Category: Afro Caribbean Music

New Video: The Legendary Calypso Rose Teams up with Carlos Santana and The Garifuna Collective on “Watina”

Born Linda McCartha Monica Sandy-Lewis in Bethel Village, Tobago, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to a religious, fisherman father and a stay-at-home mother, the legendary Calypso Rose first started writing her own songs when she was 13. In the 1960s, the Mother of Calypso emerged as the epitome of Caribbean music: Her first commercial successes included 1966’s “Fire In Me Wire,” which she performed with Bob Marley & The Wailers in New York the following year.

Throughout her lengthy almost 60-year music career, the Mother of Calypso has written more than 1,000 songs and recorded over the 20 songs — all while being the first major female calypso star. Her lyrics frequently tackle issues like racism and sexism: in fact, her towering influence on calypso forced the renaming of the Calypso King competition to the Calypso Monarch, which she won in 1978.

Since 2015’s Far From Home, which featured multiple collaborations with Manu Chao, Calypso Rose’s career has seen a resurgence — with booming attention internationally. She has been busy spreading calypso around the world, playing around 200 shows in a four year span including sets at Les Vielles Charrues, We Love Green, and WOMAD festivals, as well as ParisOlympia Hall. In 2019, the calypso legend played at Coachella, becoming the oldest artist to ever play the festival.

Throughout her career, the calypso legend’s work is rooted in a remarkable and infectious optimism: While she continues to tackle issues like feminism, sexism, racism and the fight for a better, fairer world for individuals and for everyone, her work has always seen her bring up hedonistic subjects like partying, sex, the energy of youth and the like with a playful, knowing sense of wisdom and humor, which continues on her forthcoming album Forever, which is slated for a an August 26, 2022 release through Because Music.

Forever‘s material in particular conveys strong messages about the status of women in the various neighborhoods across the world she’s come to know well and love: Jamaica, Queens, NYC; her homeland of Trinidad and Tobago; Paris; and Belize. Each of these places have influenced and nourished her work — and in each, was where portions of the album were recorded. Unsurprisingly, the global spanning nature of its recording, allowed for so many difference influences on its overall sound: The material draws from across the Caribbean Diaspora, including rocksteady, soca, ska, mento — and of course, calypso.

The album sees the calypso legend presenting original material with a distinctly modern approach and revisiting some of her greatest classics. The end result is an album that attempts to speak to everyone — and to transcend all ages. Forever sees the Mother of Calypso collaborating with a diverse and eclectic cast of artists new and old throughout it’s 14 tracks, including Manu Chao, soca king Machel Montano, Jamaican dancehall icon Mr. Vegas, Toulouse, France-based emcee Oli, electronic duo Synapson and a lengthy list of others.

Forever‘s first single, the shuffling, genre-defying “Watina” which sees the Queen of Calypso collaborating with Belize’s The Garifuna Collective and the legendary Carlos Santana, who contributes some fiery and lysergic guitar licks effortlessly meshes dancehall, ska, soca and calypso in a crowd-pleasing, accessible and celebratory fashion — while telling a larger story of the ills of colonialism and slavery that’s familiar throughout the region.

With “Watina” in particular, Calypso Rose and company pay homage to the Garifuna, a Caribbean people scarred by slavery, excluded from history and memory but whose population is spread across the US, as well as the coasts of Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the Calypso Rose’s beloved Belize, which has been a part of her life in some fashion for over 40 years. “Watina” was originally a local hit for The Garifuna Collective, founded and led by Andy Palacio until his death in 2008.

Interestingly, “Watina” was produced by Calypso Rose’s longtime, Belizean-born producer Ivan Duran. Duran worked with Palacio and The Garifuna Collective and according to Duran, the legend was the only person, who could recapture the frenzy and impact of the song while respecting Palacio’s legacy.

By recording and re-imagining the song with many of the same casts of musicians sees the Trinidadian legend reaffirming her ties to Belize while continuing to exploit the dichotomy between the song’s upbeat, festive spirit and its social — and historical — message.

Directed by Andrés Arochi Tinajero, the gorgeously cinematic, accompanying video was shot in Hopkins Village, Belize. The video lovingly captures Black and Afro-Latino joy, dedication and love in a way that makes my heart sing — and is infectious.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Ibeyi Release a Dreamy and Symbolic Visual for Swaggering “Made of Gold”

Deriving their name from the Yoruba word for twins ibeji, the acclaimed French-Cuban, London-based twin sibling duo Ibeyi (pronounced ee-bey-ee) — Lisa-Kainde Diaz and Naomi Diaz — can trace the origins of their music career to growing up in a deeply musical home: their father, Anga Diaz, was best known for his work as a member of the intentionally acclaimed Buena Vista Social Club and for collaborating with Ibrahim Ferrer, Ruben Gonzalez and Compay Segundo. Sadly, Anga died with the Diaz Sisters were 11.

Upon their father’s death, the Diaz Sisters began studying Yoruba folk songs and the cajon an Afro-Caribbean drum that their father played throughout most of his music career. Interestingly, although Yoruba is primarily spoken throughout Nigeria and Benin, the African language has been spoken in some fashion in the Diaz Sisters’ native Cuba since the 1700s, when the slave trade brought Africans to the Caribbean. When the sisters began studying their late father’s musical culture and heritage, they had a deeper understanding of their father as a person; but they also were in touch with their ancestral history.

The duo’s 2015 self-titled debut was released to widespread critical praise. Thematically, the album dealt with the past — the loss of their father, their relationship with each other, their father’s origins, their own origins and connecting with their roots. The album’s saw the duo quickly establishing a unique sound that meshes elements of electro pop, hip-hop, jazz, the blues and Yoruba folk music. The JOVM mainstays’ sophomore album, 2017’s Ash found the duo writing songs firmly rooted in Afro-Cuban culture and history while being among the most visceral, politically charged material of their catalog to date, with the album thematically touching upon race, gender and sexual identity.

Earlier this year, the twins headed back into the studio to begin work on their third, full-length album. Understandably, feeling a sense of chaos, informed by the chaotic state of our world, the acclaimed twins set out to invoke the age-old teachings of their ancestors to remobilize the power of their birth-given destiny as Ibeyi.

The duo are currently working on the album, which is slated for release next year. But in the meantime, “Made of Gold” is the first bit of new material from the London-based JOVM mainstays since the release of Ash. Centered around a lush and textured production featuring atmospheric synths, buzzing bass synths, skittering tweeter and woofer rattling beats that evokes unease and menace while meshing contemporary Afro pop/Afrobeats, electro pop and trap in an infectious fashion. While being one of the few songs of the sibling duo’s growing catalog with lyrics sung in English, the song features swaggering verses delivered by Gambian-British emcee Pa Salieu.

“The first song we produced in the studio was ‘Made of Gold.’ Whilst we were creating the layers of the backing vocals, we could feel that we were making contact with our ancestors; that what we were recording was calling on the brujas and our ancestors for their ancient knowledge,” says Lisa-Kaindé Diaz. “‘Made of Gold’ is about connecting to our ancestors’ knowledge, to the truths of the past and the power of the ancient. The line is not broken, nor is it lost. Protected by these spells, our third album will see us conveying our reconnection to that power and channeling that magic into our new music.”

Directed by Daniel Sannwald, the recently released video for “Made of Gold” is a highly symbolic, gorgeously shot visual conceptualized by Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi. The video is inspired by Frida Kahlo’s The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth (Mexico), Diego, Me and Señor Xolotl. The video features Naomi as the Queen of Thunder, a referrence to her Yoruba god, Shango — and Lisa-Kaindé as the Queen of Water, a reference to her Yoruba goddess, Yemaya, Emerging from the sky to join the sun and the moon is Pa Salieu. It’s trippy fever dream but much like their music rooted in their Yoruba heritage and tradition.

New Audio: Emerging Artist Mighty Koba Releases a Summery Club Banger

Mighty Koba is an emerging and somewhat mysterious Cameroonian-American singer/songwriter. His latest single “Whine Poko” sees the emerging artist seamlessly bridging multiple cultures and styles with a slick and breezy dance floor friendly production featuring elements of Afrobeat, Afropop, reggae, dancehall and soca paired with an infectious, razor sharp hook.

With the temperatures dropping a bit here in the Northeast as we push further into Fall, “Whine Poko” at the moment is simultaneously, a nostalgic blast of summer and the sort of song you want to wine down with that pretty young thing at the club.

New Audio: Italian Percussionist Gabriele Poso Releases a French West Indies Inspired Banger

Gabriele Poso is an acclaimed Italian multi-instrumentalist, master percussionist, Worldwide FM presenter and director of the Yoruba Soul Orchestra. Poso’s musical passion has taken him around the world, Initially to Rome, then to Puerto Rico, Cuba and most recently, Berlin. Between 1998 and 2001. Poso delved deeply into the study of Afro-Cuban percussion — first at Rome’s Timba School of Music, under the guidance of Roberto “Mamey” Evangelista, one of the country’s most important representatives of Afro-Cuban culture and music. In late 2001, Poso relocated to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he attended the Universidad Interamerica de Puerto Rico and continued his studies, which culminated with a masterclass at Havana’s Escuela Nacional de Arte.

Poso’s solo debut 2008’s From The Genuine World was released through Osunlade’s Yoruba Records, which de supported with tours across Europe and elsewhere. His sophomore effort, 2012’s Roots of Soul was released through German label INFRACom! Poso’s third album, 2014’s Invocation was released through German label Agogo Records. 2018’s Awakening was released through British label Barely Breaking Even. 2019’s Batik was released through British label Soundway Records. Interestingly, each album found the Italian percussion looking east, across the Atlantic for inspiration and rhythms.

n October 1, 2021 release through Wonderwheel Recordings. Recorded in Leece, Italy, almost entirely by the Italian master percussionist, the stars of the show are drum and percussion. And much like its predecessors, the album’s material finds Poso continuing to look across the Atlantic for inspiration and rhythms — this time the French West Indies, in particular Guadeloupe and Martinique. “I’m in love with everything about the sound of their drums, it’s very unique warm and deep sound,” Poso explains.

“I put a lot of attention to the sound on this record, exploring new ways for me to record, through analog tape and different analog tools, such as analog delay,” Poso says of the forthcoming 10-song album. “That’s very much present in the whole album and gives a new direction to my sound with a psychedelic touch and a dancefloor attitude that is stronger than the previous album.”

“La Bola,” Tamburo Infinito’s second and latest single features a dancehall and soca friendly bass line, the sort of spaced-out reverb that the late, great Lee “Scratch” Perry would love, exultant horns drenched in reverb, and seemingly infinite layers of Afro Caribbean percussion. The end result is a euphoric, club banger that’s soulful and lovingly crafted.

New Video: French Genre-Defying Act Jahlover Releases a Summery Club Banger

Jahlover is a unique and emerging French that boldly and defiant defies genre and sonic boundaries — and although they’re primarily a reggae act, their sound features elements of several different genres and styles including zouk, salsa, hip-hop, Afrobeat, rumba, rock and pop. Interestingly, as a result of their globe-spanning sound, the act’s lyrics are written and sung in several different languages. While being commercially accessible, the act’s overall objective is to use their music for just and righteous causes — to promote justice and equality for all, preserving and protecting Mother Earth and of course, to be anti-racist. So overall their goal is to spread positive messages of love, peace, understanding and kindness to all. 

The French act’s latest single “Do You Feel (Ressens Tu) is a breezy and summery banger centered around a sinuous bass line, twinkling percussion, stuttering beats and sultry vocals singing lyrics in English and French, plus an old-school spoken word section delivered in a baritone reminiscent of Boyz 2 Men — and as a result, the song manages to further cement their globalist, Pan African sound while being remarkably upbeat. 

Denzel White · KILLA DEM (feat. AshtnMrtn)

Denzel White is a Brooklyn-born, Elmont, NY-based singer/songwriter, who can trace much of the origins of his musical career to growing up in a musically inclined West Indian family of DJs and emcees, who played a diverse and eclectic array of music. Being surrounded by music inspired a young White to join his high school choir, which helped him develop and hone his own craft as a vocalist.

While attending Binghamton University, White was approached to Join The Koyas, a local jam band as their lead singer. The septet quickly took the campus by storm, performing at a number of school events before winning the school’s Battle of the Bands two years in a row. Upon graduation, White and the members of The Koyas traveled to New York for a handful of live shows, including opening slots for Dwele and A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg.

The Koyas split up in 2011. Each of the band’s individual members went on to pursue different creative pursuits with White eagerly starting a solo career. For inspiration, the Brooklyn-born, Elmont-based singer/songwriter studied the work of Patti LaBelle,  Luther Vandross, and Maxwell, eventually cultivating his own vocal styling, which blends contemporary elements with old school soul.

His debut effort, 2015’s Lehkz, Allen Ritter and Mike Urena co-produced The Prequel found the Brooklyn-born, Elmont-based artist establishing a concrete artistic vision, with the material centered around pieces of his life story — primarily his fears and feelings that would otherwise be left unsaid. Since the release of The Prequel, White has released a handful of singles including 2016’s “Get To You” and 2017’s “Alright,” which has amassed over 150,000 streams. His latest track, “KILLA DEM” is collaboration with AshnMrtn centered around an infectious hook sultry Dancehall riddims, twinkling synths, wobbling low end and swaggering vocal turns from the duo that manages to be summery, club banger with a contemporary, radio friendly production.


New Video: Phillipe Blaze Releases an Intimate Look at Guadeloupe in New Visual for “DLO”

Phillipe Blaze is a Guadeloupe-born and-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and composer, whose family moved to France when he was small.  Spending much of his life in France, Blaze’s musical career can be traced back to the 80s: he participated in Paris’ reggae and rock scenes before relocating to Nantes. Eventually, Blaze wound up returning to Guadelope and while there he discovered the traditional music of the island — Zouk and Gwo Ka which is played with a big drum, locally known as ka. 

After working with the island group’s biggest names, Blaze released his first bit of solo material in 1996; however, by the following year, he founded JÒD LA (which in French means today) and through the release of three albums, the act honed and developed Gwo Ka Evolutif, which meshes the 7 rhymes of traditional Gwo Ka and Western instrumentation — i.e., guitar, piano, bass, sax, etc. Since then, Blaze has gone solo — and his latest single, the 13 song Eritaj features 8 compositions and 5 songs, including the album’s latest single, “DLO.” Centered around shimmering and looping guitars, propulsive polyrhythm and fluttering flute, the track is a breezy bit of Afropop influenced Tropicalia. 

The recently released video offers a glimpse of daily life on the Guadeloupe island group — but there’s a decided focus on the importance of water in our daily lives. 

Live Footage: Burna Boy Performs “Anybody” for Vevo CTRL

  With the release of 2013’s Leriq-produced full-length debut L.I.F.E., which featured attention-grabbing singles like  “Like to Party,” “Tonight”, “Always Love You”, “Run My Race” and “Yawa Dey,” Burna Boy, a Nigerian Afro-fusion singer/songwriter, born Damini […]