j. period is currently rocking my world. here's his latest mixtape effort featuring the beautiful, powerful afropolitan vocalist and lyricist, nneka egbuna (nigeria/germany). we've been asking where the formidable female emcees are at.... here's one to be reckoned with. she's been on the scene for years, but her music is just being introduced to US audiences.
on his latest album the great escape, louwop collaborates with two of our favorite canadian afropolitans (tm phiona of afripopmag), shad k (rwandan/kenyan/canadian) and zaki ibrahim (south african/canadian) on the songs 'one2check' and 'get up', respectively. in anticipation of his album release, louwop posted an live video that blends both tracks. awesome talent.
sade's first single from her forthcoming album, soldier of love, has made its debut. i loved it at first listen. once again, sade adu is working with stuart matthewman, andrew hale, and paul spencer denman--her longtime band (who also make up the band, sweetback)--and, once again, they have produced soulful perfection. she consistently gets better with time. i am amazed that both she and maxwell have been out of circulation for this long, and can effortlessly bring the awesome upon their return. truly, she need not make a lot of noise to make a grand entrance. i cannot wait for the rest of this album.
wale's album attention deficit drops today, after much anticipation (hyped by a tour that has spanned much of this year). it's hard to believe it's his first album, since his mixtapes have had so much impact. saturated with rather awesome and clever collaborations, i am rather loving it, so far.
thirty years ago, today, Assata Shakur--an American political prisoner--escaped from detention in the US and was granted political asylum in Cuba.
"Like most poor people in the United States, I have no voice. The Black press and the progressive media, as well as Black civil rights organizations, have historically played an essential role in the struggle for social justice. We should continue and expand that tradition. We should create media outlets that help to educate our people and our children, and not annihilate their minds. I am only one woman. I own no TV stations or radio stations or newspapers. But I believe that people need to be educated as to what is going on and to understand the connection between the news media and the instruments of repression in America. All I have are my voice, my spirit and the will to tell the truth. But I sincerely ask those of you in the Black media, those of you in the progressive media and those of you who believe in truth and freedom to publish my story.' -Assata Shakur
a couple of weeks ago, jazz enthusiasts in kigali flocked to the beautifulshokola for an intimate performance by somi, a rwandan/ugandan new york-based soul-afrobeat-jazz vocalist. from the day i discovered somi, five years ago, she has been an integral part of my afropolitan soundtrack. her homage to home is a constant thread that runs through all her works, and she consistently embraces her roots while acknowledging all of the other influences that have shaped her into the artist she is today.
shokola--a cafe/restaurant that effortlessly blends african tradition with contemporary design--provided not only a venue, but a setting an ambience that was a crucial ingredient to the intimacy of the show. surrounded by small bonfires and rustic lamps hanging from age-old trees, the crowd gathered under the venue's signature Bedouin tents on sofas, around tables, on cushions, and sat on whatever space was available in eager anticipation; thirsty for truly good music.
the show was a blend of songs from jazz classics, to somi's own older material, to a preview of her new album. she began with 'ingele', an afro-jazz hit from her first album red soil in my eyes, which was followed by nat king cole's 'nature boy' and later by her bluesy interpretation of a reggae classic, bob marley's 'waiting in vain'.
the set was all-too-brief, and concluded with a track from her latest album if the rain comes firstin which she sang of returning home: 'home is where you know you can always touch your feet to the floor.'
it was a powerfully moving performance and the a capella rendition of nina simone's 'feeling good' left the crowd hungry for more. it is still rare to have such an enormous talent in such a perfect setting, and it was a refreshing preview of what is on the horizon of the arts scene in kigali.
you may be wondering why i am currently doing a dance of joy...it's because of this:
Rwanda was named today as the world's top business reformer, measured by the changes the country has made over the past year to make doing business there easier. And Mauritius retained its top ranking as the African country in which it is easiest to do business.The two countries are named as top performers in the annual report on the ease of doing business published by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Bank."It now takes a Rwandan entrepreneur just two procedures and three days to start a business," said a statement issued by the IFC and the World Bank."Imports and exports are more efficient, and transferring property takes less time thanks to a reorganized registry and statutory time limits. Investors have more protection, insolvency reorganization has been streamlined, and a wider range of assets can be used as collateral to access credit."Rwanda's ranking was based on the number and impact of reforms introduced in the year to May 2009.
woo hoo! brilliant news for a people that have worked so hard to rebuild and redefine.
ian kamau titled his mixtape september nine because the date marks his 30th birthday and his aim was to release his complete album on this date. the album has been pushed back, unfortunately, but in the meantime he has awesomely released two mixtapes to tide us over. the first volume featured clips from spike lee's do the right thing and is a smoothly effortless blend of hip hop, spoken word, and song. i was captured immediately by 'dear summer' and was captivated by his quiet yet steady and unwavering delivery throughout the EP. seriously, though, his voice--whether rhyming, singing, or speaking--is mesmerizing and is not unlike the feeling of floating on your back in the ocean. my favorite track remains 'majority report', but i'm also loving 'say it ain't so.'
september nine: volume two dropped yesterday, and i cannot wait to hear what's in store. download here.
k'naan and j.period's the messengers: episode 2: bob marley was released on 08/09/09 and is exactly how you would imagine their collaboration. it honours the original tracks beautifully and k'naan's remixes of his own tracks are pure fire. j.period is a genius. i will no doubt say that again, numerous times. stand out track: the combination of 'stir it up' and 'fatima'. i can and have listen[ed] to that all day long. another highlight is the 'small axe' remix in which k'naan addresses is Somali countrymen in a poignant plea for a collective search for peace in a country so torn apart by senseless and continuous violence.
not to get all carrie-on-her-laptop-pondering-love/sex-lives-and-whatnot, but...it's september and we're now at the end of wedding season around these parts. and all the festivities have naturally given rise to conversations about relationships, marriage and finding the ever-elusive 'one' people keep going on about. the other day, we had a pre-wedding gathering for my cousin, in which everyone was asked to give their list of the ideal mate.
it reminded me of the time that my girlfriends and i all sat around during happy hour a few years ago and made the same lists. we wrote them down, in detail, and they were hilariously long and incredibly specific. and a little ridiculous. (aside: idris elba was sitting at the next table, but none of us knew who he was. so busy making lists, we MISSED THE IDRIS!). after writing down our lists, and reviewing them, we tore them up. we decided that in all the list-making, we could easily miss someone standing right in front of us, and we could get so hung-up on criteria that we'll lose out on something real. i've tried to hang on this idea, since then. it's incredibly tempting to have criteria and--realistically--everyone has their own criteria even if they've never taken the time to compose a laundry list of expectations. it just doesn't make sense to have a detailed checklist because so few--if any--are going to manage to meet every single requirement on that list. today, however, i came across a quote that essentially sums up not what i want, but what i need.
“I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naive or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.”
i think this encompasses whatever i would have on my [non-existent(kinda)] list. now...that's not too much to ask...is it?...er...IS IT?
continuing to "create medication out of [his] own tribulations," k'naan's latest effort pays tribute to three legendary fellow troubadours that have undoubtedly influenced his own music: fela kuti, bob marley, and bob dylan. a three-track digital EP has been released as a sample of the much-anticipated j.period-produced, the messengers, that effortlessly fuses k'naan's brilliant lyricism with re-imagined classic sounds of the three musical pioneers.
'let's start (tribute to fela kuti)' begins with the rakim's 'i came in the door/i said it before...' from 'erik b is president'--a particularly significant line as k'naan has recounted numerous times how it was through paid in full and other hip hop albums that he learned the english language. this track's combination of afrobeat and classic hip hop is an awesome nod to his genesis as "africa's rap bruce lee." on the bob marley tribute,'them belly full', toronto is fully represented in a collaboration with kardinal offishal, as well as with fellow afropolitans, sierra leone's bajah and the dry eye crew and brooklyn's steele on a refreshingly revolutionary track that showcases how powerful hip hop can be when the music has a message. and, finally, 'relationship lay' hits hard with k'naan ruminating on the complexity of relationships over bob dylan's hauntingly beautiful refrain from 'lay, lady, lay,''i long to see you in the morning light...'.
i think both k'naan and j.period have outdone themselves with this one, and i cannot wait to hear the rest. the EP was released on august 18th and j.period and k'naan will pay tribute to each individual 'messenger' with a new release every tuesday in september. the tribute to fela kuti will be released on september 1st; the tribute to bob marley on september 8th, and the tribute to bob dylan on september 15th. the messengers entire compliation will be released on September 22nd.
on August 3 2009, the lovely and elegant Naomi Sims passed away from complications due to Cancer. she was 61.
she broke barriers with her appearances on magazine covers long before any other black model and has left behind iconic images only made possible by her determination to overcome the numerous boundaries she faced in life, both personally and professionally.
rest in peace, Ms. Sims. thank you for breaking ground.
out of monumental pain and darkness can arise true, exquisite beauty and light.
i've been meaning to write about fellow nomadic afropolitan, iyaDede, since i first discovered her a few months ago...and her voice is currently the soundtrack to these chronicles. it is a voice that is at once both delicate and powerful, her style uncategorizable, her talent unrefutable.
a survivor of Rwanda's 1994 Genocide, iyaDede has overcome pain, trauma and incredible loss and has emerged with an inspirational strength and spirit. after leaving Rwanda, she lived in Belgium [where she awesomely sang back-up for the incredible Zap Mama], and then ultimately in the US where she currently resides in Brooklyn. her passion and love for her home country and continent is evident in her words and i am so proud she is representing with such soul, beauty, grace, funk, and fire.
her forthcoming album is entitled 'talking to god' and is an eclectic mix of electronic pop funkadelic hotness. this woman's star is rising and i cannot wait to see what happens in the coming months. in the coming years.
here she performs her powerful 'in my darkest hour' at the Brooklyn Museum (spontenously accompanied by Rwandan dancers).
john forte's 'style free' EP will be out next week.
from the sounds of his latest single 'play my cards for me', it seems like he's picking up right where he left off seven years ago with 'i, john', a seriously slept-on album. loving the new direction. new track available for download at http://www.johnforte.com/.
over the past week, we have been inundated with images of and words about michael jackson. it's expected that the shocking passing of such a loved/loathed/fascinating icon illicits such massive and widespread response. i've chosen to focus on the tributes to the man, the artist, the visionary. here are a few of the heartfelt tributes that touched me the most, over the past week:
jody watley's touching ode to a man and artist she truly loved and admired, in which she shares precious memories of michael, from her childhood years to the moment she'll never forget: "I remember thinking a piece of my own childhood went with you. I will always remember the time I had with you.May your deepest sadness be healed. May your soul now rest peace."
"Rest in Peace big brother.. you were far from perfect but you were a force to be reckoned with and you influenced my life personally so much when I was growing up that I can't deny your power and your magic..."