30 June 2011

Three out of four seasons

One thing about Finland people find very difficult to understand is the seasons. The way they change. According to every single stereotype I've come across - and let's face it, there really is only one with a few variations of freezing weathers - it is supposed to be very harsh and practically unliveable, but in all fairness, the weather is a lot more reasonable. Right now it's pretty hot and fast forward half a year and we're very much depending on our winter kit. I have taken a few shots just from our balcony to show what 12 months here involves. There's no spring photo I am afraid. No reason, there just isn't.

Green of the summer

Autumn 2010
Colours of the autumn

Winter 2010
White and blue of the winter.

Summer times

Hard to believe, but June is pretty much done. It's almost July again and I am quite excited because there's even a little bit of holiday in store for me. Other cool things are also about to take place and I am sure I'll be soon writing about it all a bit more, but for now I just wanted to post a few photographs from our midsummer visit to our fellow Finnish-South African family the Malukas.

Midsummer at Malukas

Midsummer at Malukas

Midsummer at Malukas

Deep Stories

Tonight when Spotify crashed and I was bit in a hurry to go and help with the dinner preparations the situation called for a CD. Do you still remember them? They are pretty nice, those old things. I looked at the collection that is still left and picked the brilliant Ceasefire album by Emmanuel Jal  and Abdel Gadir Salim. They are from the two Sudans and this artistic collaboration was pretty big deal at the time. I used to play this stuff on radio. Quite a bit actually. It was nice to listen to this album after a few years and it still sounds great. The problem with the pace of new music these days is that one rarely takes time to look back. I couldn't find a proper video from that album, but wanted to post something so here is Emmanuel Jal's Warchild which is the title track from his solo follow-up.

28 June 2011


Dplan - Tumi by PioneerUnit

Just putting up a few musical links I haven’t had time to post previously. Above is the collaborative track by Dplanet of Pioneer Unit and Tumi from the Volume. Both gentlemen have been linked here before, but this time they’ve done a song together and it’s big.

Dplanet recently also uploaded the first installement of the Pioneer Unit radio where he plays some cools songs and perhaps, at least for me, most interestingly pilots a few tracks from Ma-B’s forthcoming mixtape Beats and Rhymes. Those songs sound great and the mixtape will be out on 2nd of July as a free download, but I will link it here as soon as it is available.

Another very cool mix is the one by Natalie CrΓΌe who does Global Beats for Skyhook radio. She uploaded her playlist to Mixcloud and it's more than worth a listen.

Lastly, have a listen to the Planet Earth – Planet Rap segment by legendary Chuck D from his And You Don't Stop radio show as he’s talking about Daara J Family. And write down the name of that segment anyway, because it’s important.

This one's a banger.

Eboi is a Swedish rapper who has been previously heard at least alongside Adam Tensta. He’s borrowed the Slang Like This beat from the UK’s True Tiger and P Money and made a tune about immigrants and immigration. I have liked the beat ever since I heard it, but this whole track is cool.

16 June 2011

Be Strong South Africa

I advice you to take advantage of the kindness by Driemanskap and Pioneer Unit and download this Spaza classic to be part of your collection. I know I have. Well, I do have the mixtape it’s originally from – Battle of Gugulethu – but it never hurts to have a new copy. And all this is just a moment after the same people had reuploaded a remastered version of Snakes and Fakes. Get them both and buy their full debut album Igqabhukil’ Inyongo because it’s really great.

Itsho Into, the song in question, was given for free to the people to pay respect to the youth of 1976 who said enough and marched against the use of Afrikaans as a language the teaching was conducted in their schools. This chapter in South African history is slightly unusual since the young student leaders such as Tsietsi Mashinini were not affiliated with any political groups. Mashinini died in Liberia in exile and for some reason – perhaps the one I’ve just mentioned – this day that now is called the Youth Day revolves more around Hector Petersen who was a young child the racist police killed first on 16th of June, 1976 in Soweto.

Qina Afrika! Be strong Africa!

15 June 2011

She said NO...

Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time just listening to the new POWA mixtape by South African lyricist and poet Tumi. This mixtape has a multitude of sonic references to all kinds of music which makes it very interesting and exciting, but the true power is elsewhere. The true power of this mixtape is the story told by a real person about being raped. There’s no pretty way to put it and she is brutally honest. It’s admirable really. Her name is Akona Ndungane whose blog you can read (more specifically about the story she shares on this audio) or check her updates on Twitter. But of course the message is not just about her - it's about far too many people who share her destiny. Bravely she gives it a face and refuses to be a statistic. The video above was released yesterday, but I only had time to watch it this morning and it hit me in the head harder than those girls in the video with a baseball bat could. We need to raise awareness as much as we can and as with any abuse or bigotry stand up for something. Otherwise we stand up for that what we allow to take place with our inaction and silence. 

14 June 2011

Second cities and their songs

Birmingham by night

It feels good to see people from places I’ve lived in to do well. In my case that’d be mainly places like Birmingham and Cape Town, but of course I have interest for other towns and cities as well and there’s a few cities I’ve lived in that rarely have any examples of people making it in the fields I’d be interested in. Here are a few examples of what I mean.

I think it must have been many many years ago when MySpace was the form of communication that I got a friend request from a young Capetonian rapper called Kanyi. My profile which I have now deleted was for a radio show I did on a local community radio and when I checked the songs from this rappers profile I realised that she was no ordinary one. By herself without a big posse on her background she was spitting the spaza rhymes I couldn’t understand but it did sound great. That was a long time ago. After that she has performed at Hip Hop Connected and more recently – and famously – stolen the show in the Driemanskap’s break through anthem S’phum’eGugs. I say she stole the show and it sounds a bit like the other guys were not on point; they very much were and the song has been one of my favourites from the album it’s from since the day one, but Kanyi; she was definitely reaching some very high levels there. Now she’s about to have her album released by Cape Town based Mo Fire Music. The album is titled Intombizifikile which means the girl has arrived. She has. This is the first single from that album and it’s available as a free download from the downwards arrow in the player.

Besides the Cape Town scene, I think very fondly of South African Hip-Hop. Well, you know I am very selective, but I love nothing more than to hear good music from those parts. South Africa is my second home country in many ways and even though I lived in Cape Town which is in the province of Western Cape, I also identify strongly with its neighbouring Eastern Cape. Eastern Cape is home of my wife and my son was born in there. It also is a home for Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, Walter Sisulu, Robert Sobukwe, Oliver Tambo and others like that. Hishaam is from Eastern Cape and he’s part of Rushay’s (everyone knows Rushay for some reason) True Sight Music label. This is a cool track from Hishaam and it’s called Collecting the Grabage and it can also be downloaded from the player.

I often miss Birmingham even if I quite honestly thought I wouldn’t. Before spending four years in South Africa I spent four years in Birmingham. There’s been something about these second cities that have drawn me towards them, because before Birmingham I lived in Cork, Ireland for a year. But I am talking about Brum town now. There’s been many artists popping up from there since I left. RoxXxan for many, like me, was first heard as part of the Game Over - Female Takeover, but she’s got a mixtape on its way and a new video. Song is poppish and no doubt there’s been more substance in many lyrics, but I like this song. It’s catchy. Life doesn’t always have to be about politics and such. 

Another lady from Birmingham who was also featured on that Game Over - Female Takeover is Lady Leshurr who has released quite a few mixtapes already. Here’s another one called Friggin L. It's brand new and she’s very talented as well so go and get that.

A few other links are still coming in a next few days I am sure, but let’s get started with these ones.

8 June 2011

Another June 8th.

Lions head

8th of June can only mean one thing. No, it can mean many things and I bet you couldn’t even guess what meaning I am attaching to it. It is the anniversary – now sixth – of this Welfare State of Mind blog. A lot has happened in six years and I’ve had fun reading some of the old things I have posted. I have grown a fair bit and lived life. It’s all good; like British rapper Genesis Elijah says in his song Reign of Fire which is currently playing a lot in my headphones “They say I’ve changed, I question why they never did the same.”

I have selected a post from each calendar year of Welfare State of Mind blog to celebrate the birthday. I may not absolutely agree with everything I have said and reading these posts I’d like to add something to almost all of them. They could use different angles – some histories have already changed and new facts have been unearthed, but that is not the point. These are snapshots of time and that is how blog works. At least this one. In six years I have navigated and negotiated my transformation from a student in his mid-twenties to thirty something father and a husband and it’s quite special to be able to look back and see the changes in my mind state throughout this period.

But here are, from the beginning to now, the selected posts 2005 - 2011

3 June 2011

Mix of old and new for some sunnier days

Daara J Family Live in Helsinki
Picture: Daara J is also in the mix.

I have said this before and while I have no reason to put myself down, the fact remains, I am no DJ. Well, at least I am not a great DJ, so I am not here showcasing my skills, but occasionally I like to make some mixes and here’s one for the summer of 2011 which we are starting here on the Northern hemisphere. Some of these tracks are new and some are old, but all of them are great. I have also chopped a few interview clips from Youtube in the mix. Person interviewed is Lowkey who is also featured in the mix with one of his older tracks.

1. Intro
8. Outro