Friday, 13 February 2015

Quiet Brilliance: Celebrating the life and works of Nujabes

We continue our Forever Maestro February month by commemorating the life and works of one of Hip Hops most talented, yet underrated producers, Jun Seba aka Nujabes. It was his birthday last Saturday.

The first time I heard Nujabes’ work, it was on an edit of Amerie’s “One thing”. Someone had mashed up Nujabes’ Aruarian Dance with the hit and to be honest, I wasn’t that crazy about the edit itself…but I LOVED the track. I ended up looking for it and to this day, it is my calm-down song. That and Goapele’s closer.

Next time I heard Nujabes was on the soundtrack for the alternate edo-era-Japan, hip hop anime “Samurai Champloo”. I mean the music that Nujabes and co. created for this show practically MADE the show. After listening to the soundtrack a few times, I went a-hunting for the rest of his stuff...and thankfully, there was a lot!

Nujabes’ is considered a jazzy, hip hop artist, but honestly I feel he transcended that title. He made this mellow, atmospheric, gorgeous stuff that was all at once contemporary and nostalgic. It was also really sophisticated with long, winding horns and intricate piano pieces…so silky and calming and unaware of itself. It was Zen Hip Hop.

Sadly, Nujabes died in a car accident on February 26th 2010, at just 36 years old.

It’s not too late to discover his work though. Check out this soundcloud which has a pretty comprehensive collection of his work.

Also, I would recommend getting Samurai Champloo for a chance to really appreciate the nuance of his music. It’s only 2 seasons for all you commitment phobes.

Considering his first major release was in 2003, the indelible mark his work made on hip hop and on music in general should tell you something about the quality of his work. He is missed deeply.

Rest in Beats Maestro.


Friday, 6 February 2015

Dilla Day Special: J Dilla Starter pack

Before you read this, make sure this is playing:

First, that video is still and will always be a master piece, then, I bet a few things:

1. That, that's one of your favourite songs ever.
2. That it's probably not your favourite song because of Janet's vocals (lovely as they are)
3. That you didn't know that the record was actually Ghost-produced by a man named James Yancey aka J Dilla...well...maybe you did. You are on this blog after all. You must know your musics :)

Haiya, now...
Dilla Day is upon us.

What is Dilla Day you ask? Well, every 7th of February we celebrate the life and work of arguably the best hip hop producer of all tahm.

He's the best in my book...
Also known as Jay Dee or John Doe or even MC Silk, Dilla continues to bless even 9 years after he was taken from us. The man's music simply transcends. Hata sijui niseme nini... The things he did with samples and an MPC are beyond what words can adequately describe.

This year, I'm going to put together a selection of Dilla's works for those of you who are still in the dark. You are welcome.

No. 1

Fantastic Volumes 1 & 2

Volume 1 

Volume 2

With rappers 3T and the late, great, Baatin, Jay Dee made up the critically acclaimed, Slum Village. Together, they pretty much created the quintessential Detroit, backpacker sound. When I was really getting into the man, these are two albums I started with. The sound is SUBLIME. Smooth samples, cocky, clever rhymes and just the deepest boom-bap bassline. I was a woman obsessed. Stank face and head nods all day. He has both MCing and production credits on this.

My favourites are Keep it on from Volume one and Players from Volume 2 (which happens to be my best Dilla beat of all time).

No. 2 

JAYLIB: Champion Sound

I mean....Come on..

A collaborative album by two of the best to ever do it: Madlib and JayDee. With mind blowing samples like in "The Official" (above) and hella fun tracks like "Raw Shit" featuring Talib Kweli (below)...this is a must have for any Dilla aficianado.

No. 3


Made whilst he was in hospital, this is without a doubt Dilla's Magnum Opus. So BOLD and RAW and BEAUTIFUL and SICK is this album, that it sometimes brings me to tears. Truth. The excellence....the man...the GOD is palpable in Donuts. Talk about next-level-shit. Hata leo, I am yet to hear a hip hop production with this much artistic merit. The album was released 3 days before his death on February 7th 2006, which happens to be his birthday. He would have been 43 tomorrow.

My favourite track on this lightworks.

So there you have it, an introduction to Jay Dee.

This isn't even an iota of what the man did production-wise. Have a look at his full official discography (let's not even get into the Ghost-production he did).

And if you are in Miami this weekend (you lucky bastard), you can join the best MCs right now as they pay tribute to Dilla at the annual Dilla weekend.

Aki I'm going next year! Who's coming with me???? Tuendeni
We love and miss you Dilla. Your drums play on!

Rest in Beats,


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A little perspective...

Vay, my fran with exceptional taste in all things (including frans :D) put me on Wretch 32’s “6 words” this past holiday season.

Haven’t stopped listening to it since.

A bitter-sweet melody and simple-yet-sobering lyrics over a frantic 135 BPMs makes for a perfect song to start the year on. For me, 2015 is the year I learn how to make a home within myself for all those I love. So it was serendipitous to stumble on this truly beautiful piece of music by the former grime MC.

This one is definitely going in to the 2015 life playlist.

What are some of the songs for the 2015 soundtrack of your life?
Share below.
Happy New Year.


Monday, 6 October 2014

Interest piqued and renewed

So my friend died.

That’s why I’ve been missing for a bit. You see, she and I bonded the most over music and she was probably the biggest supporter of this here bloggery. It was difficult to write anything knowing that she wasn’t going to read it. But last Friday I heard something I know she would have been all over, and so, here I am.

Wy, that’s her name, was always big on the musical works of one Childish Gambino aka Donald Glover. When Freaks and geeks came out, she was fan numero uno. I personally have never been blown away by Mr. Glover. Don’t get me wrong, he’s an incredible lyricist. Case in point:

The thing with him is, often, I find his delivery to be a little too “swagged out” for my taste. Bino, as his stans call him, is a COOL kid, and (to my own musical detriment) I am just naturally averse to that.

Too cool for my school...

But then, at the end of last week, he dropped his long awaited free mixtape “STN MTN/ Kauai”. I had seen a bunch of interviews he had given when he was promoting his “Because the Internet” LP last year, and it seemed that as a man and an artist, Bino has been going through some changes. So, mostly out of curiousity, I decided to listen to the mixtape and see how the changes had translated to his work, if at all.

Started out pretty meh, first two tracks went by as background noise…then, out of nowhere, a lovely 80s piano progression…

“Sober” is the simple, melancholic RnB cut from the mixtape that has renewed my interest in Gambino’s work. Something about it is very Michael Jackson. Not sure what. This track sounds like one of those songs that one grows up with, and loves, without really understanding why and without ever asking, “who sang this?” It’s complete all on its own. I would absolutely love it if Bino did an entire collection of RnB…no rapping. I think he’s very good at expressing emotion sonically.

Anyway, I’m sure Wy is bumping this on the regular and is smiling down at me like, “Shaaaaaaz I told you! We fux with this shit!”

Good one Wy. J

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

No school like the lost school

Friends, Crush by (the now defunct) Zhane is the most beautiful thing I had completely forgotten about.

Like completely...

My friend Ambi recorded 25 seconds of the chorus from the radio a few nights ago, and sent it on whatsapp with the words, “remember this?” The flood of emotion that washed over me on hearing those notes for the first time in almost 15 years… man.

Thanks again Channel O for the childhood schoolin'...

From their final album, Saturday Nights, Crush is about love and trepidation. And this song captures all of it perfectly. We've all been there. You dig a human, you think the human might dig you back but you really can’t be sure. It’s the strangest, most excruciatingly sweet sensation. The angst of it all is tinged with the warmth of the epic heart boner you have, whenever you see this person.


Accompanied with stunning visuals (which seemed to be a thing about Saturday Nights, check this other one out ) crush is a definite classic that reminds us of the supremely underrated talent that was Zhane.

So much great forgotten shit from the 90s man, don't you think?

Share yours on here.


Monday, 4 August 2014


The non pretender/
The speak my mind with intent to offend offender…

I love me a good rabble rouser.

We don’t have enough of those in the music business, seeing as everyone is tryna get liked. But not these dudes. Nope. These are some fokn bois and dey na give a damn you hear?

It gets worse...

 First heard Wanlov on a gorgeous Kweku Ananse production and whilst his flow didn’t particularly stay with me, I took note. Soon, the internets were a-buzz with news of a ghanian duo who were causing quite a stir with their work. I looked it up and much to my delight, got a scandalized as was promised.

You were warned.

From making songs like this to creating the 1st ever Pidgin musical (apparently), these guys simply don’t care what you think. 

I remember questioning their intent. Why were they so effing offensive? Was it simply a gimmick? Shock-value for the sake of it? Cause that’s some Lady Gaga ish and I am not here for that. Then, one afternoon a few weeks ago, a guy who looks suspiciously like Mensa’s brother sent me this link.

BRKN LNGWJZ is essentially the Fokn Bois manifesto. Wanlov and Mensa lay themselves out for us in 6 minutes, over a simple, drum-heavy, synth-laced track. Using sometimes jocular, sometimes serious metaphors, they succinctly answered my questions without explaining themselves. Their chaotic, here-we-are-now-deal-with-it personas are absolutely fascinating to watch. It also helps that they know what they are doing so their legitimacy as artists is not drowned out by their larger-than-life personalities.

The best thing about them though is the number of question marks I’m left with every time I encounter any of their work. They fire synapses that are not sparked by anything else.

I LOVE this track.

Do you dig them or is it all a little too much for you? Let me know.


Monday, 28 July 2014

Three is the magic number

What is it with Kenyan artists and railway tracks? :)

Kiu bless us this morning with Mwanake, a sugary sweet ode to boys we like (Idris, this one is for you bae!)
Mwanake and I. Our love is for the ages. Praise.

Most of today’s music is full of smoke and mirrors so it’s incredibly refreshing to run into artists who are actual sayngers. You can hear the youth in these girls’ voices but make no mistake, they got it. If they don’t get sucked up by the hype beast, we can expect really good things. And those three part harmonies? Mad goosies. Mad ones.
Apologies if you have acute trypophobia...don't look up me...

Here’s 5 other shiver-inducing three-part harmonies which Kiu would be wise to study keenly…

Brownstone (acapella)- If you love me

Jade- Don’t walk away

MKS- Caught in a moment

King- The story

Destiny's Child- Game Over

Have I forgotten any?
Share your favourite 3-part harmonies below or on twitter?
Happy Idd to all my Muslim peoples J