30 April 2011

Looptroop Rockers Live in Helsinki

Looptroop on tour

Looptroop live in Helsinki
Photo: Not a great image quality as I used mobile phone camera, but the gig was great.

I have had a few things that I wanted to get online this week and one of them was the last weekend’s Looptroop Rockers gig in Helsinki. I have been a fan of these guys for years – I have practically spent my whole twenties with them as my soundtrack. Sometimes on very tight rotation and other times just making an occasional entry to the playlists of the times, but always present on some level. There has always, however, been one thing missing. I had never seen them live before last Saturday.

Dressed in red the group did a good selection of new and many old tracks as well. Many of the older songs were not performed in their entirety, but as fast moving segues from a bit of one to more of another.

I was witnessing the gig with my wife and we were quite happy to find a nice spot on a sort of balcony from where we had great view to the stage and since the venue wasn’t massive – although not tiny either – we saw the stage really well and the energy filled the whole space anyway. Great gig. I was happy. I was also happy to shake hands with Promoe who signed his latest solo record which I had bought earlier.

Signed Kråksangen

There is a Human Being by The Side of the Road on IQ4News

There is a Human Being by the Side of the Road

I am happy to say that my audio documentary mini series There is a Human Being by the Side of the Road is featured on IQ4News site. The site specialises on news from various African countries so if interested in that sort of thing, then why not go and browse a bit. Currently only the first part is online and the other episode will be there next week, but of course these are available here in my blog also. But have a listen, feel free to comment or if you like it, and are a user of Facebook, then just click the like button. Thanks.

Follow up

As a follow up to my recent post about Professor Manning Marable and his new book on Malcolm X I thought I'd post this discussion from Al Jazeera. I actually still haven't got the book and  I'll probably wait for the paperback since my reading list is very long currently. It's very exciting, tad overwhelming and also a bit frustrating, but I'll get to there eventually. There's been many commentaries on this book - some positive and others negative - but before reading I can't say much. Besides the video below, here's also Mumia Abu Jamal's commentary from death row. On an unrelated note - his case will be revisited soon and certainly that's necessary. I am hoping to see him, and the rest of the political prisoners, even if framed to be jailed for other reasons, released.

23 April 2011

Bad Boys Rethought

I'm practically just out of the door to catch the Looptroop Rockers live in Helsinki. It's pretty cool thing since I've been their fan for over ten years and this is the first time that I see them or even Promoe as a solo artist live. More of that perhaps later, but here's a brand new video of Bad Boys Remix Part 1 by Swiss (formerly known as a member of So Solid Crew) featuring Blak Twang, Klashnekoff, Akala, Black the Ripper and AKS. Lowkey must've been unable to film his verse so it's unfortunately cut out, but even without that, this is one of the best tracks of 2011 thus far. Download the full version MP3 from the Soul Culture site.

21 April 2011

Going home

The old city of Amman
Photo: just because my photos are mainly from the old part of town doesn't mean there isn't a new one, only that I wasn't there much. Just so you know.

I’ve just finished packing my bags and there’s some more time before the ride to the airport so I thought I’d write a bit about what I’ve been up to this week. I was asked to attend a music related forum in Amman as a part of my work and the purpose of the event was to build bridges between Europe and Arab countries amongst the youth in the form of music. Music and culture in general are a great way to bridge media amplified cultural gaps because in the words of my wife ‘no one hates music’. The whole idea of bringing people together in harmony sounds like a massive cliché, and it is, but there’s a lot of truth to it also. Except that it’s a bit more complicated than that. I have written before how I don’t see tolerance as something that will solve all the problems regardless of the fact that it’s promoted as if that was the case. I see cultural understanding to be the key, not just simply tolerating what we cannot understand. And this is what this has been about.

There’s been some great lecturers here, especially I enjoyed Mr. Issa Boulos who comes from Palestine even if lives now in the United States. His insight to the region was engaging and honest. While perhaps some speakers preferred avoiding the difficult political topics – which I also can understand in the context of what they were here to talk about – he highlighted that without the sense of justice there isn’t much to build on and this is something the European side should also acknowledge. I agree and it has been my goal ever since I started my job in which I coordinate some musical and cultural exchanges that they need to be morally sound in every way. These exchanges of culture, I believe, are enriching all sides and they shouldn’t be anti-anything, but pro-improvement, pro-empowerment and pro-common-sense.

Jordan is an intriguing country. I haven’t had too much spare time and I had posted some photos earlier, but the little I have seen has been unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The city of Amman is a curious mixture of old and new. And old means old like we know very little about in Europe. Besides some great vegetarian dishes, one of the things that has been left in my mind mostly, is the amount of images of the King around the town and in the offices. The posters, paintings and banners of the current, previous and next King; there are plenty to go around. And they are many more, and generally a lot bigger, than pictures of Mugabe in Zimbabwe or actually of any leader of any country where I have ever been. It’s a delicate matter and I haven’t felt it to be appropriate to ask, but I can only imagine two options; either they love him or fear him. Or both. Or maybe there are some other options that are beyond my imagination.

In the end, before the car leaves to the airport, perhaps for the first time ever, since I am writing about work trip, I must emphasise that this is, and has always been my personal blog and my opinions. I have been hired into my job as me, but my opinions are not necessarily shared by everyone in the office. Or maybe they are, I don’t know, but the point is I represent a private person – an individual – here.

19 April 2011

More Amman


After my first full day in Amman, I am left tired after a lot of walking. It's been a great day, but I will just post some pictures since I want to Skype my wife and get some sleep. So here.




18 April 2011

First evening in Amman


A few weeks ago my boss rang me from Budapest to ask if I could fill in for him in the Euro Arab Youth Music Forum in Amman, Jordan, and after consulting with the family, I said sure. I am very lucky to have both cool boss and family and after a few hiccups such as expired passport and some misinformation, here I am now and having travelled the whole day, I am incredibly joyous to be here. The actual work starts only tomorrow after four so I am having free morning and after corresponding with @FADiAKADER who is based here for now, I’ve decided to go and spend it downtown or the Balad as it also is called.It is a hectic place full of colours, small shops and such. I was there today with Nicolas who is a Swedish guy also participating here, and we had the best Falafel, Humus, Pita, Salad dinner in a place called Hasheem. It came highly recommended and for a good reason. The place itself is hardly fancy – more like concrete alley with plastic garden furniture, but the food was really really good. I am a big fan of both Humus and Falafel and I gather that this is how they’re supposed to taste like.

Falafel like it should be in Amman

10 April 2011

List of reading


I’ve been reading a few things recently. I have been trying to take a bit of time to focus on one topic or broader group of ideas that are based around some specific thing. And that specific thing has recently been the culture – or rather the subculture – of Hip-Hop. It is evident if you scroll down and see what I have been writing about, but now, with an exception of one journal article that I need to read a few times to perhaps say something about it, it is time to move on.

And I have. I am currently reading a really important book called Don’t Africa Me by C. Paschal Eze. The book explores the geo-branding war the west – or the north is waging against the continent of Africa. It’s powerful stuff and I also hope to write a little bit more about it here when I am ready. I recently read a blog post about another one about an academic paper (full PDF) on how various international aid organisations play a role in this PR war that Eze also talks about. The next book will be Dambisa Moyo’s Dead Aid which I have browsed through earlier somewhat selectively, but now I intend to give it a bit more time.

Other books that are waiting to be read are The Wretched of the Earth by Franz Fanon, Rights of Man by Thomas Paine and yes – I admit, I’ve never read it in its entity – Manufacturing Consent by Chomsky and Herman. These are all waiting in the bookshelf. Also on the bookshelf is another book I have managed to miss thus far; The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley, but I’ll save that for when I can get the Professor Marable’s new book so I can read them one after another. Then there are a few things in the post. Some Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Cornel West which I am looking forward to read but which my wife is really looking forward to read.

Besides just book talk, here’s a link I really recommend: Marshall MacLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage audio to be downloaded as MP3 files. It’s quite funny; a kind of a guess of how the future may sound by someone who in many other regards was ahead of his time.That is how it sounds - the content is... well, it's MacLuhan.

4 April 2011

Professor Manning Marable

Professor Manning Marable has died. Now, I would lie if I said that for years I’ve been a fan; I only really learned about him very recently, but his work is impressive. Professor Marable was one of the leading academics and historian in the field of African American studies. The tragedy - besides the general tragedy - is that while he passed away last Friday, today, on Monday his new Malcolm X biography has been published. The book, called Malcolm X: The Life of Reinvention, is said to be redefining work putting the original autobiography which was written by Alex Hayley together with Malcolm X himself into a new context. Me and my wife got that original book last Friday during our leisurely bargain book hunt. I have been meaning to get into this topic for some time; a lot that I have read recently has been pointing to his direction, but as soon as we got the book, which I haven’t yet started, the new one is out which I should also get. No doubt I first read the first one and then the other. There’s a lot of great material out there about Professor Marable, but I thought I’d embed the video from Democracy Now! which has a lot more information. The broadcast is in two parts and the second continues from where the first leaves us.

1 April 2011

Find No Enemy

Here's a brand new video from the great poet and artist Akala. Song is called Find No Enemy and it redefines self-reflection in music. Song is from the album DoubleThink which has been out for a good long while so I have been familiar with the song  for a closer to year, really enjoying it, and this being one of the great tracks from the album although the standard generally is very high. Video is directed by GlobalFaction which has already done several UK videos with substance. They seem to have an amazing sensibility to visually communicate the mood of the song and always add something into the mix.

Now when the Klashnekoff mixtape comes out, I don't know what to look forward  to anymore, but I know there will always be something. Many things actually, but now I just take a moment to take in all this information and emotion of this video and song. One thing at the time.