Friday, September 30, 2011

Video Spotlight: Boubacar (Badian) Diabate & the Garifuna Soul of Aurelio Martinez

As a video companion piece to our show this week "Aurelio, Badian, Damily & the Kid From Timbuktu" blogger/videographer and longtime friend of Afropop Michal Shapiro has put together a piece on Afropop senior producer Banning Eyre's experience as a toubab guitar player in Mali. Eyre mainly speaks on his experiences first meeting Malian guitarist Boubacar Diabate and watching him grow as a musician.

Check out footage filmed by Eyre from 1996 of Diabate playing in Mali then watch him transform into a real guitar master over 10 years later as Eyre and Diabate reconnect on a sunny day in a Bronx backyard.

Aboubacar "Badian" Diabate: Malian Guitar Master from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.


Also featured in this week's show is Garifuna star Aurelio Martinez. Afropop contributor Erich Woodrum went down to Belize late last year and made a mini-documentary for Afropop on the disappearing Garifuna culture and how a handful of musicians like Aurelio are trying to keep the culture alive through their music.

Watch part 2 of Woodrum's piece HERE.

Also, be sure to check out Michal Shapiro's site Inter-Muse.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Spotlight: Gun Selectah

If you haven't figured it already Gun Selectah is a collaboration between two Mexican heavyweights of the awkwardly termed electronic "tropical bass" style. The two came together out of mutual respect for each others music after running in similar circles. We are fan of both artists. You may recall Toy Selectah was featured on our Afropop Soundsytem 5 show on neo-cumbia. He also has had his hand on the new and fiery genre of Tribal Guarachero that is taking over clubs with a knack for cuts coming from places outside of the U.S./Europe. While Afropop hasn't given much love to Mexicans with Guns, we feel that a little recognition is long overdue.

The duo first dropped their collaborative EP with only 500 copies. As of today, though, the two have made the tracks available online via the Friends of Friends imprint. The EP features three original tracks and a slew of  remixes by DJ Orion, Matt Shadetek, LOL Boys and more.

On “Como Un Perro,” the track slowly builds upon an old, mid-tempo garage-rock/surf drum beat before everything shatters and everything morphs into a dark, skittering energetic dubstep meets cumbia offering full of clattering bells and ominous voice-overs.

Thanks to Tropical Bass for featuring this first.


Gun Selectah - Como Un Perro by FoFMusic

- Saxon Baird

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

General Levy - Ramp Wid Di Riddim

Okay, so we’re a little late on this but we thought it was worth a post, nonetheless. General Levy dropped this 7-inch via Ariwa back in August. Somehow it flew under the Afropop radar (we might have been at the beach). Produced by Mad Professor the track is a hark back to the days of reggae dancehall when things were a little bit edgier and not so poppy. That’s not to day we don’t have love for tracks like “Hold Yuh,” but it’s nice to hear the raw, dubby influences on “Ramp Wid di Riddim.”

What really impresses on this track, though, is Levy’s mad fast chat on it. We’re not sure we’ve heard faster chatting (or rapping) ever in our lives. Somebody get Busta Rhymes on the phone. It’s not all just in the speed. Levy maintains a paced rhythm throughout that is both infectious and head-spinning.

Levy hails from the UK and is a product of the Jungle scene back in the 90s. We’re not sure if this single is one-off or if we will begin to hear more cuts from him like this but for now, we are addicted to this refreshing and surprising cut.

Get blown away:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fela! The Musical Tours North America

After an successful run on Broadway, Fela! The Musical will be touring throughout the United States a series of runs through 2012. As you may know, we were big fans of the musical chronicling the famed Nigerian afrobeat innovator's socially and politically-charged life. We produced a show about the musical at the peak of its popularity on Broadway. We also were in Lagos when the musical traveled all the way to Nigeria to become the first Broadway show to travel to Africa.

If you get a chance, be sure to check out this historic musical before its too late.


09.13-10.09: Washington, D.C. - Sidney Harman Hall  | BUY TICKETS

10.11-10.16: Atlanta, GA - Atlanta Civic Center | BUY TICKETS

10.20-10.23: New Haven, CT - Shubert Theater | BUY TICKETS

10.25-11.06: Toronto, ON - Canon Theatre | BUY TICKETS

11.15-12.11: San Francisco, CA - Curran Theater | BUY TICKETS

02.14 - 03.04: Detroit, MI - Detroit Music Hall | BUY TICKETS

03.20-03.25: Philadelphia, PA - Kimmel Center for Performing Arts | BUY TICKETS

03.27-04.08: Chicago, IL - Oriental Theater | BUY TICKETS

04.25-05.03: Los Angeles, CA - Ahmanson Theatre | BUY TICKETS

: St. Paul, MN - Ordway Center for Performing Arts | BUY TICKETS

Monday, September 26, 2011 Seeks Writers

Do you want to write for Then hit us up! First, though, you should probably read the details of the what we are offering. Here are the two "positions" we offering up:

Position 1: Afropop Worldwide is seeking two bloggers. The catch is that one must be from Colombia or Colombian descent and the other from Nigerian and/or Nigerian descent. The goal is to have the candidates contribute two or three blog posts a month, plus the occasional CD review. Preferably, the blog posts would be about music that originates from Columbia and Nigeria.

We offering this position thanks to a recent grant we received from the New York State Council of the Humanities. A small stipend WILL be offered to the candidate. Although the details of that are still being worked out.


Position 2: Afropop Worldwide is seeking writers to contribute regular blog posts and reviews for our website Over the past six months, Afropop Worldwide has embarked on a campaign to expand our web presence. In doing so, we’ve increased our web content and want to develop into becoming an online source for music from Africa and the African diaspora. However, as a small-staffed, non-profit public radio program, our manpower is limited. That’s where you come in!

Love music? Love to write? Then contact us immediately!

We’re going to be honest with you. This position, at this point, is unpaid. However, you can build your clips, get free music and attend concerts for free under the Afropop name. We aren’t asking for much. One review, and 2 blog posts a month is it. Of course, you can do more but if not, no worries!

This position is ideal for up and coming college-aged writers. It is preferred that candidates have a good knowledge of music from Africa and the African-diaspora. Not a requirement, though. We also hope you keep up to date with what’s coming out on a regular basis. Genres like kuduro, soca, dancehall and afrobeat should, at least, be familiar to you.

To Apply: Send a resume, a description about yourself and 2-3 clips to Saxon Baird at

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cairo Journal: Changing Faces of Tahrir

Text and Photos by Banning Eyre

On July 8, protesters in Cairo reoccupied Tahrir Square in order to put pressure on Egypt's military rulers, and keep the January 25 revolution on track. The tactic quickly produced meaningful results in the form of concessions from the military. Sean and I arrived in Cairo during this time, and we went to Tahrir on a Friday night (July 22), and met our Hip Deep adviser Kristina Nelson. "This is the Friday of Decision," she told us as we strolled among the tents, stages and banners that summer night. "The Prime Minister gave a very conciliatory speech yesterday in which he announced the reshuffling of the cabinet. And he's setting up a commission to look at corruption. Also, they're going to start studying lifting the Emergency Law, which is something that was requested from the very beginning."

We had visited the square a few days earlier to interview Ramy Essam, an Egyptian folk singer who made an international name for himself by singing in Tahrir during the January actions. Ramy suffered brutal torture at the hands of Egyptian police shortly before Mubarak stepped down. But by the time we met him, Ramy was on his way to perform at the Barbican Center in London, and the only police in evidence in Cairo were white-uniformed traffic cops (doing their best against heavy odds!). The blue-uniformed regulars had essentially gone into hiding, for fear of facing the protesters who had roundly defeated them during the heavy clashes in which Mubarak's fate, and Egypt's, was unexpectedly altered. Protesters were now handling their own security at Tahrir. We had to show passports to gain entrance, but once inside, the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly.

On the night we met Kristina, the draw at Tahrir was a concert by one of Egypt's most revered Sufi singers, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tuni. Various political parties had set up stages and there were speeches rallying small crowds. The Nasserite party had a lively following at their stage next to Kentucky Fried Chicken--famous for its role as a makeshift hospital during the police assaults on protesters in January. What was striking now was the cool, easy vibe. Al-Tuni sang beautifully. Vendors sold flags, t-shirts, coffee, trinkets. People chalked and painted slogans on the ground and concrete walls. One read "Enjoy the Revolution." In all, this felt more like a street fair than the scene of a bloody and fateful people's uprising.

"I think a lot of people are really down on that aspect," said Kristina, "that so soon after the revolution, it could turn into a fair. And there were actually some hostilities between all the vendors and the people occupying the square. They tried to get them to leave so it could be a more serious thing. But it all draws people in. And people hear the speeches."

As the July re-occupation continued, and Ramadan approached, one heard more and more complaint about the protesters. People wondered who they really were. Taxi drivers griped about the fact that you couldn't drive through one of Cairo's busiest traffic circles. Few regular Caireans seemed to feel much gratitude for the tangible results the protesters had achieved. And then came July 29 with its breath-taking action by the Muslim Brotherhood and their ultra-conservative, Saudi-backed cohorts, the Salafists. This demonstration was preceded by much negotiating between the Islamists and those occupying the square. Together, they would attempt to show unity, and focus upon demands on which all parties agreed, such as more transparent and fair trials, and hasty prosecution of Mubarak and his top men. But when the famously well-organized Muslim Brothers appeared, they came in their thousands, on buses from far beyond Cairo, and television viewers around the world were treated to angry speeches from Tahrir demanding Sharia law, and other measures not part of the "unity" agreement. Some supporters of the revolution were disheartened, even chilled, by the July 29 demonstration. "Downtown Cairo looked like Afghanistan," one friend remarked wryly. Sean and I were advised not to go to Tahrir that day. But when the protest ended as planned at 6PM, we did go to the Kasr el Nil, one of the main bridges leading away from the square. We stood among streams of Brothers as they made their way to awaiting buses. We got some curious looks, but no one bothered us. There was a surprising sense of calm, no hint of the anger we had watched on television in our hotel, just hours earlier.

I went back to Tahrir Square the next day. A young guy called Tiger came along to help me translate. He was more used to accompanying tourists to the Pyramids, but given that there were no tourists around, he was happy to help me. Tiger had attended the Brothers' demonstration with mixed feelings. He was unhappy with the confusion of religion and politics, but he still felt a kinship with the demonstrators. They were "not bad people." I wanted to talk with long-term occupants of the square about the music of the revolution. As it turned out, Tiger himself had one of the best stories. He had been in Tahrir during the initial occupation in January. "Actually," he said, "the music, it was the start of the revolution, to be honest. Like it start with Mohamed Mounir, that song 'Hadouta Masraya,' which means 'A Story of Egypt.' It started with a small group and this song, and I joined them, and after we finished the song, it start the revolution, from that second." This and other conversations I had that day will figure into the first Hip Deep in Egypt broadcast, "Cairo Soundscape," which will debut on the weekend of October 7-9. What none of us foresaw then is that the political and cultural street carnival Tahrir had become was about to end abruptly. On the eve of Ramadan, July 31, the hated blue-clad police reappeared in force, protected by military men in tanks. They gathered around Tahrir early on Sunday morning, and swept in mercilessly, tearing down tents and banners, washing away slogans, chasing off campers and vendors. The next time I saw the square, it was unrecognizable. Police with helmets and shields ringed the central circle, and traffic moved through unimpeded by anything other than its own density.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Japanese Dancehall Reggae Meets Anime

 This week we proudly drop a new Hip Deep show titled Africa in East Asia: Shanghai Jazz to Tokyo Rastafari. Afropop will look at how music from the African diaspora has reached Asia, and created some fascinatingly impressive new styles and artists in the process.

Amidst our research we stumbled upon another example of two cultures colliding to create something totally unusual and awesome. This time it involves anime. Boxing Kid is a Japanese dancehall artist featured in our new program who runs with Mighty Jam Rock, just one of the many soundsystem outfits hailing from Japan. On this 2007 track, “Big Wave,” Boxing Kid is transformed into a high-tech, blunt-smoking anime character who finds himself driving across some nether-world Japanese desert in a tricked-out Jeep. In the horizon, Boxing Kid sees a pretty dancehall queen with a bag full of pilfered goodies looking for a ride. We’ll leave it at that and let you watch the rest.

We immediately dug this mash two gigantic parts of creative culture (anime and dancehall) from seemingly opposing countries (Japan and Jamaica) effortlessly blending together resulting in something unheard and unseen.

Be sure to download or stream our new show Africa in East Asia: Shanghai Jazz to Tokyo Rastafari for similar surprising cultural blends.

-Saxon Baird

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Spotlight: Matemai Mbira Group, Music from the Heart of Zimbabwe

Text by Banning Eyre

Since returning from Egypt, I've been torn between listening to all the great music we collected there, and catching up with all the awesome CDs that piled up on my doorstep over the course of a busy summer.  One title that leapt out of the non-Egypt stack, is Shanda Ugarike by Matemai Mbira Group from Zimbabwe.   I own a shelf full of recordings of the venerable Shona hand piano (for some, "thumb piano"), and I love most of them.  But this titles stands out for its combination of virtuosity and musical depth with splendid production, clear and ringing in the high register and booming strong in the bass.  To hear this is to fall in love with mbira all over again.

Newton Cheza Chozengwa, "Matemai," leads this four-piece ensemble, and plays powerful "bass mbira," and indeed, the force and richness of the low end is a distinct mark of this recording.  By contrast, Matemai's voice is high, almost keening, at moments, just on the edge of overtone singing.  The rest of the group also sings, adding rich, harmonized responses to Matemai's robust leads.  Matemai was born in Mhondoro, but grew up in the north, in Dande, home of the Korekore Shona and also a major center of revolutionary activity during Zimbabwe's liberation struggle in the 1960s and 70s.

If the words Dande and Korekore are ringing bells, it may be because Zimbabwe's iconic popular singer and champion of mbira music, Thomas Mapfumo, traces his paternal lineage to the Korekore of Dande.  The link is more than a curiosity; you hear it in the music.  Indeed among the 6 long tracks on  on Shanda Ugarike are some that bear more than a passing resemblance to classic Mapfumo recordings, "Pidigori," "Zvichapera," and others.  The songs go by different name here, and have different lyrics, melodies and vocal arrangements--but the ties are unmistakable. Such is the nature of Shona mbira music, where pieces evolve, get readapted with new words, names, and ideas, while still preserving the essence of a particular sub-family of traditional songs.  All this can get quite confusing--even to Zimbabweans!--but what matters here is that Korekore mbira music has a reflective, brooding quality that colors Mapfumo's most trenchant mbira anthems.  And that same air of gravity also infuses Matemai's ecstatic trance grooves.

As it happens, Melissa Cara Rigoli, who works with Matemai, ran into Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited at a show in Santa Cruz.  She gave Thomas a copy of this CD.  We await his review...  She also wrote that, "After the concert, the whole Mapfumo band came to a party where my friend was cooking sauces and stews all day.  Julia Chigamba [of the Chigamba mbira dynasty] came down from Oakland with friends and her kids, which created a nice Zimbabwean ambiance.  The sadza was served around 2AM, then we played some, Tom Melkonian and I with Chaka [Mhembere of the Blacks Unlimited] on mbiras.  Thomas was in a good mood and singing along with Lancelot [his brother] and Gilbert [guitarist for the Blacks Unlmited].... We continued to play mbira into the wee hours."

Sounds sweet!  For a taste of Matemai, check out these links, and get the CD!  (The majority of proceeds fromt he album go directly to the artists):

Website: Matemai Mbira Group 

Hear audio samples and buy Matemai's music:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

De La Soul + Fela = Fela Soul?

In case you haven't caught it, an awesome mash-up of Fela Kuti and NYC hip-hop legends De La Soul dropped last week to our delight. The mix comes courtesy of Gummy Soul, a nice little blog from Nashville producer Walter Clark (aka Josh Desprez) that has an affection for soul, hip hop and everything in-between. 
 The mix titled Fela Soul includes classic De La Soul tracks like "itsoweezee" and "Stakes is High" blended together with some staple Fela Kuti. They also threw in a few audio samples taken from interviews with Fela for some extra coolness.

Mash-up are a dime a dozen on the internet lately. Many of them seem like good ideas but when actually played out, often times seem like unnecessary novelties with the original tracks often being much better. However, this offering is definitely an exception. It showcases the transcendent ability of Fela's music as it fits nicely between rhymes by Maceo, Posdnuos and Dave. It even had a few of us in the office kind of digging this more than the original tracks. Not saying it's better, but it definitely refreshed some verses we've heard over a thousand times.

We highly encourage you to download or at least give it a stream:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Senegalese Icon Baaba Maal Announces US Speaking Tour, Tales from the Sahel

 For more than 20 years, Senegalese singer Baaba Maal has been making music for the world to enjoy. Renowned for his fiery vocal performances and his musical fusion of western sounds with the traditional beats and melodies of West Africa, Baaba Maal has earned immense critical acclaim on his home continent as well as becoming a seminal artist in the world music arena.

This October, Baaba Maal is coming to the US to headline a series of speaking dates moderated by music journalist and author Chris Salewicz.  Baaba will discuss his personal experiences growing up in Africa and traveling the world, his views on issues facing Africa and the African diaspora, as well as other assorted issues of the day.

Baaba's work has also extended beyond music and into the realms of humanitarian spokesperson. In 2003 he became a youth emissary for the United Nation's Development Program and he is known for his outspoken stances on HIV/AIDS in Africa, the growing role of women on the continent and his support of youth-based initiatives to help Africa move into the new millennium. To promote these causes, he has worked with the AIDS-oriented Red Hot Organization on two of their albums, including 2002's Red Hot+Riot.

During his talks, Baaba will be playing some of his legendary songs alongside multi-instrumentalist Jim Palmer and his longstanding percussionist Mamadou Sarr.

Tales From The Sahel Dates:

Oct 5: Oakland, CA @ Yoshi’s
Oct 6: Oakland, CA @ Yoshi’s
Oct 7: Santa Cruz, CA @ Rio Theatre
Oct 8: Los Angeles, CA @ Univ of Southern California
Oct 9: San Diego, CA @ Anthology
Oct 11: Seattle, WA @ Triple Door
Oct 13: Denver, CO @ L2 Arts & Cultural Center
Oct 15: Minneapolis, MN @ Cedar Cultural Center
Oct 16: Chicago, IL @ Old Town School of Folk Music
Oct 17: Ann Arbor, MI @ The Ark
Oct 18: Nelsonville, OH @ Smart’s Opera House
Oct 19: Alexandria, VA @ Birchmere

Oct 21: New York, NY @ Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at PACE
Oct 22:  Blue Bell, PA @ Science Center Theatre
Oct 23:  Boston, MA @ ICA Theatre

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Podcast Preview: Nation Beat - 'Growing Stone'

Here is something new for you. Afropop has put together an exclusive downloadable podcast previewing the new Nation Beat album, Growing Stone. In addition to previews of new songs from the new release, the podcast features an interview with founding member of the group Scott Kettner.

Nation Beat playfully calls Growing Stone, "an album for two Americas."  There is a good reason for the tagline, though. The American/Brazilian collective Nation Beat plays a 21st century mash-up inspired by Brazilian maracatu drumming, New Orleans second line rhythms, Appalachian music, funk and country-blues. They're the first American group to record in Brazil with the legendary Mestre Walter & Maracatu Nação Estrela Brilhante - and the first Brazilian band to perform with Willie Nelson who called Nation Beat "just a fantastic group".

Stream the 10 minute preview below. Or download it by clicking on the little black arrow on the left of the player.


Nation Beat Podcast by Afropop Worldwide

Chinese-American Rapper MC Jin Brings Asian Messages to Hip Hop

As part of our forth-coming Hip Deep show later this month, Africa in East Asia: Shanghai Jazz to Tokyo Rastafari, we're looking at how African diasporic music has reached into Asia, and created some weird and impressive new styles and artists in the process. One pioneer of this blend is the Hong Kong-American rapper MC Jin who, among other accolades, became the first East Asian to rap on a major American record label.

After ditching his parents' Chinese restaurant in Miami for Flushing, NY, Jin became an underground untouchable, winning freestyles with any competitor and eventually graduating to win a record seven weeks on BET's Freestyle Friday. Since then he's released four albums and a slew of mixtapes, working with producers such as Kanye West and Just Blaze, as well as fellow Asian-American stars Far East Movement.

In addition to being one of the few of his kind to achieve real success in America, Jin is a unique cross over between continents. He now lives in Hong Kong as a minor celebrity, has made an entire album rapping in Cantonese and often collaborates with Chinese-based musicians working to move hip hop into the Asian mainstream.

For all his achievements, it's still hard to view Jin other than how he markets himself: different for being a Chinese rapper. His main lyrical goal centers on challenging both the preconceptions of Asians and what is to be a rapper. The truly amazing part of his story is that the son of Chinese immigrants can find rap, an African-American-created music, in Florida and then take it back to China and find the same fame and relation to fans there. His existence underscores the emerging nature of hip-hop as a worldwide youth culture.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Joe Bataan: Anything but Ordinary

Next week we will be airing a new Hip Deep program titled Africa in East Asia: From Shanghai Jazz to Tokyo Rastafari. As the title explicitly explains, the show explores the different ways that black music has influenced culture and society in places like China, Japan and Korea.

In preparing for the show, we couldn’t help but think of NYC boogaloo legend Joe Bataan. Bataan is a Filipino African-American who grew up in the Latin-American neighborhood of East Harlem. In a way, Bataan is a perfect representation of a musician with a uniquely mixed cultural background that coalesced with the culture of the East Harlem neighborhood he grew up in.

The result of this mix shines through in Bataan’s music that was highly influenced by African-American doo-wop and Latin boogaloo that was all the rage when Bataan started writing music. He even recorded one of the first early, hip hop singles “Rap O, Clap O” to hit the charts in 1979.

Over his career Bataan recorded a handful of celebrated albums and a series of singles for the infamous Fania label, many of which can be found on the recently released Strut Records retrospective of the NYC label.  Bataan songs often make reference to his unique background, most specifically his 1975 LP Afro-Filipino. In a 1969 track called "Ordinary Guy," Bataan proclaimed that he was just a normal New Yorker who took the subway to work. While the track showcases Bataan’s love for the working-class, Bataan is anything but ordinary.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tinariwen Extends Tour Dates

We reported with excitement in June that Tinariwen was embarking on a massive tour that would take them across the U.S. and Europe well into October. Well, we just got word that the global torchbearers of Desert Toureg have extended their tour through December! The dates will take the outfit across the eastern seaboard of the United States, the midwest and a few west coast dates as well!

The tour is in support of their forthcoming release, Tassili, that dropped August 30th via Anti.

09.30: El Rey Theater - Los Angeles, CA
10.29: Luckman Fine Arts Complex - Los Angeles, CA
10.30: Fillmore- San Francisco, CA
10.31: Rio Theatre - Santa Cruz, CA
11.02:  Rialto Theatre -Tucson, AZ
11.04: Granada Theater - Dallas, TX
11.05: Fun Fun Fun Fest - Austin, TX
11.06: Fitzgeralds - Houston, TX
11.07: House of Blues - New Orleans, LA
11.09: The Social - Orlando, FL
11.10: Grand Central - Miami, FL
11.11: State Theater - St.Petersburg, FL
11.12: Variety Playhouse - Atlanta, GA
11.13: Cats Cradle - Carrboro, NC
11.15: 9:30 Club - Washington, DC
11.16: Trocadero - Philadelphia, PA
11.18: Paradise - Boston, MA
11.19: Webster Hall - New York, NY
11.21: Rex Theater - Pittsburgh, PA
11.22: Grog Shop - Cleveland Heights, OH
11.23: Majestic Theatre - Detroit, MI
11.25: Metro - Chicago, IL
11.26 Cedar Cultural Center - Minneapolis, MN
12.01 Showbox Theater - Seattle, WA

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Creole Choir of Cuba Tours the U.S.

It’s always a treat when Cuban musicians and artists are able to cut through all the political red-tape and come to the U.S. so that we can experience a taste of their vibrant and creative culture. The latest to cross the Caribbean will be the Creole Choir of Cuba. The ten singers from Camagüey and have been together since 1994 during a ‘Special Period’ in Cuba. As their bio states:

It was at this difficult time that members of the Professional Choir of Camagüey who were descendents of Haitians, decided to re-forge the resistance songs and laments of their forebears. Lead by their Choir Director Emilia Díaz Chávez, Grupo Vocal Desandann, as they are called in Cuba, revived the songs of their ancestors for modern times. Desandann literally means ‘descendents’ and as the choir say: “For us music is like food, it feeds the spirit and is a major inspiration for everyday life”
The group recently released a new record Tande-La. The gorgeous and intense vibrancy of their vocal deliveries is a far cry from the typical choir.


09.21 - Chicago, IL: Mayne Stage
09.22 - Chicago, IL: Preston Bradley Hall
09.23 - Bloomington, IN: Lotus Music Festival
09.24 - Bloomington, IN: Lotus Music Festival
09.27 - Columbus, OH: Lincoln Theater
10.01 - Somerville, MA: Somerville Theater
10.02 - New York, NY: Symphony Space
10.05 – 10.07 – Hanover, PA: Hopkins Center/Dartmouth College
10.09 - Union, NJ: Enlow Hall/Kean University
10.11 - 10.12 – Amherst, MA: Fine Arts Center/University of Massachusetts
10.14 – Portland, ME: Merrill Auditorium
10.15 - New Bedford, MA: Zeiterion Performing Arts Center
10.16 – Philadelphia, PA: Painted Bride Art Center
10.19 – Bethesda, MD: The Music Center at Strathmore
10.20 – Hampton, VA: The American Theatre
10.22 - Santa Cruz, CA: Kuumbwa Jazz Society
10.25 – 10.26 - Chico, CA: Laxson Auditorium/Cal State Chico
10.27 - Arcata, CA: Humboldt State University
10.29 - Scottsdale, AZ: Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
11.01 - San Diego, CA: Mandeville Auditorium
11.02 - Santa Barbara, CA: Campbell Hall
11.03 - San Francisco, CA: War Memorial & Performing Arts Center
11.05 - Riverside, CA: UC Riverside Fine Arts

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Mixtape Special

On air this week we are presenting "The Mixtape Special." The show culls some of the best songs from our monthly mixtape series into an hour-long Afropop Worldwide program! Our goal is to put a spotlight on some of the best new music dropping from Africa and beyond. The eclectic array of colorful sounds showcases something for every Afropop listener from 8 to 80 including Malian blues, Latin electronic mash-ups, Afro-Peruvian rhythms, hip-hop, neo-cumbia, and whole lot more.

Since we are presenting an entire show dedicated to our mixtapes, we won't be releasing a free mix this month. Instead, you get this awesome show to listen to. Sounds like a good trade-off, right?

You can download the show for free by clicking the little black arrow on the right of the player. Or you can just click the play button and stream the entire show. Finally be sure to pass it onto your friends and spread the good music and free tunes around.

The Mixtape Special by Afropop Worldwide

Missing one of our monthly mixtapes? They are all still online and available for download. Cruise over to our Soundcloud page to find all our mixes here. You can also check out over 70 of our archived programs that we have slowly been making available online.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

West Indian-American Day Carnival Parade Roars Through Brooklyn!

While the rest of America was enjoying an extra day off with barbecues and baseball, Brooklyn was celebrating its Caribbean population with the 44th Annual West Indian-American Day Carnival Parade. The event is the biggest Carnival parade in North America and featured its usual, colorful array of floats stacked with speakers blaring the best in soca and new calypso, sparking carnival costumes and thousands of flags representing every country of the West Indies. Even Mayor Bloomberg and the "Rent is Too Damn High" pseudo-celebrity Jimmy McMillan made an appearance.

Roaring down Eastern Parkway, a boulevard that splits Crown Heights, Prospect Heights and parts of Brownsville and Bed-Stuy; over a million people had flocked to the parade by noon sporting colors, shirts and face-paint of showcasing their country of origin. Hundreds of Caribbean barbecue restaurants set up tents and grills in between tables of trinkets ranging with bracelets with the colors of countries flags to handmade art and t-shirts.

While the parade took place on Monday, the festivities really started on Friday with concerts at the Brooklyn Museum with such celebrated acts as Benjai, the Mighty Sparrow and David Rudder. On Saturday, a smaller children's parade took place in Crown Heights while J'ouvert begin late on Sunday and marched throughout Brooklyn until sunrise as it traditionally does each year.

The origins of the parade go back to a 1947 Carnival Parade that took place in Harlem along 110th and 7th. In 1965, the carnival relocated to Crown Heights where it has existed and taken place each year since.

Unfortunately, the Labor Day festivities this weekend were slightly overshadowed by a sudden, and unexplainable outbreak of shootings. By Monday, over 39 people had been shot across New York City since Saturday. Despite just a few, minor incidences at the parade, the general vibe throughout was positive and jovial with people there looking to simply celebrate the end of summer with great music, food and dancing while refusing to let the few ruin this long held tradition for the many.

-Saxon Baird

Friday, September 2, 2011

Interview: Tiken Jah Fakoly

The day before a huge, outdoor concert at NYC's SummerStage, Saxon Baird sat down with African reggae legend Tiken Jah Fakoly to discuss his latest album African Revolution, the meaning of Rastafari, reggae music and the necessary burden of being a voice for the people.

On Rastafari:
"I can say I am because Rastafari is just people who fight for justice. You don’t need to have dreadlocks or smoke ganja or to wear something that says “Rastafarian” on it. You know I am fighting for justice and talking about political struggles. I am talking about my country and my continent and my people’s situation. This is why I am Rastafarian. "

On Revolution:
"I think if we want to be a stable continent or a stable country then we need to show to our leaders that we are the power. We as a people are the power. This revolution has already begun in Tunisia and then Egypt and I think it will come to “black Africa” in about 15 years or so. "

On being a voice for the African people

When I am driving around in Bamako or elsewhere, people come to tell me and they say, “Tiken, you are our voice. You have to speak for us. Our president is doing this or that and you need to sing about it.” This happens everywhere I go in Africa. We are the voice of these people because we don’t have freedom of expression in all of the countries. So sometimes we say what these people, who don’t have a voice, people who don’t have a camera or a microphone on them, want us to say.  This is the real mission of reggae music.

Read our entire interview with Tiken Jah Fakoly