays each other team in their group once (6/11-6/25)
  • Two teams from each group move onto second round (6/26-6/29)
  • After quarter finals (7/2-7/3) and semi finals (7/6-7/7), two teams move onto finals
  • In the finals (7/11, 2:30 EST), they're playing for four years of bragging rights and that beautiful gold trophy

Now... the teams:

South Africa
  • Nickname: Bafana Bafana (The Boys)
  • Odds of winning: 150/1
  • Who'll they'll play: Mexico (6/11), Uruguay (6/16), and France (6/22)
  • Stars on the pitch: Steven Pienaar, Benni McCarthy
  • Stars on the stage: Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Vusi Mahlasela, Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens, Soul Brothers, Lucky Dube, Brenda Fassie, Juluka, Blk Jks
  • Watch & listen:

  • Nickname: Lions Indomptables (Indomitable Lions)
  • Odds of winning: 125/1
  • Who they'll play: Japan (6/14), Denmark (6/19), Netherlands (6/24)
  • Stars on the pitch: Samuel Eto’o, Alexandre Song
  • Stars on the stage: Henri Dikongue, Manu Dibongo, Richard Bona, Zap Mama, Francis Bebey

  • Watch & listen:

  • Nickname: Super Eagles
  • Odds of winning: 150/1
  • Who they'll play: Argentina (6/12), Greece (6/17), South Korea (6/21)
  • Stars on the pitch: Peter Odemwingie
  • Stars on the stage: Fela Kuti, Femi Kuti, Seun Kuti, Tony Allen, King Sunny Ade, Kotoja, Dr. Sir Warrior, Adewale Ayuba
  • Watch & listen:

Cote D'Ivoire
  • Nickname: Les Éléphants (The Elephants)
  • Odds of winning: 40/1
  • Who they'll play: Portugal (6/15), Brazil (6/20), North Korea (6/25)
  • Stars on the pitch: Didier Drogba, Salamon Kalou, Kadeir Kaita
  • Stars on the stage: Alpha Bondy, Dobet Gnahoré, Les Go
  • Watch & listen:

  • Nickname: Les Fennecs (The Desert Foxes)
  • Odds of winning: 700/1
  • Who they'll play: Slovenia (6/13), England (6/18), U.S. (6/23)
  • Stars on the pitch: Antar Yahia
  • Stars on the stage: Cheb Mami, Cheb Khaled, Moh Alileche, Souad Massi
  • Watch & listen:

  • Nickname: The Black Stars
  • Odds of winning: 100/1
  • Who they'll play: Serbia (6/13), Australia (6/19), Germany (6/23)
  • Stars on the pitch: Dominic Adiyiah, Asamoah Gyan, Andre Dede Ayew Pele
  • Stars on the stage: Smilin' Osei, Seprewa Kasa, Dr. Victor Olaiya
  • Listen:

  • Nickname: Seleção (The Selection)
  • Odds of winning: 9/2
  • Who they'll play: North Korea (6/15), Ivory Coast (6/20), Portugal (6/25)
  • Stars on the pitch: Luis Fabiano, Kaka
  • Stars on the stage: Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Alceu Valença, Beth Carvalho, Jorge Benjor, Chico Buarque, Kiko Klaus, Suba
  • Watch & listen:

  • Nickname: Albicelestes (White and Sky Blue)
  • Odds of winning: 7/1
  • Who they'll play: Nigeria (6/12), South Korea (6/17), Greece (6/22)
  • Stars on the pitch: Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano
  • Stars on the stage: Charly Garcia, Julio Iglesias, Eduardo Falú, Astor Piazzolla
  • Watch & listen:

  • Nickname: La H (The H)
  • Odds of winning: 1000/1
  • Who they'll play: Chile (6/16), Spain (6/21), Switzerland (6/25)
  • Stars on the pitch: Carlos Pavon
  • Stars on the stage: Guillermo Anderson, Rafael Coello Ramos
  • Watch & listen:

  • Nickname: El Tri (after the three colours or “tricolor” on the Mexican flag)
  • Odds of winning: 100/1
  • Who they'll play: South Africa (6/11), France (6/17), Uruguay (6/22)
  • Stars on the pitch: Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Rafael Marquez
  • Stars on the stage: Maná, Vicente Fernández, Banda La Michoacana
  • Watch & listen:

United States
  • Nickname: The Yanks
  • Odds of winning: 80/1
  • Who'll they'll play: England (6/12), Slovenia (6/18), Algeria (6/23)
  • Stars on the pitch: Jozy Altidore, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey
  • Stars on the stage: I think you guys know this one...
  • Watch & listen:

Keep coming back for additional music features, tips on where to watch in NYC, featured match-ups, news from South Africa, and more!

The Celebration Concert: Kicking off Afropop's coverage of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa

The time has finally come, and no one is more excited about this year's World Cup in South Africa than your friends at Afropop. Stick with us through the whole Cup (June 11-July 11) for continuing and unique coverage of the massive event, all from Afropop's singular perspective. To get started, we're giving you a guide to the huge, star-studded music event tied to the Cup, the "Kick-off Celebration Concert." Unlike on the pitch, for the concert you don't have to pick one favorite—you can enjoy them all.

Quick facts
-What: "The greatest entertainment event to date in Africa"
-Where: Orlando Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg
-When: June 10, 8:00 PM local time (2:00 PM EST)
-Who: Alicia Keys, Angelique Kidjo, Amadou & Mariam, Black Eyed Peas, Blk Jks, Freshlyground, Hugh Masekela, John Legend, Juanes, K'Naan, Mzansi Youth Choir, Shakira, Soweto Gospel Choir, The Parlotones, Tinariwen, Vieux Farka Toure, Vusi Mahlasela

Below is a run down of some of the most notable African musicians performing:

Angelique Kidjo (Benin): The queen of African crossover pop has a hot new album out, and we at Afropop have all the goods, including a review, an extensive interview, and an exclusive video. Also, below is her new video for a track on the album that features some very special guests.

Amadou & Mariam (Mali): We really hope you've heard the amazing story and sound that is Amadou & Mariam. If not, check out the video below, as it's a stellar, stripped down version of a song off their most recent album Welcome to Mali.

Blk Jks (South Africa):
Bands these days don't get much hotter than Blk Jks. And you know what? Since we're always on the cutting edge of world music, we have an exclusive interview with them from last year. Also, if you're hungry for more brand new music, the fine people at KCRW are streaming the new Blk Jks EP Zol! on their website here.

Hugh Masekela (South Africa):
Bringing old school class to the festivities is legendary South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela. He's been playing for over 50 years, and will offer a nice foil for the new, up-and-coming young musicians from Africa like Blk Jks and K'Naan. We have a number of features on our website that relate to Hugh Masekela, but try starting with this fascinating interview from 2002.

K'Naan (Somalia): Representing African hip-hop at the concert is international star K'Naan. Politically and socially aware, he makes music for all the right reasons and has really been gaining notoriety recently. Below are two rather remarkable videos that use a song from his last album Troubadour that's the perfect anthem for the first World Cup on African soil (even if FIFA doesn't agree).

Tinariwen (Mali):
There really is no other group like Tinariwen—it's a rotating cast of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara region of northern Mali who play "desert blues," a genre largely made for them that's informed as much by Western guitar heroes like Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page as it is by traditional Malian music. We've got a great interview with band leader Abdallah from a few years back, and look for them in New York City on June 26th at Central Park's Summerstage.

Vieux Farka Toure (Mali): Another musician from Mali featured at the kick-off concert, Vieux is son of the illustrious late Ali Farka Toure. Look no further for proof in the power of genes: Vieux can play the ol' guitar like few on earth. If you don't believe me, tune in to watch him play in South Africa or play the video below of him playing casually in his yard in Bamako.

Vusi Mahlasela (South Africa):
Vusi is another politically conscious musician who has made a name for himself playing a contemporary style of South African folk music. His performance is sure to be an emotional one, since much of his music deals with the violence and aftermath of apartheid.

We hope you enjoy the concert, and stay tuned for more posts from Afropop's perspective on the World Cup!

Info about upcoming Guinea election

Our friend Raul Rothblatt asked us to pass this along, as it should be of interest to our readers. For more information, visit their website, join on Facebook, or E-mail Here's a blurb on what's going on:

What country has the best chance of establishing democracy for the first time in 2010? Surprise: It’s Guinea, a country of 10 million people in West Africa. Guineans deserve the right to make their own decisions, and YOU can help.
Alliance Guinea brings together Guineans & friends of Guinea committed to justice and democracy in the country. We are using a technology where Guineans can report on election problems and successes using their cell phones. It’s called Ushahidi, and it has been used in several countries, including in Haiti after the earthquake. We need volunteers to process the information. All you need is access to a computer and passion for democracy. This is one of the biggest stories of 2010. The election is June 27, so the time to act is now.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Reggae with French flair and African flavor descends on NYC

If you're looking for a hot music event to go to in New York City, be sure to check out one or all of Dub Inc.'s shows beginning next weekend. They're coming over all the way from France, so you know it'll be worth it. Overseas, they've become renowned over the past decade for their unique sound that draws from Reggae, North African music, and American Hip-Hop. On stage the group is equally eclectic, with a variety of nationalities being represented and lyrics in four different languages. After touring extensively in Europe, they're ready to make it big in America. Check out the video above for a taste of their music, then head over to their web site or read the press release below for more information.


(Brooklyn, NY) Exciting time for Dub Inc as they prepare to splash on America.

Hailing from St. Etienne, Dub Inc is renowned throughout all of Europe. Formed in France in 1997. Often labeled as ‘French Reggae’ the group’s sound is an immersion of a diverse array of musical influences. From N.African to Hip Hop. The band’s two lead vocalists embody this diversity, as one sings in a characteristically raga tone while the other uses a more “far eastern” style.
Fused together makes for a very interesting and refreshing sound that is both Universal and moving,

Dub Inc have toured over 800 concerts/festivals around the world since forming. Their live show is dynamic, powerful and electrifying.
Their latest project Afrikya is critically acclaimed and they are currently finishing up a new project to be released in October 2010.
The most remarkable aspect of Dub Inc is the independent nature of their rise to prominence.
They have maintained complete autonomy by being self-produced and self contained. Independent distribution with Naïve.

Dub Inc are extremely excited for this introduction to America which is long overdue but glad they finally have a platform. They have been dreaming about it for a long time. New York get ready!!!
This is a taste of what’s instore: Live from one of their festival dates.

10 days in New York. June 16-24th.
Dates include:

Friday, June 18th- 92YTribeca w/ Meta and The Cornerstones and DJ Sirak- 8PM

Saturday, June 19th- Coffee Cave- Newark, NJ - 4PM. .

Monday, June 21st- Make Music NY- City Winery- 1PM Lunch Series
Monday, June 21st- Make Music NY- SOB’s- 8PM Doors

Tuesday, June 22nd- Littlefield, BK w/ JahDan and Noble Society and DJ Misbehaviour

Wednesday, June 23rd “Vinyl Matters” - Santo’s Party House - Farewell party w/ Downbeat The Ruler, Ticklah and Misbehaviour. 7PM


Monday, June 7, 2010

Afropop Kicks Off Summer with Jose Conde and Pupy y Los Que Son Son in Central Park

The possibility of thunderstorms and 60 mph winds didn't stop people from flocking into SummerStage yesterday afternoon. As families waited in line for the traditional El Salvadorian "pupusa"--a thick cornmeal tortilla filled with cheese and either chicken or vegetables, the afternoon of music was off to a long build up with the easy-groove salsa of Jose Conde and his band. The Cuban flag made its way to the front just before Pupy y Los Que Son Son started their set with horns that made a sleeping baby want to get up and groove (future Afropop fan?). But really, you missed the cutest mohawk-rocking baby I've ever seen. In any case, you don't want to miss the 25+ concerts all over NYC this summer. Check back with us next week when Baaba Maal rocks SummerStage on 6/14. For a full list of concerts this summer, check out our events section of the website.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pan Jazz 2010 at Lincoln Center

Summer's in the air, and we just heard about a great way to help ring it in officially: some steel drums, free Caribbean food, and a visit from Miss Universe that's happening over at Lincoln Center. Here's the flier and you can find the press release below.

Official Press Release:
In a dramatic move into brand-new territory, the producers of the 2010
version of Pan Jazz have re-shaped the annual Father's Day weekend steel
pan showcase to include such special features as former Miss Universe
Wendy Fitzwilliam serving as emcee, musical input from the renowned
rapso artists 3 Canal, a major theatrical element masterminded by the
award-winning Trinidad Carnival designer Brian MacFarlane and the entire
production formatted to the theme of "Folklore Tales of the Caribbean."

The blockbuster event - the sixth annual presentation -- will roll out
Saturday, June 19 at Frederick P. Rose Hall Home of Jazz at Lincoln
Center, Broadway & 60th Street, Manhattan. It commences at 7:00 PM. The
steel pan talent being featured will this year highlight the next
generation of dynamos of the instrument, including Leon Foster Thomas,
Andre White and Freddie Harris Jr. Thomas, White and Harris have all
served serious notice that they are ready to assume a place in the front
ranks of pan soloists, White having also already notched his first
Panorama win as arranger in the 2008 Brooklyn Panorama. Complementing
musicians include the versatile horn player Etienne Charles (who is no
stranger to the Pan Jazz stage), bassist Benjamin Williams, drummer
Brennen Temple and saxophonist Jacques Schwarz-Bart.

The scheduling of Pan Jazz on Father's Day weekend was always a
deliberate gift offering for dads and this year is no exception, with
the enhancements being made to the package intended, in the words of
executive producer Ralph Ramsey, "to keep it forever fresh. We are
committed to doing whatever we think would ensure that it doesn't lose
its attractiveness."

"Folklore Tales of the Caribbean" was in part inspired by Folklore, the
title of the most recent CD release from Etienne Charles. Given form and
dramatic presence via Brian MacFarlane's theatrics, mythical characters
drawn primarily from the folklore of Trinidad and Tobago will provide an
added dimension to the evening's musical offerings. Apart from Charles,
who is expected to perform pieces from his CD, the output from other
artists will similarly hew to the folkloric theme, within the jazz
context that remains the core discipline of the Pan Jazz event.

Wendy Fitzwilliam, who has been named global ambassador for Pan Jazz,
brings to the duties of emcee an appreciation and love for jazz that she
has nurtured since in her teens. Serving as host in an environment she
so thoroughly enjoys amounts to a major treat for the former Miss
Universe who, as Trinidad and Tobago's representative in the pageant,
captured the title in 1998.

The addition of the acclaimed 3 Canal to the mix further underscores the
commitment to thematic consistency, as some of their repertoire pieces,
such as "Blue" and "Salt" tend to be set in the nocturnal or occult
realm. The threesome's fetching rapso deliveries have sustained their
solid audience appeal pretty much wherever they appear internationally.

Another eagerly anticipated element is the input from MacFarlane, given
his impressive track record in the world of design. A multiple winner of
the Band of the Year award in Trinidad and Tobago's Carnival, he was
also the artistic director for a cultural extravaganza arranged for
delegates to the Summit of the Americas held in Port of Spain in March

Preceding the show will be a "Taste of the Caribbean Festival," from
4:30 to 6:30 PM in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Atrium. A smorgasbord of
Caribbean food and drink, as well as live entertainment, will be served
up to Pan Jazz ticket holders. Sponsors for this pre-show bonus feature
are Tropical Paradise Restaurant, Sugarcane, Negril Village, Spoonbread
and Allan's Bakery and more.

Ticket prices for Pan Jazz 2010 "Folklore Tales of the Caribbean" start
at $45. Tickets may be purchased at Jazz at Lincoln Center
(212-721-6500) or online at: Pan Jazz 2010 is a
production of Abstract Entertainment Inc.