Jun 28, 2013

A bunch of 7inch!!!

A big THANK YOU goes to digging4gold

The Barbecues - Aaya Lolo / Otswe 'Nu 


The Big Beats - Mi nsumoo bo donn / Kyenkyema

Hedzoleh Soundz - Kandala / Edina Brenya


The Apagya Show Band - Nsamanfo / Baby-Baby


Check out for more 

Jun 26, 2013

African Meditations

Check out some stuff from Bailey Hicks ...

Tracklist can be find on his page @mixcloud.com

African Meditations Vol. 1

 African Meditations Vol. 2


 African Meditations Vol. 3

Jun 25, 2013

Jewish Afrobeat: Zion 80

Jewish Folk Songs, Set to Fela’s Afrobeat

As Jon Madof worked at his computer one Friday in 2011, doing the graphic-design job that supported his life as a guitarist, he listened to the Afrobeat music of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Then, with the Sabbath sundown nearing, he shut down his home office and began humming one of the Jewish religious songs made famous by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. 

The mental mash-up of Fela and Carlebach continued through the next day, as Mr. Madof found himself weirdly hearing the rabbi’s version of “Ein Keloheinu” with the Nigerian musician’s polyrhythmic beats. When the Sabbath ended and Mr. Madof, an Orthodox Jew, could use electricity again, he went online with one question about the unlikely hybrid: “Did anyone ever do this before?”
Satisfied that nobody had, Mr. Madof set about filling a musical vacuum only he seemed to recognize. Now, two years later, his 13-piece band, Zion80, named in homage to Fela’s ensembles Afrika 70 and Egypt 80, has released its first, eponymous CD and will be performing on Thursday at Joe’s Pub before doing summer shows in Poland and Austria. 

These events come after a year of gigs at the Stone, City Winery and Le Poisson Rouge, with the band drawing curious though admiring coverage on public radio and in the Jewish media.

“On the surface, this hardly seems like a recipe for great success,” Alexander Gelfand, a critic and musicologist, wrote last year in The Jewish Daily Forward. “But as it turns out, anything sounds good recast as Afrobeat, especially when played by a band assembled from the Downtown and Jewish elite.” 

The combination may not be quite as peculiar as it seems. Musically, Fela and Carlebach arose from entirely different streams. Fela, who died in 1997 at 58, cross-pollinated jazz horns, Yoruba drumming and James Brown funk. Carlebach (1925-94) reinterpreted Jewish liturgical music and Hasidic melodies through the prism of Dylan-style folk singing. 

Temperamentally, though, the men shared a visionary desire for social change. Fela was the leading dissident against Nigeria’s military governments of the 1970s and ’80s, and for periods of time lived in a commune he called the Kalakuta Republic. Carlebach’s composition “Am Yisroel Chai” (“The People of Israel Live”) served as the anthem of the cold war movement to liberate Soviet Jewry. For more than a decade beginning in the hippie era, Carlebach presided over a synagogue-cum-commune in Haight-Ashbury called the House of Love and Prayer. 

“Shlomo and Fela were coming from a similar approach,” Mr. Madof said. “They each saw particularism as a path to utopian idealism. Not opposed to each other, but on a path to each other. And that attitude spoke to me.” 

Mr. Madof had grown up in Philadelphia as a secular Jew listening to his parents’ folk music, then rock, then punk. He majored in Japanese studies at Oberlin and hung around the college’s jazz classes. So he was as startled to discover Carlebach’s music as he was Fela’s. 

As Mr. Madof turned to Orthodox Judaism in the early 2000s, he also became part of the community of young Jewish musicians, many of them religiously observant, who gathered around the saxophonist John Zorn and recorded on his Tzadik label. 

Mr. Madof’s process of developing Zion80 — both the band and the CD — started with assiduous listening to Fela’s music, particularly a series of 1970s albums rereleased by the Knitting Factory. With the help of a drummer from Antibalas, an Afrobeat group based in Brooklyn, Mr. Madof started to script out rhythm patterns. 

He arranged several Carlebach songs for his trio and immediately realized he needed horns. Among the players he attracted were two mainstays from the Tzadik scene, the trumpeter Frank London and the saxophonist Greg Wall, who is also a rabbi. 

With Mr. Zorn’s patronage, the nascent Zion80 received a residency at the Stone, allowing it to rehearse and perform every Monday night for three months last summer. Out of those sessions came most of the charts for the nine cuts on the album. So did a truly soulful experience. 

“My Jewish tradition teaches me that I must constantly reinvent myself as a spiritual being,” Mr. Wall wrote in an e-mail, “and that the powerful words of our liturgy must be experienced as a ‘Shir Chadash,’ a new song. How does one fulfill this mandate while seemingly repeating the same words day in, day out?” 

“Well,” he went on, using the Judaic words for prayer and worship quorum, “davening in a minyan like Zion80 sure helps.” 

In some respects, the commingling of black, white, Jewish, Yoruba, jazz, folk, funk and sundry other identities is in the tradition of Fela and Carlebach. Since his death, Fela’s music has inspired a hit Broadway musical. Carlebach’s daughter, Neshama, has recorded and performed his music with a black gospel choir from Green Pastures Baptist Church in the Bronx.

But as Mr. Madof recognized, questions of cultural appropriation are almost bound to arise, much as they did in the mid-2000s when the Hasidic singer Matisyahu took up reggae. (Matisyahu, whose given name is Matthew Miller, has since left the Hasidic movement.)

“There’s appropriation and there’s being honest to the music,” Mr. Madof said. “On some level, as the band has gotten started, my question was: ‘Do we have the skills to play that? I’ve got to have that music in my fingers and in my ears.’ 

“The thing about appropriation for a musician is that it’s from a love of the music. Appropriation is out of reverence.” 



1 Ein K'elokeinu
2 Tov L'hodot
3 Asher Bara
4 Holy Brother
5 Yehi Shalom
6 Pischu Li  
7 Nygun  
8 Dovid Melech
9 Nygun (Reprise)

Jun 20, 2013

South African Jazz: The Heshoo Beshoo Group - Armitage Road (get it)

What a melting pot this country really is – past and present; people and places; seemingly fleeting, but unknowingly permanent, at least until the wheel turns again.

South African Jazz Classic Armitage Road makes all these connections, and endures. The only surviving member of this special band is bass player Ernest Shololo Mothle who played with Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath throughout the 1980s. Ernest is back in South Africa. ElectricJive is thrilled to hear how happy Ernest was to get a copy of the musical Phiri that Tony McGregor downloaded from this site. Ernest had apparently not heard Phiri since he went into exile shortly after recording it in 1972. Thank you Ernest for all your great music!

Tony tells a great story about Armitage Road and Ernest Mothle here.

Gwen Ansell describes another set of connections that Armitage Road makes: being “informed by both American and South African styles and influences. In short it straddles early hard bop and danceable South African jazz.”

In comments to the previous short-lasting posting of this recording on Matsuli, Siemon Allen pointed out the clear visual reference to the Beatles’ album Abbey Road. “What I like about the cover is that when juxtaposed with "Abbey Road" it becomes a critique of the social conditions in South Africa at that time without overtly mentioning Apartheid and running the risk of being banned. Certainly showing Cyril Magubane (who was struck with polio) crossing the road in his wheelchair amplifies the difference between the world of Armitage Road and that of Abbey Road."

This is what else the Matsuli post had to say: The group was put together by saxophonist Henry Sithole who started out playing jazz with Dalton Khanyile's Keynotes in 1964 before playing in Gibson Kente's musical Sikalo; thereafter with Almon's Jazz 8 and Mackay Davashe's Jazz Dazzlers. In 1969 Henry recruited Ernest Mothle on bass, Nelson Magwaza on drums, Cyril Magubane on guitar and his brother Stanley on tenor for the Heshoo Beshoo Group.

Heshoo Beshoo means moving forward with force. On so many levels this recording is a strong statement of self determination, creativity and freedom in the midst of the brutual subjugation of black South Africans by the Apartheid government. The LP had a limited release in South Africa as well as a subsequent release in France.

In 1971 Henry and Stanley were approached by guitarist Adolphus "Bunny" Luthuli to get a band together to compete in the Alco Best Band Competition at Jabulani Stadium in April 1971. Bunny had played with Henry in Almon's Jazz 8. This approach was the genesis of South Africa's greatest soul jazz band The Drive comprising the Sithole brothers Henry, Danny and Stanley, Bunny Luthuli, Mike Makhalemele, Lucky Mbatha, Nelson Magwaza and Anthony Saoli.

The Drive won the Alco competition and stayed together touring throughout Southern Africa. In 1972 they won best band at the PINA CULO festival in Umgababa in September 1972. The band unfortunately suffered a tragedy in May 1977 when Bunny Luthuli and Henry Sithole were killed outright in a car accident in the Tzaneen area of Nothern Transvaal.

Today Nelson Magwaza and Ernest Mothle are both musicians who command serious respect for their contribution to the rich tapestry of South African Jazz and popular music. The old slogan the struggle for jazz - jazz for the struggle rings true once more; only today this struggle is as much about memory as it is about change.


This album was an ear opener for me.

It's apparent that the influences on the Heshoo Beshoos ranges from the most traditional African jazz to the American avant garde. Only in their music have I heard the two extremes merge into such a swinging synthesis. Roughly translated from the inter-tribal lingo of the African townships, Heshoo Beshoo means 'going by force'. It's a name 'these five guys obviously take to heart.

The most avant garde influence on this group is 28-year old Henry Sithole. Ten years ago he was playing penny whistle in Durban, and left for the greater musical opportunities in Johannesburg. Now he plays alto in a way that shows he's keeping up with developments in the States, while still retaining his African roots. Tenor-playing brother Stanley, 24, also graduated from penny whistle.

Guitarist Cyril Magubane, 24, is the group's composing genius and arranger. He wrote everything on the album, except for Henry Sithole's 'Wait and See'. In 1949 Cyril was stricken with polio from the waist down. You might expect such an experience to add a bitter edge to his music. Far from it. Cyril's solos are the most mellow in the group. He too is an ex-Durbanite who finds greater jazz freedom in Johannesburg.

The group owes most of its powerhouse drive to Ernest Mothle and Nelson Magwaza. Ernest, 28, provides a rich, steady pulse. He comes from Pretoria, and arrived to stay in the Golden City in 1964. The bouyant beat of Nelson used to be heard in Durban until he joined the group in 1969.

Armitage Road is named after Cyril's address in Orlando. The melody stretched over a persistent, hypnotic rhythm, is one of those things you can't get out of your mind. Henry's solo is a delight, full of singing tones and stratospheric cries. Stanley shows a lot of Coltrane in his blowing. And Cyril's solo is soulful and serene.

Wait and see is a simple melody, sparked off by Nelson's drumming and erupting into a blazing outburst from Henry.

Amabutho means warriors. In this case they seem to be peaceful but proud. Cyril has a fine solo, sped along by the strong propulsive rhythm. Henry wails jubilantly; and Stanley rounds off the performance in a gutsy groove.

Lazy Bones is a warm, happy melody with a strong traditional feeling. The loping rhythm acts as a springboard for strong solos from Henry and Stanley, then Cyril gets back to his roots in a traditional African way.

Emakhaya means 'Back home in the bush', and it's obviously where Cyril feels completely at ease. He leads in to the simple melody, steps aside for a rousing performance from Stanley, and then settles down to a strong, intense solo. Finally, on comes Henry, strutting and swaggering to a happy conclusion.



1. Armitage Road
2. Wait and See
3. Amakhaya
4. Amabutho
5. Lazy Bones 

Jun 18, 2013

DJ Muro - Afrobeat Mix

Dj Muro is one of Japan’s most prolific and well respected hip hop artists. A producer, a dj and a digger for obscure breaks and samples, he’s been active since the late 80s when he formed a group with that other Japanese icon, dj Krush. You may recognize his name from the station calls at African hip hop radio. Outside Japan, Muro also gained notoriety with his King of Diggin mixtape series – originally on tape and later on cd, the mixtapes collected rare funk, jazz and other styles as sampled in hip hop productions. Remember this was back in the days before entire label discographies could be downloaded at 1 mb/s via the web.

Muro got his hands dirty and dug up records that had been all but forgotten. His compilations are characterized by impeccable mixing, great selections and a true b-boy esthetic, real mixtapes rather than compiled songs with silence in between. Later Muro classics include ‘Tribe Vibes’, a collection of rare ATCQ mixes and sampled originals, and ‘Hawaian Breaks’ which shed light on music that few people knew about until then.

The King of Diggin series was copied and distributed by heads worldwide, and in 2006 British record label BBE released a double bill compilation called ‘Kings of Diggin’ where Muro shared the honours with Kon & Amir, the duo whose ‘Off track’ compilation series also featured some serious Afro funk nuggets.

In 2010, Muro created a mix-cd called ‘Super Funky Afro Breaks‘, a collection of some well known as well as completely obscure funky African tunes like Manu Dibango’s ‘O Boso’, the Colombian version of Fela’s ‘Shakara’ by Lizandro Meza, the b-boy classic ‘Karam bani’ by Buari and the punk funk joy that is ‘Love me for real’ by Rim and Kasa (trivial knowledge: Rim’s son is a Ghanaian emcee/producer who used to be part of Ghana diaspora rap pioneers Soulatidoe).

And while those tunes may not be familiar to the majority of listeners out there, they are also not exactly ‘new discoveries’ – many had already been compiled or reissued. We know Muro’s crates are deeper than that. Bring in this new mix, done on the occasion of the first anniversary of Muro’s store Digot
Muro is back with mad tunes, this time mostly from west Africa, from some of the recently compiled stuff to more obscure earlier highlife-related tracks like Fela Kuti’s ‘Mi O Mo’, a territory that many deejays haven’t really explored yet. Unlike the Super Funky Afro Breaks mix, this doesn’t come with a track listing but with the aid of the internet you should be able to find out the names of your favourite tracks.


Jun 17, 2013

Femi Kuti talks ... 2013

Femi Kuti talks music, family and gays in Nigeria

 Nigerian Femi Kuti is the eldest son of famed Afrobeat innovator Fela Kuti. 

He joined Fela's band before creating his own group named Positive Force. He went on to be nominated for three Grammys as well as tour consistently ever since. His father, Fela, died of AIDS complications in the late '90s but has since been immortalized on Broadway with the musical Fela!

We tracked Kuti down all the way to Nigeria to find out the state of the world there and chat about his upcoming tour date in Chicago.

Windy City Media Group: Hello, Femi. Where in the world are you today?

Femi Kuti: I'm in Lagos, Nigeria.

WCT: When does the tour begin?

Femi Kuti: In 2013, I will constantly be on tour.

WCT: How long have you been performing?

Femi Kuti: Thirteen years plus…

WCT: Did you always feel a lot of pressure to perform, having such a legendary father?

Femi Kuti: Yes, since I was about 6 years old.

WCT: Even your son now plays saxophone.

Femi Kuti: Yes; right now he is in England studying the classical piano.

WCT: Does he go out on tour with you?

Femi Kuti: He did for years but he's in college now. I think it is more important for him to finish his studies.

WCT: Does he want to be a performer?

Femi Kuti: I'm not sure. He might be a producer. That's why it's so important for him to go now and decide what he wants to do. It's his call. I'm not going to be telling him what to do.

WCT: When your band Positive Force plays live, is it very improvisational?

Femi Kuti: It depends on the venue. We have a set list and know what we want to do but we can change it for the audience. We might decide to change a few tunes on the night of the show. We might get bored along the way and say we have to do it differently that night. What we are doing is taking selections from my new album coming out and previous albums.

WCT: When is the new album coming out?

Femi Kuti: Hopefully by the end of March, but definitely by April...

WCT: I heard it will be more Afrobeat-centered.

Femi Kuti: Yes, it will. It sounds great so far!

WCT: What will it be called?

Femi Kuti: No Place for My Dream.

WCT: Where did the title originate?

Femi Kuti: It came from me. It is my story on setting out to achieve freedom and justice. People are discouraging it, saying it is impossible and just a dream. I keep trying and I am determined. They say for me to wake up from my dream and this is reality; corruption will never end and your life will always be like this. I raise my voice but they say, "There is no place for my dream."

WCT: Speaking of oppression, how are gay people treated in Nigeria that you have noticed recently?

Femi Kuti: There are gay people here but it is not an open fact. I think there is a law against it but there are many gay people here. Nobody really talks about it.

WCT: So is gay society very underground?

Femi Kuti: I wouldn't say underground, but gay people don't flaunt it here. Everybody may know when there is a gay or lesbian person around, but it is not their business. The problem was that they wanted an open marriage but it is very conservative and religious here. Religious people are very adamant against it. Many of us have gay friends and people like me don't care. There are many fanatics that do and consider it taboo. They have the power sometimes.

WCT: Do you think the opinion of Nigeria has changed on the subject of AIDS?

Femi Kuti: I believe people are more enlightened about it now. There used to be a kind of stigma about it. It is not like in my father's time when nobody wanted to talk about it. There was a campaign that I was a big part of in 2000 for about four years. It has died down a bit. There is a lot of awareness about it now.

WCT: What did you think of the musical Fela?

Femi Kuti: I thought it was fantastic. I was very impressed.

WCT: It recently played in Chicago and is coming back for another run.

Femi Kuti: I love Chicago. I've always had a great time there. I've been there about nine times.

WCT: How many people are you bringing with you on the tour?

Femi Kuti: We are not bringing the whole band this time because one of the dancers left and to get a new visa was impossible. It takes about six months. So we will be 12 this time, one dancer short.

WCT: We will still make it a party. Looking forward to seeing the experience live.

Femi Kuti: Yes, by all means. I will see you there.


Jun 16, 2013

Hearts of Darkness puts 30 hands on Afrobeat

If only there were a TV show called America's Next Top Afrobeat Band.

Imagine Kansas City's Hearts of Darkness taking the stage: a 16-piece ensemble composed mostly of white dudes who probably haven't played such challenging music since their high-school marching bands tackled "Flight of the Bumblebee."

"These songs are frighteningly complex," trumpeter Bob Asher says. "Since we have 16 people, our money is shit. We're putting all of it in a big bank account, and when there's enough of it, we're going over to play in Africa. Hopefully by that time, we'll be decent enough to hold our own."

The HOD crew can already throw down. On a Friday night at the Record Bar, the band is the engine driving an unhinged dance party. Old and young, black and white, hipsters and hip-hop heads — everyone in this diverse crowd is boogieing to hypnotic grooves originated by the late Fela Kuti and kept alive by modern Afrobeat purveyors such as Femi Kuti and Antibalas. The songs often run well past 10 minutes, but the interweaving rhythms and startling blasts from the seven-piece horn section keep the dance floor poppin' off.
"Most people just play one little part over and over again for 15 minutes," keyboardist Josh Mobley says, deadpan. "The hippies seem to like it."

But don't mistake HOD for a festivarian jam band. Afrobeat's late-'60s origins overlap with the hard funk of James Brown and the Meters, and Kuti's coupling of sociopolitical lyrics and smoldering grooves forge a distinct new genre.

Kuti's songs provide the jumping-off point for HOD, which began coalescing about a year ago and picked up steam as members of the Dirty Force Brass Knuckle Street Band and Soul Revue got onboard.
Singer Laura Frank — who once quit her barista job by marching into work with the Dirty Force — says she has been impressed with the group's dedication.

"The Dirty Force is the exact opposite," Frank says. "You just show up with a spoon or a pan or whatever."
Dirty Force forged a reputation for impromptu performances at bars and laundromats. HOD maintains a strict rehearsal schedule and books proper shows.

"The nice thing about having a band with that many people is that if we each bring two friends, it's a packed house," Asher says.

Whereas many of the group's members are still getting hip to Afrobeat's nuances, drummer Sean Branagan has been immersing himself in foreign rhythms since he stumbled across some West African drummers in Central Park many years ago.

"One guy started playing a beat that sounded kind of off," Branagan recalls. "Then the next guy started a beat that sounded like a car breaking down. Then the third guy came in, and it started to sound like something. Then a fourth guy came in with this low drum, and it was the fattest, funkiest groove I'd ever heard."
In his quest to unearth the mechanics behind such pelvis-shaking grooves, Branagan has traveled to Senegal and Mali to experience village drum circles at the source. Often the events take shape in marketplaces, with a thin or nonexistent line between performers and spectators.

Branagan says he aims to replicate that kind of dynamic interaction when HOD takes the stage.
"The African drums have that fat bottom end, which is what makes ladies' hips move. It's a much more melodic and polyrhythmic sense of how things fit together."

New HOD member Les Izmore says he only recently got hip to Afrobeat music, thanks in part to hooking up with the group.

"I'm mad I missed out on this type of music," says Izmore, an MC who runs with KC's Soul Providers crew. "I'm trying to get more hip-hop kids to come out."

Izmore's solo performances showcase his lyrical punditry and outgoing personality, but his gigs with HOD put him in a supporting role as a leader of chants and a crowd inciter.

"I'm just another soloist in a 15-piece band," he says. "It's gonna get smoother the more and more we do."
The group recently began composing its own material in an Afrobeat style, but Mobley says he doesn't think HOD will remain a strict proponent of the genre. Whatever direction the ensemble takes, it will undoubtedly be something funky and fresh — and entirely too cool for network television.

pitch.com, written by

Jun 13, 2013

Fela Soul Instrumentals (get it)

Following the recent trend of musical mash-ups, this digital-EP combines vintage recordings of the afrobeat-soul legend Fela Kuti with hip-hop pioneers De La Soul.  As the creator/producer (Amerigo Gazaway) puts it, “Afrobeat, jazz, funk, and hip-hop are already so interconnected, I always thought it would be exciting to work on a project that combined all of these elements together.  I hope this project will help to bridge the gap between hip-hop and afrobeat, and serve as an introduction for hip-hop fans and music fans alike who are unfamiliar with Fela Kuti or De La Soul’s music.”  While this combination sounds too good to be true-- this release is for real, and it sounds exactly like what you’re imagining.  And the best part of all?  It’s available for FREE download on the Gummy Soul website (link below).  Yes, read that again- it’s FREE!!!

“Fela Soul” is an 9-track musical journey, combining afrobeat rhythms, funky horn riffs, and classic, clever hip-hop.  Even if you’re familiar with the original music, Gazaway seamlessly intertwines the two artists into something completely new, interesting, and original.  The album also features Redman, MF DOOM, and Gorillaz.  The FREE download package also includes full liner notes with a track-by-track breakdown of the EP’s creation.  A Radio Edit version of the EP and a bonus track are also available on the same website.  This online-release is definitely worth downloading and the price is right!  


Jun 6, 2013

?uestlove (The Roots): Fela Kuti

?uestlove from The Roots, now an associate producer on the hit musical Fela! on Broadway, talks about when he first discovered Fela Kuti's music, and walks us through Fela's influence in yesterday and today's hip-hop -- including works by Mos Def, Macy Gray, D'Angelo, X-Clan, and Leader of the New School.

Back in 2008, Ahmir Thompson aka ?uestlove of The Roots saw FELA! in New York and wrote about his experience. Read it here.

ladies and gentlemen this is ahmir. its is 5:58am in the morning and i just got home. i witnessed a miracle tonight and it is a MUST you read this. and when i say miracle you have to think this on the level of sam jackson trying to convince john travolta in pulp fiction to acknowledge the miracle that just occured (them escaping death by *this* much) i didn’t escape death tonight. actually i believe i found life again.

having just returned from a 3 week eurasia run the LAST thing i expected my web mistress Ginny to tell me the day before yesterday was “you HAVE to see the Fela play!” if there is a thing or two that i have learned in my 16+ years as a professional, i’ve learned that broadway NEUTERS the
ISH outta the live experience. many of you have either seen my band perform or know of our reputation. ALOT of that comes from the fact plain and simple: we are the loudest band on earth.
there i said it. we cheat. most concert experiences (let’s take the glow in the dark tour. standing at the soundboard i saw that the loudest show of the 4 of the night [NERD] was somewhere in 118dbs.)
the Roots are more 131dbs (”low end” registers as noise even though its not the back to the future opening scene of the guitar amp turned up to 11 “are you nuts?!?!” variety)–but think of our concerts as being in your boys new ride with the best sound system and he FORCES you to hold your stomach while he cranks the volume and bass up to 10.

broadway shows are more like 70 dbs (i think the last “musical” i saw was Wicked–while  entertaining in that “happy to be with my family” way i was amazed at how WIMPY and nutless the music hit me) —if you can hear the woman 5 rows ahead of you exhale then that is some  underwhelming ish. i have to put into perspective to what my resistant mindstate was when i had my “i’ll pass” ready for gin before she even got to say “and it’s so wonderful!!” –she deaded all that by adding “AND THE ANTIBALAS ARE THE BAND!!!”

basically its like my gym coach asking jordan to come to the playground to give some tips or emeril cooks dinner tonight in your crib or spike jonze makes home movies for you. in other words…next to the dap kings, the antibalas are the 2nd most important retro/revision band working today. the scrutiny and standard they uphold in creating AUTHENTIC afrobeat music can only impress the music snob in me. they have the baton when it comes to carrying on fela’s torch. yes even more than fela’s two sons who record today.

—i was NOT prepared at all for this experience. from a sonic view:
a LOUD kick you in the ass standpoint? and no member of the roots payroll is not on the  soundboards? wow. this is the first musical that has concert standards in making sure that the music WHUPS THAT ASS.

The Shrine - The Influence of Fela: DJ ?uestlove from The Shrine on Vimeo.

from a “to the letter” view:
they left NO stone unturned. i am that guy that sits in the audience and dissects EVERY nilc and crannie. i swear it was killing me that these funky white boys were doing something i saw no group of black musicians do in 30 years: gel. (now granted i don’t wanna ruffle no feathers (this email is going out to about 200 musicians, actors, writers, bandleaders, moguls, agents, managers, cats on they yacht in france, and beatmakers in their college dorms, activists, hustlers, wanna be’s, veterans and newbies)—but how black people lost their “soul” in 2008 is the biggest rubicon i’ll never figure out. i know the first decade of the new mill was the age of irony, but black musicians overplaying and showboating while white cats find their groove will FOREVER baffle me).

it hit me from a political view:
for those of you fortunate enough to see the music is the weapon documentary you will be amazed how they turned his story (EVERY ASPECT—no spoilers here) into the BEST MUSICAL EVER CREATED) but man. the way they tied his run ins with the government and army and police and tied it to america (sean bell, diallo, king) REALLY put it into an amazing perspective.

it hit me from a spiritual view:
explained african religion and culture in a way that wasn’t “spooky” or “demonized” or “primitive”

it hit me from a creative view:
i HATE when music biopics won’t show the creative process. its like the snob engineer in me wants to know how he incorporated “that sound” not just “oh he had 70 wives and went to jail alot”—he broke it down like we were 8 years old from taking from calypso to taking from james brown to taking from king and x—the play dissected the VERY elements at why Fela’s music was so LETHAL.

man….i swear.

this is the most “uncut funk” production EVER.

because i wasn’t alive during the period of malcolm x and jake lamotta i can only go on “wow it was like seeing him on the screen” as spike and marty did a great job (you did spike….)
but this play is made for ALL you purists that HATE when they get references wrong in the music (hello Dreamgirl musicians! why are you slapping funk bass on a 60’s number?) or when the engineering is messed up (EVERY period biopic effs this part up bigtime and for all you directors and movie producers and agents reading this GABRIEL ROTH is the ONLY cat to capture that sound (see the Winehouse album)

its uncut.

its true to the vision.

its amazing!

there is no option. i expect death to be the only reason why you did NOT see this production.
it opens next week officially. playing to the broadway gatekeepers and the “old guard” if this can make it past those fogy traditionalists then i done seen everything in 2008.—i mean we about to have a black president—so ANYTHING can go on.

thus far the only “cool factor” people that have seen this production is me and ornette coleman. (and ladybug mecca….). they basically wanted me to mouth piece this because this is going to be a HARD sell. but they had me at hello. this hit me like it was the musical version of Roots.

i felt all that cliche stuff when overexcited people experience a miracle the audience dance, we cried, we shouted, we gasped, we were amazed. we fell DEAD silent. i want you people to see this play IMMMMMMMMMMEEEEEDDDDDDIIAAATLY. there is a month left and tickets are leaving QUICKLY. i want yall to forward this mail to ALL of your industry friends. i want yall to buy tickets for kids that need to see the best connection to african music and the funk that propelled many of your childhoods. this is NOT just some “oh ahmir is being dramatic shit”—

... get off your ass and see this NOW!

-with love and respect.
i thank you for reading.
now go change someone’s life and pay it forward:
-ahmir k thompson.

Jun 4, 2013

Max Tannone - Ghostfunk (get it) (AMAZING MASHUP!)

Released in July 2011, Ghostfunk pairs one of my favorite hip-hop artists, Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah, with vintage African funk, high-life, and psychedelic rock music.


Max Tannone Projects) I'm not going to lie to you. Lying never accomplishes anything. Team Buzzine was struggling this week. We couldn't seem to find anything to write up for this week's column. I'm not saying there was nothing decent sliding across the desks; there just wasn't a clear winner. There was nothing really exciting...at least nothing really exciting to me at the end of a long and exceptionally difficult week. I had pretty much resigned myself to penning a late-night, semi-apologetic, admittedly uninspired and particularly short review of one of the many decent but not mind-blowing tapes that I listened to today. With nothing tugging at me, I headed out to get a surf and to stop contemplating the sensibility of writing a weekly recommendation. Around 9:30 tonight, I got out of the water at 3rd point in Malibu, and took the long walk through the lagoon back out to PCH. I got to the car, loaded up the surfboards, put on some pants and checked my phone. And there, illuminated by the fattest full moon of the year, was the most magical email I've gotten in recent memory.
Our esteemed music editor, Mr. Shaw (Shawdizzle, Shawmageddon, ChainShaw, or any other of a slew of hip hop names) is not one to exaggerate, and he doesn't mess around when describing the quality of the music he's listening to. So when I read the rave review he was giving to the newly released Max Tannone mash-up record I was bewildered. I don't think I've ever read a more enthusiastic recommendation for review. Now, if you read the Jaydiohead review that was printed in this same column many months ago, then you know that we are all huge fans of that project and we really dig all of Max's work. Despite his admiration, Mr. Shaw's description of Max's newest mash-up (forget mash-up -- I'm coining a new phrase: SMASHup) describes it as better than Jaydiohead. He defines it as destroying Jaydiohead.  He thinks it's legendary -- as the capo di tutti of smashups.

And he was right.
The new record is a ten-track offering entitled Ghostfunk, which combines vocals (and some production elements) from Ghostface Killah, with early to mid-'70s African soul, funk, and psych numbers. And it is perfect. 
I'm not even gonna front like I'm familiar with any of the music that Max merged with Ghost's voice on this album. My knowledge of African music is limited to a couple semesters of African Music at NYU and regular reading of "Awesome Tapes From Africa." And that makes this smash all the better. Every track on this tape is new to me. And relatively, I'd guess that every track on this album is new to Max Tannone. This isn't stuff we heard on the radio as kids. It isn't stuff we passed around or recognize from samples. This record had to require a good deal of listening and inspiration, research and intuition, grind and contemplation. Luckily for me, this album is accompanied by a PDF which credits all of the samples, so at least I can write about it from a more than theoretical standpoint.
If you know me, you know that I am a Ghostface Killah fan. And if you read my work, I'm sure all three of you know that I loved Apollo Kids. And one of the reasons that I dug it more than any Ghost album in recent memory was because it combined Tony's trademark lyricism and storytelling with tracks that were a little more diverse than usual. The album was still very '70s, but it wasn't just built on standard soul tracks -- it delved into spaghetti westerns and Star Wars. It was fresh. And if Apollo Kids was fresh with the samples, then Ghostfunk is fresher than fresh. It's raw. This really is a brilliant concept for a Ghostface smashup record. And it's exciting. When I heard the opening horns in "Make It N.Y.," I expected Johnny Pate...but then I heard the heavy one-drop organ hits and realized I had no idea what was about to happen. The music is sick. And the production leaves space for the the music, which is a quality that, with the exception of The Roots, is sorely missing in mainstream hip hop. Oh, and there's some turntableism on this one. Word. 
Starks, if you're reading this, GET AT MAX TANNONE! Dude should be producing your next album.  And if you're really, really reading this, can you please get at me with the stem tracks for "Laced Cheeba"?  I need those. For real. I have the best live instrument remix ready for that joint!  And Max Tannone, if you're reading this...you're killin' me, dogg. You know I can't afford all the records I have to buy now that I'm obsessed with '70s African soul. 
As far as the Ghostface half of this marriage, it's...well...it's Ghost. Dude's never phoned-in a verse in his life. Of course it's impeccable. More importantly, the verses are extremely well-selected and are pulled from nearly every album in the Ghostface catalog (along with some Raekwon and AZ joints).  Max digs as deep as "Ironman" to pair vocals from "Daytona 500" with "Danger" -- a track that features a psych blues guitar that would make Jimi proud. What's better is that it fits so well. It sounds as though a session player laid it down to accent Ghost's bars.
Max uses another track from the same album as "Danger" entitled "Lord Have Mercy" to accompany Ghost's "Three Bricks" from the Fishscale album. If you're a hip hop fan, you know about this track. "Three Bricks" is Ghostface Killah's response/tribute to expansion upon Biggie's "Niggas Bleed."  "Niggas Bleed" is perhaps the best story ever told in the history of hip hop. It's essentially a Tarantino film in three minutes. And Ghostface, as hip hop's finest living storyteller, put together "Three Bricks" after Biggie died as the greatest form of audio dap anyone had ever heard. For those of you who have no idea what any of this means, think of a "Space Oddity"/"Major Tom (Earth Below Us)" dynamic.  The original track was somber, but this version is a eulogy.
Really, everything fits on this smashup.  I listened to it a few times while burning through this review, and it's hard to choose a standout. At the moment, I'm spinning "The Same Girl," which combines Ghost's "Never Be The Same Again" with "Little Girl." This one is great because it combines a classic Ghost story with a super dry funk guitar, and then layers Carl Thomas' smooth R&B vocals from the original version with the dub vocal chorus from "Little Girl." This may be my favorite track on the record, or it may just be the track I'm listening to right now. Ain't that about a man for you?


Jun 3, 2013

Madlib - Beat Konducta In Africa

Beat Konducta in Africa is an instrumental hip-hop album produced & mixed with Madlib, featuring J. Rocc. This album bases itself on the obscure vinyl gems from the afro-beat, funk, psych-rock, garage-rock & soul movements of African countries as diverse as Zambia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Botswana and Ivory Coast. 


Reviewing Beat Konducta in Africa is a daunting task, mainly for two reasons. First and most obvious is the sheer amount of material present here: while digital fans of the Konducta may be used to his volumes being 40+ tracks, I’ve always opted for the separated versions. Much like the continent to which Madlib is paying tribute, Beat Konducta in Africa is a sprawling, seemingly endless locomotive of sound and vision. Secondly, Beat Konducta in Africa is not exactly a typical Beat Konducta album, and so it’s taken me a while to figure out whether I’m disappointed or not and, probably more importantly, just how listenable this release is.

If you’ve heard Madlib’s crate digging exercises such as Speto do Rua, you’re probably a little better equipped for what occurs on this disc. Th album unfolds fairly slowly, as the first four or five tracks leading into “African Voodoo Queen” and “Jungle Soundz” sound more like soundtrack music with various samples explaining what Africa is, how it came to be and where it could potentially go than hip-hop instrumentals. The samples appear to come from informative videos in the ’50s and ’60s, but one can’t really be sure. While beats remain the focus after they start appearing, there are still a lot of moments where Madlib drops in a high-life track, cues up some tour guide samples and takes a rest for a moment. Most of these interludes are interesting the first few times through the album, but like the first volume of his Medicine Show I feel they start to get a little tiring over repeated listens, and would rather he just give us the beats straight up.

However, it does seem obvious that Beat Konducta in Africa isn’t meant to be taken as a strictly beats album. This isn’t Oh No’s Ethiopium, the younger Jackson’s already covered that base. Instead, Madlib has written a love letter to his mother continent as only he could write it, covering a complex and multicultural musical history as comprehensively as he can with two turntables and 80 minutes of disc space. There’s endless amounts of the sort of funk found on “The Struggle to Unit”, but the real excitement comes when he weaves in shades of African proto-punk like “The Show (Inner View)”. Moves like that go a long way towards displaying the hidden variety present in African culture, something American media all too often ignores or fudges in some way. And I don’t think there’s any refuting the stunning quality of stuff like “Chant 2″, “Obataive” and “Umi (Life)”. For the most part, Madlib definitely brought his usual quality seal.

Still, the main issue that has stuck with me since I received this album a few weeks ago is a quote from the mid-section of the disc, in which an interviewee explains the mindset of most African musicians. For them, he says, “eighteen minutes is not enough”. He also argues that the “musical masturbation of the West” has stunted its audience and musicians’ appreciation for complex and elongated musical styles. And in hearing that, I can’t help but think that the massive heft of this release not only represents the immensity of Africa, but also the eagerness and fervor with which current American musical society skims over music as though it were simply sound and not culture as well. The Bonus AFRICA section drives this notion home for me; “R” and “C” are dope but it is mostly just more of the high-life we’ve already been subjected to for an hour. I’m not sure that a Beat Konducta in Africa trimmed by 10 or 20 minutes would be so distinct and comprehensive, but I feel positive that it would ultimately be a more enduring release and feel like less of a guided tour and more like a heartfelt journey into the heart of Madlib’s musical journey. Beat Konducta in Africa is no doubt another very good release from the Madlib camp, and so far my favorite of the Medicine Show. But it’s also yet another not-quite-great Madlib record, an album with as many tiny negatives as big positives. Definitely cop, but understand what you’re getting into.



There's a sense of tongue planted firmly in cheek when the Beat Konducta makes use of samples from a narrator of what sounds like an apologist American documentary about Africa for elementary school students.

It isn’t very often that a producer is willing to, or even capable of, releasing a 12-disc instrumental series that is of consistent quality and varying influence. But here we have Madlib, trying to do just that. With his third entry in the “Medicine Show” series, Beat Konducta in Africa draws its sounds from – you guessed it – African music dating back to the '70s.

Comprised of samples borrowed from African Funk, Rock, Afrobeat, and some more obscure origins Beat Konducta in Africa is essentially a trip through a few of Madlib’s countless crates. “Afritronic Pt. 2” is a funked-out collusion of chants and keyboards, while “Red Black and Green Showcase” teases with a Hip Hop vocal sample over a distant horn loop. “Kanika” provides insight as to where Boom Bap may have originated, and “The Show (Inner View)” is African Rock & Roll. Aside from chopping and mixing the samples, it sounds as though Madlib touches up various qualities on most, if not all on the tracks. As an example, there’s no mistaking the added thumping bass on “Freedom Play.” Theses added qualities serve to accentuate the existing music, and fortunately do not overpower it.

There is more to this album than just Madlib’s instrumentals. There’s a sense of tongue planted firmly in cheek when the Beat Konducta makes use of samples from a narrator of what sounds like an apologist American documentary about Africa for elementary school students. “Yafeu” juxtaposes the narrations with an African chant highlighted by varying percussions and whistles. Madlib provides more food for thought with “Blackfire,” as it uses vocal clips that offer a critical view of the western world’s use of African music. Is it with self-deprecation that Madlib includes vignettes that refer to his craft as “musical masturbation,” or does he count himself among those who promote authenticity?

As an overall package, Beat Konducta is very cohesive – an astounding feat given that it spans 43 tracks. Every track purposely has a “made-in-the-garage” feeling that you might find on an early Wu-Tang cut, which serves the samples well. A pristine and mastered version of this album would be counterintuitive given its content. What is presented here is a window into African music of the past 30 years – one that provides a very versatile listening experience.

Given the ever-changing sound of the 78-minute album, it is excellent background music that’ll keep the head nodding. But heads that are looking to give the record a closer spin will find hidden lessons, and B-boys will have a blast trying to pick out masterfully-flipped samples (even Dave Chappelle is thrown in there, somewhere). The flexibility of this release is what makes it a great addition to any music fan’s collection.



If you don't know who Madlib is, here's a brief bio: born Otis Jackson, Jr., his dad is a musician and his brother is producer/rapper Oh No. He first made his name as part of the Lootpack crew in the early 90s before going solo later that decade. He's collaborated with J Dilla (2003's Jaylib album), MF DOOM (2004's Madvillain album), and produced tracks for Percy P, Guilty Simpson, Erykah Badu, and Talib Kweli. He has more aliases than a gun runner, rapping as Quasimoto, doing jazz as Yesterday's New Quintet, and doing collaborations with Brazilian artist Ivan Conti as Jackson Conti. He puts out several albums a year, and in 2010 is putting out one a month as part of his "Medicine Show" series. March's entry is his fourth Beat Konducta collection, comprised of beats made from African music.

This is one of the stronger Beat Konducta albums in terms of creating a groove, owing mostly to the source material. Drums are a central element in African music, and they feature prominently here. While Madlib does use a drum machine at times, most of the album features samples and loops of live drums. Hip hop is rooted in the beat, so taking it all the way back to its roots makes sense, and results in some of the most banging beats Madlib has created in a while. Madlib's subdued spaciness is still present, but the music he's sampling creates a steady rhythm that propels the album along.
In many ways, "Beat Konducta in Africa" is a tribute to the continent, with voice samples spelling out the accomplishments of Africans, and the music samples showing their sonic achievements. The line, "THIS is Africa!" is repeated throughout the disc, always to a different instrument or a different type of music, making a point about how multicultural the continent is. Tracks range from tribal drumming on "Yafeu" and "Afritonic Pt. 1" to the cooking African funk of "The Struggle To Unite (One Africa)" and "Afrosound Panorama." As with all Beatkonducta albums, Madlib chops and mixes the samples like a master chef. He cuts native instruments with programmed boom-bap on "Chant 2." "Spearthrow for Oh No" is a jumble of drums, guitar, and a vocal sample of an American musician shocked at the crowd at a gig on an African tour.

There is a certain narrative to the disc. "Tear Gas and Bullets for Freedom," captures the chaos and violence that have troubled Africa for too much of its history. "Red, Black, and Green Showcase" highlights the struggle for African unity and self-determination. Madlib samples African musicians talking about their craft on "Blackfire," and clips of African-Americans talking about the experience of returning to the Motherland on "Kanika." In some sense, "Beat Konducta in Africa" is a tour through Africa and its history. It's also a tour through African music, with Madlib sampling everything from high life to Fela Kuti to more traditional music. As someone who enjoys African music, but doesn't have a very deep collection, I appreciated the guided tour through Madlib's vinyl.
None of the tracks are longer than three minutes, and most of them clock in around 1:30. There is a propulsive energy to the disc, and Madlib manages to maintain a groove for the entire 78-minute running time. I found myself loving this in 20-30 minute increments, but it's a lot to digest all in one sitting. If you are a Madlib fan, an African music fan, or a you love drums, you have to get this. He probably could have edited it down to less than an hour, but even in its expanded form it's remarkable. Most importantly, it supplies some serious head-nod.



01 – Motherland
02 – The Frontline (Liberation)
03 – Raw Introduction To Afreaka
04 – African Voodoo Queen (Drama)
05 – Jungle Soundz (Part One)
06 – The Struggle To Unite (One Africa)
07 – Mandingo Swing
08 – Endless Cold (Lovelost)
09 – Chant 2
10 – Afrosound Panorama
11 – Hunting Theme
12 – Yafeu
13 – Afritonic Pt. 1
14 – Afritonic Pt. 2
15 – Tradition
16 – Spearthrow For Oh No
17 – Tear Gas And Bullets For Freedom
18 – Heritage Slip
19 – Land Of The Drum
20 – Red, Black And Green Showcase
21 – Blackfire
22 – Obataive
23 – Warrior’s Theme
24 – Mtima
25 – African Map Watch
26 – Street Hustler
27 – Kanika
28 – Chant 3
29 – The Show (Inner View)
30 – Brothers And Sisters
31 – Freedom Play
32 – African Bounce
33 – Umi (Life)
34 – Natural Sound Waves
35 – Jungle Sounds Pt. 2
36 – Mighty Force
37 – Unika (Outro)
38 – Bonus A
39 – Bonus F
40 – Bonus R
41 – Bonus I
42 – Bonus C
43 – Bonus A (Amanaz)

Jun 1, 2013

Emefe - Good Music

EMEFE is hooked on phonics

 What happens when you give the reigns to a drummer?

EMEFE (pronounced M, F, A) is a big, big band run by a drummer, Miles Arntzen, that does their best to skirt genre placement by fusing their influences together into deliciously produced, dance-oriented, feel good jams. The ten-piece channels funk, jazz, soul, rock, afro-beat and more. It’s a lot to tackle and the NYU grads are up to the task. Their album, Good Future, captures a fundamental live-groove, an essential aspect of the band’s existence and sound. The graceful intro on “Stutter” into full on hip hop cadence is undeniably infectious and it’s just the beginning of an onslaught of informed talent and decisively enjoyable full band music that's sure to fire some endorphins. (The video’s pretty rad, too.)  The band is more than capable of taking the listener out of their head, up on a dramatic slant of emotion that always returns to the heart of the songs: fat synchopated beats.

EMEFE seem aware of their place in the Internet age, pulling together influences from all over the map and time with old school swagger and new-era tones and sensibility. The filthy grinding guitar sounds on “BBB” and subsequent freak out solo brings Fela inspired afro-beats to EMEFE’s own distinctive realm and right back into a resounding full band blow out. The album seems intent on blending big beat choruses with interesting, playful solos and a soft sensibility that isn’t alienating, lofty or obnoxious; it’s complex, but doesn’t forget to have fun. Even their album’s interlude is a full-on party. And seriously, if you can’t bump this at a party, you’re in the wrong place.

I first encountered EMEFE out in Boston where I went to school. My friend invited my roommates and I over to see a ‘rad afro-beats, funk band’ in her basement and told us it would be a killer dance party. I’m pretty skeptical when it comes to the prospect of a “good” dance party, but she had me at afro-beats band. I’ve been expecting (hoping, waiting) for the return of funk and soul sounds into popular culture outside of miniscule hip hop samples for a while now. (Sorry R&B artists, you aren’t channeling Sam Cooke, I don’t care who says you do.) Given that the music industry so relies on the live show these days, it would make sense to me that big bands should be making some headway back into the popular palate. There is a necessary re-livening energy of a successful funk or soul show. The recipe is simple though tough to achieve: A big, tight and talented band absolutely dominates a room.

I got into the basement of this show/party and there was a crowd of people I had never seen before in my life, it being a friend's party, it was weird enough to mentally note, but by the time the laundry room/ basement space filled up, that whole crowd of people I didn’t know ended up being the section of EMEFE that made it out to Boston.They killed it.The house was packed with flailing, sweaty, unashamed and wild dancers by two songs into the set and didn’t stop until after the encore’s encore. That is the kind of band I want to see live. (And, for that mattter, hear properly recorded.) This is my Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday. (Two days for recovery). They're awesome, so go catch ‘em on tour.
Good Future is available on their bandcamp which also houses their upcoming tour dates.



01. Stutter
02. Do Your Dance
03.  Lucecita
04. Good Future
05. BBB
06. Title Of The Work/Interlude
07. Don Porfirio
08. Greed
09. Birthday Man