Thursday, June 30, 2011

Baloji Returns to North America

Baloji, one of our favorite new singer/rapper from the Congo by way of Belgium (*deep breath*) is back! There are only a handful of tour dates but he does span the entire country including Canada. Check him out if you get a chance, we guarantee he will not disappoint!

Today and tomorrow he is playing in Montréal at the Festival International de Jazz. Here are the dates after that:

07.02: Weekville Garden Party - Brooklyn, NY
07.03: SummerStage - Brooklyn, NY
07.07: Millenium Park - Chicago, IL
07.08: Free Festival - Madison, WI
07.09: Old Town School Festival - Chicago, IL
07.12: Ottawa Blues Festival - Ottawa, Canada
07.13: Festival d'Eté - Quebec, Canada
07.14: Festival d'Eté - Quebec, Canada
07.16: Grand Performances - Los Angeles, CA


Spoek Mathambo Releases New Single

Spoek Mathambo is one of the most exciting artists coming out of South Africa. Although, his music isn't particularly "South African" but more aptly international in nature. It's hard to pin a genre on Mathambo. The DJ/Producer/Designer creates heavy electro tracks that take South Africa's love for house/kwaito and combines it with hip-hop and European techno all the while instilling it with a socially-minded edge. Mathambo really is a perfect example of music and musicians who are products of an interconnected world where music across our globe can be upload and heard seconds later.
His increase in popularity is proof of this. After all, when was the last time an artist from Africa graced the cover of a uber-cool American music magazine like The Fader like Spoek did just months ago. Regardless of your opinion of him, this guy transcends continents and cultures.


We are still trying to decipher the meaning behind Mathamblo's most recent single, "Put Some Red on It," which will be off his forthcoming EP with the same name. Undoubtedly, the track has a subtle, socially-infused subtext but we'll leave it up to you to decide what it all means. Musically, the track runs close to his cover of Joy Division's "She's Lost Control" with a pulsating, steady beat that builds into a heavy, dizzying crescendo.

Download + Listen to the track below

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Boubacar Traoré Tour Dates

We just got word that Malian guitarist Boubacar Traoré will be venturing on a North American tour this fall, following the release of his new album Mali Denhou a couple weeks ago. 

Check out the sweet track M'Badehou from that album on our Afropop May 2011 Mixtape here:
Tour Dates
Wed, Sept 21 - Chicago World Music Festival
Thu, Sept 22 - Chicago World Music Festival
Sun, Sept 25 - Brownfield, ME - Stone Mountain
Tue, Sept 27 - Brooklyn, NY - The Bell House
Wed, Sept 28 - Northampton, MA - Iron Horse
Thu, Sept 29 - Fall River, MA - The Narrows
Sat, Oct 1 - Montreal, QUE - L'Astral
Mon, Oct 3 - Toronto, ONT - Hughes Room
Wed Oct 5 - Cambridge, MA - Church



Contributed by Henry Molofsky

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Afrikan Boy Drops Free Mixtape...Finally.



Afrikan Boy busted onto the world scene when he was heard on a guest sport for "Hussel" off M.I.A.'s wildly popular Kala. With a second guest appearance on a remix of M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" along with some opening gigs on her 2007 tour in support of Kala, Afrikan Boy seemed destined for international fame. That was almost 5 years ago, though, and Afrikan Boy has kept it relatively low-key since.

Where's the charasmatic Nigerien grime-rapper been? Who knows. Maybe he was involved in his studies at Brunel University. Nevetheless, he's back with a free mixtape titled, "What Took You So Long?" We were just going to ask that!

Hopefully, this marks the beginning of a slew of new music from him. After all, we dig his sound. Just check out last year's show Nigeria Celebrates 50 Years of Independence, where he was one of the featured artist.

Now go cop that free mixtape HERE!

Radio Star Killed the Radio Star: Motso Takes Out Competition in New Mini-Movie Music Video

Michael did it in the 80’s with Thriller. Lady Gaga brought it back for the YouTube generation. And now South African Matswako rapper Motso has brought the mini-movie music-video to Africa.

As we mentioned in our recent program “The Trans-National African Hip-Hop Train,” hip-hop has an impressive ability to cross borders, and this is a perfect example. The video for Motso’s hit “16 Bars: What You Gonna Do,” is probably too graphic for regular airplay but it’s bound to become an internet hit. In it you’ll see your fair share of sex, money, murder and …well…dirty condoms.

Here's the censored version:





(Thanks to our friends at This Is Africa for the catch)
Contributed by Henry Molofsky

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cheb I Sabbah Diagonosed with Cancer: Learn How You can Help!

Cheb I Sabbah is an award-winning, global electronic DJ who is currently battling stomach cancer. He is a very dear friend of Afropop Worldwide. Please read how you can help.

From Senior Producer Banning Eyre:

Cheb I Sabbah has been a unique force pushing the envelope of global music.  I came to know him in 2004 when he was working on his release "La Kahena," based on fantastic recordings he made in the field in Morocco. Of course, by that time, Cheb I had already established himself as something of a legend for his work with Indian music and electronica. But for me it was all new. Cheb I's sense of history and style and personality was remarkable to me, and the commitment he showed in doing highly original field work and using that as the basis of his club mixes was ahead of its time.  Others have followed that road since. One of the true originals of our time, Cheb I Sabbah has given all of us a lot. I hope that many of you will join me in giving something back in a great man's hour of need. 

Press Release about Sabbah's dire situation:

Dear Friends and Fans of Cheb i Sabbah:

Recently, our dear friend and musical pioneer Cheb i Sabbah was diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer at San Francisco General Hospital. He was advised that the cancer was spreading to his liver and left lung. Without immediate and proper treatment, the prognosis given is very grim. The phrase “weeks maybe months” was repeated to a devastated group of close friends and family who were there to support him as he received the heartbreaking news.

Like many Americans, “Chebiji” — as he is affectionately known — does not have health insurance. Private health insurance is astronomically expensive and public state funded health insurance barely provides the most basic treatment — and it does so only if you qualify. Due to his weak health condition, Chebiji found himself having to cancel live shows, meaning his income stream has come to a complete halt, with mounting medical bills and future medical costs ahead.

Upon learning of his condition, a few close friends and artists have come together to rally around Chebiji and assist him with his fight. Devastated by the news and outraged that an artist of Chebiji’s caliber cannot afford to care for himself and receive the proper urgent medical treatment needed, we have set up a fund to help.

Please help by donating and spreading the word to your communities. With our financial support, love and healing thoughts let’s help Chebiji receive proper medical care and beat this cancer.


We would prefer PayPal payments as the donated funds are immediately available, thank you.

Hip Deep in Egypt: Inanities

One of our close connections on the ground in Egypt recently directed us to a blog called   Inanities run by Sarah Carr, a half-Egyptian currently living in the country. There is not much information on Carr out there while the humble, but accurate description of her blog simply states: “I write about mostly stuff in Egypt.”

Her chronicled experiences with Egyptian music, culture, and politics are definitely worth reading but one particular recent post really caught our attention. Carr heard a new artist that goes by Amr 7a7a who approaches Egyptian pop music from a hard-edged, hip hop vein. After some back and forth, 7a7a invited her to a Egyptian wedding that he was performing at. As exhibited, Carr had a lively and unique experience.

(Left to Right: Sadat, 7a7a, Figo (photo by Sarah Carr)

We encourage you to read more about it on her blog..

Discovering artists just like Amr 7a7a is one of our main priorities in our forthcoming Hip Deep Egypt trip that Afropop will be embarking on beginning in late July. To read more about our trip and how you can help us bring back a truly unique, 4-part radio documentary that explores Egypt’s thriving music scene, click HERE.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chief Boima x OkayAfrica = New Mixtape Series



Next week we will be dropping our July mixtape, which will be the fifth installement of the monthly series. As usual it will include an eclectic array of artists and sounds that will appeal to all Afropop fans from age 9 to 97.

Well, it seems like online mixtapes are all the rage nowadays. Turns out our friends in the cause to bring you good music from Africa and beyond, OkayAfrica, have launched a mixtape series of their own. Do we smell a friendly competition? Hardly. We got nothing but love for Okayafrica and are excited about their new series.

The first installment comes curtosy of globe-trotting producer/DJ Chief Boima. Fans of the Dutty Artz family might be familar with his work which mashes together a dizzying array of styles into a cohesive sweat-inducing dancefloor sound.

Download + stream the mix below.

Chief Boima's Okayafrica/Ghetto Palms Mixtape by The FADER


Also, be on the look out for a new EP from Chief Boima called Africa in New York. Afropop has been bumping it in the office all day and we should be getting you a preview + review in short time. Until then, make sure to cop Boima's mix for Okayafrica. You can also check out D/J rupture's Mudd Up! show for WMFU from earlier this month to get a taste of the forthcoming EP which he played on the show. 

Khaira Arby North American Summer Tour 2011

If you are fan of Afropop then you know that one of our favorite artists of the past few years is Malian singer and "Queen of the Desert," Khaira Arby. We covered her stateside debut album heavily, giving it a rave review. We also caught almost every show possible she played when in NYC while featuring her in many of our programs.

We'll lucky for us and the rest of North America, Arby is back with her band for a Summer tour!

Dates below:
07-04 Montreal, QB - Festival International de Jazz
07-05 Cambridge, MA - Oberon
07-06 Brooklyn, NY - Brooklyn Bowl
07-07 New York, NY - Le Poisson Rouge
07-08 Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's
07-09 Washington, DC - Red Palace
07-10 Pittsburgh, PA - Thunderbird Cafe
07-12 Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
07-13 Minneapolis, MN - Cedar Cultural Center
07-15 Grass Valley, CA - California World Fest
07-16 San Francisco, CA - The Grand Ballroom @ Regency Center
07- 17 Pasadena, CA - Levitt Pavillion
07- 19 San Diego, CA - Casbah
07-20 Los Angeles, CA - Echo
07-22 Tucson, AZ - Club Congress
07-23 Santa Fe, NM - The Due Return at CCA
07-24 Denver, CO - Underground Music Showcase
07-25 Colorado Springs, CO - Armstrong Quad

Omar Souleyman Collaborates with Bjork

Ghetto Bassquake, which is featured in this week's show, recently brought to our attention a most-excellent collaboration bridging sounds from the Arab world and a western favorite. Bjork has teamed up with Syrian poetic-singer Omar Souleyman. Coupling Bjork's tireless experimentalism with Souleyman's frantic, keyboard-driven Syrian party music, the collaboration seems like a match made in nu-whirled, music-nerd heaven.

Check a brief snippet of the collaboration below. Bjork isn't actually in the video but its still exciting that this actually happening.




Also, check out Afropop's interview with Souleyman -->

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Griot Summit in the Bronx

      Walking through the entrance to Wave Hill, a giant garden on a cliff overlooking the Hudson with flowers that actually smelled like someone lit incense, and the sounds of more than twenty Griots playing their sweet, hypnotic music, it was hard for me to really convince myself I was in the Bronx. But there we were, at what a flyer announced as an “historic gathering of NYC’s Griot community,” up on 252nd street.


This summit of some of the best known and most beloved New York based musicians from Burkina Faso, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone was put together as part of the Make Music New York initiative and it gathered a smiling crowd up on Wave Hill. People danced and clapped along, sometimes at the behest of a stray Griot who found himself grooving through the audience. At one point, a little girl of no more than 3 walked up to each of the six singers, nudged forward by her dad, and handed them each a dollar bill as part of the ancient tradition of rewarding Griot for their musical blessings.

Though the Afropop team has definitely found itself in more distant lands than 252nd street, the adventure nonetheless provided some truly inspiring West African music in a picture perfect setting. Is there a better way to spend the first day of summer?


(Complete List of Griot Musicians: Abdoulaye Diabate, Abdourahmane Mangara, Abou Sylla, Awa Sangho, Ayiba Bangoura, Bailo Bah, Bebe Camara, Famoro Dioubate, Kewulay Kamara, Lankandia Cissoko, Mai Kouyate, Mamady Kourouma, Mamady Kouyate, Mmah Doumbouya, Salieu Susso, Sonah Dioubate, Tapani Sissoko, Toumany Diabate, Yacouba Sissoko, Yacouba Diabate)





Contributed by Henry Molofsky

Our Picks for Nigerian Entertainment Awards: Cheeky Soulstress and Pop Phenom

The vote has just begun for the Nigerian Entertainment Awards, and these are some of the best and worst tracks in the running.  Voting ends on August 27th, and the ceremony will be held on September 4th.

The video for "If You Ask Me," by Omawumi, is our clear favorite to win the Best Music Video category, and the best Nigerian song of the year, despite its bizarre absence from the Hottest Single category.  Director Clarence Peters' crisp cuts and clean stylings perfectly showcase this bouncy Lagos-meets-Memphis joint, as Omawumi sings in patois about a daughter impregnated by her father going for her abortion.  The sprightly nature of the track belies its dark subject and acts as a vehicle to bring its message to a mainstream audience, shimmying and sliding around our ears along the way.  Don't sleep on this, one of the best songs to come out of Africa all year.



Less inspired is a heavy-hitter for Hottest Single of the Year, "Mr. Endowed (Remix)" by D'Banj featuring Snoop Dogg and Don Jazzy.  It's a huge coup for D'Banj to have such a huge player in the American music business in his court, however the Doggfather's verse inspired little more than stifled yawns.  Plus, from his iced-out chandeliers to his burial of a vide-ho in American dollars, D'Banj has a barely concealed desire to sound "American" and comes across like Gretchen Wieners in Mean Girls–i.e. a desperate wannabe.  While it's a great break, I can't help but think he would be more at ease if he would stop doing the same stupid dance as Snoop.



For a smooth pop-rap track without the acne-scarred self-consciousness D'Banj brings, check out "Ice Prince," by Oleku featuring Brymo. Rhyming in English, Oleku's businesslike flow jumps gracefully from one simile to another, providing an acidic underpin to the sweetness of Brymo's lilting patois-laden hook.  Like Secret Deoderant, it's strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.  This song is blowing up the Nigerian pop charts and is a heavy favorite for Hottest Single of The Year.



More on the Nigerian Entertainment Awards as the deadline gets closer.  Vote here for your favorite!

Contributed by Hal Bergold

17th Annual Fes Festival of World Sacred Music: Days 4-5

The 17th Annual Fes Festival of World Sacred Music continued Monday and Tuesday with an impressive variety of musical traditions. Under the rubric “Nights in the Medina,” both evenings arranged for multiple overlapping performances held in traditional Moroccan homes in the Batha neighborhood of Fes al-Bali. Moving from one concert to the next meant strolling the narrow znaqi, or streets, from one luxurious riad to the next, following signs or asking friendly passersby for directions.

Monday’s performances began with an afternoon concert by a multinational trio, Nawah (En. “core”). With rain on the horizon that afternoon, the concert was moved from the Batha Museum to a gorgeous hall in the Prefecture office across the street. It took a bit of time to get everyone situated in the much smaller indoor space.



Once inside, I felt the change of location only improved the performance.
Françoise Atlan, already well known in Morocco for her renditions of traditional
Sephardic songs, joined with Palestinian vocalist and oud player Moneim Adwan and percussionist Bijan Chemirani for a program by turns mournful, playful, and virtuosic, with Andalusian repertoire in Arabic, Hebrew, and Spanish. Her light, fresh soprano sounded beautifully balanced with the oud, and in the tiled hall, none of the performers needed amplification. Chemirani brought out nuances in his daf playing that might have been lost in the museum courtyard.



By 8 pm the rain was really coming down, but I set out with my concert-going companions to find Riad Mokri for the next show. Once we turned down the right street we were greeted by a suited gentleman who informed us that the venue was completely full, and could we please return for the 10pm show instead? We doubled back to reach the next venue for the 9pm concert, only to meet a stream of dripping audience members informing us that concert was cancelled. Since that riadʼs courtyard had no roof, all performances there were cancelled until further notice. Multilingual rumors spread through the streets as fans searched for the music that was supposed to have been played there and at Dar Tazi.

In the end, my friends and I walked back and forth to various venues two more
times, only to return to Riad Mokri and catch two fantastic performances: Alèmu Aga, a vocalist and lyre player from Ethiopia, and Jesús Corbacho, a flamenco vocalist from southern Spain.

The two styles of music, and musicians, could not be more different. Aga sat alone with his lyre, an instrument half as tall as he, at the end of the courtyard. His songs were so quiet that the audience was not only silent, but totally still in order to catch every phrase. Most songs were single-line poetry with a repeating melody, the minimal treatment producing a meditative effect on the crowd. Aga plucked the lyre or strummed a drone with a plectrum. It was a soothing antidote to the stormy confusion of the previous hour.



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Very Best's Free Mix for Fact

Cross-over Afro-electro outfit The Very Best recently threw together an hour long mix for FACT magazine. The trio made up of UK production duo Radioclit along with Malawi singer Esau Mwamwaya have gained international recognition for their blend of western and African styles. Their mix is a near-perfect collection of pop, rock, African house tracks, and traditional Malawai styles. In other words, it is just the type of sound that influences their own albums.

You can listen to the mix in its entirety and download it below. Just press that little black button on the player. Enjoy!

Thanks to Okay Africa! for bringing this excellent collection to our attention.


or


Tracklist:
1. Unknown Artist – In My Life
2. DJ Clock – Hypersonic
3. Gus Gus – David
4. Bujo Mujo – Ngifuna Wena
5. Gregory Salto feat Helen Mendes – Bao Viagem
6. The Very Best & Moroka – Ndekha
7. P Diddy Dirty Money – Coming Home (Dirty South remix)
8. Toddle T/Dillon Francis – Take It Back (We Don’t Belong In Pacha remix)
9. Banana Seat – Champipple
10. High Powered Boys – work
11. The Very Best – Kamphopo (Lazy Flow remix)
12. Dj Znobia – untitled
13. We Don’t Belong In Pacha – BadBoy†onigh†
14. The Very Best & Rusko feat Vocal Slender & Afrikan Boy – Africa To California Anthem
15. Buraka Som Sistema – Hangover (BaBaBa)
16. Jessie J – Do It Like A Dude (Jakwob remix / Dj Riot edit)
17. Sensato Del Patio feat Voltio – La Fila India remix
18. Copia Doble Systema – One Day Revolution (Schlactofbronx remix/ CHLLNGR vocal version)

Monday, June 20, 2011

17th Annual Fes Festival of World Sacred Music: Day 3


Julia Boutros at Bab al-Makina
The third day of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music incorporated a wide variety of musical sounds, mostly from the Arab world. Each ensemble approached the idea of spirituality in music differently, from maintaining venerated traditions to adopting popular sounds that implement a sense of the sacred in everyday life.

The French Hevrat David Hamelech Chorale kicked off Sundayʼs program at the Batha Museum. As on the previous day, the courtyard of the beautiful Hispano-Moorish palace was filled for a concert focused on the human voice in prayer, accompanied by a local Andalusian orchestra led by Mohamed Briouel. Based in the Alsatian city of Strasbourg, the Chorale specializes in a Judeo-Andalusian repertoire, including liturgical chants and piyutim (Hebrew poems sung to different melodies during religious services). This performance left a vision of past and present co-existence between Jews and Arabs especially resonant in Morocco, considering that an estimated 5,000 Jews still live in the country, and their vibrant legacy in the arts is often overlooked.

Later that night, at Bab al-Makina, excitement ran high for a completely different sort of performance–the Lebanese Christian vocalist Julia Boutros' Fes debut. By 8:30 pm, both my section and the paid sections behind me were jam-packed of elegantly dressed Fassis and tourists. I wasnʼt sure what to expect, but when the orchestra flipped from a swooping violin-led melody into a sassy disco beat, I was hooked. From the 24-piece ensemble to Boutrosʼ spangled crimson gown, everything about this concert was larger than life.

Fans eagerly awaiting Nass el-Ghiwane
Boutros sang one show-stopping belter after another in a set designed to showcase her powerful vibrato and dramatic gestures. Introduced to her audience as the “voice of conscience,” Boutrosʼ songs were not explicitly spiritual but did explore heart-wrenching themes of loss, war, and longing for freedom.


Life Is Sweet, NYPD Doesn't Understand

While we may be sweating in the streets today, this video from Samba Mapangala was shot in the ‘my-face-hurts-it’s-so-cold’ of last December here in New York City, making these dancers’ outfits seem that much more impressive. Turns out New York’s Finest were not too happy with the crowd they attracted in Time Square.

Mapangala and his Orchestra Virunga are some of the most beloved musicians from the Golden Era of Lingala music in Kenya in the 70’s and 80’s. This track from their new album “Maisha Ni Matamu (Life Is Sweet)” shows Samba can still get his groove on. Enjoy:


Contributed by Henry Molofsky

Thursday, June 16, 2011

History Lesson: The Black Roots of Chicago House & Detroit Techno

This week on Afropop Worldwide we are proud to announce the new Hip Deep show Midwest Electric: The Story of Chicago House & Detroit Techno. Surprisingly, you will be hard-pressed to find any major documentary of any kind out there on these two genres.

Once again, Afropop Worldwide breaks new ground!

What is even better is that you can now DOWNLOAD a 56-minute podcast version of the show.

Just click the "down arrow" on the player below. Grab your headphones, you're about to embark on a dance-heavy history lesson.

Midwest Electric: The Story of Chicago House and Detroit Techno by Afropop Worldwide

 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tinariwen Tour Dates!

Hey world, Malian desert blues masters Tinariwen are touring for pretty much the rest of the year. Lucky us.

The tour is in support of their forthcoming release, Tassili, that will be dropping August 30th via Anti. Lucky us x 2. The album will feature collaborations with Nels Cline, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and members of TV on the Radio. Check out the dates + new video with Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe below.




Tour dates:
06-26 Paris, France – Le Centquatre 104
06-28 Paris, France – Theatre des Bouffes du Nord
07-02 Comblain, Belgium – Comblain Jazz Festival
07-07 Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
07-08 Minneapolis, MN – Cedar Cultural Center
07-09-10 Winnepeg, Manitoba – Winnipeg Folk Festival
07-12 Solana Beach, CA – Belly Up
07-13 Los Angeles, CA – Troubadour
07-14 San Francisco, CA – Bimbo’s 365 Club
07-16 Seattle, WA – Neumos
07-17 Vancouver, British Columbia – Vancouver Folk Fest
07-20 New York, NY – Highline Ballroom
07-21 New York, NY – Grassroots Festival
07-23 Valence, France – Valence Festival
07-24 Meze, France – Festival de Thau
07-27 Budapest, Hungary – Zold Paron
07-29 Berlin, Germany – Haus der Kulturen der Welt
07-31 Niigata, Japan – Fuji Rock Festival
08-27 Rio De Janeiro, Brazil – Back to Black Festival
09-03 Birmingham, England – Moseley Folk Festival
09-04 Larmer Tree Gardens, England – End of the Road Festival
09-21 Paris, France – 104
09-25 Ljubljana, Slovenia – Krizanke Amphitheater
09-26 Zagreb, Croatia – Aquarius Club
09-30 Los Angeles, CA – Ooh La La!
10-05 Magny-Le-Hongre, France – File 7
10-06 Cologne, Germany – Philharmonie
10-07 Blois, Franc – Halle Aux Grains
10-08 Begles, France – Rendez-vous des Terres Neuvese
10-09 Laval, France – 6 Par 4
10-11 Lyon, France – Ninkasi Kao
10-12 Poitiers, France – Theatre Scene Nationale
10-13 Nanterre, France – Maison De La Musique
10-15 Zurich, Switzterland – Kaufleuten
10-16 Lausanne, Switzerland – Les Docks
10-18 Amsterdam, Netherlands – Paradiso
10-19 Brussels, Belgium – Ancienne Belgique
10-20 Mannheim, Germany – Alte Feuerwache
10-21 Berlin, Germany – Kesselhaus
10-22 Warsaw, Poland – Palladium
10-23 Wroclaw, Poland – Eter Club
10-27 London, England – Roundhouse
10-29 Los Angeles, CA – Luckman Fine Arts Complex
11-18 Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
12-04 Minehead, England – All Tomorrow’s Parties

Cairokee: Indie Rock takes over Egypt?

Is a musical revolution going on Egypt now? Perhaps. We recently covered the fall of pop stars in Egypt who, during the revolution, originally came out in support of Mumbarak, but after it was obvious that he would be ousted, changed their tune (no pun intended). Now it has been brought to our attention that indie-rock is suddenly flourishing across the country.

According to Kabobfest.com, a self-proclaimed "irreverent, activist, often-inappropriate Arab-American (and others) blog," indie-rock may have actually surpassed radio-friendly, non-political Egyptian pop music in popularity. Kabob Fest cites one example of the band Cairokee which recently penned an advertising deal with Pepsi to be including in future commercials for the soda drink along with Cairokee’s music. Prior to the revolution, Egyptian pop stars were the face of such products in Egypt.

Of course, there is the irony that indie-rock, which is short for independent rock, is now signing major deals with massive private companies but still considered “indie” in nature. Nevertheless, we are excited by this change and look forward to seeking more of it out on our historic Hip Deep trip to Egypt this summer.




You can read more about this change in the musical guard of Egypt at Kabob Fest.

Jazz in Africa, Artist Spotlight: Kora Jazz Trio

Leading up to our new show Jazz In Africa, which focuses on how Afro-America’s revolutionary sound reshaped African music, we will be periodically posting some cool tracks and background info on a few of the bands and artists that will be featured on the show. 

In our second Jazz In Africa feature, we meet The Kora Jazz Trio, a French group made up of Moussa Sissokho on percussion, Abdoulaye Diabate on piano, and Djeli Moussa Diawara on kora. Hailing from Senegal, Mali, and Guinea respectively, they beautifully exemplify what happens when America’s own African-influenced music, jazz, gets taken back into the hands of African musicians. As you can tell from the video below, they play an American Jazz style but with serious Griot influences and West African instrumentation.




You’ll be hearing more music from this amazing trio in our upcoming Jazz In Africa show.

Contributed by Henry Molofsky

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Moroccan Murder Mystery! New book by Joseph Braude, out today

Afropop listeners know Joseph Braude for his superb contributions to the Hip Deep program catalogue, notably A Tale of Two Rebellions, with its brilliant use of contemporary film clips to tell tales of fateful long-ago conflicts, and Africans in the Arabian (Persian) Gulf, a rare look at all-but-hidden African history in the Arab world.  For the past three years, Braude has been working on a book based on four-months he spent embedded with the Moroccan secret police in Casablanca.   Braude describes the book as a "true-to-life murder mystery" and notes that members of the legendary Moroccan roots band Nass el Ghiwane (Afropop favorites, and once dubbed "the Rolling Stones of Morocco" by Martin Scorsese) are characters in the story, essentially "spiritual detectives."  The book is called The Honored Dead, and it hits the market today.  You can watch a trailer, read Braude's intro to the book, order it and much more at http://josephbraude.com/ .

I just ordered my copy this morning, so I can't say more about the book itself just yet.  But I can tell you that Braude is one hell of a story teller.  He has a sharp, probing mind and a remarkable capacity to connect realms of history, politics, religion and culture.  He is also a keen human observer and a terrific prose stylist.  This book is timely as well.  In a year when so much focus is gathering on North Africa--even this blog now overflows with reports from Moroccan festivals and previews of our upcoming research trip to Egypt--The Honored Dead promises to offer unique insights about this complex and fast-changing region.  Sometimes a human drama, set in a particular place and time, can reveal deeper and clearer truths about the world than reams of reporting and analysis amid the blizzard of current events.

So join me in being among the first to own this one-of-a-kind book, just a click away at http://amzn.to/HonoredDead.  Give it to a friend.  At the very least, The Honored Dead will deliver a singularly compelling beach read.

Banning Eyre

"Cosmic Love Foundation"-Idan K. & the Movement of Rhythm feat. Karolina

Multi-instumentalist and drummer Idan K. has spent over 5 years crafting his album Cosmic Love Foundation, and it is very clear that this work has not been in vain.  He melds Afrobeat, funk, jazz, dance and dub among Latin rhythms without difficulty or pause, aided by his veritable township of a band, the Movement of Rhythm, comprised of 32 talented musicians.  Think James Brown with a set of cabasas.  With the wondrously-coiffed Karolina, this is "Cosmic Love Foundation."

Monday, June 13, 2011

"Things Fall Apart"- Professor A.L.I. featuring Blitz the Ambassador and Raekwon

Bay-Area based Tamil MC Professor A.L.I. is preparing to release his debut album Carbon Cycle Diaries and for the first single, "Things Fall Apart," he pulls in noted African rapper Blitz the Ambassador, coming off his new album Native Son, and Shaolin favorite Raekwon, formerly of the Wu-Tang Clan, who recently released Shaolin vs. The Wu-Tang, along with partners in crime Ghostface Killah .  Humanities teacher at U.C. Berkeley by day and rapper by night, Professor A.L.I. chooses to rap about topics he means to educate people about, be it the African diaspora or global warming in what he calls "Islamic Eco-Rap."

He is a forward-thinking artist of the first order, but unfortunately his song "Things Fall Apart" leans toward triteness a little too heavily. He attempts to show us the "truth behind Africa," which in all fairness would be slightly easier to embrace if it hadn't been done so thoroughly before him.  However, he's got great backup in Blitz and Rae, with the Shaolin chef coming in with a truly bizarre spin on existentialism,  featuring a cabdriver murdered by his coke-addled wife and turning into a surprisingly tender meditation on the coldness of the world.  Check it out here:


-Hal Bergold

Jazz in Africa, Artist Spotlight: Hugh Masekela

Leading up to our new show Jazz in Africa, we examine how African artists found a modern, global voice using jazz as inspiration, we will be periodically posting some cool tracks and background info on a few of the bands and artists that will be featured on the show.

We start with the jazz multi-instrumentalist/singer/composer Hugh Masekela, one of South Africa’s most famous and beloved musicians. Luckily for those of you in New York City, he will be playing two shows here this summer - one at Central Park Summer Stage on June 26, and one this weekend at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Check out the crazy, totally 80’s video for his dance-single “Don’t Go Lose It Baby” below.



Obviously he’s not just an 1980’s dance artist, having written classic jazz hits like “Grazin’ in the Grass” (1968) and having played with pretty much everyone who’s anyone in the South African music scene including Miriam Makeba, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Paul Simon on his Graceland tour in 1986. He was also featured in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Kick-Off Concert.

Seeing as he studied music from 1960-64 in New York and has played countless concerts in the U.S. over the years, he’s the perfect fit for our Jazz in Africa show.

Check out Afropop’s interview with him back in 2002 here.

Stay tuned for our forthcoming Hip Deep show at the end of this month.






Contributed by Henry Molofsky

Thursday, June 9, 2011

South Africa Spotlight: The Federation feat. Dark Spark- "Cold of the Night" Video

 Hot new track from The Federation, a hip-hop group coming from South Africa.  Comprised of two members, Keletso "Neon" Ramela and Carl "Mr. C" Thobane, The Federation serves up an irresistible combination of DJ Premier-style beats and grim tales of the streets with an Afrikaans lilt.  This track, "Cold of the Night," is the first single off their upcoming debut double album Hardcore Styles for Street Rap Preservation.

Check the video below and their bandcamp for more info.




These guys are no anomaly.  South Africa is becoming a hotspot on the continent for hip-hop. As featured in our recent program, The Trans-National African Hip Hop Train, producer/artist/MC Spoek Mathambo is another South African we got our eye on. Having already made waves across the continent and beyond with his unique mash of rap and hard-hitting electronic beats, Mathamblo is just one more reason to keep your eye on SA!

Detroit Techno: Archer Record Pressing

A big part of the Detroit Techno story is the independent spirit that permeates the music. From Juan Atkins’ Metroplex Records to Mike Banks and the Submerge team to Carl Craig’s Planet E record label, techno musicians have often purposely stayed away from the major labels, running big international distributions out of their Detroit studios. Part of was lack of interest from the American music industry in what they were doing, but another part of it was wanting to stay in control, to not repeat the story which Black innovators get cheated out of their own musical creations.

Afropop producers Marlon Bishop
and Wills Glasspiegel in front of Archer Record Pressing
Archer Record Pressing, the plant where all the classic techno records were pressed, is part of the music’s indie history. It’s run by Mike Archer, the grandson of the original founder who started the place in 1965. Since the 80s, techno was a big part of their business. They pressed the old Metroplex and Transmat records, basically everything that came out of Detroit, and they continue to press techno records today. In fact, producers in London or Berlin send masters to Archer to be printed just so they can say that their records were pressed in Detroit on the same presses as Atkins and May.

Mike Archer at his pressing plant

According to Mike Archer, there are only 14 record plants still operating in the U.S., and many of them are small businesses with a handful of presses, like Archer.

When we called and asked Mike for an interview, he said no. So we decided to try out luck and show up.

Here’s audio from our tour of the plant:

Afropop Visits Archer Pressing in Detroit by Marlonious Thunk

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Moroccan Festival of World Sacred Music: Day 1-3

The 17th annual edition of the Festival of World Sacred Music kicked off Friday, June 3rd in the medina quarter of Fes, Morocco with a royal address and premier event, presenting a spiritual facet of Arab music, in contrast to the secular Mawazine festival in Rabat the previous week.

The wife of Moroccan King Mohamed VI, the Princess Lalla Salma, arrived at Fesʼ Bab Makina just after the Maghreb call to prayer subsided, and opened with a statement welcoming the audience to Fes, “Moroccoʼs spiritual cradle,” and to the festival. She proclaimed that the festivalʼs first event illustrated this yearʼs theme of “Wisdoms of the World” by celebrating “the universal legend of infinite love, both human and divine”. This event, an oratorio called Leyla and Majnun, had been composed for the festivaL in a collaboration between Moroccan-born composer Armand Amar and translator-lyricists Leili Anvir, Nacer Khemir, and John Boswell.

Set 45 years after the founding of Islam, the legend of Leyla and her beloved suitor Qeys, who is renamed Majnun (“the crazy one”) after her father refuses to allow the two to marry, is a foundational story in Islamic oral tradition.  Qeysʼ transgression–he sings a love poem extolling Leylaʼs beauty and grace in public, thus dishonoring her and her family–his rejection by society, his flight into the empty desert, his transformation into Majnun, and his subsequent path to wisdom allegorically represent the Sufi initiateʼs journey towards God–the ultimate unattainable love. Majnun wanders through seven “valleys,” or stages in the journey, presented through text combined with fragments of traditional Arabic and Persian poetry. Nine soloists showcasing the vocal techniques of Mongolia, Iran, northern India, and European art music interpreted both narration and dialogue, backed by an orchestra that neatly combined lush European orchestration with Arab instruments such as the oud, nay, ribab, kamanja (a North African fiddle), and thunderous drums played by members of the Shanghai Percussion Ensemble.

My fellow audience was impressed by the power and grace of the Mongolian vocalist Gombodorj Byambajargal, the spectacular virtuosity of throat singer Enkhajargal “Epi” Dandarvaanchig, and the serene, fluid arias of countertenor Bruno Le Leveur. A dialogue between Leylaʼs father (sung by Epi) and the nobleman Nowfal (sung by Raza Hussain Khan) as Nowfal unsuccessfully attempts to convince the father to marry Leyla to her beloved, transcended the sometimes staid progression of solos, dramatically demonstrating the chasm between the two characters by using Mongolian text for Leylaʼs father and Urdu for Nowfal. Amarʼs ambitious creation exemplified one of the Festivalʼs fundamental goals–to seek a unifiying sense of the sacred through the infinite variety of the human voice.

Afropop Worldwide's 2011 Summer Concert Guide

Keep your eyes peeled...



Photo by Banning Eyre. Design by Justin Douglas.

Dimi Mint Abba, "The Diva of the Desert," Dies in Stage Accident

Dimi Mint Abba, arguably Mauritania's most famous musician, died on Saturday from injuries suffered during a stage accident in Aioun, Morocco.  She was 52 years old.

 Born Loula Bint Siddaty Ould Abba, Abba was born to low-caste parents who also played music in the griot tradition.  She began performing from a very young age, and after years, received her big break when she competed in the Umm Kulthum Contest in Tunis, a regional talent competition.  After a strong recommendation from legendary African bluesman, Abba was signed to the World Circuit record label, and recorded a string of hits, including "Koumba Bay Bay," "Hailala," and her signature song, "Sawt Elfan." Abba's death marks a severe embarrassment for the Mauritanian government, who failed to publicly show its sympathy for Abba and her family.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mawazine Festival in Morrocco 4: Concert for Peace

Text and photos by Banning Eyre

Near the Tour Hassan, Rabat

The final night of 2011 Mawazine in Rabat (May 28) began peacefully, with one of the most spectacular instrumental performances I saw during the entire visit.  Nasser Shamma is one of Iraq's most respected oud players.  His technique, compositional prowess, and overall musicality are  overwhelming.  His performance at the Chellah ruin, certainly Mawazine's most picturesque stage, drew a large crowd, pretty much filling the available seating.  And Shamma's performance, backed by a trio of percussionists, was spectacular.  Shamma spends a lot of time in Cairo these days, and we hope to visit and interview him there this summer and learn more about his remarkable story and sublime art.

Nasser Shamma


From Chellah, I rushed to the Mohammed V Theatre to catch a luminous set from Algerian maverick singer-songwriter Souad Massi.  Massi began her career singing political rock 'n roll in Algiers--this is one brave lady.  She made her international career in her adopted home, Paris, and from the start, created a distinctive sound blending gently intimate songcraft with percolating grooves full of diverse African sounds and rhythms.  All that was on display in her Mawazine performance, before an audience peppered with die-hard fans.  Massi was so relaxed and so completely in synch with her band that the mood could shift from a near-whispered lullaby to full-on, grooving rock in a flash.  Massi's band was pretty much the same as the one that toured in the US about five years back, and they sounded better than ever.

Monday, June 6, 2011

AfroHop Launches with a Pop!

 Late last month, the launch party of a new event series called AfroHop went off with a bang at the Toro Lounge in the Smyth Hotel. Put on by Cocody Productions in collaboration with Hip Hop Saves Lives, Afropop Worldwide was in the house and a proud media sponsor of this great new event.

The evening brought together a great mix of individuals from the NYC African arts and music scene. An excellent DJ set was also provided by DJake of Cocody Productions that mixed Afropop, African hip hop, reggae and soul.

Jake R. Bright and Blitz the Ambassador



Enyinne Owunwanne, Badu Njoroge, & Aina Farina
The inaugural event included an album release and guest appearance by Ghanian MC Blitz the Ambassador who just released an excellent new album Native Sun (read our review HERE), and is also featured in our recent program The Trans-National Hip Hop Train.


Setor Attipoe & Chad Harper

Dawne Marie Grannum, Okai, Chantale Pierre-Louis

AfroHop events will integrate artists releases and performances to expose the best in new African music as well as special themes such as African country nights, alliances with charities, fashion and media outlets in hopes of cultivating a stronger African arts community in New York City and beyond! As Cocody Director Jake R. Bright explained, "with AfroHop we are creating a fun and unique forum to connect Africa, The Diaspora, and mainstream New York." In addition, Chad Harper, Hip Hop Saves Lives Director, went on to state that the events will be "exposing some of the best in new African music to an American audience."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Free June Mixtape is Out now! Stream + Download!

 It’s back! 45+ minutes of delicious sounds from across the globe for your ears ready for download and/or streaming!

This month’s mix includes an eclectic array of new music such as the electro-cumbia of Mr. Pauer, Malian hip hop from SMOD, desert blues by way of Terakaft and Vieux Farka Touré, Stephen Marley with the cast of FELA!, Moroccan rock, and *new* Seun Kuti that was produced by Brian Eno! All for free!

Download and listen below. And PLEASE tweet or facebook this goodness to all of your friends!


Afropop June Mixtape! by Afropop Worldwide

Tracklist:

1. Mr. Pauer - "Cumbíon Del Sur (f. Itagui)" (from Soundtrack--out now via Fabrika Music)

2. SMOD - "CA Chante" (from SMOD -- out now via Nacional Records)

3.Vieux Farka Touré - "Aigna (f. Derek Trucks)" (from The Secret -- out now via Six Degrees)

4. Seun Kuti & The Egypt 80 - "Rise" (off From Africa with Fury: Rise --out 6/21 via Knitting Factory)

5. Lobi Traoré - "Banan Ni" (from Bwati Kono out now via Kanaga System Krush)

6. DeLeon - "Yo M'enamori" (from Casata --out 7/14 via JDub)

7. Hoba Hoba Spirit - "Arnaque Mondiale" (from Marock n'Roll --out now via Hot Lunch Records)

8. Terakaft - "Alghalem" (from Aratan N Azawad--out 7/14 via World Village)

9. Stephen Marley -"Made in Africa f. Wale & the Cast of Fela" (downloadable single)

10. Taj Weekes & Adowa - "Anthems of Hope" (from Waterlogged Soul Kitchen out now)

11. The Jolly Boys - "Ring of Fire" (from Great Expectation--out now via Entertainment One)

**All Rights Reserved by Artists** / **Use Permitted by All Artists**

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mawazine Festival in Morocco 3: Quincy Jones to Aadawiya

Text and Photos by Banning Eyre.

America's most legendary producer, Quincy Jones, now 78, has been a real presence at this 8-day festival in Rabat, Morocco.  I've seen him take the microphone on various stages, in press conferences, and in a brief one-on-one interview, and he never fails to point out that Morocco has been on his radar screen since 1953 when he first visited as a trumpeter in Lionel Hampton's band.  Jones also never failed to speak a little Arabic to the crowds he addressed.  Where other international stars came and went during the cultural hurricane that is Mawazine, Jones set up camp and stayed from start to finish, becoming a friendly and benevolent presence wherever he turned up.

Quincy Jones

Jones and his entourage stayed long in Rabat to work on a new project, a re-make of his Grammy-winning 1989 song "Tomorrow," with Arabic lyrics and a host of Arabic singing stars, including Kadim Al Sahir of Iraq and Majda Roumi of Lebanon.  This song, intended to be something like an Arabic "We Are the World" for the Arab Spring, will be released this summer.  (Stay tuned.)   But on Wednesday, May 25, Jones also presented a remarkable, 2-hour long concert at the largest festival stage, OLM Souissi.  Despite a light rain--unusual for this time of year--another enormous crowd gathered.  They could hardly have known what to expect, but remained rapt and rowdy until the end.  Jones acted as MC for a remarkable musical journey, which began with a complex and subtle Arabic orchestration of a composition by Lebanese maestro Bassam Saba, continued with Pakistani Sufi songs sung by Riffat Sultana, and wound up with soul diva Siedah Garrett regaling the crowd with 2 Michael Jackson hits she co-authored, notably the timeless "Man in the Mirror," which got an extended and ecstatic treatment.

Siedah Garrett
Backing up most of these performances was Jones's incomparable Global Gumbo All Stars, a powerhouse multi-national ensemble including, among others, Lionel Loueke on guitar, Richard Bona on bass, Paulino Da Costa on percussion, Greg Phillenganes on keyboards, and on piano, a young Cuban artist named Alfredo Rodriguez--a man Jones described as a "genius" and "the hardest working musician I have ever met."  The unusual Arabic-Pakistani opening to this wide ranging concert was the inspiration of one of the show's behind-the-scenes producers, Dawn Elder, who brought Saba and Sultana into the mix, providing the Eastern flavors in the Global Gumbo. 

The full concert included stunning solo performances by Rodriguez (like a Latin Keith Jarrett on solo piano) and Loueke (harmonizing his own vocal and plucking out walls of rhythm on a nylon-string guitar), a samba-tinged number led by Bona (complete with awesome solo from one of the world's hottest bass wizards), a short but powerful tribute film about Jones's career, and a surprise...  Naturally Seven is a out-of-this-world a capella outfit specializing in what they call "vocal play"--essentially, they become a band, mimicking the moves and sounds of any instrument required.  So when the Global Gumbo team left the stage and these guys hit, some folks were wondering why they were still hearing a band, but looking at seven guys playing air drums, air guitars, etc.  Naturally Seven's set made up the mid-section of Jones's show, hitting familiar numbers like the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man," and ending with funkier fare.  They were quite stunning and quickly won over the crowd, setting the mood for a blow-out, Michael Jackson finale.  (Unfortunately, photographers got closed down after 3 songs, so my photos don't begin to record all that went on during this dense two hours of music.)  In all, the show left an unmistakable impression that this American legend has a ear and eye to the larger world, and an unrivaled ability to rally forces from many corners to create sure fire spectacle.  Long live Quincy Jones!

Quincy Jones and Riffat Sultana