Dec 28, 2014

Brian Shimkovitz ... Indiana Jones of African cassettes

Originally published @

Brian Shimkovitz is the Indiana Jones of African cassettes. He may not own a lasso or have a deep knowledge of ancient civilizations, but he would look dangerously handsome in a Harrison Ford fedora; poring over sub-Saharan TDKs with a magnifying glass. Brian spends his life writing about life-changing songs on his awesome Awesome Tapes From Africa blog; which you should visit.
Shimkovitz devotes his time to excavating Africa's diverse musical territories. All in the name of precious artefacts: fresh to death tapes. So I caught up with him to talk all things music from the motherland.

Noisey: Hello pal, how did all this get started?
Brian: I went to Ghana for the first time in 2002 and found out very quickly that the best music to be found was on tape. I was always kind of a tape guy anyway so it was no big deal. Tapes cost about $1 so I bought a shitload and sent back several shoeboxes full.
What drew you to Africa in the first place?
I got really into studying the ins-and-outs of hiplife, the local form of rap music in Ghana. So I kept looking for more music and then did some travelling. I collected numerous tapes for the never-ending variety and bizarre finds. I like different kinds of music from around Africa--traditional, pop, electronic music--and I just ended up finding more and more things that were worth a closer listen. I am a bit OCD about this. I now have around 4,000 tapes in my tiny apartment in Alphabet City.
What did you have in mind when you decided to start the blog?
I simply wanted to share this music I figured no one outside of West Africa would have the chance to hear. After living in Ghana for a year, I came back with this impression that you hear music constantly--on the radio, in public transport, blasting out of barber shops, in the market--so it felt like a cool thing to show people what Africa sounds like.

Did you expect it to do this well?
I noticed the traffic was coming from a variety of sources outside the typical dude with Birkenstocks and tie-dye world music zone. So it feels like a big success, the positive feedback makes me even more into continuing to share my tapes.
How do you keep track of all your cassettes?
I don’t have an organizational system yet, it’s just a series of boxes. If I want to find something, I better have time to look for it!
One of the things that always struck me about the tapes was the artwork. What makes them so cool?
Raw collage and daring colour are what stick out to me in African cassette art. I like how the majority are portraits of the artist, sometimes in surprising poses or contexts. Always looking sharp. These cover designs are full of motion and often look like something from the distant past (even when it’s a Tanzanian bongo flava tape from 2003).

Are there any regions you prefer, with regards to where the music comes from?  
I am really into music from the Sahel, the arid region at the edge of the Sahara desert in places like Niger, Mali and Mauritania. The music is often spare and soulful with distinctive vocals.
How do you even pick the songs you blog about?
I like to post tracks that are super bizarre to my ears or very popular in the region they’re from or both. I try to mix up old and new, acoustic and electronic, from as many regions as I can.
Do you have a team of super sleuths scouting for rare tapes, I mean, how do you get all this shit?
Ever since I started doing this blog, my friends and random people from the internet have been kind contributors. I see it as a public project of sorts, so it’s amazing how many people have thought of me while they were travelling and brought some jams back for me to share.
What stuff has excited you the most?
I have been getting excited about 90s house music from South Africa and I have always been drawn to rap from Senegal and Tanzania. Lately, I've been getting into Nigerian fuji music and various guitar band sounds from 70s Kenya. 

What's the African music industry like right now?
I think there are challenges that prevent the same kind of DIY approach of helping underground artists bubble up to the mainstream as efficiently as we have seen in the West. People have to pay to get their songs played on the radio. While it’s become easier to self-produce a record, it’s even more competitive to get the music heard outside one’s neighbourhood. Touring is almost impossible because of cost and logistics; and piracy is still making it hard for artists to see money from recordings.

Is cassette culture is still thriving over there? Cause you know, the internet killed everything cool over here.  
I think the cassette appears to be in a solid place. The durability of cassettes will keep them in use for some time to come in a context where dust, heat, humidity and rugged repeated use are facts of life.
On the flipside, with blogs like yours, what kind of impact has the internet had in getting people all over the world aware of African music?
The internet is like a record shop with infinite aisles of free music you’ve never laid ears on. But you have to have direction otherwise you might not come across the more obscure sounds, the internet lets you discover things you might be too shy or too located in Nebraska to have ever heard.
Finally, if you could make your very own awesome tape for Africa, what songs would be on it?
The theme song from Twin Peaks.
Fair enough!

Dec 21, 2014

From Argentina: La Antropofónica - El Niño Olmeca (EP) (get it) 

Segunda entrega para Mandarinas de La Orquesta Antropofonica y su irresistible afro-beat! 

 Para no parar de bailar!


  1. Delta
  2. Ayrton
  3. Colonial mentality (*)

Dec 19, 2014

Dec 18, 2014

Great news from Frank "Voodoo Funk" Gossner!

I know I've been promising this one for years but now. Academy Lps and Voodoo Funk will release this record as their first joined release of 2015. We have managed to secure the licensing from band member Kofi 'Elecric' Addison who also provided us with some mind bending band pictures. Stay tuned for one of the most anticipated Afro Funk releases ever. The CD version will contain both Marijata albums!

Great news ...

Dec 17, 2014

Tony Allen - Interview for "Film Of Life"


Originally published in French @

In late October, the godfather of Afrobeat signed a sublime album Film of Life. A gem released on Jazz Village transpires Tony Allen from beginning to end. Yet all was not so simple. The Nigerian told us about this album with a pleasing freedom. Meeting with a master of the genre.

Film of Life he has a special place in your discography?

Tony Allen: I knew and I had decided that he would not like the other albums. It would change compared to my habits. That's what I had in mind before you start.

I suppose it is strange for you because it evokes your career?

Tony Allen: It can be explained in this way indeed. That's what the song is Moving On, this idea of movement, like being in a movie, the film of a lifetime. I had ups and downs. I have known different places, different times. I went through all that with my character. And as long as I am now, and I keep moving, all is well. But I will not be able to move for a long time. But I continue because I never saw the end and I do not see her as long as I continue to explore music. Music has no boundaries and it can never be any.

You invited Damon Albarn for the title Go Back. Could you tell me more about your relationship with him?

Damon is my friend, and it's even more than a friend to me, he is like my family. You know, we've known for a long time now and we work together all the time. Damon still wants to write, and for this reason he wanted to do something new including myself. We worked together in his studio in London. I work with him because he has this way of proposing new things all the time. It does not stop asking until we did not tell him yes. (laughs) That's what I like best about him. He's a genius to me. I like many rock artists, but particularly stands out because it's someone who does not stop. I believe that nothing stops, there is no end, and we can always move forward. Some have done their best and end up no further. It is always better by continuing to move forward.

When did you realize you wanted to do an album on your career, your life and your experiences?

Tony Allen: That was when I wrote Moving On. I wanted to build only the music at first, from a strictly instrumental album without song. I wanted to live my freedom and I did nothing that could stop my game. Make an album with the song has its good and bad sides. Because when it comes to the stage, this means assume two parts: drums and vocals simultaneously. I have done but I just wanted to get in shape to do it. It's harder now, the party is already complicated percussion and if I have more singing over it means that my mind has to think more than five things simultaneously. Five people, that's it. It is as if he had to think like five people simultaneously.

For this album, you worked with The Jazzbastards. Why did you choose these musicians?

Tony Allen: We are friends and we worked together with Sebastien Tellier, Air and Charlotte Gainsbourg. I suggested to participate in the project after a concert where we played with Sebastien Tellier La Cigale. I said, "Oh, I am preparing my album, maybe you could come to record in my studio."

Boat Journey song has a political dimension. You denounce the situation of migrants, but also unconsciousness of such exile.

Tony Allen: Actually, as I have said, I did not sing on this album is the record label, the label that I was asked. I needed time to figure out what I was going to write on any topic. Boat Journey is really obvious, eventually. Because I saw these dramas almost every day on television. How people capsized in the ocean. In the ocean, the deaths, people who die in the ocean to escape the situation in their country ... They want to come to France to change their situation, but they chose the wrong side, the wrong way to achieve Europe. For, if they want to come to us, why not, I have never stopped anyone from coming. But when they arrive in Europe, if they get there, what job are they going to do? What job and where? What boss is willing to give them a job? And when they did not capsize and the police scavengers, they go straight in detention in a camp. Suffering in prisons over there is worse than what they left behind. Some of them are begging the authorities: "If you do not let us go, let us at least start."

Going back to your drumming. It is the heart of your music. Are percussion always the starting point of your compositions?

Tony Allen: When I write, the drum part is all the time in the beginning. The rest comes later. because it's my battery sets partitions I play. It is a way that allows me to not repeat myself.

Film of Life is a real Afrobeat model ...

Tony Allen: The Afrobeat can be used anywhere in the music as it is written in 4 times. The Afrobeat glue to Western music, sad music. No matter the pace, slow, fast if it is written in 4 times. This is a signature that is also present. But it is an open style to all.

Your autobiography was published last year and now a retrospective album comes out. I feel that you need to step back on route.

Tony Allen: I have always been aware of my life from the beginning. If you ask me what happened to me at the age of 10, I could return it. I could tell you everything in detail. In fact, the book explores the best that I have experienced up to this album. Film of Life is more a continuation because nothing is set in music.

This means that with Rocket Juice and the Moon, The Good, the Bad & the Queen, it is not necessarily finished?

Tony Allen: I will always be willing to take a project. The music comes to me in different directions and each time with different artists, different stars, whatever ... When they invite me, I'll go, I'm game. I was made for this job. I love the challenge, because it's always a challenge when you have to deal with people and music as a whole. I'm open because I like to have a different approach and I always respect other people's music when they invite me.

You have several upcoming concerts. The scene remains your favorite place speech?

Tony Allen: Yes, frankly I'd rather be on stage and in the studio. In the studio we spend time practicing to be perfect. But on stage, you do not have time for that, you need to focus and succeed the first time. "Poof, go!" Everyone can see how it goes. On the recording can not see anything, just listening to music but we do not see action. It's more annoying.

Originally published in French

Dec 16, 2014

Tony Allen chooses five top moments from his 55-year career

Originally published @

He was the drummer for Fela Kuti throughout the master’s groundbreaking years and has helped shape Afrobeat ever since. Ahead of his new album, Film of Life, Tony Allen chooses five top moments from his 55-year career.

Fela Kuti and the Africa 70: Question Jam Answer (1972)

Question Jam Answer was the beginning of Africa 70 finding very strong form. The personnel was changing a lot at that time, but this was a great lineup [including Ayo Azenanbor on bass and trumpet from Tony Njoku]. Fela was writing a lot of good songs at that time, and that’s why it’s difficult for me to say that I like this one more than the other. But Question Jam Answer stands out because of the composition, the way Fela wrote it, and my own drumming – which isn’t a common or a familiar drumming pattern – is something different. The approach that Fela brought when he wrote it was all about letting the music talk, and every time he wrote it was like a challenge to me and I like to face that type of challenge. I’m happy when I rise to it and people hear something and think: “Wow! That’s different.” When Fela wrote Question Jam Answer, some of his friends confronted him about the drumming and said: “Fela, what if this Allenko came to you tomorrow and said he was going to leave unless you gave him more money? You would have to do it because his drumming is too difficult to copy.” Nobody is going to take my place.

I remember when I had to stop drumming because I had an ulcer. So I was off for two weeks to get some rest. They hired other drummers to stand in for me but it was impossible for them. One drummer came in for a gig and couldn’t play the next night. So they came to wake me up while I was sleeping and put me in a taxi to play the gig. I said: “You have a drummer there,” but he said: “No, it is not working.” Few people have the kind of communication that Fela and I had when we played music, so I decided to go on stage even though I was ill. His friends were right though, as no drummer in the country could play what I played on that record. Only I could play it.

Tony Allen and Afrika 70: No Accommodation for Lagos (1978)

No Accommodation for Lagos was produced by Fela – he produced my first three records Jealousy, Progress and No Accommodation for Lagos – and after I left Fela in 1979 I made No Discrimination. I decided to do four tracks on the record which you would consider Afrobeat – up until then, Fela would do two tracks maximum on a record which were Afrobeat, but I wanted to give people more. Our approach was inspired by James Brown and his really long versions of songs. We looked at that and thought: “Why can’t we do it?” and created these songs that last God knows how many minutes. With Afrobeat, you need to respect the amount of time it takes to grab you. You can’t write Afrobeat for radio because they edit and edit and edit until the music is dead. No Accommodation was the final record I made with Fela as producer and was the beginning of the end for me as part of Africa 70. I never intended to leave Fela, but the way the album ended up and the time it took Fela to finish producing it made me think about what was going on. In the sessions, Fela also recorded some of his own tracks and that took three days, but mine took eight months to finish and they were recorded at the same time.

I remember he played his solo on the first day and I thought it was fantastic but he said it wasn’t good, so he wanted to play it again. So he played it again but that took two months and again he wasn’t happy. Then he played it again two months after that and the same thing happened. Then, finally, the one he used I wasn’t happy with, but he said that was the best. The mixing took another two months – so eight months in total. Fela was there every day but there were always excuses and at that point I realised I needed to quit the organisation. I finally went in November 1978 when we were at the Berlin jazz festival. We finished our gig and I told him I was leaving – not to destroy him, or destroy anyone, but just because my services were no longer needed. After that he used two drummers playing my parts separately.

The album talks about things that were happening at the time, such as the slum clearances in Lagos, clearing them out and bulldozing their houses without offering alternative housing, and you used to see many people sleeping underneath the bridge. People thought because I was talking about corruption that the police would come for me but they never did. I never mentioned anyone’s name individually. I accused all of them.

Tony Allen: HomeCooking (2002)

The critical response to [the 2001 album] Psyco on da Bus had been mixed. Some said I was going crazy and wasn’t respecting the rules of Afrobeat any more. I was just trying to explore musical areas and let listeners know Afrobeat could be mixed with other genres. So I tried to blend it with dub and electronica. People wanted me to play the kind of songs I played with Fela, but that style had gone. Fela was Fela; he was a genius and his style should be left alone. For someone like me, who left his group, to copy his style would have been wrong. If I wanted to do that I should have stayed with him. But critics didn’t like it, so I came back with HomeCooking which was an album filled with guests. I brought in Ty, who had remixed some of my work previously, to rap on the record and Damon Albarn, who had already sung about me on Music is my Radar. On the first day in the studio, Damon didn’t record anything because we were enjoying ourselves too much. He came with two boxes of champagne and everyone got boozed and he decided he’d take the music back to his own studio and finish it there. That was the beginning of our friendship and since then we’ve done a lot of different things.

Ernest Ranglin: Modern Answers to Old Problems (2000)

Ernest’s label wanted me to feature on a record with him. I liked his guitar playing and the fact he used jazz, reggae and lots of different types of music. They invited me to the studio and he wrote music for everyone except me. I asked him if he was intending to compose my parts and he said no, because he wanted me to relate to what he was writing. It made me feel happy because it was challenging and it stopped me from being stagnant and getting used to just playing one type of music. I like to face an artist I’ve not faced before, especially when the artist has something unique. It’s interesting to work out how we are going to work together and what would work with what we both have.

For me, the key is to look for what works. I thought of many things I could have played on this album but I experimented and tried different options until I found what worked. I always respect the music that is in front of me and don’t impose myself on it. When I’m playing with someone else, you’ll know it’s Tony Allen, you will recognise my work without having to see my name. I have my identity.

Rocket Juice & the Moon (2012)

This was something we decided to do after Africa Express in Lagos and we came back to London. Flea wanted to play with me, and Damon Albarn said we should create something while we were in each other’s company. Everything was done live, except the guest vocalists, such as Erykah Badu. I wanted Flea to play whatever he felt. I started the songs with my drum patterns and Flea would look for something that would go with my drums. It can be difficult for musicians who don’t have a background in African rhythm – I’ve been trying to mix up different styles and sounds in my head from day one. There are many places I can take my drumming and I try to make my drums sing and turn them into an orchestra. I don’t bash my drums. Instead of bashing, I caress. If you caress your wife, you’ll get good things from your wife; if you beat her, up I’m sure she’ll be your enemy. I’m creating different patterns with my four limbs. They are all playing something different, which means you need to split your mind into four elements with the one central idea running through. Even professional drummers can struggle with mastering Afrobeat.
Originally published @

Dec 15, 2014

From France: The Afrorockerz


The Afrorockerz is the revitalized project of guitarist Julien Raulet. Knighted by Tony Allen and founding member of the band Fanga, a french afrobeat septet known in the world music circuit. After meeting with bassist and multi-instrumentalist Sylvain Daniel who navigates between rock& jazz, it was evident he'd be an integral player. Both share the passion of playing Fela Kuti's music as well as being inspired by Prince, Talking Heads, & Frank Zappa. It wasn't long before they were joined by Allonymous (Jimi Tenor, Push Up) on lead vocals. Chicago born Parisian sworn painter, poet, & singer whose writing reflects his atypic views on life, and is echoed through his hypnotic flow, and stage presence.

Equally sharing lead vocals is Emma Lamadji whose powerful mezzo burns with the urgency & serenity of the Central African origins she's rooted in. Together they are perfect.  Alternating between backing and lead, their two voices unite to ignite our consciousness & liberate our bones.

From the underground Parisian bars & clubs, to groundbreaking venues and festivals, The Afrorockerz have continuously honed and shaped their hornless sound. Yet one hardly misses this keystone. Analogue, authentic, dirty, futuristic, traditional & furiously urban in the same vain. Of course this sound would not be complete with out staple metronome Maxime Zampieri who brings rock/fusion, crash mathematics with a touch of class to the drums. Funk, fueled riffs, & electrified, synth stabs are David Monet's speciality, thus it is no wonder he completes the band.

The premier album simply entitled "The Afrorockerz" is out now in France & Europe on Buda Musique. Anticipating it's North American release in 2015. A multilayered soundtrack of life evoking images of a revolutionary cast such as the likes of Tony Allen or Robert Smith. The doors are bursting, expectation is high, it is 1981 all over again at the 1st Avenue club in Minneapolis, and the lights are out!


Imagine Minneapolis in Lagos, the First venue club that was home to Prince’s early ‘80s funk years somehow melding with the Shrine, where Fela Kuti would play all night. Massive grooves, slithering, spiny funk, and music packed with soul. But you don’t need to imagine it: The Afrorockerz already have, adding a sprinkling of New Wave madness and Zappa-style virtuosity into the music. The result is  on display with glittering brilliance on their debut, The Afrorockerz (released January 13th, 2015 on Buda Musique).

The brainchild of guitarist Julian Raulet – a man lauded by the legendary Tony Allen – and bassist Sylvain Daniel, the band is built around the groove. African inflections power “I Go U Go,” while jagged slivers of guitar push through the mix, the track building to a pounding, insistent climax. Then, on “Time For Me,” they do a little time traveling to the early years of MTV, a slice of squiggly synth funk with a chorus that sounds as if it should have been lodged in your head forever.

Singer Allonymous – a Chicago transplant, now living in France like the rest of the band, shines with his abstract poetic flow on “Hearts And Lines,” which co-vocalist Emma Lamadji, born in Central Africa takes “My Prayer” all the way to church. Full-throated and soulful, she makes the song completely her own.

With David Monet on keyboards and Maxime Zampieri behind the drum kit, The Afrorockerz are more than the sum of their influences. They’ve absorbed that musical history and made it their own, building on it to create something new that nods to the past but looks to a future of global funk.
Starting in the Parisian underground scene, the band has built its reputation, graduating from clubs to festivals, and becoming one of France’s breakout groups, carrying the crowds with them wherever they play.

It’s music for the urban future, gritty and dirty, but always real and pushing beyond borders. It makes the dancefloor a place that crosses cultures. It’s a sound that connects cultures and builds bridges out of funk.



Dec 14, 2014

From South Africa: Malopoets

Formed in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1978 by vocalist Patrick Sefolosha and guitarist Kenny Mathaba, the Malopoets - alongside Sipho Mabuse and Savuka - were, until their demise in 1986, one of the most significant and rewarding groups at the rootsier end of the township pop movement, playing a lighter, more relaxed form of mbaqanga. Sefolosha and Mathaba had served their apprenticeship in the rock and soul-orientated band Purple Haze before, alongside their audience, becoming increasingly frustrated in the mid-70s with imported styles and making a decision to strive for greater authenticity in their music. By 1983, however, the band were close to breaking up, finding it practically impossible to make a living under apartheid, where black bands were denied freedom to tour the country or promote their records on state radio. Sefolosha accordingly left South Africa and teamed up with producer Martin Meissonnier in Paris. A few months later the rest of the group joined him, signed to EMI Records and, in 1984, released the album, Malopoets. The set failed to make any impact on the burgeoning African music scene in Europe, however, being adjudged too pop-orientated by white audiences craving ‘roots’ sounds. It was followed by an appearance on the 1985 Tam Tam Pour L’Ethiope record and televised show, Africa’s indigenous response to Live Aid. Early the following year the Malopoets broke up.


A1 Sanibonani
A2 Bouyane
A3 Madoda
A4 Sound Of The People
A5 Lengoma
B1 Sikelela
B2 Xinkhongolotwana
B3 Intsizwa
B4 Dimakatso  

Dec 5, 2014

South African Hip Hop: Tumi And The Volume - Pick A Dream

You know what’s sick? The finest South African hip hop album of 2010 was released in France in April last year, but only made it to our shelves in November. Then it got buried in the glutt of Xmas releases, and it took another 3 months for the the first single “Asinamali” to surface on any of the local charts. It’s still hard not to come to the conclusion that the labels, radio stations and the South African music industry at large, slept on the biggest hip hop album of 2010.

But that’s just how it goes. The TATV Pick a Dream fiasco says more about the weight of geo-politics on the South African music industry than it does about the band’s intentions and the local industry’s apathy. A few years back Tumi and the Volume were invited to perform at the Sakifo music festival on Reunion Island, which belongs to France despite being stuck out in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and is therefore the closest first world country to South Africa. So impressed was the festival organiser, Jerome Galabert, that he signed Tumi and the Volume to his record label right there and started pushing them through the channels in France and Europe. All of a sudden the band was being booked for epic 3 month long European tours and collaborating with a slew of French artists. Nowadays the majority of their fan base lives outside of the RSA. It was a lucky break. Had TATV stayed in South Africa they could have ended up just another casualty of the South African music industry, banging their heads repeatedly against the glass ceiling. Playing Oppikoppi year after year before the financial attrition wore them down or caused them to implode. Luckily, the French stepped in. But this also meant that one our most wildly original, authentic and relevant hip hop acts, making music that relates directly to this place and this time, suddenly graduated to a global stage and in so doing, kind of left us behind.

But this article is not all about us South Africans feeling like someone’s poor cousin, as our cultural jewels are pilfered by the fat, rich fingers of the first world. There’s a silver lining to this tale. Apart from the band being able to pay their bills; being the clear channels that they are, the new Tumi and the Volume album really captures and blends a lot of that creative French influence into their production. The lyrical content and the subject matter is still rooted in a South African context but the Francophone influences lift this from being just another local hip hop joint to a much more experimental, innovative and ultimately entertaining album. One of my biggest criticisms of Tumi’s lyricism in the past is that he’s always had a knack for pulling together the right musicians to create really interesting musical environments for him to populate with his lyrics, but at times on Live at the Bassline and the self-titled debut studio album, Tumi and the Volume, it was almost as if he had too much to say and just kind of crammed it into a series of rapid fire Tumi rhymes, without enough undulation or variation to keep you listening to what he’s actually saying.

Then between this and his solo albums, something shifted. Tumi now revels in the spaces between, dropping accessible verses ladened with meaning. There’s a maturity to his work. You can’t miss it. More than that, it really seems that as a musician, Tumi has something to say. Which is pretty indicative on this album, because he almost spends more time singing than rapping. It’s obvious that working with Danyel Waro (he’s like the Hugh Masekela of Indian Ocean Island’s music) has opened his eyes to new musical possibilities. As Tumi said in an earlier interview:

“I’m a vocalist. A vocalist raps, sings, whatever. And sometimes you just feel, this needs singing. You’re the vocalist, sing. In that way, knowing Danyel Waro changed my life. Danyel told me, ‘you go to a funeral and everyone’s singing’. I used to think of singing as Whitney Houston and Freddie Mercury. This is some high level, don’t fuck with this shit. I’m like, yo guy, this is a craft. I need to understand this thing. But Danyel Waro was like, ‘this is functional art. It doesn’t matter where it is, at a funeral, at a wedding, when you’re happy, when you’re sad. It’s your voice. So just sing man. Express yourself.’ And I’ve always tried to be more melodic in my rapping anyway.”

The first song on the Pick a Dream “La Tete Savante” breaks us a chunk of the new vibe immediately. It has a Malian feel with those repetitive Touareg tin guitar strings, clapping and sparse tribal percussion, some cowbell. Then changing it up, kind of futuristic and groovy, shades of Kanye in Bamako via Dakar and Soweto. And then this kicker which ties straight into the album cover. “They celebrated their liberation with so much libation that when the morning came they had lost their heads.” This is how I like my culture. Engaging, on point, relevant and cutting straight to the core.

The first single “Asinamali” is a straight up old skool hip hop track, reminiscent of the big beat late 80s, carrying more hardcore contemporary ruminations from the big man:

“I can’t decide if it’s the money / put a low price on your soul / I can’t decide if it’s the money / that’s got the people going out of control”.

“Number 3″ dips back into familiar TATV territory, it kind of sounds like a leftover track from their previous album. Melodic steady-fire flow from Tumi carried by a Tiago riff on the guitar. But compared to the innovation on the rest of the album this track just makes me feel like we’re time travelling. And just as I’m thinking that, they flip it and hit you with a chorus which is just so infectiously groovy that you can’t help but smile and nod your head. It’s the old sound but with a new twist, again referencing that 80s shout out hip hop made famous by Public Enemy, KRS1 et al.
“Limpopo” then breaks out into the true innovative direction of this album. Melodic chorus and melodic flow sing-song rapping, Tumi once again, digging the rich vein of his family history for lyrical content with the repetitive chorus reminding us, “one life to live, one life to give, one life you’re given, just one life.”

Next up Tumi channels the angst and insecurities of suburban housewives with “Moving Picture Frames”. Talk about flipping the script on all that overplayed sexist bitch and nigga hip hop shit. It’s got a laid back R&B kind of feel with Tiago tickling the strings while Tumi sings. Usually I hate on R&B but this is more reminiscent of the Motown roots than the travesties committed by Craig David and the slew of modern, wimpy bootie track R&B artists.

“Through My Sunroof” is possibly the most powerful track on the album. Downbeat. poignant. Sparsely populated percussive backbone for Tumi to string those lyrics on. It’s got car crashes, infidelity, melody, angst, despair, honesty. It’s a wild, different and compelling track. Hard to compare to anything being produced in or out of South Africa at this time. The whole song works like the moment after a traumatic event where time stands still. “A butterfly flew through my sun roof”.
Then straight back to that stripped down old skool hip hop pedigree on “Reality Check”.

“Of Parties and Stars” takes it to a smooth hip pop nod your head kind of place as the album picks up pace towards the back-end. “Made No More” implores us to “change the laws and turn pop into art like we did before”. And the album closes out with the melodic, sing-a-long “Light in your Head” before taking one more trip uptown to the jazzy “Play Nice” before finally letting us loose with the hidden track “Tine Blues” ending proceedings very nicely.

It’s still bullshit that the album was released in France 7 long months before we got to hear it at home, but at least Tumi and the Volume are scooping up their experiences and inspirations, crunching them through culture and serving them back to us on albums like this. At least it finally arrived. Truth is Tumi and the Volume are fast leaving the narrow confines of hip hop behind, they’re more like a world music outfit with a hip hop crush, that’s driven by an all emcompassing ambition, as Tumi says, when I ask him what he makes music for… “to change the world.”

And here’s a final thought from big T from the V.

“Before, if you listen to those old records there’s stuff in there. But it’s thick shit. It’s thick, gon’ take me some time to get this one. You know what I mean? With this album, I don’t think I rhyme better than Live At The Baseline but I do think I listen better. I know how to say something easier. I can get to the point quicker than before. Before it was like, I need to impress you. I need to prove that I’m fucking dope. I need you to know that when the song is done… this mother fucking band is the shit! Now if it’s a good song, it’s a good song. I know that you motherfuckers don’t have 3 minutes to waste and still try figure shit out.”


In an interview posted last year on French website , Tumi Molekane, front man of Tumi and The Volume, comments that he was actually “a little fed up with hip hop” before he met the musicians who would go on to form Tumi and The Volume with him. He goes on to note that the band evolved from a “spoken word back-up band” to being a tight unit, with its members inseparable from the music being created. And while TATV’s many fans, both locally and abroad, would have been able to testify to this musical fusion on the evidence of the band’s two previous albums (At The Bassline in 2004 and Tumi and The Volume in 2006), nowhere is it more evident than on their new project, Pick A Dream (Sakifo Records 2010).

TATV have been a busy band these past few years, regularly touring in Europe and playing more overseas than at home – or so it seems. While the band is hailed in South Africa as one of the most original and exciting acts we can call our own, few in the local scene are aware of the standing which they enjoy overseas due to their hard work and tireless touring. Through their travels, which have included regular returns to the band’s beloved Reunion Island, home of the Sakifo music festival, TATV have made some great contacts – one of these, Danyel Waro, shares the final track, “Tine Blues” with Tumi on Pick A Dream.A ballad in the Reunion Creole Maloya style, this song has Waro and Tumi trading verses and lines, and is an off-beat but completely fitting cap to a great collection of tracks.

Strangely, the album slipped out early this year in South Africa with very little hype, having already been released in April last year in France. On listening to Pick A Dream, one can only feel that it’s simply a matter of time before it starts ripping up the local airwaves, especially since the band has intentionally aimed for a more polished sound and slick, radio-friendly production on this release.
Engineer and producer Laurent Dupuy and crack French studio team T ‘n T teamed up with The Volume’s guitarist, Tiago Correia Paulo, for the production of the album, which was recorded at Studio Py in Paris, France. Going the extra distance to get the album done was certainly worth the effort, as Pick A Dream is packed with sharp-edged beats and great instrumental arrangements, all of which provide the platform for Tumi Molekane’s superlative poetic MC skills. Apart from the slick production and arrangements (which are refreshingly different in their tone from most of the local generic American-ish hip hop being churned out at the moment), the pace is relentless, and this release should banish any doubt (if there ever was any) that TATV is a world-class act.

Pick A Dream is TATV in take no prisoners mode, and there is not one lame duck track on the album. Lyrically, Tumi’s targets include music (and hip hop) industry stereotypes, those obsessed with the machinery of “celebrity”, and corrupt leaders. Tumi’s lyrics reflect a poet pushing the edge, both in terms of lyrical content and execution; there are few MC’s in SA, or the world even, who have the combined gift of the penetrating thought and dextrous delivery that is Tumi’s trademark. Of course, the band’s signature sound also depends on the fine work which the rest of The Volume puts in, and they prove time and again why a live band can generate exponentially more energy than any backing track being spun by a DJ.

Staying true to form, Tumi takes aim at the things which keep people down, and suggests that there might often be more going on than meets the eye. “La Tete Savant”, the opening track, is a semi-biographical symbolic tale about identity, expressed through the journey of characters literally searching for their heads; this mirrors the brilliant album sleeve artwork by French graphic artist Hyppolite. “Asinamali” and “Number Three” are TATV in full cry, and manage to convey something of the live energy for which the band is renowned. “Limpopo” is an uplifting ode to life, with a beautiful instrumental break near the end of the track. TATV delve into more introspective and sombre territory in “Moving Picture Frames” , “Through My Sunroof” and “Light In Your Head”, adding some shade to the album’s light. Other stand-out tracks include the funky “Reality Check” and the incendiary parting shot of “Play Nice”, which includes a cameo by Tiago and Paulo’s 340ml bandmate, Pedro Da Silva Pinto.

For an arresting and progressive document of a band pushing the boundaries of their genre, Pick A Dream is hard to beat, and the instrumentation and lyrics will bear up to heavy rotation; and although this album slid quietly onto the local scene, it’s sure to become a benchmark for future contenders for the throne of South African hip hop.


1 La Tête Savante 2:38
2 Asinamali 3:09
3 Number Three 4:15
4 Limpopo 4:31
5 Moving Picture Frames 3:43
6 Through My Sunroof 4:37
7 Reality Check 2:41
8 Volume Trials 3:10
9 Enter The Dojo 3:23
10 Light In Your Head 3:05
11.a Play Nice 9:43
11.b Tine Blues

Dec 3, 2014

From Israel: Hoodna Afrobeat Orchestra

Generating a well-deserved buzz in Israel's exploding music scene,

HOODNA AFROBEAT ORCHESTRA electrifies dance floors wherever they perform. The band is hard at work recording their first album, scheduled for release in 2015.

Living at a crossroads south Tel-Aviv, you will always find the infectiously danceable African grooves that are the foundation of HOODNA AFROBEAT ORCHESTRA. The band effortlessly ties it all together, resulting in a unique version of afrobeat.

Hoodna Afrobeat Orchestra, also known H.A.O, is an Israeli Afrobeat band from the south part of Tel-Aviv, formed in 2013. Inspired by the humming and clanging of carpentry and metal workshops.

Originally conceived as a traditional Afrobeat group, H.A.O quickly developed a far spikier sound, often played faster and more emphatically than many of their contemporaries. They have also proven adept at broadening their sound by incorporating influences from a variety of other genres.

H.A.O.'s rousing live shows quickly attracted an enthusiastic following. After their debut EP, "No A.C.", they are currently working on their 1st Album, to be recorded in the Israeli dessert.

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