Nov 16, 2016
Nov 14, 2016
British-born Ghanaian DJ and producer, Juls digs up some 1960s and 70s West African vinyl for his latest beat tape African Crates Volume 1, a new 18-track release that flips vintage grooves into booming hip-hop beats.
“I sampled a lot of old school Ghanaian and Nigerian highlife and afrobeat from the 60s and 70s,” explains Juls. “[The tracks are] very raw and rugged joints that you can bob your head to, rap and possible dance to… [it also includes] 3 unreleased joints with Worlasi, Black Way and Saint Kwam.”
Nov 11, 2016
Nusɛ: Strength Within is Worlasi's debut musical compilation, the 13 track tape is an exploration of his dreams, emotions and insights on life and a much needed discourse on black power, passions and owning our destinies.
Reinvigorating and unique lyricism lace the afro inspired beats that ring through the tape and make it a refreshingly non-conformist treasure trove of afrobeats and hip-hop influenced melodies.
Spurred on by the massive support received during the ŋusẽ listening session , the tape will feature an extra song (Apocalypse) as a show of gratitude and cementing of his position as a dexterous musician.
His first cohesive body of work, ŋusẽ, which translates from Worlasi`s native Ewe as strength, is an audacious staging platform, set to propel Worlasi to heights unheard of.
Worlasi is signed to supremeRights Records and already has three singles to his credit.
Recently discovered the album by coincidence and it's amazing if you like hiphop. Please check it out, its honestly worth to listen to, in general and especially if you like to discover new music.
With Worlasi’s Nusɛ, it’s just as much the flame in every single song as it is about the overall experience of the project. Every one of the songs on that mixtape is majestic in their wonder, but when you listen to those 13 tracks at half past midnight, God is not so far away. Believe me, they respect my opinion on music of late.
You’ve not heard of him yet? That’s alright. I feel sad for you, but it’s alright. The truest artists usually have to be looked for. If the gods permit, we stumble upon them, but I suspect it’s more a reward for our show of commitment to the pursuit of happyness than anything else.
It’s rare, unimaginable… for an artist to achieve such soul and depth with every song on a project, much less at first attempt…but then again, he’s an Ayigbe boy so…
So many things amaze me about this man. For one thing, he’s meticulous in arranging melody…and the rap just keeps coming, and he’s excellent on every beat, even indigenous rhythm, which is tedious to manoeuvre. And as a listener, it’s one of the best gifts –to feel like time has stopped while you’re absorbing God.
Edem raps in Ewe, EL raps in pidgin, I’m enchanted by them both. I have never, however, seen anyone put these languages side by side…not in this way. These languages, through which Worlasi primarily thinks, complete his identity –Ewe is what this world was introduced to him in. It’s the language through which he noticed care, a mother, play, scolding and a father’s punishment, sleep… In most of West Africa, Pidgin is the language of youth, and discovery, and through which individual conscience is moulded. It’s a more effective medium through which to explore life at twenty-something…because it is a mix of many languages, and it’s the best metaphor of what the average twenty-something has been through. That’s why his monologue is full of philosophy.
Nusɛ is strange and daring, because Worlasi’s words contain a courage and honesty, hope and covered reality.
The music on Nusɛ is original, deliberate, layered, practical, truthful, and definitely several paces ahead of what everyone else is doing right now. His rap is dexterous, his singing evokes feeling, and he’s fearless in choosing to speak in Ewe, which is accurate identity, but might be risky all the same.
In Worlasi’s sound, everything is happening at once, just as happens in Makola…just like life speaks to us. The composure this quality requires is insane. However, when you’ve been obedient enough to the spirits you hear in your head, and are patient enough to program them one at a time (as Worlasi has done here), then you’ve achieved genius. In music, genius is when we hear and are enthralled by something new, no matter how many times a song is repeated; Hallelujah Jesu, Unlooking, Freedom, Wake Orp…
Influence is the best homage. What a true creative makes from influence is a treasure. That is specifically what Nusɛ typifies. And the young man has been influenced by everyone and everything –FOKN Bois, Skillions, C-real, EL, Yaa Amponsah, Adowa, Agbadza, Nkrumah, Jesus, spoken word, everyday…life, basically. I know it’s what’s every artist says, but Worlasi is different, I’m telling you.
It’s not enough for an influence to choose you…the broth you make from it is what gives your voice audacity and reverence.
As a young head, he’s doing what young heads are supposed to do: asking questions. Asking questions is how we process life, yet, we are especially drawn to his approach at unpacking life because of his diction. His words are raw and unpretentious. These fundamental questions he asks, are asked in a way that’s more specific than we are used to. We all have these puzzles running through our minds; what’s our real place out here? What is our role? How do we navigate carnality to something truer, something higher? What do we make of the concept of “one day”? Why aren’t we assisting another to “ get in touch with his or her soul”, like the little boy says in Intro? “We are shapeless spirit forms … “the spirit is here for something greater/ being something greater/ something greater that can help another/ we are born that way…”
I confess, to my shame, that I too have not known Worlasi’s work for long. I came across Nusɛ when it was first released in May last year, but I ignored it. New artists usually don’t have my attention because they all want to brag like Sarkodie (sorry, rap), or, their music is fundamentally a terrible imitation of Nigerian and American rappers…so I couldn’t be bothered about this Ayigbe man who held a shackles on another him in the sitting room with the old tv and family pictures. The image is instructive; we are our own slaves, we are our own masters. Still, I wouldn’t fall for it.
My God, how stupid that was! I know for sure, that if I had heard Nusɛ a year ago, my life would be significantly less directionless. But it’s never too late, He says it himself in Someday: “ ebi late, ebi late/ it’s never too late…”
Six Strings shared a link of Worlasi’s latest single on his timeline. The song, One Life, features himself, with whom the girls are bonding emotionally because of Sobolo (which is someway), as well as Sena Dagadu, whose tone is sunlight. It’s where I finally shook hands with Worlasi. Of course this interaction took me back to everything else he has previously done, hence Nusɛ.
One Life is for reflection, it should be heard in solitude, for silence and slow tears are a natural response. It’s gentle in tempo, so it should not be absorbed in a rush. The string contribution in the song is beautiful and has just as much a voice. The use of silence, and the manner in which the rap both admonishes to live a more appreciative life and questions fundamental logic at the same time is a marvel to observe.
We all have been enamoured by the art which is One Life since it was released yesterday. But I have extra catching up to do, when it comes to Worlasi, so I’m grazing on Nusɛ first.
I love the sound of a good pound in music, and an anger in delivery, so definitely, Hallelujah Jesu is, in my opinion, the highest point of this mixtape. But definitely, every other track on there is superior for various reasons: Freedom (ft. Poetra Asantewaa) is so powerful, Black Man continues to hammer on the real place of the obibini in the world space: “black or white, the blood stays red/ black or white, brain dey your head” . What should make up beauty? Is it make-up, for instance? Hey says you can’t mess with an Ayigbe man. Wake Orp says “allow me to reintroduce myself”, Focus, Some Day predict what happens if we don’t relent, and so on…Hell, even Intro should be part of every child’s morning ritual.
He’s singing, he’s rapping, he’s playing, he’s programming. He’s something special.
The rhythm in which majority of the project comes in, is noteworthy. It’s homage to the roots of our sound, but at the same time, of contemporary worth. The space between past and present is how a perfect future comes about. Worlasi exists in that realm.
The way I felt when I heard Nusɛ, the way I feel when I hear One Life, is strange. Everyone who hears Nusɛ becomes a stalker too. Take Lynna for instance…this is what she texted to him when she stumbled upon his music one day:
“Found you on the weird part of YouTube. Then stalked you on soundcloud. Now making Sunday Jollof with my friends thinking how great your songs are!!!! Bless you.”
Nusɛ is Ewe, and translates as “inner strength”. It’s out there on the internet. It’s still available for download. For free. For free! It’s important you get it now! God, this Ayigbe boy is great!
TRACK BY TRACK
A spoken word piece accompanied by piano chords featuring a child poet reminding us that ‘this body we live in is rented’ and the importance of tapping into our inner souls and abilities for the greater good of mankind-finding the ‘balance’ in life: that balance that kept you from being distracted’ so we can ‘help another get in touch with his/her soul’.
On this military drumbeat driven track, Worlasi forcefully ask people (critics) to respect his hustle (chosen profession) and the direction he is going with his music. With many a musician especially up-coming ones under pressure to blow up, many choose to follow the norm-put out a this-is-here-for-today hot song rather than one that last forever.
Worlasi is one who is going the route the few brave souls have taken hence his caution:Hey, you got your space/ I got mi space/Shine me shine/ Make I shine Me/I’m not a bad guy/But you try getting to my space I go show you say I craze.
A part of Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech about the struggles of the Negro opens this track. Worlasi features one of the amazing poets of our generation, Poetra Asantewa. With thumping drum, trumpet sound and haunting background voices, Freedom explores how one can break out of the ‘cell’ of life (fear) which renders humans:The system tries to dictate your future/You try to unzip yourself and you’d be made a dress that don’t suit ya… And in the process of opposing the known to unveil the unknown/All the world sees is stupidity embedded in our anatomy’
Arguably one of the best tracks on the album thanks to the depth of message. Freedom belongs to Poetra rather than Worlasi.
Focus features rappers Empee Raw and Krack Gyamfi. Optimism reeks all over this song which bubbles with an agbadza rhythm. Worlasi talks about not straying off his life goals (Keep fighting/keep your eye on the ball/No bull shy thing). Singing in Ewe and English to drum home his point, Empee Raw and Krack Gyamfi brought some energy to the track. Though the song carries a mid-tempo feel, Worlasi’s calmness is evident.
Na So translate from pidgin to English as ‘That is it’ and here Worlasi remind us to enjoy the gifts of life with the people we love. With its guitar/string bass line, switching between Ewe and English lingua, Worlasi admonishes us: don’t wait for me to die before you come to my funeral/Call me now make we comot/ And have a good time. You may be forgiven into assuming he featured rapper Lyrical Wanzam.
WAKE ORP (Up)
Violin strings, piano synths hovering over hip hop beats dominate Wake Orp (Up). Wake Orp is about striving for the best in life. The electro-synth chorus (You did it/Worla, You did it) is like an orchestra ensemble where all the instruments, in unison hit a crescendo. Worlasi points to some of the people who inspired his pidgin rap-The Fokn Bois (M3nsa and Wanlov), EL, C-Real and Skillions (obviously Lil’ Shaker) get honourable mentions. ‘See me today I say a bi rapper/ One day me too I go pay 25K to feature Busta (Rhymes)’. No malice intended with this line I guess. This is a personal favourite.
TELL ME feat. SHIKA
The instrumentations mirrors the classic Lauryn Hill and Bob Marley ‘Turn Your Light Down Low’ tune and carries some lush Carlos Santana-esque guitar riffs. On this track Mr. W croons somberly about a relationship gone south (I don’t care about my own tears/But I see you babe shed tears/The pain is more than I shed tears/So, baby make it stop). Shika’s lingering soulful vocals despite being trapped beneath the kick and bass, excellently offers shade to the song. One has to acknowledge Worlasi’s ability to pick the best voice to feature on his songs. The two sounded amazing, bringing their emotions to bear on it.Feels like I’m caught up in a shoot/ And still looks like I’m the only one in sight.
POSSIBLE feat. MERCH KONNECT
Another favourite off the album. That beautiful bass drop and violin strings (is it harmonica?) before his voices makes an appearance is awesome. Possible is about having a positive outlook to life knowing everything can be achieved: you never know who is great or who’s not/You never know until you try/And when you do/you go maybe fall/But go on and try.
And didn’t Meche Konnect, the US based songstress just slay with her verse and delivery? It’s like her words were lashing against the beat, reminiscent of Chrisette Michelle on Let Me Win). Notwithstanding the comparison, Meche Konnect killed it.
This piano driven rendition is about the swings of life- how everything can come full circle in the future: You got it all /We ain’t got shit but life goes on…/We no catch the clouds sef/ they call we stars.
This song explores the paradoxical situation of the black man; where the black man continuously doubt his own abilities and prefers to rely on the expertise of the white man. The opening statement of the song is powerful: I no barb/ Black man come see white man them dey jump around/Whiteman come see black man see them/ Them dey start run cos black man be scary man’. Black man is a call for self-believe, being self-relaint and eschewing the negative stereotype about the black man.
On this track, Worlasi goes into a conversation with his mum, telling her about his dreams of wanting to be a Superman and save the world (with his music) but not by ending up with a ‘white colour’ job. The beat is a mix of electro, trap and afrobeat influences giving it an interesting outlook.
Unlooking is a slang to mean ‘not looking or paying attention’ and here Worlasi talks about how people vow to not succumb to things but end up doing the exact opposite: Fine boy dey pass you frown like you no dey like but you spy am from the corner of your eye/ Shankus dey pass/automatically my guy you go spy’. The African rhythms are too groovy to refuse its call to dance.
This song draw parallels with his previous single Ay3 Adze (Well Done) in terms of instrumentation and singing style (though this beats is up-tempo ). The song is a reminder to live happy, smile broadly despite the many obstacles and forget the troubles of the past: why don’t you smile? Let it go…Whatever has happened is in the past?’ Good advice.
Apocalypse carries a pop-funk rhythm which would get you moving. But, the message in the song is relevantly piercing ‘Apocalypse dey come/But be like no bro dey run/ Taxes too dey rise/so be like everybody make wild.
Listening to Nus3 is nothing short of refreshing-from the arrangements to delivery. The album oozes authenticity; a breakaway from the generic hip life/azonto music replete on radio today. Nus3’s strength lies in the lyrics that sit comfortably within these well crafted, infectious jazzy, soul and hip hop and afro beats rhythms which fill the album. Judging by the tons of thoughts expressed on this album, Worlasi comes across as the old soul alive inhabiting a young body.
With Nus3, Worlasi joins a growing legion of young, brave artistes such as Kyekyeku and Delasi who a carving a niche by recording and performing an ‘unpopular’ genre of music and earning respect for it. The album is yours to Love because there isn’t anything to hate.
Nov 10, 2016
The visionary sound of Blitz The Ambassador has been years in the making; with each album crafted to reflect a sonic and visual narrative unique to Blitz's personal experience. His fourth studio album 'Diasporadical' exemplifies this trajectory. Blitz spent a great deal of time traveling between Accra, Salvador Bahia and Brooklyn experiencing the similarities between the African diaspora. "The album title 'Diasporadical' was born out of this experience" Blitz explains. " The radical notion that no matter how fragmented the African diaspora is, the influence of rhythm and spirituality remains largely the same."
On Diasporadical, Blitz conjures his signature blend of Classic Hip-Hop and Contemporary African rhythms, enlisting producers like Optiks and IAMNOBODI to create a seamless fusion of live instruments and hard hitting beats. To bring his vision to life, Blitz assembled a supporting cast of continental and diaspora African artists such as Tumi, Akua Naru, Kamau, Patrice, M.anifest and Somi. The sonic result is a three act narrative, crafted like a stage play.
Diasporadical offers itself as a study of intersections between the global African experience and struggle. No track exemplifies this more than A(wake), written in response to police brutality and the 'Black Lives Matter' movement in America. Inspiration also came from the 'Fees Must Fall' movement in South Africa and the Afro-Brazilian protests during the Olympics.Besides it's politically charged message, Diasporadical also explores themes common in Blitz's past work. Immigration (Hello Africa), Spirituality (Heaven), Nostalgia (Long Time Coming) and Love (Juju Girl).
To reinforce these themes, Blitz directed a 15 minute short film called 'Diasporadical Trilogia'. The story follows a woman who mysteriously wakes up in three different continents. Through a magical realism lens, she shares her memories of growing up as a little girl in Brooklyn, a young lady in Accra and a middle aged woman in Salvador Bahia. With Diasporadical, Blitz has brought his sonic and visual journey full circle. From immigrant struggles on 'Native Sun', to touring in over 30 countries on 'Afropolitan Dreams', this is the album Blitz has been writing his whole life.
01. Act I
02. Hello Africa
04. Juju Girl
05. Act II
08. If Dem No Know
09. Act III ft. Somi
10. Long Time Coming
Labels: Blitz the Ambassador
Oct 21, 2016
Afrobeat: It’s the best answer to a small-town Swedish winter.
So says Music is the Weapon, a Nordic response to the brash message and sound of Nigeria’s Fela Kuti. A twelve-mem
The band brings a distinct skill and savvy to the maverick musician’s
“We’re not fighting the same fight in Sweden as Fela did in Nigeria, of course, but I feel that in some way it’s political to play this kind of music in clubs here,” explains Christophe
Music Is The Weapon have tapped into a previously
Music Is The Weapon
A little left of our usual trajectory (usual direction - solid Scandinavian soul searching), we discovered a Swedish band who managed to turn our heads. With a new album out now, Music Is The Weapon have also taken a new direction.
Through a new collaboration with producer Sven Johansson, the band has been able to channel his energy through the music console. The challenge has been to refine the ideas and pick out the songs from the massive sound stage Music Is The Weapon has become known for.
Now the dynamic band’s fifth album, Sweet Choral Motion, aims to further explore the sound that was born on the last album "Moving Foundation and Outer Space". This time they have streamlined the new album which has led to a whole new sound with the string arrangements now intermingled with vibrant percussion.
The result is a creative mix of spacejazz, afrobeat and soul. The intricate layers of instrumentation should also be a perfect test of your speakers clarity.
Labels: Music Is The Weapon
Oct 18, 2016
Marabout Orkestra presents "Seven Lives"
Le Marabout Orkestra is pleased to present its first opus!
Compositions that blend of Jazz-Funk influences the music of the African Continent and the Caribbean. After years of sound exploration, style Marabout Orkestra has become more than obvious.
It is in 2013 that the saxophonist and composer Johann protean Guihard founded the Marabout Orkestra. Adept crate digging for ten years, building a repertoire inspired by African music became his goal. Rather than specializing in one style, he prefers to fly over countries to offer a creative patchwork.
Quickly joined by five seasoned musicians, so this combo acoustic (no bass but a sousaphone) and electrical (3 saxes plugged effects) begins a surprising stylistic and sonic journey.
The first album is a reflection of a hybrid music, creating an imaginary folklore.
Songs recorded at Studio Bonison (Tribeqa, Malted Milk, Pura Fe ...) evoke the rhythms and melodies inspired by Africa and the Caribbean (Afrobeat, Ethiojazz, Highlife, Soca ...) that intertwine with the Spiritual Jazz, the Fusion Psyche or 70's ...
Much inspired by the creativity of the Souljazz Orchestra by the groove of Herbie Hancock and the psychedelia of "Moshi" Barney Wilen, this musical fusion creates a sense of fresh freedom, an instrumental freedom without pretense or claim ...
Labels: Marabout Orkestra
Oct 7, 2016
When futuristic Namibian rap trio Black Vulcanite burst onto the southern African hip-hop scene in 2013, they brought with them an air of consciousness that had been missing for some time. Ever since Tumi‘s Once Upon a Time in Africa and Zubz‘s Get Out, SA hip-hop had been missing the unspoken truths we were all witnessing but could do little about. Black Vulcanite’s Remember the Future, however, foreshadowed a rise in black consciousness throughout southern Africa. They’ve been relatively quiet since then, but with the rise of #FeesMustFall in South Africa, #ThisFlag in Zimbabwe and various other protest movements throughout the region, there’s perhaps no better time than now for the group’s return.
Despite the distance now between them – Ali is in Namibia, Mark has been travelling throughout Europe and Niko is in Beijing – the trio is back this month with another thought-provoking catalogue. Black Colonialists, their 22-track sophomore effort, is gutsy, sincere and insightful, peppered with intergalactic fiction and time travel.
The first track they recorded for the album, “Jupiter’s Love,” is an ode to the ever-elusive “woman of their dreams.” The song’s video, which we’re excited to premiere here today, is an exquisite reclamation of space at the Afrikaans Language Monument, also known as the Taal Monument in Paarl, Cape Town. It sees the group team up with Zunaid Green and the rest of The Visual Content Gang. In the conversation below, Black Vulcanite take us inside their galvanizing new project.
The following interview has been edited and condensed.
The title track, “Black Colonialists,” opens the album. Can you elaborate on your intent with this project.
We chose the title “Black Colonialists” to set the theme for what the entire album is about, namely the occupation of economic, cultural, futuristic and historic spaces that haven’t always welcomed a black presence. The words often carry a negative connotation, so using the title is a repossession of meaning in itself. It’s an ode for all the people of different cultures who are defying stereotypes and taking on complexities that are not afforded to people of color. We are forced to rest in places with limited mobility, told what we are and what are are not.
This album, in the words of Saul Williams, speaks truth to power structures that box us in. The theme of course also forces us to reimagine the colonised and coloniser dialectic, using afrofuturism to reconcile challenging historical realities, forcing us to confront victimhood and instead imagine the diaspora not as a tragedy of stolen human potential but an unwitting invasion of all the places where black people had little influence.
Choosing this title was also about holding Africa’s enemies accountable while reclaiming narratives, looking at the transatlantic slave tragedy, Haiti, Jamaica, Portugal, Spain, as our own unique opportunities to influence culture and ultimately the future of our civilization.
Why did you pick “Jupiter’s Love” for the first video?
“Jupiter’s Love” is the first song we wrote specifically for this album. We wanted to shoot it because it is sublime in terms of subject matter. A compromise between our staunch political stance and playing to the taste of the market.
Shooting at Taal was of course very significant, especially given how problematic brutalist architecture can be. The monument is often seriously implicated as a vestige of apartheid modernity that locates past-aggressor political communities in “post-apartheid” society. Although the monument is much more than a commemoration to Afrikaans culture and settler history, we felt that it was important to perform our song there to dismantle the grip of the apartheid legacy and give way to a more progressive conversation on land and citizenship.
On the first track, you mention an “African Student Socialist Space Program.” What’s the link between this very afrocentric narrative and thoughts about space and futurism?
The African Student Socialist Space Program is an extension of the Zambian space programme of 1964, something that is seen as Africa’s laughable attempt to participate in the space race.
We decided to build on this idea and revitalise it because we felt it had a strong mythology, something that would inspire the very capable Africans of today to start dreaming again, to unite and collaborate towards a viable space programme which from a world view demonstrates the full scientific capabilities of any group of nations. We are still hopeful that one day we will see a concerted effort from African scientists to do something great. Of course these days, space is the place. Futurism just so happens to be the most effective lens of imagining and inspiring this kind of future.
What are your thoughts on African identities? What does it mean to you to be African?
Well at least to us, identity is about shared values… it’s hard to think of shared values for Africans in this colonial hangover that we are currently in though. There is a deliberate effort from the part of white capital to see that any ideas of a shared African identity remains fragmented.
The closest we’ve come to a shared African identity is Ubuntu, which is supposed to be the characteristic spirit of the African zeitgeist, but we wonder if it didn’t come a little too late. We’d like to think that being African is supporting all the positive values of African society, things like Ubuntu and self-determination, but in truth it would need to be a negotiation of African greatness in antiquity, colonial trauma and the idealism of present day.
It goes beyond [Thabo] Mbeki’s speech. To call it one thing would undermine the plurality of cultural values and identities that exist in different parts of the continent but to call it constructed also de-legitimises one shared African identity which exists for most parts of Africa. A more personal definition would be to say being African is viewing the unique culture and history of this continent as an opportunity and using it to become difficult to exploit.
Labels: Black Vulcanite