Yes, today is the 9 year anniversary of R&B legend Aaliyah‘s tragic death. There are a few things floating around offering tribute, but East Village Radio’s DJ Still Life sent this over today and it hits on a variety of levels: summery, silky, sexy, salacious, okay so maybe those are mostly synonyms.
Still Life runs one of EVR’s best shows “Worldwide Smash,” on Friday’s from 12AM-2AM EST, much of it covering the low-end dance music vibes bouncing around the globe right now. As the title suggests, Still Life has infused Aaliyah classics like “Rock the Boat,” “Try Again,” and “Are You that Somebody?” with digital cumbia, a little uk funky, and even some dembow. Still Life sums up the topicality and context of a Tropicaaliyah tribute nicely saying,
“More than fortuitous mix pairings…the real roots of the project are in Brooklyn’s expanding global bass scene, which itself builds on the youthful re-invigoration of regional sounds happening around the world, where a melding of the traditional with the abrasive is encouraged, and the loping gait of folk dance music effortlessly meets the jagged textures of American hip-hop and R&B. This spirit of re-contextualization and playful appropriation informed the pairing, and the result is a tribute to a performer whose talent continues to unite listeners years after her untimely passing nine years ago.”
My personal favorite is the dembow interpretation of “Rock the Boat,” which highlights Aaliyah’s natural seduction with the languidness of Reggaeton. You can preview the track below, but head to Still Life’s band camp to download the rest and get him some stats as a thank you.
I mentioned yesterday that many African musical exports are of the glee-full, exuberant kind. Here is one such group.
Magic System, like CIAfrica, are from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, except they’ve amassed millions of record sales and are in FIFA video games. The other half of this song is from Algeria’s 113, a crew I’ve had trouble finding much information on. One video is an Algerian rapper who goes by 113, and for this song it’s Bollyhood-style Rai, often called Rai’n’B. I plead ignorance on this front, and will leave you to your own conclusions.
The original track is a big bear hug of a song, and the remix, from Holland’s Bubbling young gun DJ Shaun D injects much needed vocal edits and drum-work that takes out a healthy dose of the song’s cheese. If you don’t know about Shaun D or Bubbling hype-numbers like “Pull Up!” or “Alien Spaceship,” start hunting now.
What do you think about when you think about Africa? What do you hear when you listen to Africa? And, what does one write about when they write about Africa? These questions are important questions. Single dimensions are rampant in many visions of Africa, particularly concerning the political and economic instability of many African nations. However, these common struggles don’t equate singular cultural expressions, an easy lens to pick up when few alternatives are offered.
African musics vary immensely, though what is often brought to the U.S. ear is a window of African music that shines with a Pop brightness most easily digestible by short attention spans and a low tolerance for abrasion. African music is Amadou & Mariam, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Fela Kuti, Ali Farka Toure, and all those groups Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel worked with, whatever their names are. These artists are legendary and important, however is that what Africa listens to? No. At least, not anymore. Since Hip-Hop’s rise to global prominence, most major urban centers in Africa: Nairobi, Abuja, Kampala, Abidjan, listen to Rap music. 2pac, Biggie, and Jay-Z.
Dutty Artz co-founder DJ Rupture (Matt Shadetek is the 2nd half) helms the mixing in this introduction to Abidjan, Cote d’Ivore’s Rap group CIAfrica, made up of producer Green Dog (Amadou Komara) and a host of rappers like Manusa, Barboza, and Prince Abraham. There could hardly be a better candidate to create a path through their music, as Rupture is best known for mixtapes like Gold Teeth Thief, where he fused the abrasivness of Breakcore and Noise with American Rap/R&B, Dancehall, and Middle Eastern Rai, offering a worldview that signified cultural/musical embrace while never claiming that it was as easy as it sounds.
CIAfrica are one of the few Hip-Hop projects to coalesce on the African continent that provide an evocative portrayal of political turmoil, cynicism, and outrage. Often filled with the chaos of compressed snares and drums, earth-shaking bass, and lyrical ferocity, CIAfrica is the raw underbelly of West African urbanity, where the marginalized musics of the colonized and the colonizer are channeled by political frustration and economic unrest.
Traditional West African music is no where to be seen here, and why does it have to be? The prideful, power-hungry energy of Rap, Jamaican Dancehall and UK Grime is as much a part of the globe’s musical narrative as they lead back to their respective places of origin. Manusa’s “J’Fuck” is available for download below, and will no doubt whet your appetite for the delightful grist and dirt that is CIAfrica. Also, check out CIAfrica’s video for “Dans Mons Pays” for visual representation of what is often consumed aurally.
Ahead of his next release on Air Recordings, Mr No Hands has been very busy dragging this bouncy track “Back to the Future” adding more wubs and boom than you can shake a stick at!
This is a full time happy breaks tune which has his distinctive handwriting all over it! How he’s managed to keep the happy bounce and at the same time had such dirty levels of grime I am unsure. All I can say is that I can’t recommend this tune enough… Visit his new podcast page to download it now.
Welcome to the end of the week! As a little Twitter-style, Following Friday (#ff) business I thought I’d point people to a blog that I’ve been feeling by re-posting a recent entry of theirs.
Don’t be fooled by the title, I Hate World Music, a blog that may be located in Canada (though my lazy research has yet to confirm that fact) doesn’t hate World Music. The site’s creator reminds their readers that World Music is “a catchall marketing term used for a bin in the record shop signifying stuff that doesn’t belong anywhere else in the store.” This astute observation is complimented by a rich variety of club music that inclines towards the UK-Bass variety (UK Funky, Future Bass, Dubstep, your-meme-here, etc.), but includes a healthy dose of Dancehall, Soca, R&B and Hip-Hop that circles the globe. Despite sporadic posting, this blogger’s curatorial skills are on point and it deserves your RSS subscription.
Today’s “I Hate World Music” post, and the one I’m re-upping, is a track that could make it to your weekend DJ sets or house party i-pod hookup and remove any crowd member’s doubts about your taste in party music. From Steel & Solo, a Baltimore Club (duo?) that has 0 information on their whereabouts or identity comes a knee-dropping B-more re-working of all-girl R&B group Blaque’s 1999 hit “808.” Seeing as how the UK-Bass and U.S. underground House community is hot & bothered for R&B samples, this one fits nicely into a set of diva-vocal inflected tracks, whether they’re old UK Garage or Kingdom’s Nightslugs EP.
TGIF, and please download the original of Blaque’s “808″ for context and historical purposes.