“It’s been a long time… /I shouldn’t have left you/without a dope beat to step to…”
So said the greatest rapper of all time, and what better way to ease back into the blogging habit than with one of my (well, not so) regular lists of what’s caught my ear recently?
Janelle Monae – Dance or Die (feat. Saul Williams)
Dance or die, indeed. This tune is a monster. If you don’t like it, don’t talk to me. For at least five months. It’s been that long since homegirl released her album (redefining critical acclaim in the process) and I still can’t stop playing this tune, at least once a day; it’s neo-afrobeat basslines blaring out of my car. My sister-from-another-mother Negrita predicted it during our joint post and it’s become true: Janelle Monae is the closest thing we have to Lauryn Hill today in terms of talent & creativity. She may not have L-Boogie’s mass appeal but I’m going out on a limb to say she actually beats Lauryn in a couple of departments.
That said, if Janelle could hook up a remix of this track with Lauryn on it… *mind blows at the very possibility.
m.anifest – Golly Gosh (DJ Juls remix) (download)
Yes, DJ Juls: you made the cut. How the hell not? Beautiful, beautiful remix of a track peformed by a man who makes a strong case to be the best English-speaking Ghanaian rapper alive. ‘fest lands in Ghana soon for this:
Show support when he does.
John Legend & the Roots – Compared to What?
Damn. I’m a huge fan of Roberta Flack’s version of this, but this Funky Drummer-esque version is… well… funkier than a mosquito’s tweeter (that’s Nina Simone/Tina Turner to the uninitiated and not a Twitter reference).
I like the album concept too: Legend felt that soul music – which was once the music of revolution and social change – had been relegated to the bedroom. So he hooked up with the legendary Roots crew and did an album of cover versions of socially-conscious soul classics. Perfect music for the times in which we now live.
Now or Never – The Roots (feat. Phonte & Dice Raw)
I turned 33 recently and so the urgencyof this song – by my favourite group – speaks to me on so many levels. Simply put, this is my anthem at the minute. I play it at the start of every day. Like a prayer. It’s from one hell of a solid album too, possibly the best of the Roots’ recent affairs, How I Got Over. Took a minute to grow on me, but once it did, I only skip one track. Which is a rare thing for me. I have musical ADD.
Rocky Dawuni – Walls Tumbling Down (J. Boogie remix) (download)
More admissions: I’m not much of a fan of Ghanaian reggae. I don’t know: I don’t mind reggae influences but (with a few exceptions) I find it hard to take seriously Ghanaian people who come up to me in full dreadlocks and Jamaican patois. Anyway, that’s an aside. I dig Dawuni, but this remix of his afrobeat-style remix of his song is more my speed. Mix this with Janelle’s Dance or Die (see above) at any party and watch me go embarassingly nuts on the dancefloor.
Shad – Rose Garden (remix) (download) / Yaa I Get It (Oddisee remix) (download)
More thanks to Negrita for hipping me to unfeasibly dope Canadian-Rwandan rapper Shad, whose I Heard She Had a Voice Like an Angel has been on replay ever since. I cannot decide between these two tunes. I played all of fifteen seconds of Rose Garden to YFM’s Ms. Naa the other day and she was hooked on the hook, but Shad’s wordplay on Yaa… (remixed by half-Sudanese, all-talented producer Oddisee) is ridiculous: “… more mack than ten tech geeks dissing XP” / “… heads think I’m going to prison / ’cause I’m talking off this rap sheet with the most conviction”
? – Your Man (download)
I have no idea who sang this so if you do, let me know. Efya posted a link to this slice of loungy Naija neo-soul on her Facebook page about a month ago and I’ve been on her case ever since to get her to tell me who made it, sadly to no avail. Gorgeous African track though. If he’s someone Efya is working with or inspired by for her long-awaited album, then my anticipation levels – already high – just went cosmic.
EDIT: Courtesy of a certain Ms. Dzani (see comments), I now know that this beautiful track is the soul creation of new Nigerian artist, Dipo. Read more about him here.
Fourtet – She Likes to Fight (Ghostpoet remix) feat. Rox (download)
It’s weird. For someone born and partly raised in London, I sometimes find the black British accent annoying. I don’t know why. But I think Ghostpoet’s is the rebirth of cool on this track and I love his part-talk/part-spoken word/part-rap. Then Rox kicks in with the chorus and I’m in heaven. Beautiful, stunning voice. Her album Memoirs has, for me, been one of the most slept on this year and if you want to be ahead of the curve, I suggest you look for a copy immediately.
Sara Bareilles – Hold My Heart
This is my token “white” tune for the month. At Joy FM, I think I was on a one-man campaign to make Ghanaians aware that the Vodafone theme tune was from Bareille’s ‘Love Song‘. Her new album Kaleidoscope Heart is out. Haven’t had a chance to listen to the rest because I’ve been stuck on this mellow track. Love how it builds up emotional intensity at the end.
EOM – Musical Intercourse (feat. Chicago Jones, Kae Hock & K-Prime) (download)
“You ever make love to the melody? This is musical intercourse.” Except this isn’t some cheesy R&B sexfest. Built on a breezy bossa nova sample before breaking into a bassline reminiscent of early-Dilla, this is one of a handful of standout tracks on the recent compilation by essential website, We Plug Good Music.
So that’s my usual ten. But since I’ve been away for so long I figured I would pile on a couple more…
Richy Pitch – Dey Suffer (feat. Yasmeen Helwani)
Yes, yes: My sister and I already showered praises on Richy’s first single, Black Star and now the entire Ye Fre Me Richy Pitch album has landed. We’re working on a full joint review, but in the meantime, this track – featuring Yasmeen Helwani (daughter of the late and legendary Faisal Helwani – let it never be said that there are no cool Lebanese-Ghanaians) is on immediate replay. It’s like a Diaspora anthem, mourning but understanding the need for people to leave Motherland. Richy’s broken beats & horns kick in midway into the tune and then Yasmeen kills it. I hear this isn’t her usual fare. If so, I beg Yas: reconsider. This suits you.
Skillz – The Last Laugh (J-Period ‘I Didn’t Do It!’ remix) (download)
Storytelling in rap is a very fine art and Skillz (formerly Mad Skillz) delivers a masterclass here, talking about a bet gone wrong with ?uestlove of the Roots over Russell Simmons. Read the full story here. Hilarious.
Taylor McFerrin – Place in My Heart (feat. Ryat)
I’ve been waiting for a full album from the son of Bobby McFerrin (best known for “Don’t Worry Be Happy” but so much more legendary…) for ages. Literally years. In the meantime, he continues teasing me with dopeness the likes of this. Homegirl sounds just like Bjork on this. It works. Paa.
Corinne Bailey Rae – Is This Love?
Yes, Corinne. It is. *Sigh… Slaps himself* Erm… sorry: got a little distracted there. A stripped-down, acoustic version of Bob Marley’s classic. Beautiful and original. Just listen (right click here and choose “save as” to download).
Frankey Acolatse – Gypsy Franklin Mix 1 (download)
I cannot be enough of a stan of this girl. Her blog and her Twitter monologues are as refreshingly intelligent as they are frank. Then she had to put in a surprise appearance on the We Plug Good Music compilation… and now she’s released a mix, making me look like the slacker I am. Hope it’s the first of many.
15 thoughts on “What I’m Feeling – Sept/Oct”
BFF, as usual your posts are a joy to read…and I feel inspired to go and search for those musicians you haven’t already hooked me up with
Thanks GFF! As for you, not to worry: my mp3s are your mp3s!
You didn’t really try hard to find the “Be your man” song :p. Dipo- Be your man. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mq8ZMP9lvEI
Nice list. Frankie’s mix was hella fun. By far EOM- Musical Intercourse rising to the top and Taylor McFerrin…. no words!
Roots- well that was a given :p.
Thanks for the Dipo link. I actually didn’t bother looking at all: I assumed it was some so-fresh-from-the-studio-that-it-had-not-even-been-named-yet exclusiveness that Efya was sharing with us. See how the mind works. Yawa paa o!
Yeah, I worship at the altar of Frankie, frankly. Enough said on that. Don’t you think the singer on Musical intercourse sounds a little like M3nsa when he sings?
I’d love to see a Kaye (*wink*) List. Ahem. *Cough*. Hint hint nudge nudge…
He doeeees sound like Mensa.. That is an astute observation. Ha!
To Efya’s credit, it is pretty new. It was uploaded to Youtube (my player of choice) just 2 days ago. But a truly beautiful and original tune.. Jon Germain(ahem ),Nii(ahem), Richie (ahem), Chase(ahem)…
You’d like to see my list huh.. not that impressive. A mish mash, highs and lows.(music takes up time and i have decided to spread myself thin so charle..can’t keep up. Too much disposable music to wade through :p)
Oh yea charle thats my government name… delete delete!
Speaking of government name- a track i throughly enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtTRvqJ9jlg
see what i mean.
LOL @ “Jon Germain(ahem ),Nii(ahem), Richie (ahem), Chase(ahem)…”
I still want to see that list! Highs and lows are good. Going to investigate Francis & the Lights on your recommendation…
As for government names… LOL *scampers off to go delete*
I dey greet…. My name’s Kwaku, and I stumbled on your blog yesterday and spent quite a bit of my evening being entertained (and educated)by it/you. I felt the need to come to the altar and confess my sins (Westlife, check; Celine Dion, double check; chale, sometimes even Britney Spears :). I left GH for the States ’bout 7 years ago, and it took about 4 years for me to really start exploring new music (said 4 years was spent in bondage to radio singles and BET’s 106&Park… oh the horror). Anyways, I’m still palate-expanding, and I have a feeling your expertise will come in handy. In response to ze above post – I’m also madly in love with J. Monae, and Dance or Die is my fave song on the album. HIGO is also pretty friggin’ fly – some of the guest MC’s had some jaw-dropping bars (Blu on “The Day”, Truck North on “Walk Alone” and P.O.R.N on “Radio Daze”. Keep up the good work
Thankyou. And from Westlife/Celine to Dance or Die & HIGO? Consider yourself absolved.
Oh and, I dunno if you take topic requests (actually, quasi-requests/gentle nudges), but if you do, I’d love to see something about the GH “underground” hiplife/Twipop (?? – a nudge within a nudge) scene… I’ve seen a few Youtube videos of Yaa Pono and the Tema crew, and I’m very intrigued about what their deal is, etc.
Not a bad idea. Soon come.
Thank you for these suggestions,beautiful music, keep on doing what you’re doing Kobina, very proud to see you flying.
Love me some Rocky Dawuni reggae. Don’t know why he hasn’t won a GMA in a while. His tracks like “i’ll try”,”Jerusalem” and “In Ghana” are songs i listen to almost everytime i decide to listen to music. where are the Ghanaian reggae artistes? never see their videos or hear their songs unless there’s a “reggae show” on…
Been trying hard to find the audio of dipo’s ‘be your man’
Try running a search in Youtube. There’s a beautiful version of it there that he does with Efya…