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


Monday, 21 July 2014 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.