RIP Lucky Dube: 1964-2007

The world loses another great musician. In a senseless & random act of violence, South African reggae star Lucky Dube was shot and killed outside of Johannesburg yesterday in an attempted carjacking – in front of his children, mind you. What a wonderful world we live in…

Lucky isn’t too well known here in the U.S. (at least on the mainstream side of things), but on the other side of the world, the man is HUGE (including Seychelles, where my wife is from).

RIP Lucky Dube.

Lucky DubeTogether as One (mp3)

From his official site….

Lucky Dube was survived by his new wife Zanele and his 7 children Bongi, Nonkululeko, Thokozani, Laura, Siyanda, Philani and his brand new three-month old baby Melokuhle.

Should you wish to send a message of condolence to Lucky’s family, please email Lucky@gallo.co.za or fax on +27 (0) 11 340 9471

Other blogger tributes:

Videos:

“Back to My Roots”

“It’s Not Easy”

New Manu Chao – La Radiolina

I first came across Manu Chao a few years ago thanks to still amazing Radio Paradise. The song was “Bongo Bong”, and was like nothing I’d ever heard – a mix of latin, world beats, jazz, punk. Well he’s back with that same hard to define blend with his latest release, La Radiolina (his first stateside release since 2001’s Proxima Estación: Esperanza.

The album is full of energy (many of the 21 songs clock in at under two minutes). They’re mini explosions of world rhythms…bringing together some great sounds: horns, wonderful harmonies, loads of cool percussion, police sirens, flamenco-style guitars. It’s really one of those albums that takes you on a journey. Recommended highly!

Manu ChaoEl Hoyo (mp3)

Buy La Radiolina (Amazon note: the Amazon Mp3 Store looks pretty cool. It’s integrated into all of the CD pages, so you now have a choice of adding the CD to your cart, or buying the DRM-free MP3 album)

Ickmusic Giveaway: Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars DVD

My wife and I just got done watching the newly released DVD Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars. As far as the horrifying subject matter that forms the backdrop of this documentary – which is the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone – I feel much the way I felt after watching Hotel Rwanda: enraged and ashamed at the atrocities that occur, yet filled with awe and admiration for the people who rise above it all to help others. In Hotel Rwanda, it was Paul Rusesabagina who sheltered and ultimately saved over a thousand fellow Rwandans in his Kigali hotel, the Hôtel des Mille Collines. In this inspiring DVD, it’s Reuben Koroma, “Franco” Langba, “Black Nature”, and their fellow members of Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars who use the power of music to overcome their traumatic pasts, and to help others through theirs as well.

The film follows the All Stars from the refugee camps of Guinea – where thousands of Sierra Leone’s people fled to escape the violence in their home country – to their return to Sierra Leone in 2004. There, they recorded an album, and have since toured the world. They are in the midst of a U.S. tour as we speak, so do yourself a big favor and rent/buy this DVD, buy their album, and go see them live if they’re coming to your area. My wife and I will be seeing them here in Scottsdale on February 17th.

Here’s the trailer on YouTube. You can view higher quality trailers on this Quicktime link or this Windows Media Player link.

GIVEAWAY: To celebrate the August 14th release of this amazing film, I have a copy of the DVD available to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment below to be entered. I’ll pick out a winner in a few days.

Now for some important links:

My Singing Soul

Soel - Memento

Soel is Pascal Ohs, a Paris born and bred trumpeter and composer who’s a member of popular European group St. Germain. Memento is his first solo effort, where he pays homage to the American R&B, classic soul and jazz that he digs so immensely. What he have in this tune is a very obvious tribute to the Barry Whites and Isaac Hayeses of the world. Soel, you rascal!

Soel: My Singing Soul (mp3)

You can preview all the tracks on his official Warner Bros. site.

Buy Memento.

New Music: Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra

Antibalas

This is a pretty easy segue from my last post about Tony Allen. I was reading the latest Rolling Stone yesterday, and in Austin Scaggs’ Smoking Section, he gave a heads up to the new album by Antibalas (which just came out March 6th). Scaggs said they “churn out the best Afrobeat since Fela Kuti left the building”.

So naturally, off I went to eMusic to download the album, and glad I did at that. Brooklyn-based Antibalas is most certainly hugely influenced by Fela. I would say it’s impossible to play Afrobeat and not be influenced by Fela. But these guys also manage to reinvent the form at the same time. The album is produced by John McEntire of Tortoise. If you want to spend an hour falling under the groove and spell of good Afrobeat (with some good rips on Bush & Cheney in “Filibuster XXX”), pick up this album.

Here’s the cool opening track to the album, the aptly named “Beaten Metal”.

Antibalas: Beaten Metal (mp3)

Buy:

Antibalas’ Official Site | MySpace (includes their latest tour dates, which includes SxSW in Austin over the next few days, and just about every American city it seems except for here in Phoenix – shit!).

Tony Allen and Ginger Baker Poundin the Skins

Tony Allen - Bad Ass Drummin MFer

Kudos to Jefito for throwing a Fela Kuti / Ginger Baker tune on one of his Friday mix tapes a couple months back. It made me aware of Fela and the Africa 70’s “Live” album with Ginger Baker. It was originally released in 1971, but was reissued late last year with a 16 minute bonus track – a Ginger Baker / Tony Allen drum jam.

Tony Allen was Fela Kuti’s drummer for many many years, and is active today in The Good, the Bad, & the Queen, which also features former Blur frontman Damon Albarn, and former Clash – yes CLASH – bassist Paul Simonon. Hidden Track caught one of their shows over the weekend, and has some sweet pics posted in their photo review.

So I’m a percussion kind of guy, and can happily spend 16 minutes of my life listening to a fine Afrobeat / funkin’ drummin’ jam. Can you?

Ginger Baker & Tony Allen Drum Solo (mp3, 25mb) – Live at the 1978 Berlin Jazz Festival

Buy:

The Fearlessness of Fela Kuti

Fela Kuti

It’s nearly impossible to sum up Fela Anikulapo Kuti in one post. But to put his popularity and impact into perspective, over a million people poured into the streets of Lagos, Nigeria when he passed away in 1997.

Fela is credited as one of the pioneers of Afrobeat, which is a cocktail of African highlife, jazz, funk, and more traditional African chanting. He performed most of his career with two bands behind him: Afrika 70 in the 1970’s, and Egypt 80 in the 1980’s. Few of his songs clocked in under the 10 minute mark, and a good number of them extend into 20 and 30 minute territory.

The reason for his popularity stemmed from his very open disdain toward the government and police of his home country of Nigeria. His music often directly criticized the corruption and illegal practices of the government. As a result, he spent much of his time enduring jail time, and police raids on his nightclubs and commune. In fact, in 1977, a police raid on his commune, called Kalakuta Republic, resulted in Fela being severely beaten, the commune being burned to the ground, and even his elderly mother being thrown from a window. His studio was completely destroyed, along with most of his instruments and master tapes. Not a fun time in Lagos.

Fela

One year later, to mark the anniversary of the destruction of Kalakuta Republic, he married 27 women. No, that’s not a typo. The man married 27 women! Many of them were his backup dancers and singers. All the birthdays and anniversaries, good God! My head would explode. As would other parts of the anatomy, but I won’t go there.

Fela continued to record and perform up until the early 90’s, where it was apparent to many that he was sick. In 1997, he died from AIDS-related heart failure at the age of 58.

His body of work and legacy remains, and I encourage folks to find out more about the man, and to listen to his music. He was a hero, fearless in standing up to the forces of evil in his country.

Here’s the first tune I ever heard by Fela when I discovered his music in the late 90’s.

Fela Kuti: Roforofo Fight (mp3) – from 1972’s Roforofo Fight LP.

I watched the last part of a Fela documentary on Sundance Channel earlier tonight. I just did a Youtube search on Fela, and the first one that came up was a short clip from the same documentary. Here it is.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjHN7dRw1G8


More Resources:

Fela’s Wikipedia entry.

A cool bio in the Guardian (UK), including an interesting anecdote about Fela’s Lagos run-in with Paul McCartney.

The Fela Kuti Project.

Lamizik Sesel (Seychelles Music)

Benn Loxo du Taccu is one of the first music / mp3 blogs I discovered a couple of years ago. Matt is the African music expert of the blogosphere. He was living in Senegal when I first started reading and has since moved to Paris.

So Matt had a great Seychelles related post today, with a couple of old classic tunes from the island country. As I mention from time to time, my beautiful wife lived there from the age of 3 until that fateful New Year’s Eve 2001 when she was visiting her mom here in Arizona, and we went out on our first date. Yep, she couldn’t resist me. hehe.

So definitely check out Matt’s post for a nice story and a couple of great tunes. And I’ll throw some contemporary Seychellois music your way with a couple by Brian Matombe.

Brian Matombe: Ding Ding Kololo (mp3) | Potpourri Moutya (mp3)