31 December 2011

Holiday Greetings

On the road

It's good to have a bit of holiday and be on the road again. I won't write much now, but have a happy new year and in the meantime there are a handful of photos - mainly of Robert Sobukwe museum - available in my Flicr site.

22 December 2011

This is what it sounded like

I like the end of the year lists on blogs. Or rather, I like the end of the year lists on blogs I like. In the end of some of the earlier years I have also made some of them for music and even for films and such, but this year I have decided against it. Alternatively I have prepared a small mix where I have collected some of the sonic highlights of my 2011. It has been a great year for music and I am certain I have forgotten tons of great songs that had their rightful place here, but such is life. One year I might start making notes since the January so I will know exactly what to include, but that year the mix might be several hours long. This one is just over 40 minutes. Have a listen.



1.   IntroMa-B featuring Redondo from the mixtape Beats & Rhymes (South Africa)
2.    Roma Meticcia Assalti Frontali from the album Profondo Rosso (Italy)
3.    Ts’epe Kommanda Obbs from the album Ts’epe (Lesotho)
4.    Straight Outta London – Wiley from the mixtape Creating a Buzz (United Kingdom)
5.    Force et HonneurNessbeal from the album Sélection Naturelle (France)
6.    Passop – Manqoba featuring Driemanskap from the EP The Winner (South Africa)
7.    FolkmordsmiljonärPromoe (Sweden)
8.    TestimonyLogic and Last Resort featuring Shadia Mansour and Elz from the album True Talk (United Kingdom)
9.    Ese Soy YoSociedad FB7 from the album Momentos (Colombia)
10. Reign of FireGenesis Elijah from the EP I Ain’t Even Charging Bruv (United Kingdom)
11. Terrorist part IILowkey featuring Crazy Haze from the album Soundtrack to the Struggle (United Kingdom)
12. IngomaKanyi from album Intombizifikile (South Africa)
13. Out of HKI (Lotsaless & Nada Blend) - Lunace vs. Gracias (Finland)


Click links for videos and downloads, enjoy the rest of the old year and have a great new one.

The end of the year mix is on its way

I am pretty sure that no one is as excited about this as I am, but tomorrow I will upload my end of the year mix where I have collected some of my favourite tunes from the last twelve months and mixed them together with my very rusty DJing skills. But it’s all good; I think it makes great listening nonetheless. Then again, I would think that wouldn’t I. 

While you are impatiently waiting for this masterpiece – as I am sure you are – have a look at yet another brand new music video from that Logic and Last Resort album True Talk. This is the title track and one of the songs I mentioned for you to be on a lookout for in my previous blog post.

19 December 2011

#TrueTalk



A few weeks ago I featured a song from the now brand new Logic and Last Resort album True Talk in our Planet Earth Planet Rap radio segment. It was for that reason that I received a press copy of this album and I have been listening to it for some time now and I can tell you that it is a one great album. True Talk has got several repeat-one-worthy tracks and practically no skip-worthy ones. There’s a new video for the song Essence and it’s a nice one – an ode to UK Hip-Hop – but really the ones you need to check from this album are the ones that feature Shadia Mansour, Lowkey and Klashnekoff (two of the latter make a cameo appearance on this new video). I admit, I was very surprised but in the last weeks of 2011 a new contester for the album of the year arrived. How great is that. 

14 December 2011

Soundtrack and visuals to the Struggle



Here’s a brand new video for Lowkey’s Soundtrack to the Struggle, which is the title track from his recent album. All independent, Lowkey has taken an interesting direction in promotion; in collaboration with Global Faction he’s made music videos for most of the songs from his album, and these videos have been leading his campaign with millions of views and with his message I more than welcome that. Here’s the full track list of the album with links for the already existing videos (some are still on their way).

3. Voices Of The Voiceless ft Immortal Technique
5. Skit 1
8. Dreamers ft Mai Khalil
9. Skit 2
11. Skit 3
13. Skit 4
15. Everything I Am
16. Skit 5
18. We Will Rise ft Sanasino
19. My Soul
20. Skit 6
21. The Butterfly Effect
24. Haunted ft Mai Khalil
25. Terrorist? Part 2 ft Crazy Haze & Mai Khalil

10 December 2011

Prophets of Rage



I highly recommend this Public Enemy documentary The Prophets of Rage. This programme was originally aired yesterday (Friday 9.12.2011) on BBC 4 so it’s fresh, and it has good insight and interesting interviews even for someone like me who as a big fan has read and watched whatever is available of them.

The link for this documentary is pretty buggy though. At least for me the video kept on ending at random places as if that was the end of the film, but I just refreshed the page and found where it was left and it worked okay in the end.

Enjoy.

9 December 2011

#KnowledgeIsPower part 2 (at least)

Some time ago UK lyricist and all-around intellectual Akala did a freestyle on BBC’s Radio 1Xtra and as I linked it here on this Welfare State of Mind blog, I made a mention in Twitter that it was like a lecture. This time I am linking an actual lecture (or 20 minute TEDx presentation at least) by him and I really recommend you to check it out. This is no ordinary rapper and when he says #KnowledgeIsPower he means it. Here Akala talks about not just his work with Hip-Hop Shakespeare company, but the philosophy behind it. Quite refreshing altogether.  


7 December 2011

The Girl has Come



Here’s a brand new music video by Cape Town’s Kanyi. I have heard her being referred to as the first lady of Spaza Hip-Hop, which probably isn’t even arguable after she delivered one of the highlight verses of Driemanskap’s township anthem S’phum’eGugs. Her album Intombizifikile (which in English means the girls have come) should be out at some point and this is the first video and song from it. The track is called Ingoma and you can download the MP3 from her ReverbNation profile.  

As a side note; I am also happy to see Anele Matoti doing a small acting role in this video. He’s an old school friend of my wife – part of that Eastern Cape massive – and he’s been featured in several South African TV productions as well. 

6 December 2011

A bit of music | Klashenkoff is back



I have a bit of a soft spot for Klashnekoff. Many times he comes with big lyrics that are deep and meaningful and other times it's not so serieus. The new album/mixtape FTLT (F*** The Long Talk) is on its way and here's a taster from it. The video is just for a freestyle called Clear My Throat and it seems that he's back with full energy. I have no idea where and why there the video was filmed, but I am glad to be taken back to summer especially since his last video that came out early autumn was a winter one. FTLT will be out early next year.

3 December 2011

African Hip-Hop Radio

UHURU STREET

African Hip-Hop radio is back and now also very conveniently the episodes are on Soundcloud to be streamed or downloaded. Have a listen to this first new episode. It is playing as I type this and I am enjoying it tremendously. I am also very pleased to see Gracias from Helsinki (born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo) in the mix. The video for his featured song can be viewed here.

More African Hip-Hop from www.africanhiphop.com

#PEPR | Planet Earth Planet Rap

Chuck D PEPR Tweet 
This week on Planet Earth Planet Rap I was still doing a solo show due to some special arrangements, but next week it’ll be all three of us at it again. Here’s the playlist and the videos for the songs featured this week. Let me warn you about that Logic album – it’s really great and Nessbeal’s Sélection Naturelle is definitely worth your while as well.

1. Nessbeal - Force et Honneur from album Sélection Naturelle (SME France 2011)
2. Logic and Last Resort featuring Big Frizzle, Maverick Sabre and Akala - We'll Never Know from the forthcoming album True Talk (Overstand Music 2011)


Chuck D PEPR Tweet

30 November 2011

Few links for me online elsewhere

ARS11

Recently I haven't been posting as much as I wish I had.That's such a boring phrase to use in a blog, but I wanted to post now a few links since I have been active elsewhere online.

This week I guest-blogged for Africa is a Country. I wrote about my experiences with contemporary art. Read it here:


For last week, and also by the way this, I am flying solo as far as Planet Earth Planet Rap goes. Catch the last week's show from here.


Here’s the playlist
1. Lowkey – Hand On Your Gun from the album Soundtrack to the Struggle (Mesopotamia Music 2011)
2. Rattex – Ewe Nje from the Streets, Raps & Us EP (Pioneer Unit 2010)

29 November 2011

Lesotho Stand Up... again.



In this blog I have written about and linked to quite a bit of Hip-Hop from Lesotho. A lot, at least considering that the country is small, but what can I do, when I have enjoyed the music of Konfab, Isosceles and of course also Core Wreckah, who pretty much has been the original supplier of these links anyway.

Some time ago I posted a video for song called Ts'epe by Kommanda Obbs. That song had a fresh sound to it and video was interesting and Now Kommanda Obbs has a new video for song Hona Joale. Have a listen and enjoy the beautifully shot video. 

21 November 2011

The End of Poverty?


The End of Poverty? is very powerful documentary film investigating the global economics and colonialism that continues. I am not going to explain the matter any further here, I really recommend you watch it above.

20 November 2011

Congolese Hip-Hop (DRC) | #PEPR

This week on Planet Earth Planet Rap we were paying respect to, talking about and playing Congolese Hip-Hop. The show is available on Rapstation, so have a listen and here’s also the videos for the songs played.

First song was by Lexxus Legal featuring LeslyMan and Pitcho – Fauchés

Other song of the week was collaborative track by Salaam Kivu All Stars. The song is called Saisir l'avenir (Seize the future) and you can read a bit more about it from the Africanhiphop.com.

As a bonus here is a wonderful short video giving some context to the music of Lexxus Legal.


Last additional link; here is a great bank of knowledge on DRC - Friends of Congo.

This week special thanks to Tom from Africa is a Country blog who was helping with the music selection.

17 November 2011

In hindsight

Rattex in Studio
Image: photographs from the studio sessions for Streets, Raps & Us EP. Note that in the top left corner are the original handwritten lyrics of Ewe Nje.

I remember this time very well. Perhaps to a large extent because I focused on it differently; I was writing about it, and also, of course, due to the fact that I have recently read what I wrote about it. Rattex was recording his then still unnamed – as far as I knew anyway – EP that later on became known as the Streets, Raps & Us and I had the opportunity to observe the process. I found it all very fascinating.

Clearly some time has already passed. I am reading now how I went on and on about how poorly this kind of music is treated by the mainstream media and it feels like an exaggeration. It feels like that now, because Rattex has been played at least on Yfm in Johannesburg and his label mates Driemanskap have been played probably everywhere in South Africa, but all that was a bit like the fall of Soviet Union; you couldn’t have guessed it a lot before it actually happened. It's still not great - the playing field is far from leveled, but at the time almost any chance for major airplay was still very distant. That is what the song Ewe Nje is about. At least partly. 

It has to be added here, in all fairness, that there's been quite a bit happening in my private life since these events, so I feel like all of this is a long time ago, but it isn't really. Especially in terms of music business it's been a short time and the song sounds incredibly fresh which is what counts and now there is also a video for it. It takes me back in time, but also, to me, it redefines the song. It gives it a new feel. I always liked this song and I still do – a lot is an understatement – but the visuals have added a new dimension to it. The video is stylish black and white one and it’s made by Pioneer Unit’s creative director spo0ky.


Have a look at the video, read my article Rattex: labour of love & hard entertainment and buy the EP from the label’s online store. It’s a bargain full of bangers, but since its on Bandcamp, you can listen to it first to make up your own mind. 

RATTEX: Labour of love & hard entertainment

10 November 2011

A few songs


While many exciting albums, mixtapes and videos seem to be on their way, as if out of nowhere yesterday the song above - Natty's Change remix featuring Akala, Mic Righteous and Alborosie who has collaborated before at least with Blak Twang - came into my life via Twitter. I was unable to turn it off, so even though it's been featured in many blogs already, I put it once more here just so you don't miss it.

The video below has also been featured in many blogs; it seems that a few weeks old video is already a bit of old news, but regardless of that, the song is cool so have a listen and check out the wonderful video from a place warmer than Helsinki this morning when I had to get my winter jacket out. It's legendary African Hip-Hop crew X Plastaz from Tanzania repping the Maasai and beyond. The song called Africa features Fid Q & Bamba Nazar.
 

8 November 2011

#PEPR | New episode - Dutch Hip-Hop

After a few weeks of reruns for various reasons last week we returned with a brand new episode of Planet Earth Planet Rap. This time Dutch Hip-Hop. Listen to the audio and have a look at a few related music videos by some of the top emcees of the Netherlands. 


26 October 2011

A bit of music | Sousou & Maher Cissoko: Jangfata featuring Timbuktu




No need to elaborate much; it's just a feel good song. A lovely collaboration between Senegal and Sweden by artists Sousou and Maher Cissoko, and always brilliant Timbuktu is also featured in the mix. The video makes me miss both summer and Stockholm.

21 October 2011

A few Fela Kuti links

Fela Anikulapo Kuti seems to be a topical artist these days. Of course he's always had his following, but the Broadway musical about him has made a fair few new people aware of his art and his politics. I recently read Carlos Moore's Fela: This Bitch of a Life book so I have thought about him a lot, but I have been a fan of him for years. Not since the childhood or anything like that, but for well over a decade, and not that I need any evidence, but I actually have some, since in 2004 my comment on him was published as a part of the New African magazine's 100 Greatest Africans poll. It wasn't a great insight - I admit - but perhaps being from Finland was exotic enough to be published.

Fela Kuti in New African magazine 100 greatest Africans of all the time

Here's a short video clip I enjoyed a lot and below it, an Afropop Worldwide radio programme which focuses mainly on the Broadway musical on Fela, but actually covers a bit more than that. I thought it was really nice listen so press play or download it why don't you.

20 October 2011

John Pilger's 'Apartheid Did Not Die' (1998)

Train to town

One of my favourite journalists and a very special human being John Pilger has made most of his life work as far as documentary films and special reports go freely available*. It's all on his own website and to study all of that will take a good long time, but today I watched this report from South Africa called Apartheid Did Not Die (1998), and while a lot has changed, a lot has remained the same. I found it to be very interesting as much of the journalism from the time in South Africa was focusing on nation building and telling the story of the struggle and internationally I guess everyone wanted to jump on the feel good boat, but Pilger doesn't roll like that. He asks good questions and highlight issues that are still relevant and still not dealt with. I'd say struggle continues, but in the words of Fela Kuti, I don't want the struggle to continue - the struggle must end successfully. It all got me a bit melancholic to be honest with you. Especially since I have been reading Frantz Fanon recently and my mind wonders whether his uncompromising approach to decolonising would have been needed in South Africa. Or is that still on its way. The only thing that is for sure is that I am not even in a position to speculate on that, but I wish - for whatever it is worth and as naïve as it sounds  - that some solution is found before the people will not wait any longer.

*freely available with a good internet connection.

16 October 2011

New Lowkey album is out.




Lowkey has just released his new album Soundtrack to the Struggle. It’s been coming for a while and many of the albums 26 tracks (20 songs six skits) have been heard and seen as videos already – even here on this blog – but finally now, we have the real thing; the full album.

I can’t say anything in detail about it yet because I don’t have it. I pre-ordered it, but the download hasn’t yet come through, so let me just recollect how I first came across of Lowkey and his art.

There used to be a really cool music magazine in UK called Undercover and besides great written content the complementary promotional was most often pretty amazing. I found a lot of great music from there and Lowkey was one of those artists besides at least Sway. His song Let Me Live was on one of the Undercover mix CDs (although the music wasn’t particularly mixed). After that I went and bought myself two of his three mixtapes Key To The Game vol. 2 and vol. 3 and I might also remind here that Key To The Game vol. 3 was selected as the album of the year 2006 on this blog. Dear Listener which was the album before the new one was also pretty big and a crucial part of our family’s Cape Town soundtrack – it was the one album that all three of us absolutely loved.

But have a look at the brand new video above; it’s for the song Hand On Your Gun and remember that Lowkey exists outside of all major labels. He has done it all by himself, with his people and his fans so even purely for that achievement he deserves your support. Or at least mine. He definitely gets my support.

10 October 2011

#PEPR | Hip-Hop in New Zeland

Our latest Planet Earth Planet Rap installment looks into the Hip-Hop scene in New Zealand. 


Here is the playlist: 
1. Scribe –  Dreaming from the album The Crusader (Dirty Records, 2004) 
2. Deceptikonz – Evolution from the album Evolution (Dawn Raid Music Ltd, 2010) 
3. King Kapisi – Soundsystem from the album 2nd Round Testament (Festival Records Mushroom Records, 2003) 
4. Dam Native – Only You from the album Aotearoa... Nobody does it better (Heart Music NZ, 2010) 

Follow us on Twitter @PEPRradio
Visit PEPR homebase on Rapstation.com

Here’s a few additional videos for some of the featured songs.


7 October 2011

Woody Allen collection

Woody Allen collection
Photo: On one hand our Woody Allen collection is modest; it's not that many films in general or even specifically from Allen's filmography, but then again, for one film maker it's quite a few when you think about it.

There’s a lot more to a person than their online personality suggests. Of course there is. Or perhaps some people are able and unashamed enough to bare it all, but even then often the mistake is made that it matters to people in numbers that this has happened. Sometimes things go in cycles; one focuses on one thing for now, but year ago the balance was different and so it will be again a year from now. I know I often focus on raw street music and an occasional act of banging keyboard to depressurise, but rarely some of the other things I am quite keen on. Like films. 

Nearly everyone likes films and it takes little to have an opinion about them. To like films is like to like breathing air. Or to like music, which is of course even more common... well, thing to like, but me and my wife are quite keen on Woody Allen films. What makes him in specifically a great film maker to like is the fact that his back catalogue is ridiculous and he’s been banging out these classics of American cinema pretty much one every year since the 1960’s. Not each and every one of his films is amazing, but quite a few are really great. I am not going to pretend that I have anything particularly insightful to say about his way of making films and I am sure enough has been said by people much cleverer than me, but I have been happy to read Woody Allen on Woody Allen interview book where Swedish cinema professional Stig Björkman talks to Allen and they go through large amount of his work film by film. It has added a lot to the experience.

So far we have seen over thirty films by him and we own twenty five of them, but there is so much more to go. So there, this is one of the lighter hobbies we have, even if the films occasionally are heavy. And by that I mean both heavy as in deep and heavy as in great.

3 October 2011

This is Black History | Music video



Powerful Black History Month track by a legion of cool UK artists: This is Black History. Have a look, why don't you.

1 October 2011

Selective understanding of Zimbabwe

Sometimes some information lands on you in such a way that you must say, stop the press… we have a new front page. Although, since I am not a newspaper editor of yesteryear I found myself rather just thinking that I need to reprioritise my Friday afternoon… don’t tell my boss.

My friend online – which just simply means I’ve never met him elsewhere – Tom Devriendt, who is writing his PhD which has something to do with identity and white South Africa and who is a regular contributor to the brilliant Africa is a Country blog, sent me some links about Zimbabwe and I can’t help but make a small summary, linkage and expansion of the topic.

 
Land reform and Zimbabwe; say those words in any order and you get a reaction. It obviously was a failed but atrocious attempt of a corrupt leader who bribes people to vote for him and then still lies about the result just to be once more popular amongst his people. Obviously. Well, obviously at least if you have been following the story from almost any media with the exception of New African magazine – I honestly cannot think of another exception that I’d know of. According to this news narrative that unsurprisingly enjoys unquestioned consensus in the western press, the agricultural sector of Zimbabwe collapsed and violence coloured the previously white farms first red and then black as the ownership landed neatly on the hands of Mugabe’s political cronies. Right?

Wrong. A group of researchers mainly from Zimbabwe have conducted a fascinating study* which focuses on the Masvingo Province in the southern part of the country, but reflects the circumstances in a much broader national level. Based on their on-the-ground research they found out – and I am not going to get too much into details since the findings are available besides the book, which I haven’t read, also in the booklet that I have, and which is available as a free PDF – that many of these myths are just that; myths.

Admittedly agricultural production has struggled in many ways and since the land reform certain crops such as wheat, coffee, tea and tobacco have not reached the same production standard as before. That is the kind of stuff we know because the media – even if not so much recently – went on and on about how terribly things have been going. What was forgotten, was of course that the production of certain other crops such as small grains, edible dry beans and cotton have been increasing. The production of dry beans is actually up 282% since reform. Production is also much more diverse than what it was with new ideas and new products introduced. And while political corruption did exist, and still does, in the form of inside golden handshakes and the so called cronies owning the land, the truth isn’t quite as simple with regards to that either. Out of the people who own any of the redistributed land only less than five per cent fall into that category. Mostly the new owners are a diverse group of people of all ages, some former farm workers and others from the cities. They invest in the land and farms so much so that the research team had calculated the full amount of investment for country being US$91 million since 2000 which is quite a bit for a financially struggling country.

The main points – at least some of them – are that Zimbabwean agriculture is in transformation. The old didn’t continue in the new, but structures are changing and considering the short time period of a mere decade as well as largely absent state or NGO funding, the successes where they have been, are remarkable and can be attributed to a few things, but mainly hard work and certain amount of creativity. I really recommend you to read the booklet as it is very interesting. The ultimate condensing of its message is that not that it’s all good, but it’s not all bad either; it’s complex, but there’s a lot of potential and promise.

The reason why I am particularly interested in all this is the fact that I spent some time in the country soon after the main wave of reforms and farm takeovers, when according to the news white people were being killed in the country as a rule. Of course that was a lie – much of the news are very one sided anyway – but since agriculture or land reform aren’t something I know all that much about, I wanted to expand the idea to a few things I am able to speculate on. I also want to, at this point, emphasise that I am neither celebrating the current political structure of Zimbabwe nor trying to tell how the future should go. I am not a specialist and even if I was I'd have the decency to shut my mouth about it. I am, however, interested in the reaction of the so called western media. So based on these findings, why is it that the news stories from Zimbabwe were, and still are whenever occasionally they are published, so misleading?

First we need to understand that now heavily demonised President Mugabe is one of the world leaders who chose not to be a western puppet. He hasn’t been taking orders from the north and he has been very vocal about it. I am not saying that he is a great leader – I believe he definitely was a great leader and one of the heroes of the independent Zimbabwe, who got somewhat side lined and forgot to share the power, but his biggest sins, in this context at least, are not the ones he has committed against his people – especially the ones in the urban areas – but the ones where white people have been in the receiving end; the farmers and the western leaders, the BBC journalists and NGOs. To mess with those people is to lose a PR war. No matter what the actual outcomes of your actions and policies are, you are ranked lower than Nazis on the morality chart of western norms. If there’s one thing we white people are, we are sore losers. And I don’t say this to generalise individuals, only to describe our mostly racist structures of power and communication. You are free to disagree, but what has been normalised in the past centuries runs deep. And deep down there it informs our school books, media and through that, our world view thus being kind of invisible, because it is what we are so used to see and because it doesn’t really inconvenience us, we simply don’t pay attention to it. 

The news about Africa – to a large degree – are informed by development aid providing NGOs, suggests Karen Rothmyer in her Harvard University discussion paper They Wanted Journalists to Say ‘Wow’: How NGOs Affect U.S. Media Coverage of Africa (2011). Similar idea is also explored in C. P. Eze’s brilliant book Don’t Africa Me (2008). The fact is that there is a whole industry of western aid that employs thousands of Europeans, Americans, Australians and people from many other countries. These Non-Governmental Organisations rely to a large extent on outside funding and in order for them to receive that funding they have to prove that the need is huge. In order for Bono and Bob Geldof (who rely on this less financially) to raise funds for an urgent need with famine or so, they must basically paint as terrible picture as possible for us to give as much money as possible. While some great things might be achieved, some other terrible things come as a result. This goes to your red nose days and all. So the reason I have digressed a bit, is that what has happened in Zimbabwe has happened outside of that structure; there haven’t been any gap-year Dutch teens patronising locals because they receive a bit of money and an experience of a lifetime to do so. There haven’t been that many older professional aid workers either, but local people have come together. That goes against the aid narrative according to which such aid is needed that only predominantly white Europeans and Americans can oversee it or else the corrupt and uneducated locals will make a mess of it.

Finally, the last of my speculations is that Zimbabwean land reform hits too close to something that is non-negotiable; South African land reform. In order to keep away from any meaningful debate around the land issue in South Africa, the Zimbabwe has had to look like a failure. It has had to look not only like a bad idea, but also as an evil idea. It cannot be only a question of agriculture and economics, but it needs to be a question of human rights, and mainly, the rights of the white humans at that. The long knives are terrorising the nightmares of the white farmers so subsequently they will also dominate the news dystopia.

I am sure there are other reasons as well and the matter is complex. I guess the best way for me to conclude this longish blog post would be to simply repeat, or at least paraphrase myself. The summary of the whole thing, in the real world, is that it’s not that it’s all good, but it’s not all bad either. Like my undergraduate Professor always told me – It’s complicated. The news, as opposed to the reality on the ground, thinks that it's simple, but my argument is that they are simply wrong. 


Links:

*Scoones, I. et al. (2010) Zimbabwe’s Land Reform: Myths and Realities. James Currey


29 September 2011

#PEPR | Italian Hip-Hop




Last week on our Planet Earth Planet Rap (#PEPR) episode we were talking about Italian Hip-Hop and that gave us a great platform to play some Assalti Frontali. This Roman crew is proper old school in the context of Italian Hip-Hop scene and very political at that. Italian Hip-Hop has a fascinating history and you can listen to some of it from our PEPR, but also check the video for Roma Meticcia song which was also the one played in radio.


Listen to Planet Earth Planet Rap: Inside Italy from the Rapstation.com.  


 
Next up some Palestinian music on the episode that will air between 8-10 pm New York time on WBAI radio and online it will be on Saturday.

African musical influence in Asia


I wanted to post this audio documentary by Afropop Worldwide as I found it very interesting and well produced. Here is the pitch and have a listen. 

 "In the 20th century, music and culture from the African Diaspora traveled all over the world.... and East Asia is no exception. In this Hip Deep episode, Afropop explores the different ways that Black music has influenced culture and society in places like China, Japan, Korea and Thailand. China scholar Andrew Jones takes us into the decadent underworld of 1930s Shanghai, where a hybrid form of jazz that mixed African-American sounds with traditional Chinese melodies challenged notions of tradition and modernity as political forces grappled to define the direction of modern China. Then we visit Japan, where homegrown reggae groups such as the Mighty Crown Soundsystem have fostered a massive Jamaican dancehall scene with an attention to detail. Plus, we speak with cultural critic Oliver Wang on the surprising connections between Asia and the development of hip-hop. (prod. Marlon Bishop)" From Afropop Worldwide. 

27 September 2011

Troy Davis: a few days later

A few days after the murder of Troy Davis where the murderer was the State of Georgia, in the United States of America we must remind ourselves in the midst of this information tsunami that the social and political framework that killed this man remains untouched and while the man himself is no longer, his cause lives on and is as relevant as ever. Actually, its relevance can only increase for as long as we deal with such matters. 

Listen to another most likely innocent (I personally strongly believe based on the information I have that he was framed and that he has spent decades locked in as a political prisoner) Mumia Abu-Jamal commenting the lessons learned from Troy Davis case. The recording is part of his audio commentary essays which I recommend to subscribe to. 

Mumia Abu-Jamal's Radio Essays  
Commentaries by the award-winning journalist and activist Mumia Abu-Jamal  
Troy Davis: Movement Lessons

Also a song – a free download at that – by Rebel Diaz and production by Agent of Change aka DJ Mutiny sampling classic Billie Holiday song Strange Fruit as a reference to the true nature of the situation; a modern day lynching.

23 September 2011

New Kid in Town

Noah Kin is my fellow Helsinki dweller. Even though he is only half of my age, he raps a lot better than me. It’s an unfair comparison in that I don’t rap at all, but the point is that young man has got skills; nice flows and nice voice. This is just an introduction in many ways. I think he’s been hyping Gracias up on gigs, but he clearly also has his own thing going on – and that’s great. Have a look at the Nigerian Finnish youth giving us a solid taster of things that are definitely coming. 




22 September 2011

Rest in Power



Today I woke up feeling nervous. It wasn’t because of anything that was physically or otherwise happening to me or anyone I personally know. It was because I knew that far from me in the state of Georgia in the United States of America a man called Troy Davis had been scheduled to be executed. I knew I was about to soon learn whether the authorities had gone ahead with their deadly mission despite of all the evidence that was indicating the innocence of Mr. Davis. Whether he was innocent or not is speculation from me, I am not that much of an expert on his case – I know quite a little about it, but the problem was, as the widely used Twitter hashtag suggested there was #TooMuchDoubt. The case simply was not clear and quite obviously needed more inspection not by me, but by the legal system in question. 

So I was nervous to start reading my Twitter timeline. All of my trusted sources are pretty much there and I find it to be the best place for trustworthy links. The up and down narrative of hope and despair went on for some time – hundreds of short messages were commenting, protesting and siding with the rights of the accused. There was little else actually on my time line and on and on it went. I am sure that on the other side of the Internet many were posting different – more hostile messages – but none of those were in front of my eyes. At some point the spirit of resistance and resilience of this online activism that was only a part of efforts to save a life of a man was so contagious that I became temporarily hopeful only to arrive to the messages of very early morning. Rest in Power Troy Davis. 

Troy Davis was just one man, but at the same time he was us all. He might have been in a country that you or at least I am not in, but his rights – or lack of them – are something that concerns us all. Because rights are rights. 

There’s not a lot that Europe can boast with as far as any kind of morality goes. You don’t even have to look at our past coloured with a broad spectrum of atrocities; the present is far from unproblematic, but perhaps the one thing that I am the most proud of with regards to the European Union is its absolute stance of death penalty. In order for you to become a member state in the EU, you cannot have a death penalty as part of your legislation. That means that putting aside the geographical truisms and probable unwillingness, the United States, even hypothetically could not be a member of the EU. And neither could many many other countries on many other continents. 

Of course death penalty is only one grain of sand in Sahara worth of unjust and inhumane circumstances, but it is nonetheless a very serious problem. In its finality, it allows the prejudiced systems to legally lynch people – like they did to Troy Davis last night – and like they do to many other undesirable characters who represent something that the power deems wrong. Police have shot many people full of holes to their brutal and immediate death for no reason in United States even in the recent years, but the ones facing execution are many times Black activists seemingly often, allegedly, for having killed a cop and in many of these cases, like for instance with Mumia Abu Jamal’s, the trial and the events that lead to it are heavily contested. Yet we allow this to happen. 

It is the time now for the European leaders to start pressurising their colleagues on the other coast of the Atlantic and beyond. These often racist systems where the package of the past continues to be the reality; the prison industrial complex that financially benefits from inmates and uses them as a damn-near slave labour needs to be revisited urgently. There is no moral high ground for any of our societies to say anything about any other country until we have our own yard in order, and now, disorder is the order of the day. This is inexcusable; a truly shameful display of disregard for human rights and freedom of communication when the authorities start to block the emails coming from, and via the Amnesty International as yesterday happened. 

It’s too late now for Troy Davis. He is dead and an increasing amount of evidence suggests that he was killed as an innocent man. The state of Georgia was again, like too numerous times before in the past, a venue for lynching another Black man. Having visited the place once I remember that the confederate flag was waving liberally in the sky; liberally in all of its conservativeness. There is nothing post-racial about this. It is the zeitgeist that never should have been, but still pests us – and them – that enabled this yet another state sponsored murder. Regardless of the global public outrage, the go ahead was given. There was no strike by the executioners as had been rumoured, there was just one more dead body. Even when the accused is undeniably guilty, which wasn’t the case with Troy Davis, the death penalty only achieves one more death. There are no militant pro-life people in sight to preach about the sanctity of human life. People are not the greatest assets; only some people and their assets.

These events may have taken place in the United States, but this is about more than one incident. It’s a question of us citizens of world being seen as customers or worthless. It is a question of arrogance of certain power structures and just like with the UK uprisings, who polices the people who police the people. This is about the past, the present and the future. Because inaction is a weapon of mass destruction, we, as a global community need to find ways forward and put pressure on our leaders. The other side is very good at it, so we have a task ahead of us.