May 24 2010
First up today, Meklit Hadero whose sound seems to be one part Joni Mitchell and another part Nina Simone. Meklit is a true modern global artist: born in Ethiopia, raised in US and nurtured for the last several years in San Francisco’s richly diverse arts scene. Add in a warm and luminous singing voice and lyrical songwriting that moves from the starkly personal to the poetically metaphoric, and you have her entrancing debut full-length recording, “On a Day Like This…”, to be released by Porto Franco Records on April 20th, 2010.
Meklit Hadero "Abbay Mado" On A Day Like This...
Singer and songwriter Razia Said’s nomadic life has led her to many places; Africa to France, Italy, Ibiza, Bali and New York City. Despite these wanderings (and perhaps because of them), home has always been on her mind and her latest release shows it to be in her heart and soul as well, with a sound that remains inexorably tied to Madagascar, the land of her birth. Her musical explorations have also been wide ranging, and over the years Razia has experimented with French chanson, rock, jazz and even smooth, Sade-style R&B. Like many musical nomads, it was not the travels that released the talent, but rather the sense of her home the helped her unearth her true talents and on her new album, show her as one of Africa's most promising talents.
With the album Zebu Nation, Razia has created an inspiring collection of songs that draw deeply on the music she heard growing up in the town of Antalaha in northeastern Madagascar. And this song in particular resonated with me as one with more than local appeal. Hopefully you'll dig it as much as I did.
Razia "Slash and Burn" Zebu Nation
"Barbes, somewhere on the outer edges of Africa, is actually right at the foot of the Sacre Coeur in Paris. A neighborhood of couscous and chicken, of smoke-filled bars where dominoes click on tabletops, of dish antennas transmitting floods of Middle Eastern music through televisions."
Such is the setting for a group that was founded in 1995 by Algerian-born, Youcef Boukella, bassist and composer for the group. The full reality of their music is far deeper than that though, as they skillfully weave the sounds and stories of the North-African musical idiom in its many permutations as well as the vibes of more than a few other styles. Orchestra National de Barbés's latest release showcases this fact to fine degree. Songs range from the folklorish to the futuristic without sounding contrived or untrue. And on the one that I played for you all today you can hear all of this on display as the group really finds the pocket with this cut.
Orchestra National de Barbés "Chkoun?" Rendez-vous Barbés
Last up for the day is Los Rakas, a Panamanian duo that has been called the Latin "Outcast" for their fine forrays with expiramental approaches to crafting a Latin sound that is laced with Hip Hop, Reggae and Dancehall and tied together with Spanish and English lyricism. These cats create songs that snap necks to head nodding beats and leave your body amped for more. Now residing in Oakland, Los Rakas (DunDun and Rico AKA Filthy Rich) tag team the mic with a tenacity reminiscent of Old School veterans in the Hip Hop game, and the energy and passion of the newer cats on the scene. Can't wait to hear more from them. PS...don't sleep on Uproot Andy, whose sound is awesome and skills will soon be in high demand!
Los Rakas "Abrazame" Free Music 2010