31 August 2011

Home Sweet Home: six year old classic album

For some reason I got into listening to Kano's first album Home Sweet Home today. I tweeted about it and got in deeper in it. Then I posted a few videos on Google+ and that didn't make me stop listening to it either. It really is a great album with respectable variety of styles, sounds and moods. From grimy to upbeat and from reflective philosophising to love song within reason (such is Nite Nite). I have the album is still on so let me embed a video for the song that had a huge impact on me as soon as I heard it one morning from BBC 1Xtra when I was living in Birmingham. I will also link a few other ones which you can go and watch. 

It’s Kane man… let me explain man… What a classic album.

Life of Rhyme

Life of Rhyme is a documentary, or just TV programme, about British Hip-Hop and Grime. It's about emceeing; the modern day poetry. It's a great piece of TV. I definitely recommend this one.
Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

Part 4.

Chile Stand Up! Two downloads from ex-Makiza members

A few weeks ago we were covering Chilean Hip-Hop on Planet Earth Planet Rap and in that show I mentioned how I have been a fan of a crew called Makiza for some time, as I played one Ana Tijoux track. After that I’ve come across a few free downloads from a few ex-Makiza members. Besides Ana Tijoux's Elefant mixtape which is really great (I honestly recommend this one a lot), also Seo2 (pronounced Seodos) tweeted that his whole album called Por Puro Amor Al Rap is available for free from his website. The links were a bit buggy, but in the end there was a reward as also this album sounds pretty great. Check out his music video above for the title track (which by the way isn't even nearly the best track of the album in my opinion), and if the download takes too long, go through his Souncloud archives. Here are all of the other necessary links:

Direct link to the album (.zip) (this one was a bit slow, but worth the wait)

27 August 2011

Planet Earth Planet Rap | Colombian Connection

Colombian Connection by mikmikko

This week's Planet Earth Planet Rap deals with Colombian Hip-Hop. It's such a beautiful day here today and it might be one of the last ones for this summer so I am not going to be typing more. Just know that next week and the week after that we'll be addressing the South African Hip-Hop scene and we'll even have a world premiere of one song next week so it's all very exciting. 

22 August 2011

Planet Earth Planet Rap | UK Hip-Hop

This week’s Planet Earth Planet Rap is in audio format. It is radio after all. Our task was to uncover the UK Hip-Hop scene in a handful of minutes and as a big fan, it was a tough gig. Many amazing artists had to be left out this time as beside the time limitations, our angle was chosen on our behalf by the history. Originally we wanted to talk about multiculturalism from its cultural angle; to pay attention to the broad spectrum of influences which, when combined, are the sum of the scene. That is one of the things that really have always intrigued me. The Jamaican reggae and bashment vibes, punk and rock all the way to the various styles of electronic music as well as the African sounds have made the UK scene unique. The scene that only uses itself as its influence is pretty stagnant and boring and you can’t blame the UK artists for that. But this time we focused on the recent rebellions; their roots as well as their outcomes. It’s also very interesting, of course, but there are still many aspects of UK Hip-Hop that deserve attention but remain unspoken at least by us. We really have to revisit UK soon.

Artists featured were Akala, AKS, Blak Twang and Lowkey.

Next week we deal with Colombian Hip-Hop so there’s something to look forward to.

19 August 2011

Weekend music

A few tracks worth embedding here. First, Mercury winning Speech Debelle accompanied by legendary Roots Manuva and Realism have made a song Blaze up a Fire, which is perhaps to help to understand the British youth a bit better. The ones heavily demonised now and in the past. The track is very nice so have a listen or download from the downward arrow and check some more info about it from the Soulculture blog.

Another song today is a re-Remix of Lethal Bizzle’s POW. So basically it is a remix of POW 2011 with a few Grime legends and some pop stars. I liked the first version in all of its occasional vulgarity, and this one is a nice Pure Solid remix of the second from Cape Town. If you don’t yet know what Pure Solid is, or rather who they are, then you can go and read more about them from the Pioneer Unit website.

18 August 2011

#PEPR in Chile

It slipped my mind to post our latest installment of Planet Earth Planet Rap here in this blog earlier this week; it’s been a busy one, but have a look. It’s about the Hip-Hop in Chile. Some cool tracks there. Next on the line is UK and that’s been a great challenge to make because so much great music must be left out. But it’s coming though; a few more days and I post it here.

9 August 2011

Observations on the empire state of mind

A lot has already been said about the events in the UK. A lot. But as so often when a lot is being said, it all gets a bit blurry and when people get even the slightest excuse to pin the events to some social or ethnic group they can’t identify with; a lot of that lot of talking becomes informed by various prejudices which sometimes are blatant, and other times, as we have mastered here in Europe, it’s all very subtle and pseudo-intellectual. Many are just waiting for a chance to lash out their pent up racism which they’ve had to suffocate temporarily for the reasons of political correctness. Some people are calmer, but the question is, do we want to pursue the traditional news narrative of good versus bad – much like with our poor attempt to understand and justify the western led wars around the world – or do we want to actually understand in a way that when the fires die down, some kind of sensible public discourse and subsequent action will take place.

If you don’t trust the people on the streets living their lives in the middle of all this, the recent – and mind you still ongoing – News International situation should’ve proven that the Metropolitan Police is not purely on the up and up. On the streets, the statistics are grim; Black people are over 26 times more likely to be stopped and searched than White ones which is something you can’t really comprehend if you’ve never been harassed by the police. Its psychological impact is far reaching and when there’s no accountability for the police, they keep on exercising their prejudices freely. These are the prejudices that are common within their given society, because police officers are just its members like anyone else. I am no expert, but I can draw from a personal experience from another country I have lived in; South Africa. Having been stopped and searched by the police in the gun point for no reason or apology, I have felt the humiliation and power game involved. It made me very angry and it only happened to me once. For too many, both in South Africa and UK, this is everyday life. It makes it so much harder to view the police as someone who is on your side. While this is a generalisation – not all policemen are corrupt, many, I am sure, are great people – it is the blue wall of silence that makes you very cynical.

It’s interesting really; you can’t say that no one told you this, because people have been trying to tell you this for ages. Only we didn’t listen. We only hear them through the flames and when the fires are blazing we decide ourselves what it is they’re saying. Political activist and a Hip-Hop head Jody McIntyre who is occasionally invited to give a soundbyte for the news tried to tell you this just last week on Channel 4 show Bars for Change which is really a necessary viewing if you have any interest in understanding some of the underlying frustrations at play here. Police is the biggest gang in London – they’re the ones who have been out of control for a long time.

We need to examine the culture of police. Actually, we need to look at the whole society and the so called western way of life. There are three wars waged currently where Britain is sending its soldiers to burn and loot whole countries. Violence is glorified not just by some rappers, but by Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and the whole lineage that precedes them. It is seen as a solution. How can you say it isn’t? No event exists in a vacuum. The spirit of the empire didn’t fall as quickly as the empire itself did. Crushing opposition is something that that colonialist British empire has done for the longest and this is the way they have gone about addressing their own people to whom they have given mixed messages of basic rights while stripping them away. These kids are British – they are products of the British society. 

So while burning and looting is not the action that will bear the best results, it is perfectly in line with the culture of Britain. Only now it takes place on the streets of various cities inside the United Kingdom. The kingdom that is not so united after all. This is the street talking back and we can condemn it, I don’t condone it, but perhaps the most helpful thing is to try to understand it. The actions may not be legitimate or constructive, but the sentiments behind them are real. You can’t ignore that.

It is interesting that besides some balanced accounts on the Guardian, it has been the Hip-Hop community that has provided us with the greatest insight thus far. The same community that BBC and the likes have ignored whilst even talking about the North African political Hip-Hop playing a part in their recent uprisings. These are the people who have been talking about it for long – I listen to them carefully so I know – but how are you going to ask these clever minds when you’ve earned their distrust; when only ever you’ve provided platforms for the ones with a lot less constructive messages.

So, again, none of this is to say that burning and looting the local businesses, peoples’ cars and homes is not wrong. It is wrong. It is also true that the criminal elements have probably taken over people’s legitimate grievances for their own use. That diverts the attention to all the wrong things. Trouble makers find ways to make trouble whether it is a match of football or a demonstration. And this was not the first demonstration; students have been protesting against the inequalities for some time now. We should have paid more attention when people were telling us this peacefully, but now the only question is: what do we learn from all this? If we let the history to be our indicator, the answer is probably even more depressing than the damage done.

6 August 2011

Swedish, and a bit of Finnish Hip-Hop

Here's our latest installment of Planet Earth Planet Rap from WBAI (NY) and Rapstation.com's And You Don't Stop! show which is hosted by Chuck D of Public Enemy. This time we are dealing with Swedish Hip-Hop.

Additional bonus is this time is unrelated, but then, a bit related; a great Finnish Hip-Hop release to be listened to. Check out EP by Gracias. You can also buy it from his Bandcamp site. Been listening to this, this week and it's very cool.

1 August 2011

Planet Earth Planet Rap

Have a look at our Planet Earth Planet Rap (PEPR) segment which is part of Chuck D's And You Don't Stop! radio show on WBAI, New York and rapstation.com. This installment deals with North African Hip-Hop. It's radio you can watch.