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Global Hip Hop – Beats And Rhymes – The Nu World Culture

25 February 2004 No Comment

UK-based Nigerian act JJC & 419 Squad are amongst the 14 artists featured on this brand-new hip-hop compilation with a difference. JJC is of course also known as Skillz, producer and founding member of Big Brovaz but the track on this CD (‘Ewajo’ meaning ‘Come and dance’) is a Nu Flow of a different kind: African hip-hop fusion with Anglo-Yoruba lyrics like you’ve never heard it before.  Read more for a detailed breakdown of this cd.

Hip-hop is arguably the most popular music in the world today. From Mexico to Mali, Turkey to Tanzania … every country, every culture, has their own version. And here we present some of the best, most cutting-edge hip-hop acts – a gateway to the world of urban tradition with sassy hip-hop beats.

Building on the work of pioneering black American rappers, their names tell the story: the ‘419 Squad’ (after the Nigerian ‘419’ law intended to curb internet scams); ‘Sonido Acido’ (Acid Sound) from Chile; ‘Câmbio Negro’ (Black Exchange) from Brazil; ‘Positive Black Soul’ from Senegal; ‘Delinquent Habits’, a cross-cultural collision between Mexico and the United States … all are hip-hop, all are unique.

1) Deliquent Habits – Return Of The Tres (US/Mexico)
2) Positive Black Soul – Blaw (Senegal)
3) Sultan Tunç– Deliloy (Turkey)
4) Daara J feat. Sgt. Garcia – Esperanza (Senegal)
5) Câmbio Negro – Esse É Meu País (Brazil)
6) Sonido Acido – El Cantante (Chile)
7) JJC & 419 Squad – Ewajo (UK/Nigeria)
8) Sona Family – Indian Style (UK/India)
9) Clotaire K – Beyrouth Ecoueree (France/Lebanon)
10) Yéli Fuzzo – Ladji Kabako (Mali)
11) Zombo – Coming Home (South Africa)
12) 113 feat. Oumou Sangaré – Voix Du Mali (France/Mali)
13) X Plastaz – Aha (Tanzania)
14) Sadahzinia – Mayiatiko (Greece)

Compilation and notes by Phil Meadley, journalist, DJ and cross-cultural collusionist. 

For more detailed information on the CD please go to www.unionsquaremusic.co.uk or www.unionsquaremusic.co.uk/titlev4.php?ALBUM_ID=450&LABEL_ID=2 or read on:

by Phil Meadley

Although hip-hop can be seen as the quintessential voice of black America alongside soul and r n’ b, its appeal outside of the U.S. is as far reaching as the earth is round. No other style of modern music has crossed so many cultural and geographical boundaries. In Africa it’s by far the most popular youth music and, as Frada Freddy from Senegalese band Daara J points out, there are over 6000 hip-hop groups in Dakar alone. After all, hip-hop originated from the poetic quality of early American street slang, so it’s not surprising that its message should strike a chord with disaffected youths the world over. In Africa, rap offers the chance for educated middle class youths to vent their frustration at corrupt governmental systems and spiralling third world debts. In Latin America social commentary is mixed with salsa and charanga to produce a spicy blend of hot tropical rhythms and biting social satire. In France, rap conveys the harsh world of gangland violence within impoverished inner city ‘hoods’, but also explores the strong cultural traditions of its massive immigrant population.

Hip-hop is the natural successor to punk in terms of representing an often bleak-but-realistic view of life in the twenty-first century. But whereas American hip-hop is suffering from heavy over-commercialisation and an increasingly tired ‘bling-bling’ attitude, the rest of the world continues to use rap as a language for promoting change and challenging outmoded concepts. And what is more, they often do it with a nod to their own cultural traditions. Even if you are not a huge fan of hip-hop you may be surprised at the accessibility of much of the music on this compilation. It crosses numerous musical and social boundaries, and what’s more it’s darned funky. Global Hip Hop may well be the future, but for now we simply hope that this album will provide a gateway for you to explore a fascinating world of vibrant urban tradition and sassy hip-hop beats.

1. Delinquent Habits – Return of the Tres
Taken from their excellent third album ‘Merry Go Round’ with it’s injection of tequila fuelled Latin Hip-Hop, ‘Return of the Tres’ is a powerful slice of Mexican mariachi given a Los Angeles street twist, sung in English and Spanglish. The members of this three-piece hip-hop outfit are Ives, Kemo & O.G. Style; who promote non-violence and cultural tolerance at their live shows, stating: “if you’re looking for tales of guns and hos, you won’t find them here.”

2. Positive Black Soul – Blaw
Taken from their 2002 album ‘New York/Paris/Dakar’ this is Senegalese hip-hop’s premier group aiming straight for the international market with guests such as KRS-ONE and Supernatural. ‘It’s how we are in Senegal / It’s how we are in Africa’.

3. Sultan Tunç – Deliloy
One of the newest sensations on the bustling Turkish hip-hop scene, Sultan Tunç was born and brought up in Germany amongst a thriving Turkish immigrant community. Many of his songs are sung in both German and Turkish whilst his distinctive blend of European hip-hop is mixed with jazz, reggae, rock, soul, dance and Oriental music. This particular song is a biting satire on arranged marriages, still prevalent in some small villages in the East of Turkey.

4. Daara J feat. Sergent Garcia – Esperanza
Daara J are huge stars in Senegal and their last album ‘Boomerang’ catapulted them to international stardom; winning adulation from hip-hop, world and mainstream critics for their silky blend of melodic African hip-hop. It seems surprising to hear a distinctly Latin bent in Esperanza, but singer Fada Freddy explains that Latin music is extremely popular in Dakar. They met Cuban musician Sergent Garcia at a European festival and before they knew it he’d agreed to collaborate on this song, bringing his whole band to the studio to add an authentic salsa flavour. ‘We have to keep hope / As long as there is life there is hope / Head in the sky / Feet on the ground / As long as there is life there is hope.’

5. Câmbio Negro – Esse é Meu Pais
A big hit in Brazil, this funk-fuelled song paints a picture of an ideal, utopian Brazil, in which racial and social equality is the norm. The chorus states: ‘This is my country, a First World Brazil and everybody happy!’ At the end of the song the alarm goes off as the singer realises he was dreaming and exclaims ‘Puta que pariu!’ (Whore who gives birth!).

6. Sonido Acido – El Cantante
Sonido Acido is one of Chile’s most talented MC’s who mixes a hardcore hip-hop attitude with persuasive Latin beats. This song is best summarised by the chorus: “I sing about life and life’s exploits/ those who are peaceful and also aggressive/ fortunate people who are ungrateful/ and others that have nothing to give/ I sing about women who just get by/ those addicted to homicide/ Sing about love and oppression/ Sing about love and sex without condoms.’

7. JJC & 419 Squad – Ewajo
JJC is better known as Skillz from UK R n’ B superstars Big Brovaz. JJC stands for ‘Johnny Just Come’ – a name given to newcomers from Nigeria by more established ex-pats – and the ‘419 Squad’ is named after the Nigerian law intended to curb internet scams. Ewajo (come and dance) is basically a good time song: ‘let’s keep on shaking and dancing, come and dance, all my boys, my buddies, my babes and chicks let’s dance’.

8. Sona Family – Indian Style
Sona Family are one of the most exciting talents on the thriving Anglo-Asian R & B/Hip-Hop scene. Formed in 2001 as the Sona Kandaan (Urdu for Gold Family) the crew consist of Ozzy Black, Suga Harry, Mr Riz, Tino, Jamal Cooke and DJ IC4 with production team Trailblazerz. Championed by the likes of BBC Radio One’s Bobby Friction, this tune is a satirical look at young Hindustani’s flogging the mystique of their native culture to gain credence points among their peers.

9. Clotaire K – Beyrouth Ecoeuree
Taken from his stunning debut album ‘Lebanese’, this track speaks about the war torn heart of Beirut: ‘You have destroyed me, torn out my heart during the night/ Under fire and hail of bullets, I survived this rain’. Like most of his songs, Clotaire incorporates oriental instruments such as Nay (Arabic flute), Qanun, and Ud, with programmed beats and rich Arabic vocals.

10. Yéli Fuzzo – Ladji Kabako
One of Mali’s rising hip-hop stars who first came to prominence as part of hip-hop outfit Fanga Fing this wonderfully upbeat track retains a traditional Mali flavour whilst still managing to sound unfeasibly hip. Taken from his highly recommended album ‘Je rap donc je suis’ (I rap therefore I am) on his own label Invasion Records, the song tells the tale of respected villager Ladji Kabako who travels to the capital Bamako to help his community but eventually loses everything: ‘We are all Ladji Kabako/ We are all blind and lost in Bamako/ He went to the big city for his community/ He came back to the village with nothing to give.’

11. Zombo – Coming Home
As Kwaito is one of South Africa’s most important underground phenomena (think Garage and Urban in this country), it was hugely important that we represented the genre on this album. The beats are a mix between house and hip-hop, which gives it a slowed down old school electro feel that drives young South Africans wild. Zombo is a fixture on the Soweto scene and this track taken from his self-titled album is produced by Kwaito legend Arthur. The track speaks of poverty and anger in inner-cities pushing young guys close to the edge of self-destruction and making them pine for their homesteads.

12. 113 feat. Oumou Sangaré – Voix Du Mali
A beautifully constructed slice of melodic hip-hop from one of France’s biggest hip-hop acts featuring Malian diva Oumou Sangaré. At the beginning of the song the question is asked: “Have you seen the movie ‘Fatou La Malienne’?” The answer, “Yes, but they should have made a movie just called ‘Fatou’” questions the ease with which negative stereotypes can be spread and continues that Mali is not the only country to have problems: ‘We, as Malians, are what we are / We have to be proud of what we are / And we have a long history to be proud of’.

13. X Plastaz – Aha
Tanzanian hip-hop troupe X Plastaz have been making waves on an international scale due in no small part to their claim of being the first ever Maasai hip-hop group. This track ended up in Tanzania’s top 3 at the beginning of 2003 and is a heart-warming ode to the positive values of traditional culture. ‘We would go hunting every Sunday/ tracking gazelles, wildebeest, buffalo in style/ and then walk back home/ Folks, there is no better life than living in the village, in a traditional rondavel.’

14. Sadahzinia – Mayiátiko
Greece would not be considered an obvious place for a thriving hip-hop scene, but female rapper Sadahzinia is part of Greece’s most prestigious hip-hop collective Active Member under the expert tutelage of producer B.D. Foxmoor. Mayiatiko means ‘Reef of May’ and has a beautifully laid back Mediterranean vibe extolling the rejuvenating virtues of Spring: ‘Life, braid for me a reef of May/ To wear it on the neck of this rotten world/ To cover the shame and the blood with flowers/ Wake up the spring with spells’.

OUT NOW on Manteca/ Union Square Music (MANTCD048)

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