Friday, August 31, 2012

This is Africa Premier

This is Africa is a collaboration between hiplife and ragga musicians from Ashaiman, Ghana (just outside the capitol, Accra) and a traditional Kusaasi gonje (one-stringed violin) player from Binaba, far to the north. The gonje player's name is Alalba Awin, but in his home town and the surrounding areas, everyone knows him as "Bob Marley."

The beat was put together by American musician, Luke Bassuener (Asumaya), who was a Peace Corps volunteer in the town of Zebilla from 2003 - 2005, and returned in 2008 to found a traditional musician cooperative called Bawku West Collective. He was back again earlier this summer, when his former student - and rising hiplife star - Awuni "Judicious" Bismark, took him to Phayaworks studio in Ashaiman and introduced him to producer, Mad Beatz. Judicious and frequent collaborator, BB then recruited ragga artist, Reeload, from the group Spotlyte Reality, and they wrote the verses that became "This is Africa." Mad Beatz recorded their vocal tracks and grabbed some of the raw Bawku West Collective recordings to produce more collaborations of the like in the future.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Souljazz Orchestra Stands in Solidarity

Solidarity, the new album from The Souljazz Orchestra out September 18, 2012 on Strut Records, is pure fire.  While you may know Souljazz for their afrobeat leanings, Solidarity spans a wide variety of styles and sounds with the help of several guest vocalists from different corners of the globe.  The album was cut to a temperamental Tascam 8-track tape machine inherited from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at a surplus sale.  The album definitely sounds like it's been recorded on a garage sale 8-track machine but not at all in a bad way.  The gritty, retro sound quality lends itself to the classic sounds the orchestra is kicking out.  It's almost like they put out a record of soulful funky music around the world circa 1974.  Solidarity is definitely a fitting theme for this record.  All ten tracks have a unique style and sound, but they all have a common soulful theme at the same time. 

Listening to this record will definitely get you excited to see these guys live.  If you live in the midwest, eastern US or Canada you'll get your shot sometime soon.  When they cross the border they'll be touring with Brooklyn afrobeat luminaries Zongo Junction.  I can personally attest to these guys' ability to tear up the stage.  Check out the Souljazz tour dates starting November 9th in Toronto:

Nov 09 - Toronto, ON - Wrongbar

Nov 10 - Kingston, ON - The Mansion

Nov 15 - Québec, QC - Le Cercle

Nov 16 - Montréal, QC - Le Belmont

Nov 17 - Gatineau, QC - Petit Chicago

Nov 28 - Burlington, VT - Higher Ground **

Nov 29 - Boston, MA - Brighton Music Hall **

Nov 30 - New York, NY - Webster Hall **

Dec 01 - Washington, DC - Jammin' Java

Dec 02 - Philadelphia, PA - World Café Live **

Dec 04 - Buffalo, NY - Nietche's **

Dec 05 - Columbus, OH - Woodlands Tavern **

Dec 06 - Detroit, MI - Pike Room **

Dec 07 - Chicago, IL - The Empty Bottle **

Dec 08 - Minneapolis, MN - Triple Rock
** - w/ Zongo Junction

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


The Easy Star All-Stars are back at it again.  This time around it's the legendary Michael Jackson to whom they're paying homage with Thrillah, a dubbed out set of covers of all the MJ hits out today on Easy Star Records.  If you've heard Dub Side of the Moon, RadioDread, or Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band, then you'll definitely want to hear this.  Thrillah puts a natty spin on classic Michael Jackson cuts like PYT, Wanna Be Startin Something, Beat it, Billie Jean and of course Thriller.  Tomorrow is MJ's birthday, so amongst all the obligatory spins that all his classic cuts will be getting, throw in some Thrillah along too.  You can catch The Easy Star All-Stars live this fall as they'll be touring throughout the US and Canada before crossing the pond to the UK:

Oct 04 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza – w/The Aggrolites, Passafire
Oct 06 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle – w/The Aggrolites
Oct 07 – Washington, DC @ Howard Theatre – w/The Aggrolites
Oct 09 – Ann Arbor, MI @ Blind Pig – w/The Aggrolites
Oct 11 – Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s – w/The Aggrolites
Oct 12 – Waterloo, ON @ Starlight – w/The Aggrolites
Oct 13 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace – w/The Aggrolites
Oct 14 – Syracuse, NY @ Westcott Theater – w/The Aggrolites
Oct 16 – Boston, MA @ Paradise – w/The Aggrolites
Oct 17 – Stowe, VT @ Rusty Nail – w/The Aggrolites
Oct 19 – Charlottesville, VA @ Jefferson Theater – w/The Aggrolites
Oct 20 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Blockley – w/The Aggrolites

Nov 01 – READING @ Sub89    
Nov 02 – MANCHESTER @ Band on the Wall  
Nov 03 – KENDAL @ Brewery Arts Centre    
Nov 04 – NEW BRIGHTON @ Floral Pavilion
Nov 06 – NOTTINGHAM @ Rescue Rooms
Nov 07 – YORK @ The Duches
Nov 08 – BILSTON @ The Robin 2 
Nov 09 – FALMOUTH @ Princess Pavilion
Nov 10 – EXETER @ Phoenix
Nov 11 – SOUTHAMPTON @ The Brook
Nov 13 – BRISTOL @ Fleece
Nov 14 – LEEDS @ University
Nov 15 – LONDON @ Garage
Nov 16 – BRIGHTON @ Concorde 2
Nov 17 – FOLKESTONE @ Quarterhouse
Nov 18 – NORWICH @ Waterfront

Friday, August 24, 2012

Afrobeat For Ya Soul Returns to BK

The Lunchbox Theory is bringing the internationally known Afrobeat For Ya Soul back to Brooklyn August 30th at One Last ShagGirl Vs. Machine will be on the decks once again.  Face painting will be offered free of charge.  BBQ will also be served up with drinks in abundance.  All for no cover charge.  What more could you ask for?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Between Two Worlds - New Album from Elikeh

“I always describe Elikeh’s music as like taking Fela Kuti and mixing him with Bob Marley. Put in a pot and stir for three minutes and add some Osibisa and Togolese traditional music to it and let it all boil for two more minutes.  Then you add a sprinkle of rock and you have Elikeh.”  I couldn't have put it better myself.  Massama Dogo described his music as perfectly as only the creator of the unique collage of sounds and rhythms that is Elikeh could.  

The leader of the D.C. based Afro-funk outfit, hailing from Togo West Africa, puts Togo on the map in an afrobeat community dominated by musicians from Nigeria and Ghana.  Take one listen to Between Two Worlds, their new album out tomorrow on Azalea City Records, and you'll hear how Elikeh distinguishes itself from the pack in a very real way.

Afrobeat is a mixture of different styles.  Funk, jazz, Latin and traditional African rhythms, all play into the mix.  Elikeh picks up where Fela left off, adds in a little reggae, and good chunk of rock.  They also incorporate the sounds and language of Massama Dogo's native Toga.  The result is a uniquely original brand of funky African music that makes a political statement while also making people dance. 

If you're in or around the D.C. area, check out Elikeh for yourself at The Black Cat tomorrow night for their album release party.  If you can't make it tomorrow night, definitely cop the album before your next dance party.


With a genre name like this, how could I not spread the love?  Dig the track from Brazilian beatmaker Malka - Electropicalia.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

2012 Olympic Sierra Leonean Anthem

Janka Nabay, the undisputed king of Bubu music from Sierra Leone, has teamed up with Pupa Bajah and Luaka Bop Records to create Nar London, an anthem for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.  While the traditional Olympic theme most likely won't be replaced anytime soon, Nabay's Olympic Anthem brings a unique perspective from an African Nation participating in the games.  The song was created to inspire and support the two athletes representing Salone in London, Ola Sesay and Ibrahim Touray.

Janka Nabay's debut LP, En Yay Sah, was released yesterday on Luaka Bop Records.  This is music you're unlikely to hear anywhere else.  If you dig the Olympic Anthem, definitely check out the LP.