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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.