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Sounds of Africa

Fifa 2006As you read this the World Cup is in it's Semi Final stages with Italy knocking the host Germany out. So far it has been a wonderful festival of football with heroes created and reborn. Ghana made it to the last 16 and made all of us proud. Other African countries, notably Ivory Coast, played good football. I can't remember a World Cup like this and we have to thank the Germans for their excellent hosting. South Africa 2010 bring it on. Welcome to my twelveth African music roundup where I examine and highlight some of the digital chatter about African Music.

Fox of FoxOnTheRun drops a post about a twenty-year old memory and a changing neighbourhood:

Mixtapes“The jerseys represent a who's who of international soccer and national colors. as dusk settles in – the social scene moves to the parking lot. ghana has made it through the group stage. the spirit is lively. an african summer party in the central ohio suburbs -where only the upper can afford to live. the alien music from the canal st kiosks re-appears. all the current sounds in african rap, dance hall, and reggae are represented. man this city has changed.”

thursdayborn of The Hiplife Complex writes about HipLife videos on youtube.com. Discussing a classic cut by group VIP, “Ahomka Womu”:

VIP“VIP's classic cut, “Ahomka Womu,” one which you should definitely know about. The song combines old school highlife in a really tasteful way, making it one of the biggest tracks in the last few years. The first couple verses of rhymes are dead-on with catchy phrasing. A relatively interesting video, especially near the end when the trio of rappers/singers have a 70s flashback moment complete with matching suits and afros.

The majority of music video directors in Ghana stay away from ironic or conceptual themes. There are some notable exceptions, though.”

Sara TavaresStella Noir of Through the Dawn of the soul talks on the Cape Verde artist Sara Tavares, listing her current tour schedule:

“She is of Cape Verdian Descent but lives in Lisbon, her music is a fusion of her African/Portuguese roots she'll be coming to Toronto 11th of July and i'll be sure to check her out!!!”

After searching for and listening to a few tracks I agree with Stella. Great music. Stella has provided a link to an online interview and music video.

thursdayborn posting on Awesome Tapes from Africa reviews an Ali Farka Touré tape, dropping three mp3s from it.

Ali Farka Touré“Ali Farka Touré was perhaps the most influential and widely celebrated African musician in history. He adapted his ancestral music to the 6-string guitar. The results are brilliant. I won't say much more, there's been more than enough written on Ali in the last while. I'm too lazy to link most of it here, but you can get a good start with NPR's tribute piece and Banning Eyre's Village Voice obit.”

As stated in the quote NPR and Banning Eyre have online audio tributes of the great man so fire up your audio players. RIP, Ali.

Matilda Egere-Cooper of Harowo writes about a recent London concert by Somalian Hip Hop/Soul Artist K'Naan and explores his history:

KNaan“Backstage at Cargo, a club in east London, K'Naan is having a reflective moment. “There's a lot of Somalians who've been out and introduced to the world, but not in the right way,” he frowns. “Whenever a piece is written about Somalia or a struggle within Somalia is shown on film, television, news or papers, it is struggle minus dignity. They don't know how to attach dignity to our struggle, but we do.

And so I think, ‘if no one is going to do this, I'm going to do this’.” In a few moments he'll back up those words, using hip-hop to articulate his experiences to a mixed crowd of English rap fans and Somalian kinfolk, many of whom jump around and dance with pride as they sing along to traditional Somali folk songs, bass-heavy party-starters and, finally, the electric anthem ‘Soobax’.”

I have seen K'Naan perform and he is a very engaging artist. She goes on to talk more on his campaign and his views on the World. Engaging read.

Dacks of The Abstract Index talks on a DVD of Ethiopian legend Mahmoud Ahmed:

Mahmoud Ahmed“He's sounding as good as ever, over 40 years into his career and still with silky smooth phrasing and good breath control. The band is pretty game, too. There's no acid rock guitarist of course, and the mix is pretty hands-off, but there's a pretty tight horn section and the drummer gets nice and insistent about half way into the set. Ahmed has tons of charisma – in a gentle, mature way – to get the crowd going by the third song. With such a strong Ethiopian and Eritrean community in Toronto, moving the crowd is no big deal for this seasoned performer.”

Dacks, in another post makes a case for Seattle's Sublime Frequencies label:

Sublime Frequencies“The usual arguments against much of the Sublime Frequencies oeuvre are that artists are never credited, much less paid, when compiled and edited in this way, and that the collages purport to present “authentic” cultural experiences when in fact they are simply different world music constructs than say, big-budget international recordings by the likes of Cheb Khaled, Salif Keita and many others. Furthermore, the mixes themselves are liable to further exoticize the elements it draws from.

I don't really buy into the authenticity argument – I keep going back to Manu Dibango's point of view in his autobiography “Three Kilos Of Coffee” where he discusses audience expectations of African music ‘what do (audiences) want from us? Palm trees on stage?’.”

Don't agree? Get involved.

Frank Chimney of track of the day honors father and son Hugh and Paul Tracey by posting an mp3, from the Luba people of Congo:

Luba“Last night I had the pleasure of meeting Paul Tracey, son of Hugh Tracey the first person to record traditional African music in the 1920s. Hugh Tracey made countless field recordings, released hundreds of albums as part of his “Music of Africa” and “Sound of Africa” collections, and founded the International Library of African Music. Paul is a musician himself and was gracious enough to demonstrate a set of his new African horns as well as the log drum. So today I am re-ruling this gem in honor of him and his father.”

Derek Bermel of inspirations talks on his travels in the north west of Ghana and discovering the music and instruments:

gyil“The Daghati people are split between three countries: Ghana, Burkina-Faso and Côte-d'Ivoire. Their main instrument, the ‘gyil’, is an ancestor of the Western marimba, and is ubiquitous in the society; it is played inside and outside, at festivals, funerals, ceremonies, and church services. Several times during my stay Baaru traveled on foot to a nearby river; there he gathered materials, which he later hand-crafted into xylophones with his nephews Kuulinsu and Maanibe.”

Obi of soul on ice writes about a recent london tour by the Senegalese group Daara J:

Daara J“The house was hyped by the time Daara J came on. They launched straight into their material with the tune “Bopp Sa Bopp”. Heavy bounce tune and in no time we were jumping. They brought everything to the stage and Fadda Freddy was soon belting out the soulful backing. and boy could he sing! and strum a mean guitar string which he did for an acoustic version of Marley “No Woman no cry”. Definitely a strong reggae/dancehall influnce on the Senegalese scene.”

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