Tag: Fela Kuti

New Audio: Sampha Shimmering, Dance Floor Friendly Remix of Legendary Malian Vocalist Oumou Sangare’s “Minata Waraba”

Oumou Sangare is a Bamako, Mail-born and-based, Grammy Award-winning,  singer/songwriter and musician, who comes from a deeply musical family, as her mother, Aminata Diakite was a renowned singer. When Sangare was young, her father had abandoned the family, and she helped her mother feed the family by singing; in fact, by the time she had turned five, Sangare had been well known as a highly gifted singer. After making it to the finals of a nursery school talent show, a very young Sangare performed in front of a crowd of 6,000 at Omnisport Stadium — and by the time she was 16, she had gone on tour with a nationally known percussion act, Djoliba.

Sangare’s 1989 debut effort, Moussoulou (which translates into English as “Women”) was recorded with renowned Malian music master Amadou Ba Guindo, and was a commercial success across Africa, as it sold over 200,000 copies. With the help of the world renowned Malian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ali Farka Toure, the father of Vieux Farka Toure, Sangare signed with English record label World Circuit — and by the time she turned 21, she had received an internationally known profile. Interestingly, Sangare is considered both an ambassador of Mali and the Wassoulou region of the country, just south of the Niger River, lovingly referred to as “The Songbird of Wassoulou,” as her music draws from the music and traditional dances of the region while lyrically her work has been full of social criticism, focusing on the low status of women within Malian society and elsewhere, and the desire to have freedom of choice in all matters of one’s life, from who they can marry to being financially independent.

Interestingly, since 1990 Sangare has performed at some of the world’s most important venues and festivals including the Melbourne Opera, Roskilde Festival, Gnaoua World Music Festival, WOMAD, Oslo World Music Festival and the Opera de la Monnaie, while releasing several albums including — 1993’s Ko Sira, 1996’s Worotan and 2004’s 2 CD compilation Oumou. Adding to a growing profile, Sangare has toured with Baaba Mal, Femi Kuti and Boukman Eksperyans, and she has been named a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in 1998, won the UNESCO Prize in 2001 and was named an ambassador of the FAO in 2003.

Mogoya which translates into English as “People Today,” was Sangare’s first full-length effort in over 22 years, and it was released to critical praise from the likes of Dazed, The Fader, The Guardian while making the Best of 2017 Lists of Mojo, the BBC, the aforementioned The Guardian as well as Gilles Peterson — and the album found the renowned Malian artist collaboration with the legendary Tony Allen and French production team A.L.B.E.R.T. and pushing her sound in a new, direction; in fact album single “Minata Waraba” features  Sangare’s gorgeous and expressive voice with shimmering African instrumentation paired with a slick and hyper modern production that emphasizes a sinuous, electric bass line and shuffling, complex polyrhythm that reminds me of a 2013 Fela Kuti tribute compilation, Red Hot + Fela, which featured contemporary artists re-imagining some of the Afrobeat creator’s signature tunes.

Sangare will be releasing the Mogoya Remixed album through Nø Førmat Records today, and the album features remixes of the album’s material by contemporary artists and producers, who have been high profile fans of her work; in fact the album’s latest single is from the British-born and based producer and artist Sampha. Sampha has split his time between solo and collaborative work, and has worked with the likes of SBTRKT, FKA Twigs, Jesse Ware, Drake, Beyonce, Kanye West, Solange and Frank Ocean. His full-length debut Process won the Mercury Music Prize last year, and earned him a 2018 BRIT Award nomination for Best British Breakthrough.

Sampha has publicly mentioned his love of Oumou Sangare’s music, explain in press notes, “My dad had a copy of Oumou’s album Worotan and no other album has spoken to me quite like that. Her music has been a huge inspiration ever since and it’s a real honour to have remixed some of her music.” Sampha’s remix retains Sangare’s crystalline vocals but pairs it with a thumping production, featuring tribal house like beats and shimmering arpeggiated synths that while modern, still keeps the song rooted to Africa. Interestingly, Sangare has mentioned being bowled over by Sampha’s remix, saying  “When I first heard Sampha’s remix, I was amazed at the beat. Our rhythmic patterns are not always easy for Western people. But, wow, Sampha’s beat is definitely African, definitely. Listening to it I can tell that Sampha has African blood in his veins. I am really excited by this version, I play it again and again.”

New Audio: Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 Team Up with The Legendary Carlos Santana on a Funky and Powerful New Single

Lagos, Nigeria-born and-raised multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and singer/songwriter Seun Kuti is the youngest son of the legendary and controversial Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. And as the story goes when Seun was nine, he expressed a desire to perform with his father — and within a short time, Seun started performing with his father’s backing band Egypt 80. Much like his older brother, Femi, Seun Kuti has followed the political and social ethos of his late father, continuing to push their father’s pro-Black, pan-African/pan-African Diaspora, anti-colonialist, sociopolitical messages to wider, international audiences. Oddly enough, during Fela’s life, he was in many ways the bane of the Nigerian political establishment, as he bravely called out the hypocrisy, inequality, inequity, corruption and brutality that they and their fellow countrymen faced on a daily basis — while pointing out that corruption and brutality is always the same.

However, with increasing international attention on both Fela and his sons over the past 20 years, the Kutis have managed to walk a careful tightrope of siding with the little guy and courageous speaking truth to power at all costs, including risk of life and limb while also becoming unofficial ambassadors to Nigeria, their proud and beautiful people and their culture. Around the time, I started this site, I caught Femi Kuti and Positive Force at Irving Plaza and there was a proud contingency of Nigerians, who spoke of Femi and his father with proud, reverential terms, at one point referring to Femi as “Professor!” “Speak Professor, Speak!” They would exclaim whenever Femi would say something that resonated with them. In some way, I was reminded of how older Jamaicans speak of Bob Marley.

Fela died in 1997 when Femi was 35 and Seun was just 14. Almost immediately upon his father’s death, Seun took over the frontperson duties of his father’s legendary backing band, a band that features members of his father’s backing bands Afrika ’70 and Egypt 80 — many of whom were with Fela, when he was speaking out about the Nigerian government at a time, when doing so could mean risking jail, brutal beatings an/or death. And interestingly enough, Seun’s 2008 debut effort Many Things was produced by Martin Meissonnier, who produced two of Fela’s albums.

Now, as you may know live, Seun Kuti has developed a reputation for sets being a fair mix of his own original material, along with covers of his father’s material, and because his father rarely (if ever) performed songs he recorded in the studio live, Seun covering his father’s material is often seen as an opportunity for fans to hear songs like “Water Get No Enemy,” “Shuffering and Shmiling,” “Colonial Mentality” and “Army Arrangement” live — and with a dynamism that rivals that of his late father.

Seun Kuti’s fourth album with Egypt 80, Black Times is slated for a March 2, 2018 release through British label Strut Records, and the new album reportedly finds Seun and company honoring the revolutionaries who have come and gone before while being a much needed rallying cry for the torchbearers to come. And to further emphasize that theme, the album finds Seun and the legendary Egypt 80 collaborating with a list of acclaimed musicians and artists, including Carlos Santana and Robert Glasper, among others. As Seun Kuti explains in press notes, “Black Times is a true reflection of my political and social beliefs. It is an album for anybody who believes in change and understands the duty we have to rise up and come together. The elites always try to divide the working class and the poor people of the world. The same oppression felt by workers in Flint, Michigan is felt by workers in Lagos and Johannesburg.”

The funky yet blistering album title track and first single “Black Times” features the imitable guitar work of Carlos Santana in a song that’s meant to shine a black light on society, exposing its rot, immorality and hypocrisy while pointing out the need for Black folk all over the world to band together and demand justice and inequality for all people. But beyond that it suggests that everyone needs to take a serious look at themselves and their world in order to truly begin to change it — and while it may be hard work, it’s necessary work to make the world better.

Comprised of Xanthous Papanikolaou (vocals, guitar), Bill Tzelepis (guitar), John Vulgaris (drums), Panos Papanikolaou (keys) and Aris Rammos (bass), the Athens, Greece-based garage rock/psych rock act Bazooka initially formed in Volos, Greece back in 2008. As the story goes, within their first year together, they relocated to Athens to pick up live gigs, and while the country and its capital city were in the midst of one of the most severe economic downturns in recent memory, the members of Bazooka, along with acts like Acid Baby Jesus, Gay Anniversary and A Victim of Society became pioneers of a burgeoning, attention grabbing DIY scene that played in squats across the city. But interestingly enough, Bazooka had set themselves apart for being one of the more primal and savage of the entire Athens scene.

Their 2013 full-length debut was released through Slovenly Records, and the Greek garage psych rockers followed that up with two 7 inch EPs — Shame my Brain and I Want To Fuck All The Girls In My School, and their 2016 sophomore, full-length effort Useless Generation. And adding to a growing international profile, the band has toured throughout the European Union and the US.

Their latest effort, the 12 inch EP Zougla (Jungle) was recently released through Inner Ear Records, and the effort finds the band expanding upon their sound while retaining the power and impetuosity of their sound — and emphasizing Greek verse. The EP’s first single and title track features blistering guitar, propulsive polyrhythm, complete with congas and cowbell, wild animal noises and howled vocals to create a primal and furious song that nods at Thee Oh Sees, Fela Kuti and Here Lies Man, complete with a driving and forceful groove; but they manage to pair that with a fuzzy, lysergic vibe that makes their sound and approach incredibly nuanced and wildly anachronistic as though it could have been released in 1963 or — well, last week.

New Audio: Here Lies Man Releases a Psych Rock Cover of Fela Kuti’s “Sorrow Tears and Blood”

With the release of their self-titled full-length debut earlier this year, the Los Angeles, CA-based act Here Lies Man founded by Marcos Garcia, who was a member of renowned Afrobeat act Antibalas and featuring fellow Antibalas bandmates Chico Mann (guitar, vocals) and Geoff Mann (drums), along with Rich Panta (percussion), JP Maramba (bass) and Kris Casto (organ), have developed a reputation for a sound that seamlessly bridges classic, Fela Kuti-era Afrobeat with classic, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin-era rock. 

Building upon a growing national profile, the band will be releasing a 12 inch EP Animal Noises, which is slated for release on Friday through RidingEasy Records, and the EP’s first single is a psych rock cover of Fela Kuti’s “Sorrow, Tears and Blood” that manages to retain the song’s melody and furious outrage while turning into an blistering, arena rock-friendly jam. 

New Video: The Genre-Blurring, Global Sound and Visuals of French Experimental Pop Act Aquaserge

Featuring members of Tame Impala, Stereolab, Acid Mothers Temple and Melody’s Echo Chamber, the French act Aquaserge formed back in 2005 as way for its members to explore and experiment with Kraut rock, prog rock, free jazz and French pop in a similar fashion to Serge Gainsbourg, Frank Zappa, The Beach Boys and others. And as you’ll hear on “Tour du Monde,” the latest single off the act’s recently released full-length debut, Laisse ça être, the act specializes in a mischievously weird, kaleidoscopic, genre-blurring sound that draws from jazz, Afropop, psych rock, free jazz, jazz fusion and pop — and they do so with a swaggering, strutting funkiness that would make Fela Kuti and George Clinton very proud.

Produced by filmmakers Amanda Robles and Matthieu Salabara, dear friends of the band, the video consists of the band’s personal collection of postcards being shot in a single take with the intention being a good luck message — or in other words, being a wishful hope that the song may get them to travel around the world to play their music. And interestingly enough, the song’s lyric manages to nod at a similar theme, as they roughly say “If you’re walking in your own footprints, you must’ve walked around the earth.”