keeping track of african and africa-related culture in the media (film, photography, television, and print)

Weekend Music: Fusion

Posted: November 26th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: hip hop, music | Comments Off

Fela Soul

AFROBEAT x HIP HOP Gummy Soul artist Amerigo Gazaway presents Fela Soul. Here is an excerpt from the Gummy Soul web site describing the project:

What do you get when you put together afrobeat legend Fela Kuti and rap pioneers De La Soul? You get Fela Soul; musical tapestry created by Gummy Soul artist Amerigo Gazaway. More than just a clever title, Fela Soul is an 8-track, 33 minute journey into the world of afrobeat rhythms, funky horn riffs, and classic hip-hop gems. Using dozens of hand-picked samples from the Nigerian instrumentalist and political figure Fela Kuti, and 8 carefully-chosen acapellas from the Native Tongue rap trio De La Soul, Amerigo seamlessly intertwines the two into something completely new and original.

Be sure to Download the free album here. “Breakadawn” has been on heavy rotation here at casa forota.

DYSTOPIAN AFRO-FUTURE: The 2 song (plus remixes) Put Some Red On It EP finds the prolific Spoek Mathambo in a dark afro-futuristic mood musically and lyrically. On the title song he comments on the messed up mix of money, wealth, corruption, conflict that is the darker side of modern African life. The download is worth it to me for the lyrics to the original mix of “Put Some Red On It”. I love this inspired lyric: “Learned the split tongue trick from the mission school”.

Download the EP here

See Also: Speaking of dystopian, here is a great article on South Africa’s house music scene. Quote from Mathambo points to the source of the dark, ominous textures to be found in Township Tech. Snip:

As for the sound – South African house isn’t afraid to get dark. Much of the music has a minor-key, slightly ominous sound that differs from the House found in Europe, for example. “South African House has so much energy,” says Spoek Mathambo, who is a big fan of South African House music and often spins it when he performs as a DJ, “But I think the society is so dark and dense and weird, so that it’s not this happy-clappy energy. That’s not how we get down. It’s more aggression and angst. We have some of the highest murder rates and rape rates in the world. There’s a lot of tension in society.”

Spoek Mathambo from “Township Tech: House Music’s Dense, Dark and Weird African Cousin” By Marlon Bishop and Wills Glasspiegel.

Jamel Shabazz: Street Photographer

Posted: October 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: hip hop, photography, race | 2 Comments »

Trailer for “Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer” a film by Charlie Ahearn

“As a street photographer, he was breaking all the traditions, of the Robert Frank traditions of street photography, having to do with spontaneity, and having to do with capturing images…

“Yes, he did everything that they would say was wrong. He would spend time with his subjects first. He would the pose his subjects, and in a very theatrical way. To which the earlier idea, it destroyed the life of what it was about. But I immediately perceived that this was an expression that was essentially hip hop. I had seen flyers of people posing like this from the late ’70s. In other words, the way he posed these people was not something that he made up. These were, in a sense, traditional cultural signifiers. They go back to the street culture of the ’70s.”

Charlie Ahearn on Jamel Shabazz‘ unique style of street photography

See Also: Through the lens of Jamel Shabazz. Snip from intro to New York Times slideshow of Shabazz’ work

“He made these folks visible the way rap made them audible. He took everyday people and turned them into icons. Nobody told him to do this. He just went out and struck gold.”

Bill Adler, hip-hop historian and photography aficionado on Jamel Shabazz’s work.

“One Love” Flatbush, Brooklyn, 1982 © J. Shabazz

random goodness: the film edition

Posted: September 20th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: film, globalization, hip hop, migration, politics, poverty, race, video | Comments Off

Democracy in Dakar Trailer from Nomadic Wax on Vimeo.

Politics: “Democracy in Dakar” The intersection of hip hop, activism and politics.

African Underground: Democracy in Dakar is a groundbreaking documentary film about hip-hop youth and politics in Dakar Senegal. The film follows rappers, DJs, journalists, professors and people on the street at the time before during and after the controversial 2007 presidential election in Senegal and examines hip-hop’s role on the political process. Originally shot as a seven part documentary mini-series released via the internet – the documentary bridges the gap between hip-hop activism, video journalism and documentary film and explores the role of youth and musical activism on the political process

“Nosotros los de la Saya” (“We of the Saya”) from AbNomad Media on Vimeo.

Human Rights: “Nosotros los de la Saya” (“We of the Saya”) Afro-Bolivians struggle for official recognition.

WE OF THE SAYA (pronounced “sigh-yah”) is a feature-length cultural and social documentary about the marginalized Afro-Bolivian community, and their struggle to achieve recognition as a legitimate ethnic group in the new Bolivian constitution. In addition to enriching culture and music, this film will present the rise of an Afro-Bolivian civil rights movement. “We of the Saya” is an inspirational story about the Afro-Bolivian movement (and all Afro-Descendant movements in a broader sense), and their resistance to suffer more years of continuous marginalization.This is an inspirational story about self-determination and seizing the moment in order to improve a community’s way of life.
(In Spanish with subtitles)

Trailer for the film “Thomas Sankara, Upright Man”, now publicly available at California Newsreel

California Newsreel makes library of African film available to the public

California Newsreel is making this collection of feature films available directly to consumers — for the first time in its history, the Library of African cinema will be widely available on DVD for $24.95 each.

The collection includes widely celebrated feature films such as Ousmane Sembene’s “Faat Kine” (2001), Djibril Diop Mambety’s “La Petite Vendeuse de Soleil”, also known as “the Little Girl Who Sold the Sun” (1999), Zézé Gamboa’s “The Hero” (2004), Newton Aduaka’s “Ezra” (2007), Moussa Sene Absa’s “Ça Twiste à Poponguine” (1993), Joseph Gai Ramaka’s “Karmen Gei” (2001) and Mohamed Camara’s “Dakan” (1997).

California Newsreel site

Angela Boatwright: Cuba

Posted: August 2nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: globalization, hip hop, photography | Comments Off

Screenshot of “Cuba” series on Angela Boatwright’s site. © A. Boatwright

Angela Boatwright: Cuba. Image series of the hip hop scene in Cuba as highlighted on her newly re-designed site. I am a big fan of Angela Boatwright’s emotionally honest, raw music photography, Cuba’s hip hop scene with its outsider (politically aware) status is a natural fit for her style.

See also: New York Times: Cuba’s Rap Vanguard Reaches Beyond the Party Line

The situation among Afro-Cubans, about 60 percent of the population, is especially acute. They are considerably poorer than whites, according to studies. Among the reasons are that white Cubans are more likely to have relatives sending remittances from the United States, and whites hold the bulk of the jobs in the profitable tourism industry.

Afro-Cubans complain that they have inferior housing and are more likely than whites to be hassled on the streets by the police.

The rappers speak of these and other problems, often bluntly.

“What we sing, people can’t say,” said Mr. Rodríguez Baquero, who wore a blue bandanna to pull back his braided hair as he rapped on the sidewalk outside an overflowing club. “They think we are crazy. We say what they only whisper.”

Weekend Music: Space Is the Place

Posted: December 13th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: hip hop, music, music video, race, video | Comments Off

A pan African vision of remembering your origins and imagining a future that honors those but moves forward.

Tricia Rose on the definition of Afrofuturism.

Tricia Rose is a professor of Africana (???) Studies at Brown University. In the audio clip above from the NPR show “Studio 360” she weaves a thread of futurism through black american music linking Sun Ra’s space jazz (“Space is the Place”) with Parliament/Funkadelic’s ghetto sci-fi funk of “Mothership Connection” and Afrika Bambaata’s epic electrofunk in “Planet Rock“. In the present, Lupe Fiasco becomes a robot in “Daydreamin'”. The impetus behind futuristic music in black American pop culture comes from a desire to escape the f**keupness of the current situation (slavery, inner city violence/poverty) and to imagine a better self using the vehicle of science fiction.

See also:

MUSIC: “I’m Not a Robot” by Newcleus. Although immortalized for the frivolity that is “Jam On It”, Brooklynites Newcleus explored sci-fi and spirituality in most of their work.

FILM: Brother from Another Planet. Black space alien crash lands in New York City and ends up in Harlem where the residents, sympathetic to his alien status, accept him and protect him from galactic bounty hunters seeking to return him to the slavery of his home planet.

Weekend music

Posted: September 13th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: globalization, hip hop, music | Comments Off

Vampire Weekend: Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa

A group of preppy, polo shirt wearing, Ivy League-educated kids playing West African guitar-type driven indie-pop. That is Vampire Weekend. They sound like Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel back when world music was new and different, but the “world” in the music is part of its DNA, not just something grafted onto it. Reason # 211 about what is so great about this disorienting post-everything world we now live in.

Esau Mwamwaya: Tengazako (audio only)

Malawian expat Esau Mwamwaya, (he from the cover of Fader’s Africa issue) lives in the same London ‘hood as those folks from Radioclit who are collaborators with M.I.A. and ‘em. Last year after a chance encounter, Mwamwaya laid some vocals over the dancehall/hip hop/punk of M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes“.

Roots Manuva: Let the Spirit

Rodney “Roots Manuva” Smith has been a purveyor Jamaican patois laced, soundsystem-inspired UK hip hop since the late 90’s. He is back with a new album “Slime and Reason” to be released late September Stato-side.
WARNING: Profanity alert in the Intro and Outro.
See also: Roots Manuva: Movements from “Brand New Second Hand” (1999).

random goodness

Posted: April 23rd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: film, hip hop, magazine, photography | 2 Comments »

FILM: killer of sheep: charlie burnett’s debut full length feature (it was his MFA thesis submission at UCLA). raw, rambling, unstructured, filmed neorealismo style in watts in the 1970’s with mostly friends and acquaintances. it is one of the most nuanced portrayals of black american life anywhere on film. must see.

PHOTOGRAPHY: flickr set: hip hop culture. more hip hop “baby pictures” taken by ricky “mr. wiggles” flores in the bronx circa 1984. it all looked so innocent in those days before crack, NWA, bling and “puff daddy”. Correction: Ricky Flores and Mr. Wiggles are not the same person, per Mr. Flores himself (thanks!)

MUSIC: The Roots “Rising Up” ft. Wale & Chrisette Michelle. more go go flavored goodness. 23 year old olubowale “wale” folarin who reps DMV (DC, MD, VA) via Nigeria (parents) features on the first single from the roots new album “rising down” which drops 4/29.

MAGAZINES: shook magazine: possible successor to the late, great global underground music magazine straight no chaser, the passing of which is much lamented here at casa forota. shook even sports the same experimental (sometimes unreadable) typography/design style.