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.


Ugh...stahp...

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.


K.

Monday, 4 August 2014

De-Sanitized

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

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.


K.

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 trypophobia...trust 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


K.

Monday, 21 July 2014

So...country music...who knew?

My mum’s second favourite artist is the King of the Cowboy ballad, Don Williams.

The only guy who comes ahead of him is this awesome greek dude.
look at all that glorious facial hair...

I remember her getting quite upset on realizing that my uncle (her younger brother) had gone back to Uni with her Don Williams tapes. “Surely, why would anyone do that??!!” she said in vexation, as she ransacked his mostly empty wardrobe. She never got them back. Poor Mummy.

For most people in this country, there is nothing at all  foreign about country music, and if you think about it, that’s a little weird. This morning, matatu FM played two Kenny Rogers hits back to back and I remembered seeing this (slightly uncomfortable) video of Jimmy Kimmel talking to Kenny Rogers about his popularity here. Does anyone actually know why country music is a staple in Kenya? My theory is that it was brought by all those American, mid-western evangelists who came in the 80s and 90s, but that sounds weak. Do you guys know? Does anyone know?

I thought about it a little more and realized that it's that not crazy that it's quite popular, cause as a genre, country music is actually, quite fantastic. Almost always beautifully arranged with lovely, emotive melodies and really well-written stories, it has some of the most sonically pleasing songs I have ever heard.  Then I remembered that I had even  found one I really liked last week.
Is that grass in her mouth? 

“Merry go round” by Kacey Musgraves is a poignant, brutally-honest, sad and sorta-funny look on the prescribed way of life for a woman in the American south. It's really, quite beautiful.

I think women from everywhere can relate to it because we are all expected to fit a certain mold and we often get caught up in the trappings of trying to fulfill these set roles. In the end most of us live lives that are not actually our own.

The writing in this song is just A+++. I mean, just amazing.

Cause mama's hooked on Mary Kay.
Brother's hooked on Mary Jane.
Daddy's hooked on Mary two doors down.
Mary, Mary, quite contrary.
We get bored, so, we get married.
Just like dust, we settle in this town.
On this broken merry go 'round and 'round and 'round we go
Where it stops nobody knows and it ain't slowin' down.
This merry go 'round.

Got a grammy by the way.

I think, if there are more songs like this, perhaps we need a little country revival in these parts? It’s certainly a welcome change from the mostly vapid stuff we listen to anyway. Maybe? Yes? Let me know.


K.

Monday, 14 July 2014

This is, in fact, a Dedication.

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please.
~Song of Solomon 8:4~

Did you ever get a mixtape?


*heart skips a beat*


I never did. Always wanted one though. Still do. That shit is romantic man.
I did get a couple of dedications on letters, and when I was 19, one guy even wrote me Lauryn Hill’s rap from “Turn your lights down low”. Damn-near swooned. 

You see words, lovely as they are, can fail us. And even when you know what you want to say, there’s just something about accompanying those words with the right chord progression that makes sure nothing is left unsaid. Some songs do this better than others.

MNEK’s “Don’t call this love” is one of these songs.


He's very cool. A little too cool maybe...


Sent to me by a she-human I like called Patricia, this minimalist RnB ballad from the rising British star who I first heard on an amazing Rudimental track, encapsulates all the emotion one goes through when they know they are smack in the centre of that confusing liminal space one occupies, when they are falling in love against their will.

Emenike’s sweetly-strained tenor accompanies a melancholic piano that brings out the tension that arises when you  find a soul you recognize and inadvertently want, whilst dealing with your own situations and inefficiencies.

The story of our lives.

Anyway, if you are really digging someone but you just don’t know if you handle all the heaviness that comes with it, this is the song that might buy you the time you need  to figure it all out.


K.

Monday, 7 July 2014

"A part of me drifts away with you and will never return..."

You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all.
~Maya Angelou~

I lost my lover and friend this weekend.

Well, technically I have been losing him for a long time, but it just became official a few days ago. The long and short of it is; 
1. Our daemons didn’t match, and, 
2. I have a bunch of solo-growing to do.

It sucks terribly.

But having tried everything to save it, and failing, I had no choice but to release.
Now, everyone needs a release song. Something to carry you on that lonely walk away from something you never wanted to leave. This one here is mine. It found me this morning and held my hand.

Off of Little Dragon’s latest LP, Nabuma Rubberband, I give you, Paris.

I’ll miss you DanDan.

K.


P.S. Yukimi is only second to Sade. Goddess and Oracle.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Clumsy-sounding piano piece = Peace of mind

" Since what we know of the future is made up of purely abstract and logical elements — inferences, guesses, deductions — it cannot be eaten, felt, smelled, seen, heard, or otherwise enjoyed. To pursue it is to pursue a constantly retreating phantom, and the faster you chase it, the faster it runs ahead..."
~Alan Watts~

As it turns out, friends, this ‘live in the present’ thing that everyone says absent-mindedly seems to be like THE secret to a less than sucky life. Who knew?

Here’s the thing though: The present can be grim. It can be all manner of unpleasantness. Dust, spittle, mangy dogs, the intrusive leer of a strange group of men on the street, a sudden putrid smell, a mass of unsightly razor bumps on the face of some poor soul sitting next to you in the matatu, that gnawing feeling in your chest that you are actually nothing at all, Maina Kageni’s noxious voice …it doesn’t end. All around us, there are little bits of ugly that seem to be symptoms of a much deeper sadness that we all seem to be collectively carrying around. Every. Single. Day. Who wouldn’t want to disappear?

Constantly being anywhere else but where you are has its effects though. Your life gets away from you, quickly running through your fingers like fine desert sand. All of the mental time travelling sucks away at your life force, tiring you completely, without achieving much of anything. Then you go home at the end of the day, worn out and empty.  It’s something I have struggled with all my life.

Thankfully, the universe has provided reprieve in the form of Erik Satie’s Gymnopedie No.1.
He looks like a physicist, which would make sense because this is probably what the Big-Bang sounded like.

If you have ever wondered why art is necessary for a bi-pedal, somewhat intelligent, carbon-based organism, whose only certainty in life is death, you will find the answer in this piece of music.

Gymnopedie No.1 (and Nos. 2 and 3 for that matter, check them out) nourishes and delights without trying to deceive you about the realities of life. It is simple in its sadness, echoing our often hollow existence and grounding the listener firmly in the present. That same simplicity also happens to be so incredibly moving and so exquisitely beautiful, that it buoys the listener from being completely washed away by the waves of utter uselessness that we, as vulnerable, mortal creatures, contend with day in and day out.

For me, this piece is a 3 minute prayer of beautiful melancholy that keeps me rooted in the earth yet reaching for the heavens.

An incantation that restores balance in an otherwise cluttered and confused existence.

K.

P.S. Interesting fact, an interpolation of this piece was used in the chorus of this Janet Jackson song which also happens to have the most early-2000s video of all time. Cue the shiny skin and pet alligators in slow motion.


Monday, 23 June 2014

Guest Post: Aural Hubris, be gone - By TK

Editors note- Dear Reader, TK is a very cool boy who knows his musics and blesses this editor frequently with said musics. Thanks Tony :) Also, there are some bad words in this post, like belieber. We apologize.

After a couple of hours wafting through SoundCloud, fishing for tracks that may pique my interests, it starts to get a tad bit unstimulating. Complacency in one’s own “tastes” sometimes makes one think that one can spot a gem just from chopping through a track’s timestamp (at least the intro, mid part and around the end). Inadvertently, one ends up denying attention to some thoroughly fresh tunes, this here is one of those cases.

I happen to follow le producteur x DJ français, 20Syl. Been a fan of Hocus Pocus for a hot jiffy, and the amount of devotion I offer up to French artists for their electronic music production puts most religious beliefs to ruddy shame.
Editor to TK: Excuse me Sir, do you have moment for me to share the gospel of DJ Jesus? He resurrects beats and rose on the 3rd day to give you the drop.

Also, could dude look any more French?

So with my eyes and ears collectively knackered, I absent-mindedly clicked to preview his new EP, Motifs. I inattentively skimmed through it and closed the page. Fast-forward, I’m on youtube (which is up to some fuckery btw) and thank fuck for the ‘recommended videos’ section and the ghosts of coincidence that lay beneath the bedrock of these interwebs, because right in front of my face was 20Syl’s video for his new single, Kodama.

In basic terms, best video I've seen in bloody ages.

This thing is a cinematographer’s wettest dream broken down into the most effortless form of minimalism.The whole piece looks like it was done on a 3x2 bit of floor in an apartment. Finely. crafted. art. There was none of that contrived caricature attempt at being deep and forcefully artistic, a subculture that’s presently eating up the indie world. Seen a cornucopia of shite vids attempting such of late.

Back to this pearl Kodama. Here’s a downright dope sensation that’s tough to top. Just when you’re experiencing the conjecture of your new-to-be favourite music video, it hits you that the tune itself is actually a joyride on its own. I might as well attempt to explain to you what's going on with the track. 

In my take, on the first listen it might be tough for the naked ear to fully fathom the diamond that is this newest slice of 20Syl’s genius.  An extremely brilliant producer, 20syl isn’t as well-known seeing as his soundcloud has just over 62k followers. Now in an ideal world uninhabited by beliebers, more enlightened music choices would be made and 20Syl would command a couple million fans for churning out aural gold such as this. But I digress, this is what is great about Kodama: soulful piano chords, seamless drum patterns, nuanced vocal snippets and layers upon layers of warps all come together to create a cohesive enchantingness for your ears to bust a nut to.

 The video, in all its cinematographic glory, kinda provides a snippet into a world of live production. To be honest, an AKAI MPC & a synth/MIDI controller plus a vinyl record thrown into any picture automatically make it look cool as fuck. There's a xylophone and a rubik’s cube in the video too, just for extra hardware sexiness.

An aural and visual feast, Kodama  is the shit. Plain and simple.
For as long as the views for this pure piece of happy are less than one hundred billion, every opportunity I get to play it, I will. Then wonder if I shouldn’t do it again. Then do it again. And again. And again.



TK

Monday, 16 June 2014

More Music Mondays: Intelligent songs edition

We have two great songs today. Yay.

No. 1: “MuthoniKifagio” by Newton “short-but-tough-Karish” Karish aka KK Karish
Why do all these boys bands rock cowboy-chic attire? I digs it. 

Where does one start with this blessing of a song?
It wins EVERYTHING.
  •  Melody- Check.
  • Writing- check.
  •  Getdownability- Please attempt not to move and watch how miserably you will fail.
  • Video- Bankai.

In my view, contemporary Kenyan artists rarely know who they are or what their aesthetic is. There always seems to be a need to be a version of something. Sometimes it’s subtle, other times painfully obvious. So it is incredibly refreshing to come across a musician who not only knows who he is but is completely legit in his craft.

This song is smartly written. Karish tells us the story of an unfaithful lover using hilarious, localized metaphors, perfect harmonies and those incredible katitu guitars . Dude leaves you in stitches when in reality, the story is pretty grim. A real comedian.

This is the thing about this song: Whoever you are, whatever your background, whatever you are doing, when this song comes on, you will pay attention. That is rare.

I don’t know when the song came out, but from the video it looks like it could have been some time in the late 90s or early 2000s. Karish has since been elected as the county representative for Muminji Ward in Mbeere North. I don’t know if he’s put the mic down… hope not. It would be a damn shame.

Check out his other songs on the Youtubes.

No. 2: Bunny in a bunny suit” by Simone White


Sharing Muthoni Kifagio’s authenticity and intelligence is this minimal, folksy number by Simone White.
I heard this song yesterday on a movie called “the pretty one” which is quite lovely. Tafuteni.

The existential lyrics and fractal analogies coupled with the melancholic guitar and White’s now-talking, now singing voice, make me get a weird suspicion right in the middle of my back, that God exists.
All ye non-believers...


I do not think I can listen to a bunch of songs like these though. Too many feels.
Check out her facebook page and website if you digs it.

For the next two weeks we will have guest posts from my very cool friends Tony and Josh. Check out their stuffs here and here.

After that, I will be changing things up a bit. Will raid people’s hard drives and force them at gun point asking them to share the stories behind their musics.
If you would like me to come visit you, let me know on twitter.

I’ll bring a watermelon.


K.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Stop. Not-so-sexy confession time.

If you relate to this song on any level, you are a little broken somewhere.
Thanks Life.

A lovely lady who goes by Lady Lazarus on twitter put me on the work of FKA Twigs, an ethereal yet dark, nymph-woman, who created this aural masterpiece and no doubt leaves black shiny dust in her wake.
Anyone else getting a Frida Kahlo vibe?

Some songs grow on you. Not this one. This one goes straight to the bone on first hearing Twig’s light, whisper of a wail… “Pacify…”

Even before I had heard 10 seconds of it, I knew all too well what this song was about. Don’t worry, I’m not going recount to you the sordid details of my self-hating, love affair with a fella whose emotional retardation was lightly-masked by his expertise on J Dilla’s drums, his mean pocket-squares and how he said in a deep, unaffected voice, “Go on, do as your told.” And I don’t have to because Twigs captured the essence of all that mess perfectly on this song.
Never trust a man with an impeccable pocket square ladies...

The sparse, desperate lyrics, the little melancholic break beats, the kinda-scary-yet-exciting industrial screeches and that terraforming bassline that is Just. So. Deep. All of it weaves the story so clearly, that I am almost certain little Ms. Tahliah Barnett went through some epic, sexual-emotional crapfest herself.

My friend Tony said this of the song on hearing it, “Psychadelics + hiphop in monochrome. This can't even be neurochemically healthy.” And I don’t think it is. Healthy that is. Trip hop as a genre filters everything so finely to make this compound that is a little too pure for my sensitive spirit. I can only listen to it in little, spaced out doses. It is way too HD for me to indulge, on the regular.

That being said, Papi Pacify is everything and more. Easily one of my best finds of the year, so far. Keep an eye out for FKA Twigs work. She is something. 

Thanks again Lady Lazurus.

K.


P.S. The dude in the video is giving me LIFE. *fans self furiously*

Monday, 26 May 2014

Best song number deux

I was having one of those persistent headaches that are caused by a random mix of unfortunate events like stupidity on the internet, a workmate’s loud, green “dollars and Girls” t-shirt and the fact that it’s a Monday. 

I needed something soothing, so I went to YouTube to look for one of those 3 hour nature sound videos. Instead I saw this and had to have a listen because it is a remix of the other best song in the world. (Yes, in the universe of this blog there can be two best songs ever. That's because we almost never use superlatives, so when we do, we can go crazy.)

Hurry on now was the first song I ever heard by Alice Russell.

Yup...she's white.

Early on a Sunday morning in June 2010, I sat in a small living room of a studio atop an Indian-owned, bathroom appliance shop on Kijabe street. About six other people that I had only just met the night before were in the room with me as we sat silently smoking, listening to Ms. Russell and watching the sky turn pink. When the song came to an end, I picked my bag, said goodbye to my new friends and walked through an empty Nairobi CBD with cigarette smoke in my braids and that song in my heart. I was a changed person.
I can talk about all the great things about this song, but I don’t want to. Why analyze such a gift? I just want to listen again. And when you are done with that you can listen to this other one.

My headache is completely gone.
Thanks Alice.


K.

Friday, 16 May 2014

This sh*t again...

To put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.
~Hunter S. Thompson~

I was wrong.

I still have a few more existential crises in me it seems.
LAME.

This is why I have been missing for a couple of weeks. I can’t tell how much longer I’m gonna have these paralyzing “why do I suck at life?” moments but I am determined  to reduce my recovery time so that it doesn’t affect my work, cause, you know, the world keeps moving. So shetani ashindwe etc etc.
Amen.

I did find a perfect depression soundtrack though, in the form of Mazzy Star.
I mean....Right?

This 90s alt-rock outfit made moody, moody, MOODY music. Wikipedia calls it Paisely Underground and describes it as “an early genre of alternative rock, based primarily in Los Angeles, California, which was at its most popular in the mid-1980s. Paisley Underground bands incorporated psychedelia, rich vocal harmonies and guitar interplay in a folk rock style”.

I describe it as hauntingly gorgeous.

You might know Mazzy star for their semi-succesful hit, Fade into you. It was in a ton of late 90s romcoms. Remember it?

Anyway, I stumbled upon it and subsequently upon their full albums. God bless the YouTubes.
Vocalist Hope Sandoval sings like it’s always a rainy, black and white afternoon in her world and the guitars slowly carry her gauzy, unaware voice like a motorcade of exquisite shiny black hearses. Sad as it all feels, it is weirdly soothing. It cradled me into a snug little ball of self-pity. If you are in the same state I am in, you have to be careful cause its beauty will trick you into thinking that your downers are somewhat artistic, and you could be there for days…just occupying space.

But never mind me and my identity crisis. Listened to objectively, the music is evocative and stunning. Get a piece.


K.

Friday, 2 May 2014

As it turns out, Hip Hop is alive and well.

In Detroit, USA at least.

I read this tweet at around 1 pm today.
"My boy" here refers to the one and only Idris "Big Driis" Elba who isn't the best rapper but gets a pass on account of sex-bo-bombness. Sue me.

It’s 4.05pm now. I am still on Clear Soul Forces’ Soundcloud getting my mind blown.
Pretty too :)

These dudes are a refreshing revelation. If you doubted it, you can now be certain that hiphop is going through a revival. Praise!

Hailing from the embattled motor city aka The D (also home of the late, great Dilla, Eminem and swoon-inducer Black Milk), these four, young African-American men are bringing poetry back to rap. CSF feel like a weird hybrid of little brother and a young ATCQ but their vibe is way grittier. Understandably so.

The most remarkable thing about them is their hunger. It is palpable. They want it more than anything and as a consequence push themselves, with amazing results. Tracks like get no better and Beats, Rhymes and life are a lesson in lyrical dexterity. But these are the kinda cats who you are almost certain  will change once they blow up… a la Kendrick and them. You almost want them to keep bubbling under just so the texture of their work stays uncontaminated, but that would be selfish. Exciting, young talent like this needs to be shared far and wide.

Have a listen to and let me know your thoughts.
If you dig it, keep up with them on Facebook and twitter.

Let me get back to listening.


K.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Freshest Manure.

This is my JAM.
ERMEHGERD!!!


Cockiness by Jonas LR is a testament to the adage, “When life gives you lemons, make some damn lemonade.”
Wahenga walisema...


Made from samples of the truly terrible original by Rihanna, young Mr. Jonas Haslam (Who hails from Leeds like Favela, Go leeds!) gives us one of the most highly stylized songs of the year. With chopped up synths and the most deliciously naughty refrain (I love it when you eat it), this cheeky number  is the perfect song to drive to on your way to the discotheque with your inappropriately dressed, not-quite-turnt-up friends. It is sure to get them young and ready. Check out his other songs on his sound cloud.

On a different note, this song has me thinking Ms. Rihanna and the illuminati machine behind her should consider jumping on something like this where she is doing a lot more toasting than singing. Maybe team up with the likes of Bassment Jaxx and them because she actually does sound really good on those verses with that sexy bajan accent. I think it would work well and give her some much needed grit. You are welcome Jay Zed.

Please share your JAMS with me. Please. Thanks.


K.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Stay afloat.

Some songs help us to not commit suicide.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, when one’s filters are down, the responsibility that comes with being alive can be overwhelming. When we are just bobbing up and down this sea of life, not sure where we are going and whether we even want to go there. For me, these moments occur from time to time, but especially during the morning and evening commute. I don’t know if it’s the muddy roads and cold air in the mornings or the tired, sweaty faces and obnoxious radio presenters in the evening, but the commute almost always makes me want to chuck it all in. Or at least go on stand by for a little while. Don’t you wish you had a stand by button?
If only..

Now, before you get properly depressed, I have good news. Life might not provide a stand-by button but it has given songs that can cushion us against the turbulent ride that is mortality. Songs like this.

Lisa Oduor-Noah’s voice soothes.
The Legacy project has some really good stuff guys..

Her honey-sweet soprano often cradles my forlorn spirit on a cold morning or after a bland, useless day. I don’t know much about her except that she does a lot of features and while this is great, it’s time she ventured out on her own. I would love to hear her more clearly.

Her sound reminds me a lot of this miracle of a girl group.

First of all, the name King is BOSS.

Secondly, why don’t they have an album yet? These ladies caused quite a stir in 2011 when Phonte (formerly of now-defunct Little brother and currently one half of Foreign Exchange) stumbled upon them and went all stan-like. Soon enough they were getting daps from the likes of Badu and (gasp) Prince. I wonder if they got overwhelmed by the positive response or are just so zen and hence are in no hurry. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Check out their website for more information.

As for Lisa, we have a lot of mutual friends so I’m going to see if I can talk to her soon and find out what she is up to. If she indulges me, I shall get back to you guys.
In the meantime, don’t commit suicide, as pointless as it all may seem.
We may not be important, but we certainly are valuable, otherwise, the universe wouldn’t have let us exist.


K.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

All Soul: Long live Marvin's music.

Last week was Marvin Gaye’s birthday. He would have been 75.
Brother was so cool...


Marvin’s music is the type that is so popular, so big, so universal, you are tempted to ignore it. I did for most of my life. Only started paying attention when I noticed that all these young RnB cats are pretty much  trying to be Marvin Gaye. Just listen to Miguel’s “Adorn” and tell me you don’t hear Marvin, particularly in the bridge.  I can only imagine how much more eargasmic his music must have been for those who didn’t hear versions of him first. Still eargasmic today, don’t get me wrong.

So, the album that has been on repeat for a week now is what many argue to be his seminal work, “What’s going on?” I first got a real taste of this masterpiece when I stumbled upon a podcast on the BBC (which I will forever advertise freely) a few years ago. They were discussing the ins and outs of the making of the album and why it is still important today. First thing you need to know is that this was the first concept album in the entire RnB genre. Marvin had to fight to make this album because Motown were not willing to hand over creative control to him. Well, they finally did and he made it in 10 days. I guess when the muse arrives it doesn’t take forever to produce your life’s defining work.

I love concept albums. When artists limit themselves to a particular narrative, style, message or storyline, they can’t be lazy. They have to be concise and still blow minds…or at least fire a few synapses. It really tests their ability. The question was a simple one, “Just what in the hell are we (human beings) doing to each other?” It was inspired by the social upheavals that were going on in the states at the time; The Vietnam War, police brutality etc. Musically, the vibe was captured perfectly. The atmosphere created by the exquisite strings, slow, subtle drums, heavenly harmonies(I live for the harmonies on this album), the church-like adlibbing and most importantly, Marvin’s lead tenor that rang heavy with emotion was in a phrase, a Spiritual Revival. The orchestration is the best I have heard in my life (Big up Dave Van dePitte). This is music that makes you want to repent and be healed. Maybe that’s just my pseudo-christian sensibility showing itself but I doubt anyone could truly say they don’t feel God when they hear that tense Marvin wail over a flute solo. Marvin grew up in the Pentecostal church and needless to say, this influenced his style greatly. Lyrically, he wove seamlessly from the more direct messages (What’s going on) to the abstract (Flying high). The loose structure of the album made it feel a little jazzy. One couldn’t really tell when some songs started and others ended. This added to it's euphoric element.

What Marvin was trying to say was noble and a little naïve, which made it all the more special; Let's just love each other. His sensitivity as a human being was tangible in this album and his willingness to strip himself bare for the work only made it richer. He was all soul and truly magical.

This album is a sweet incantation that helped a generation conjure, confront and exorcise its demons. If you haven’t had a listen, your life has a gap that will only be filled by this.

R.I.P. Marvin.


K.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Are you worth your weight in gold?

I found Favela on YouTube when I was looking for a Kaytranada mix on a hot, boring afternoon a few weeks ago.

As it turns out, it was my lucky day.
The cover art was shot in Lake Victoria..No, not really :)


Easy yoke is the single (from the 3-track EP with the same title) that I stumbled upon and it hasn’t left me since. It is a heavenly manifestation of the 21 year old’s observations on a loved one’s preoccupation with material shit. At least that’s what it sounds like to me.

It starts with melancholic, celtic–sounding violins that are backed by even moodier synths. His voice is that of a kid who grew up listening to (and likely mimicking) a younger (and cooler) Coldplay. God I miss the old Coldplay. Don’t you?
Para-para-para- what?

He writes from a rather hopeless place. One can tell that his world view is pretty grim, particularly for a guy his age. You know these kids who see the world a little too clearly and are unable to shield themselves from all of it? Yeah, he sounds like one of those.

“…Your diamond crusted necklace surely looks the part
But it's hanging all too heavy around your broken heart…”

Strangely though, this isn’t one of those songs that will leave you feeling blue, despite all its blueness. I have never been able to understand songs like these. Sad but infectious. Weirdly enough, “sad but infectious” could describe almost all of Cold play’s earlier stuff. Songs like clocks and them. I really think this kid was a Coldplay fan. Will try and find out for y'all. He's so mysterious this one.

I really hope we get to hear more from him though. Look out for his stuff. Download his EP “Easy Yoke” on Band Camp or listen to it on his Sound cloud.


K. 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Valid Dreams. Realistic Expectations. Bad Basslines.

I’m so sorry for the silence.

Was having one of my bi-monthly, mini-existential crises about God knows what. Anyway, I’m glad to report that after some introspection and beers, it has occurred to me that life is to be lived, not analyzed. People will do that for you when you are dead. Safe to say that it will likely be a while till I have one of those moments again… If ever. Hurrah for progress.
Beer solves everything.

As I type this I am listening to SBTRKTS’s latest EP, Transitions. Track called “Hold the Line” is currently rearranging my synapses. The bass line is one of those that sends a gentle vibration to the temples. So good. Check it out and tell me your feelings. 

But we aren’t going to talk about the masked man today (I’m honestly just getting into his music anyways). Today’s blessing comes in the form of an American-Sudanese MC/Producer who hails from the city of Washington. His name is Oddisee (pronounced like Odyssey).

A few weeks ago, my workmate Lukas put me on him (and on a bunch of other great stuff, including De La’s Atmosphere Airlines which will be covered soon). Anyway, I looked him up on the net, clicked on his Sound Cloud and found some of the best music that is being made as we speak.

Oddisee has a lot of music but what I listened to was his latest mixtape “Tangible Dreams” that was actually a freebie accompaniment to his Instrumental release, “The Beauty in All”.
The cover art was a good omen


Dudes, I haven’t heard such a complete collection of hip-hop since Lauryn’s Miseducation. This guy is so incredibly comfortable in his own skin, so sure of his ability, so clear about what he’s saying, that listening to this is a joy even if you aren’t the biggest hiphop fan.
As a producer, his style is like a balanced mash-up of a less boom-bappy 9th Wonder and a safer Dilla. I know this sounds like he’s watered-down but surprisingly it works perfectly. Dude isn’t trying to be anyone but you can tell his influences. And his string samples are so exquisite, laden with just enough feeling to stay with you all day after just one listen (Own appeal).

His flow is calm, unaffected. He tells his truth clearly and then leaves you to think about what he’s said over a soul sample that succinctly reiterates his point (The Going ons).

As a whole the Album is about expectations. Oddisee addresses the unrealistic, often hollow life views that are perpetuated in a lot of today’s music by his contemporaries.
I discovered that I can make a career in an arena dominated by artists that sell false dreams. I realized that although the masses may not know of my body of work, it doesn’t take the whole world to have the world I want. Tangible Dream is a mix-tape dedicated to the deconstruction of our traditional ideas of success & shedding light on the possibility of a sustainable rap life.”

This shit resonated with me so much man (see existential crisis). The truth is, most of the stuff we hear today reflects a life most people know nothing about and likely never will. A life defined by what you have as opposed to who you are. This album is about working hard but staying grounded and content (Back of my mind). This album is what I want my kid-brothers listening to instead of Rick Ross. Sorry Rozay fans.

Understand, that yes, your dreams are valid and there should be no ceiling. But what are your dreams based on? The need to brag or the need to actually do something worthwhile? Because if it’s the former, you my friend are a clown…nothing more.
Tangible Dream is a Dream come true for anyone feeling a little bombarded by life. Get it.

On a lighter note the bonus flow which featured members of his crew, Diamond District is SICK.
Check out Oddisee and share your thoughts on facebook, twitter or below in the comment section.
Also, check out the preview for the stones throwdocumentary that I can hardly wait for. I wanna be PB wolf when I grow up.


K.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Not too G for Valentines..still a G though..

Prince knows.
So I'll let him say everything for me.

Only Prince..
Happy Valentines to my sweet, sweet man, DanDan..and Happy Valentines to you all.


This will be the day, that you will hear me say
That I will never run away
I am here for you, love is meant for two
Now tell me what you're gonna do

If I gave you diamonds and pearls
Would you be a happy boy or a girl
If I could I would give you the world
But all I can do is just offer you my love

Which one of us is right, if we always fight
Why can't we just let love decide
Am I the weaker man because I understand
That love must be the master plan

If I gave you diamonds and pearls
Would you be a happy boy or a girl
If I could I would give you the world
But all I can do is just offer you my love

D to the I to the A to the M
O to the N to the D to the pearls of love
D to the I to the A to the M
O to the N to the D to the pearls of love

There will come a time, when love will blow your mind
And everything you'll look for you'll find
That will be the time, that everything will shine
So bright it makes you colorblind

If I gave you diamonds and pearls
Would you be a happy boy or a girl
If I could I would give you the world
All I can do is just offer you my love

If I gave you diamonds and pearls
Would you be a happy boy or a girl
If I could I would give you the world
All I can do is just offer you my love

If I gave you diamonds and pearls
Would you be, would you, would you
Would you, would you, would you be happy, little baby

If I could I would give you the world

Share you love songs.
And don't get political about it. Valentines is awesome!

K